1st Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas

The first ever conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas will be held on the island of Maui in Hawai’I from March 29 – April 3, 2009.

Conference on Marine Mammal Protected AreasThe theme is MPA Networks and Networking: Making Connections. The conference will bring together MPA managers, scientists, and educators from around the world to engage in sessions that will provide a forum for sharing information on approaches to marine mammal management and conservation as well as the design and management of MPA networks.

“Networks are a hot issue in marine habitat conservation,” said Erich Hoyt, MarineBio Director of Marine Mammals, WDCS MPA Campaign Head, and a member of the conference steering committee and co-chair of the programme committee. “We are beginning to realize that without networks of MPAs, we don’t stand a chance of conferring adequate protection to diverse species and habitats. Humpback whales, for example, breed in shallow subtropical waters and feed in cold temperate areas around productive upwellings and ocean fronts.

Protecting their habitats can mean a network extending over the waters of several countries. It will help greatly if all the managers of these MPAs can work together for conservation.”

The ICMMPA conference is being co-hosted by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA and the NMFS Office of International Affairs. Supporters and benefactors include the governments of Australia and Monaco, the US National Park Service, NOAA Marine Debris Program, International Whaling Commission, and WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Participants are already confirmed from more than 20 countries including: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bangladesh, Sao Tome et Principe, Fiji, Micronesia (FSM), Samoa, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK and the USA. For more information, go to www.icmmpa.org.

I’d like to ring their necks…

elephant seal slowly choking to deathThe fishermen, or whomever discarded what looks like fishing gear, into the marine environment, which is now permanently strangling this helpless elephant seal. Thanks to Denise Kocek for sharing this photo with us.

This elephant seal is a resident of a colony in Morro Bay, California near San Luis Obispo. Denise spoke with park service and marine mammal rescue service officials who are not able to help seals when the colony is well-populated, particularly with alpha males and new mothers around that will fiercely guard their young.

Despite  her horrific injury this seal recently gave birth to two seal pups, one of which survived. Denise is monitoring their progress and will keep us updated. Continue reading

Explore the Ocean Depths in Google Earth

Google EarthThe Ocean in Google Earth combines renderings of underwater terrain with regional information from marine biologists and oceanographers to enable Google Earth viewers to explore the ocean realm and learn about marine life and other ocean-related areas of interest.

Given that science has only explored a small percentage of the vast ocean, which makes up 71% of this planet, this will be a unique and useful tool to help people gain an understanding of the importance of the marine environment.

Oceans are rarely discussed in the media during this era of greening the planet. Climate change is focused on the impact it will have on land, overfishing is a tremendous problem in the ocean, but few people are aware. The ocean is viewed superficially by most of humanity – we see the surface and assume the ocean is invulnerable to over-exploitation.

This tool will allow those with access to the web an up close and personal look at all ocean regions as well as access to information through fact files and videos and the ability to track satellite-tagged animals such as whales.

This tool is available on the latest version of Google Earth.

To read how the concept was born and implemented see: Google Earth Fills Its Watery Gaps from today’s New York Times.