Obama to create world’s largest ocean preserve

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is looking to create the largest marine preserve in the world by protecting a massive stretch of the Pacific Ocean from drilling, fishing and other actions that could threaten wildlife, the White House said.

Aiming to protect marine wildlife, Obama will also direct the government to create a program to deter illegal fishing. The executive steps come as Obama is searching for ways to leave his second-term mark on the environment despite opposition from many Republicans in Congress.

Obama was to announce the steps Tuesday in a video message to those participating in an “Our Ocean” conference that the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry are hosting.

Officials said Obama is considering a massive expansion to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The protected waters surround a group of mostly uninhabited islands, controlled by the U.S., that sit between Hawaii and American Samoa.

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Pink corals on the Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific. Part of three  island chains designated as protected areas by President George W. Bush.

Pink corals on the Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific. Part of three island chains designated as protected areas by President George W. Bush.

Celebrate World Sea Turtle Day!

There’s World Turtle Day (May 23) then there’s World SEA Turtle Day, which is today! green sea turtleWhy is June 16th World Sea Turtle Day? It is the birthday of Dr. Archie Carr who is widely known as “the father of sea turtle biology.” Dr. Carr focused his entire career on sea turtle research and conservation. According to The Sea Turtle Conservancy:

Archie Carr was a great biologist. His early descriptive studies of turtles set the standard of quality in the field of natural history. Later on, as he focused on sea turtles, he moved toward ecology and behavior, although his work always retained a taxonomic and evolutionary perspective. For decades the National Science Foundation (and the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Office of Naval Research) supported his research at Tortuguero, enabling him to mount one of the longest lasting and most intensive studies of an animal population that has ever been done. To date, more than 35,000 adult female green turtles have been tagged at the research station at Tortuguero. From this effort have come papers by Archie Carr, his students, and other investigators on orientation, migration, nesting behavior, nest physiology, sensory physiology, nutrition, demography, and other subjects. Almost all of the studies have significance for conservation — Archie Carr was a conservation biologist long before the field was recognized.

Of the seven sea turtle species, five are listed on the IUCN Red List as either vulnerable, endangered, or cirtically endangered. They are: leatherbacks (vulnerable), loggerheads (endangered), hawksbills (critically endangered), green sea turtles (endangered), Kemp’s Ridley (critically endangered), Olive Ridley (vulnerable), and flatback sea turtles (data deficient). What can you do to protect sea turtles?

  1. At night, keep bright lights off the beach to encourage sea turtles to nest and to ensure hatchlings can find their way to the sea.
  2. Keep beaches trash free to avoid turtles mistaking it for food or getting caught in plastic loops. Single use plastic bags are often mistaken by sea turtles for their favorite food, jellyfish. Consumption can cause them to suffocate.
  3. Join a coastal conservation effort working to protect sea turtle nests from predators.
  4. Of course you can always donate to MarineBio or join the MarineBio Conservation Society to help us share species information and raise awareness about the plight of endangered sea turtles. Whether you can spare $5 or $50, it will help us continue bringing the world a vast source of information on all things ocean.

Interview with Erich Hoyt on his new book

Reading the new 2nd edition of Erich Hoyt’s MPAs for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises gave me a lot to think about. What a fascinating topic and the book is… I’m not sure I have words. It is an impressive volume packed with information on cetacean species, highly detailed information on their habitat and migratory patterns, and lots of background on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

1. MPAs are a complex, but critical strategy to protect whales, dolphins, porpoises and other marine species. What are some of the biggest constraints to the success of MPAs and what are some steps to help overcome them?

EH: One constraint is getting them implemented. All MPAs start out on paper. It can be in the interests of government, industry or certain stakeholders in keeping them only on paper. There is inertia of course, too. Many areas stay as paper MPAs for years. I always say that all MPAs start out on paper but it is up to the stakeholders — the local communities, researchers, government ministries, conservation groups and those who care — to work separately and jointly to make them real MPAs that function to help protect marine wildlife and ecosystems. It is also important to realize that once effective protection is put in place, it is necessary to monitor and review the situation from time to time and make changes as needed to keep the MPA functioning and, indeed, improving. Continue reading

IUCN Press release: Whales & dolphins need more protected areas

For more information, review copies or to set up interviews, please contact: Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, t +41 22 999 0346, m +41 76 505 33 78, ewa.magiera@iucn.org

For immediate release: September 5, 2011

Whales & dolphins need more protected areas

Background: A new book, Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises is released, calling for accelerated efforts to conserve marine mammals by protecting a greater area of the ocean. Currently only 1.3% of the ocean is protected but many new Marine Protected Areas are being created. Erich Hoyt, the book’s author and IUCN’s cetacean specialist, examines current and future developments in ocean protection. The book is a key resource for cetacean scientists and managers of Marine Protected Areas. Since most of these areas promote whale and dolphin watching and marine ecotourism, the book is also useful for finding some of the best places to spot the 87 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises in 125 countries and territories around the world. The book is published by Earthscan / Taylor & Francis and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Continue reading

Review: MPAs for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises

MarineBio’s director of all things cetacean and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society’s Senior Research Fellow and Global Critical Habitat/ Marine Protected Area Programme Leader, Erich Hoyt, has just published the fully expanded and updated 2nd edition of his book on marine protected areas (MPAs) and cetacean habitats.

