Nom, nom, nom….


The video above is of a sea cucumber feeding. Within the ocean, organisms have adapted many different methods of gathering food. It’s not as easy to find food in water as on land, even within the same species there can be many different methods, just look at fish! You have gigantic whale sharks that filter feed on tiny planktonic creatures, to deep sea angler fish that use a flashing lure that brings food close enough to grab or even the awesome gulper eel that’s stomach is bigger than the body so it can eat a meal of any size. Continue reading

It’s turtle time!

Sea turtles have been making it to the top of the headlines recently, all positive for a change and I thought I would use this blog to draw attention to this. Additionally, I feel it’s always nice to give some attention to the turtles.

So the first piece of news, the secrets of the sea turtle migration have been uncovered. It turns out that the reproduction migration (females returning to their nesting beaches) is not the longest migration that sea turtles carry out. It has been found from the compilation of long term capture programs that the migration of immature turtles, termed “developmental migration”, is longer than the reproductive migration. Also this migration is only carried out once in their life time rather than every few years. On the migration topic as well, a study was carried out to determine the migration of juvenile leatherback sea turtles. However, due to the size and the weight of the juveniles it is impossible to attach a satellite tag to their shells without them sinking. So instead of following the hatchlings the scientists followed the currents. The “lost years” of a turtle’s life, the age between hatching and returning to foraging grounds can be anywhere between 3 to 5 years after they hatch. These years are the least understood part of a turtle’s life. Knowing more about where the turtles swim before they reach adulthood could be critical in protecting the species. Continue reading

Race to the bottom of the sea… part 2

So I should probably begin with part 1…. Back in 1960, January 23rd to be precise, the first ever deep submersible dive occurred by two oceanographers, Don Walsh and Jacques Picard. Using the Bathyscaphe Trieste (above) they reached a depth of 10,911 m (35,797 ft) at the Challenger Deep section of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean (11 km or about 7 miles deep). This so far, is still the only time this depth has ever been reached in the ocean by humans with it taking the Trieste five hours to reach the bottom and only being allowed 20 minutes at this depth due to the constraints of technology at the time. Continue reading

iPhone fish identification app

iPhone fish identification applicationThe Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has released a free iPhone app, for the identification of Pacific fish species. The species covered spans from Baja California to Ecuador, including the Galapagos.

The app evolved from the book, “Fishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific” published in 1994. However, the app covers over 1,300 species allowing the identification of 10% of the world’s tropical fish species whereas the book only has 700. The app is free on iTunes: here and is potentially one of three apps according to iTunes descriptions.

Having downloaded and played around with this app it is very easy to use. It has a clear lay out containing a notebook section where you can compile your own lists and each page comes with a glossary section for any words used that aren’t understood. When you click on one fish you will also see other members of the family before it goes directly to the profile page, allowing for a perfect match. I like the feature of being able to find out the IUCN red list status which is available on each profile page. A useful little app that I would recommend to anyone needing to identify any pacific fish species!

Opportunistic mimicry by a jawfish of a mimic octopus

This remarkable behavior was discovered just a few months ago; a black-marble jawfish (Stalix cf. histrio) following and mimicking a mimic octopus in one of my all-time favorite places at the center of marine biodiversity: the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia.

An outstanding find which shows just how much marine life has yet to teach us….

Here’s the journal article: http://www.springerlink.com/content/p74l7mn21441538t/ and the MSNBC news article: Tiny fish mimics octopus that mimics fish

So You Want to Free Willy, Too

Written by Nate Green

After watching Ric O’Barry in The Cove, it’s hard not to want to free any dolphin you come across in captivity. O’Barry has been at the forefront of dolphin rescue since the ‘70’s, after watching Kathy, one of the five dolphins who played Flipper, commit suicide in his arms. O’Barry is now working to free the largest member of the dolphin family: the orca. Along with a former SeaWorld trainer, two other marine mammal experts, and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), O’Barry is listed as a “near friend” of Tilikum and Katina from SeaWorld Orlando; and Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises from SeaWorld San Diego. The five orcas are named as plaintiffs in PETA’s lawsuit against SeaWorld. Tilikum is the orca that grabbed and killed his trainer in 2010.


PETA is asserting that the whales are, in effect, involuntary servants: held in captivity, ripped from their families in the wild, subject to sperm collection and artificial insemination, and forced to perform; all for SeaWorld’s profit. PETA is arguing that this is illegal… under the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1864. PETA claims this is the first suit of its kind: seeking to apply constitutional rights to animals. Continue reading

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

A FALL FROM FREEDOM

A powerful and factual documentary on the often emotional issue of keeping cetaceans (whales & dolphins) in captivity.

A FALL FROM FREEDOM is the first film to expose the long and sordid history of the captive whale and dolphin business; a history that continues to this day. The illegal capture and transport of killer whales, the thousands of dolphins that are killed in order to provide marine parks and aquariums with replacement animals, and the ability of these facilities to miseducate the public about these animals.

These, and many other issues, are covered in graphic detail in this 80 minute film.

Visit the A FALL FROM FREEDOM website @ http://afallfromfreedom.org for more information about the film including screenings, interviews and how to get a copy.

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