Census of Marine Life Expedition to Hawaii

Follow the expedition: http://www.hawaiiatolls.org

On Friday 6 October, a team of scientists embarked on an expedition to explore coral reef biodiversity in the recently designated Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, the largest marine protected area in the world. The expedition is being led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center with funding from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Continue reading

Sustainable seafood solutions in Europe?

Despite WWF’s claim that in 2002 its Stop Overfishing Campaign was successful in “helping to put environmental concerns and long-term resource sustainability at the heart of the EU’s fisheries policy,” the organization is still pointing fingers at the EU’s ongoing problems with unsustainable fishing practices:

GENEVA (Reuters) – Commercial fishing methods threaten to devastate Europe’s oceans, WWF International said on Wednesday [September 27, 2006].

The Swiss-headquartered environmental group, formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund, noted that up to 80 percent of some North Sea plaice catches are thrown overboard dead or dying due to their small size. Continue reading

Is the U.S. doing its part?

OK, clearly the Bush administration is not making global warming a priority. But, in terms of protecting the ocean and its resources — there seems to be more being done than I thought. I recently began following-up on US ocean policy and spent some time browsing around the Council for Environmental Quality’s Committee on Ocean Policy website, which details the work being done by the US government to protect US waters. I was curious to see what work had been done by the US in response to the report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. To my surprise, the US is addressing the issues as outlined in the report including resource protection, transportation, ocean resource use, science, education, mapping, and other topics.

To meet the challenges raised by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, President Bush issued an Executive Order on December 17, 2004, declaring that it shall be the policy of the United States to: Continue reading

Should humans interact with wildlife at aquariums?

Twice recently, stories have appeared in the news about humans being bitten by animals at human/animal interaction exhibits. In one instance, almost a dozen people were bitten by sharks at a shark petting exhibit in Newport, Kentucky. Shark petting!? Granted these aren’t tanks full of bull sharks, and the concept of shark petting certainly dispels the myth that sharks are mindless maneaters, but do humans really need to pet sharks? Do the sharks enjoy being touched? I doubt it.

At $eaworld in Orlando a young boy was bitten by a dolphin. Everyone wants to pet dolphins, or swim with dolphins – we all do. So $eaworld stated that they plan to send the dolphin off for some behavior modification – the poor thing was probably only defending itself against relentlessly poked and prodded and teased with fish. I think humans need to modify their need to interact with animals that belong in the wild. I had the privilege of interacting with dolphins last year in Honduras (see photo), they were friendly and curious – and I was in their environment. So they were free to check me out and free to take off when they wanted. I would much prefer that experience over being one of thousands of people lining up to “pet” dolphins in captivity.

If the animals are in need of veterinary care and rehabilitation, then I’m all for keeping them in captivity until they can be returned to the wild. But it just seems unnatural to me to keep them as puppets for entertaining humans.

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

What are your favorite marine science books?

Today I made a “Listmania” list of MarineBio.org’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

Endangered species still being sold for food

Why do endangered species tend to attract a higher demand in some markets? The higher the demand, the higher the price and the greater lengths fishermen will go to harvest them. Supply and demand, money and greed — how can we stop this vicious cycle? Here’s a recent story about a shipment that was seized by customs in Indonesia:

Humphead Wrasse

Indonesian airport authorities seized 36 endangered Humphead Wrasse Cheilinus undulatus on 30 June in Manado, Indonesia, the third seizure of this species in Indonesia this year.

The world’s largest coral reef fish, the Humphead Wrasse is a prized delicacy served in high-end restaurants with a price tag of over US$100 per kg. Hong Kong represents the largest known consumer market for this species, although upscale eateries in Malaysia, Singapore and mainland China are also known to offer servings of the electric blue fish. Continue reading

World’s coral reefs left vulnerable by paper parks

This is extremely troubling. What good are policies and plans if they’re written—then ignored or implemented but poorly monitored? What can we do to change this? Again, this seems a perfect example for why the world needs a global governing body with power to enforce and monitor policies. Is that too unrealistic to even consider?

World’s coral reefs left vulnerable by paper parks

First-ever analysis reveals that most coral reef protected areas are too small, far apart and are at risk from poaching and external human threats

Although 18.7% of the world’s coral reefs are within “Marine Protected Areas” (MPAs) less that 2% are within MPAs with sound management, scientists report in the June 23 edition of Science Magazine.

MPAs are designed to limit human activities in a particular location to protect the marine ecosystem within their boundaries. This new analysis provides an evaluation of the world’s coral reef MPAs based on their regulations on extraction, prevention of poaching, incidence of external human threats such as pollution, coastal development and overfishing, MPAs size and MPA distance to neighbor protected areas. Continue reading