Shark week

It’s that time again. Shark Week on Discovery Channel. I haven’t been tuning in for the past few years because I’m always disappointed that they don’t discuss shark conservation more. What a missed opportunity! They are, of course, appealing to the masses so shark attacks are high on the list — but if sharks are such a huge draw that they devote a week to them each year, why not protect their investment and talk about the threats that are wiping shark populations out all over the world? Why don’t they discourage shark fishing, and discuss how shark finning is an inhumane brutal treatment of these magnificent animals? Why don’t they point out that sharks are a critical component of the marine ecosystem and that, without them, entire food webs are disrupted?

I doubt I’ll tune in to Shark Week this year either – I’ve seen enough documentaries about shark attacks. Though they do point out that shark attacks are rare I get really tired of the creepy narrator voice making sharks sound 100 times more ominous than they really are. Discovery should really focus on cultivating care for sharks – not fear.

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Reaching the Boiling Point

Global Warming – Boiling Point by Gelbspan

David recently posted in the Plankton Forums about this book — I haven’t read it yet, but am planning to on our upcoming expedition. He says it’s a quick read and it’s not as depressing as it sounds so everyone interested in the future of civilization should read it. He pulled a few quotes from the book, that all occur before page 33: Continue reading

Coral reefs: the good news and the bad

Elkhorn coral, Bonaire August, 2004
The good news? A survey of how well the world’s coral reefs are being protected was conducted. The bad news? Less than 2% of the world’s coral reefs are being protected. This is the problem that I have with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – theoretically it’s a great idea. But when put into practice, it seems most MPAs are too small to make much of an impact. Continue reading

Can I make a difference? The power of one.

I just ordered a copy of David Helvarg’s “50 Ways to Save the Ocean.” The concept of the book got me thinking — what can I do, as an individual, to protect and possibly restore the health of the ocean? The answer is, a lot. We can all do a lot as individuals, and collectively, we can make a huge difference. And we need to — before it’s too late and the damage already being done is irreversible. If we begin taking greater care of the ocean now, it will bounce back. The ocean has been around for millenia, and it’s resilient enough to recover from harm caused by human activity. What can we do? Well, there are at least 50 things according to Helvarg’s book. Continue reading

Great book on coral reefs and their conservation

In keeping with my recent coral reefs theme, I’m reading “The Enchanted Braid: Coming to Term with Nature on the Coral Reef” by Osha Gray Davidson cover to cover. We’re featuring corals in the upcoming newsletter, so I was inspired to pick this book up again. And I’m glad I did.

I’ve read — and liked — bits and pieces of the book since I bought it four years ago. I can now see that I’ve been missing out on an immensely enjoyable book now that I’m reading it properly. Davidson is a journalist who developed an appreciation for coral reefs during time spent in the Florida Keys. Continue reading

Awesome dive expeditions to photograph big animals!

I was reading through an email update from Undercurrent this morning — great publication by the way — which mentioned Amos Nachoum’s Big Animal Adventures. In May/June of 2007, Big Animals is offering an expedition to Cocos and Mapelo Islands (off the coasts of Central/South America) with Sylvia Earle — I would give my left eyeball to go on this trip! To dive with Sylvia Earle? She’s my hero! (See blog entry below.) But also to have the opportunity to dive with a variety of shark species, including the famous schooling hammerheads of Cocos Island — what an amazing adventure. Continue reading

Excess CO2 Threatens Marine Life

Staghorn coral, Bonaire - Aug, 2004

By Rosanne Skirble, Washington, D.C.

The chemistry of the world’s oceans is changing with increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of the burning of fossil fuels in cars and power plants. A report released recently by the National Center for Atmospheric Research says the change in the air is putting marine life and ecosystems at great risk. Continue reading

Global Warming – What You Need to Know

Global Warming – What You Need to Know, a 2 hour documentary on Discovery Channel last night, made me happy. Happy? Yes. I was happy to see that this issue is getting some attention in the mainstream mass media. This program, in addition to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and recent coverage in “Time” magazine, is a good indication that people are starting to wake up and smell the heat.

Global warming is very real and poses a very real threat if we don’t start making changes now. But people still don’t seem to take it seriously. In my full-time job I lobbied hard to be allowed to work from home a few days a week so that I can reduce my CO2-coughing 45 minute commute; they looked at me like I had 3 eyes.

This is no longer a “debate” — it’s real and if the US, who very likely created the “debate” by ignoring the science that was there 20 years ago, doesn’t lead the way by developing the collective will that’s also needed worldwide (yoohoo — China…) then by the end of our lifetimes, the world will be a very unhappy place — mass extinctions, major cities drowned resulting in enormous displaced populations, severe weather far worse than what we’ve seen in recent years, no more coral reefs….the list goes on. It’s so hard to fathom (pardon the pun) cities that are so iconic in the US — gone. New York City, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston… Florida! I can’t imagine a world with no beaches. Continue reading

What are your favorite marine science books?

Today I made a “Listmania” list of’s favorite references in our marine science library and realized how many books I’d read that had a huge influence on my passion for marine conservation. The first was Sylvia Earle’s “Sea Change: A message of the Oceans” – I dragged this book to the beach year after year during my annual vacation to the Florida panhandle but always pushed it aside in favor of sailing narratives or novels. When I finally sat down on the beach and began to read it – I couldn’t put it down. Dr. Earle takes us on a journey to the deep sea as she recounts her many adventures underwater. Continue reading