Killer schmiller – whales need love too!

MarineBio Director of Marine Mammals discovers that killer whales create and visit social clubs just like people do

Story from BBC:

Up to 100 fish-eating killer whales come together in the Avacha Gulf, off the coast of Russia. But no-one knew why the whales form these huge superpods, when they normally live in smaller groups.

Now scientists report in the Journal of Ethology that these groups act as clubs in which the killer whales form and maintain social ties. Continue reading

US Government subsidized fishing nets?

The United States Agency for International Development is jeopardizing the future of development for east Africa by distributing destructive fishing nets to African fishermen:

Kenya Wildlife Perishes in Nets Bought with US Aid
By Katharine Houreld

DIANI, Kenya (AP) – Plastic fishing nets — some bought for poor fishermen with American aid money — are tangling up whales and turtles off one of Africa’s most popular beaches.

One recent victim was a huge dappled whaleshark that bled to death after its tail was cut off by fishermen unwilling to slash their nets to save it. In another case, divers risked their lives to free a pregnant, thrashing humpback whale entangled in a net last summer. Continue reading

Bad news from the Gulf

Several outbreaks of ciguatera fish poisoning have been confirmed in consumers who ate fish harvested in the northern Gulf of Mexico according to the Food and Drug Administration. Fish that pose the largest risk to consumers include grouper, snapper, amberjack, and barracuda. These species feed on smaller fish that eat toxic marine algae. The larger the predator, the higher the concentration of the toxin. Continue reading

Good news for the Gulf

There’s something about the Gulf Coast on the Florida panhandle that feels like home to me. Though there’s not much to see underwater, at least not compared to coral reef habitats, I can still snorkel there for hours. I generally only see mostly sand, water, blue crabs, and an occasional stingray or juvenile jack, but there’s something about snorkeling those waters that makes me (almost) as happy as I feel when scuba diving a teeming reef. I once snorkeled out to the sandbar, roughly 50 yards offshore, and encountered a turtle. That was darn near a religious experience for me. Continue reading

The 11th Hour

“The 11th Hour”, Leonardo DiCaprio’s film on the human impact on the environment opened nationwide Friday. I’ve been looking forward to this film and appreciate DiCaprio’s efforts to raise awareness on these issues. I also had the pleasure of meeting with one of the film’s participants, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, and I worked on deforestation with her daughter during my career days at The Carter Center. Wangari is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. She’s been fearlessly fighting for the environment and for human rights for decades in Kenya. She is the founder of The Greenbelt Movement, an organization responsible for planting more than 30 million trees across Kenya to preserve the environment and fight erosion. Continue reading

Save the Whales!?

Japan has threatened to defy a 21-year-old moratorium on commercial whaling after it failed to overturn the ban at the International Whaling Commission’s annual conference this week in Anchorage, Alaska.

humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae

Japan added that it is considering pulling out of the 77-nation commission in protest and may “unilaterally” hold whale hunts along its exclusive economic zone.

“There is a real possibility we will review, at a fundamental level, our role in the IWC and this would include withdrawing,” said Japan’s top delegate, Akira Nakamae, at the end of the four-day conference Thursday. Continue reading

Can you hear me now?

dolphins.jpgWhen David was diving in southeast Florida almost exactly 2 years ago, he was thrilled to see a pod of dolphins, which he was told were a rare sight in the area in February. A few days later he was disturbed to see a more common sight — a submarine conducting sonar testing. After he returned home, we learned that a number of dolphins had stranded in the Florida Keys, a relatively short distance from where he was diving, a few days after he saw them. Continue reading

Interview with Erich Hoyt

Erich HoytThe following is a very informative interview with our very own Director of Marine Mammals, Erich Hoyt about Marine Protected Areas

(written by Elsa Cabrera for La Tercera, Santiago, Chile January 2007)

1. We tend to assume that effective marine protected areas for cetaceans alone guarantee the conservation of these marine mammals. Is this true or are there other actions/instruments that should also be considered?

A marine protected area (MPA) alone cannot guarantee the conservation of any whale, dolphin or for that matter, any species or ecosystem. Continue reading

Amazon comes through for sharks

Great white shark

To update my post on Amazon’s sale of shark fin soup, and to give credit where credit is due, I’m pleased to announce that is no longer selling shark fin soup.

Many of us who complained to Amazon received responses that indicated they did not plan to ask its 3rd party sellers to discontinue selling shark fin soup; however Amazon responded to public pressure after just a few days and removed the products. Wise decision.

Shark fin soup being sold on Amazon

A new Plankton Forums member recently posted that Amazon is selling two brands of shark fin soup. Here is the information he posted:

It seems that is carrying shark fin soup through two third-party vendors, Dragonfly Shark and American Roland Food Corp. With all the controversy surrounding shark fins and the horrible practices used to harvest fins, Amazon should be ashamed to be carrying shark fin soup and should rectify the problem immediately by pulling all shark fin products from their catalog.

What you can do: Continue reading