For your FREE copy, join MarineBio with a minimum $100 donation. If you would also like a small (23.41 x 33.11 inches) or large (32.7 x 45.4 inches) map of cetacean MPAs around the world (also created by Erich) to go with the book, we ask that you donate a minimum of $150. Please add $25 for postage for orders outside the US. Continue reading

The Focus is on Marine Mammal Protected Areas

Hoyt mpas bookThe July-August 2011 issue of the influential MPA News features several articles about marine mammal protected areas with interviews and articles exploring the issue featuring Brad Barr, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Kristina Gjerde, Erich Hoyt and the International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA). The ICMMPA is planning its second conference 7-11 November 2011 and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is one of the sponsors (more information at www.icmmpa.org).

The WDCS “Homes for Whales” campaign is mentioned in MPA News. Free subscriptions are offered to this monthly newsletter which currently is sent out to marine protected area scientists, conservationists, managers and government departments in more than 120 countries. It is also available for download at http://depts.washington.edu/mpanews/MPA121.pdf.

Erich Hoyt’s new Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises is available in the US Friday, August 5th. MarineBio will be giving copies of the book FREE with your $150 donation. See our donations page for details.

Tool cool for school


This story proves how we’ve only scratched the surface of what we know about the ocean and marine life.

Some animals are classified as “intelligent” if they use tools right? What about fish? It is known that some fish use tools to crush the shells of their prey but it is not well documented in photos. Recently a diver on the Great Barrier Reef managed to photograph a tuskfish using a rock as an anvil to smash a clam shell open.

Tool use in the tuskfish Choerodon schoenleinii?

Fig. 1 a–f: Series of six photographs of a black spot tuskfish, Choerodon schoenleinii using a rock as an anvil to open a cockle shell. The photographs span 75 s and were taken while on a dive in the Keppel Islands region of the southern Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. Broken shells are seen lying on the sand near the rock.

Continue reading

Sustainable seafood – there’s an app for that

Sustainable Seafood apps bring seafood consumption with a conscience right to your phone!

I’m notoriously behind the times when it comes to mobile technology. When I finally got a “smart” phone I had fun playing Tetris for a few hours, then stupidly went back to using it as just a phone.

So I’m a little late to the party on this – but in case you are too – sustainable seafood apps. What fantastic apps! I can now tossrecycle my crinkled, waterlogged wallet card from Monterrey Bay Aquarium/Seafood Watch. Continue reading

MPAs for Whales, Dolphins & Porpoises

Hot off the press!

Erich Hoyt, MarineBio’s Director of all things cetacean and Senior Research Fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in the UK has just published a fully-revised 2nd edition of his book Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises. The new edition features 477 pages, 12-pages of color plates, 100+ maps, figures, tables, case studies…a wealth of information on this important topic that spans the globe. Continue reading

What’s it like to be an aquanaut?

Find out October 12-21!

Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live underwater? Well, from October 12-21 you can find out by tuning in to daily broadcasts shot live from an undersea research lab, the only one of its kind in the world. The Aquarius lab is located off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, 60 feet below the surface at the base of one of the many beautiful coral reefs comprising the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The scientific researchers or “aquanauts” that live in Aquarius, as well as scientists operating from the surface, are sharing their experience and intimate knowledge of the ocean while performing their latest mission, Aquarius 2010: If Reefs Could Talk. In addition to the live shows, the aquanaut team will keep followers continually updated on the mission’s progress through their expedition blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Massive Coral Mortality & Bleaching

This is one of the most important reasons why we need to fight harder to stop climate change. The loss of these precious ecosystems is a tragedy.

The Wildlife Conservation Society has released initial field observations that indicate that a dramatic rise in the surface temperature in Indonesian waters has resulted in a large-scale bleaching event that has devastated coral populations.

WCS’s Indonesia Program “Rapid Response Unit” of marine biologists was dispatched to investigate coral bleaching reported in May in Aceh — a province of Indonesia located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. The initial survey carried out by the team revealed that over 60 percent of corals were bleached. Continue reading

Shark week 2010

So I mosey on over to the Shark Week homepage and the first thing I see is the word ATTACK. Sigh. I guess to draw people into watching shark week they have to plaster the word ATTACK everywhere to get people’s attention. The good news is, they are making an effort toward shark conservation on the website: http://dsc.discovery.com/sharks/shark-facts-tab-04.html. There’s lots of information on sharks and shark conservation there. In between reading, you can go watch “Into the Shark Bite!” and “Shark Attack Survival Guide!” and “Shark Bite Beach!” Continue reading

Check out the TEDx Oil Spill conference

TEDx oil spill conferenceIf you haven’t already, check out the TEDx Oil Spill conference. It was held/streamed live on June 28 from Washington DC and featured an impressive number of speakers including Sylvia Earle, Carl Safina, Philippe Cousteau, David Gallo (Woods Hole), Andrew Sharpless (Oceana) and many others on the oil spill, the future of energy, and what this event means for our blue planet. The oil spill is a call to action for all oceans. Topics include mitigation of the spill and the impending cleanup efforts; energy alternatives; policy and economics; as well as new technology that can help us build a self-reliant culture.

There’s no such thing as too many volunteers…

…unless the cause is toxic. I came across this image on Facebook and it really hit close to home. It was posted by one of my BFF’s from high school (hi Michelle!). A BFF whom I’d spent a week on this very coast during Spring Break ’84 in Panama City! I wish I could share fond memories from that trip, but all I remember is eating the worm. And driving Sabrina’s Oldsmobile because she was too sunburned…. Continue reading

The whales are saved!?

From commercial whaling at least, for now…

From the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society:

WDCS Press Statement:

Moratorium remains intact: Pro-whaling advocates fail to get commercial whaling condoned

Agadir 23rd June 2010 – After two days of closed-door discussions delegates to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) were unable to reach consensus on a proposal (the ‘deal’) that would see the legitimization of commercial whaling. Continue reading