CITES: a “tragedy of the oceans” says Oceana

I moved in January and now (more than two months later!) I’m just getting to know my neighbors.  What does this have to do with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)? Well, it turns out they got married in Singapore and had a Chinese ceremony and reception and they chose not to include the traditional shark fin soup on the menu — much to the displeasure of some of their guests. I applaud them for that and I’m so thrilled to have such awesome next door neighbors. I’m sure it took a lot of courage.

Serving shark fin soup at weddings is a very old and very honored tradition in the Chinese culture. Keeping it off the menu might be compared to banning wedding cake from American weddings. Or flowers. Old traditions die hard and shark species are dying out as a result of the over-consumption of shark fins. Bluefin tuna is going fast too and dozens of corals are at great risk among many other marine species. Too many. Continue reading

Keep wild animals wild – they’re not circus freaks

The death of Dawn Brancheau in Orlando was tragic and my heart goes out to her family and friends. I understand it was her dream since the first time she visited SeaWorld to train marine mammals and I imagine she loved what she did. We get dozens of emails from our MarineBio members and other readers who talk about their dreams of becoming marine mammal trainers. They love whales and dolphins. I do too. I love them so much I’m willing to give up seeing them up close in an aquarium. Because I know they are happiest in the wild where they belong. When they’re contained in an unnatural environment they cannot follow their inborn instincts to swim long distances, hunt for prey, travel in pods and enjoy a healthy social life with their families in the wild.

orca or killer whales, Orcinus orca

Continue reading

How well do you know the ocean?

Oceana Press Release
February 23, 2010
Contact: Kevin Connor
D: 202-467-1910
C: 202-467-0630
kconnor@oceana.org

How well do you know the ocean? Test your Ocean IQ at Oceana.org and win prizes including a trip to Baja California, Nautica apparel and a Nintendo Wii.

Washington, DC — Many people live near the ocean or spend vacations at the water’s edge, but what do they really know about the deep blue sea? Global nonprofit Oceana today launched the Ocean IQ Quiz at www.oceana.org, allowing quiz takers to better learn about the world’s oceans and rewarding those who display the greatest depth of knowledge on ocean science and marine animals. Participants have a chance to win prizes including Nautica apparel, a Nintendo Wii and the grand prize of a trip to watch sea turtles in the wild. Continue reading

Tragedy of the Commons

Today I’m going to take you on a voyage to some place so deep, so dark, so unexplored that we know less about it than we know about the dark side of the moon. It’s a place of myth and legend. It’s a place marked on ancient maps as “here be monsters.” It is a place where each new voyage of exploration brings back new discoveries of creatures so wondrous and strange that our forefathers would have considered them monstrous indeed. Instead, they just make me green with envy that my colleague from IUCN was able to go on this journey to the south of Madagascar seamounts to actually take photographs and to see these wondrous creatures of the deep. Continue reading

Message on a bottle…the Plastiki Expedition

Now I have that song going through my head, but I was a Police/Sting fanatic back in the day, so this is not a bad song-infection. But the reason it’s in my head is because of a message *on* a bottle. Check out the Plastiki: http://www.theplastiki.com/. I’m riveted by this concept and the design of the 60-foot catamaran. The website is fantastic. Continue reading

Whale wars in the Southern Ocean

This is getting ugly and increasingly dangerous:

Anti-whaling activists accuse Japan fleet of attack

Anti-whaling activists have accused a Japanese vessel of ramming their high-tech speed boat during a confrontation in the Southern Ocean. Video of the incident appeared to show the Japanese ship severely damaging the Ady Gil, but all six crew were rescued. Continue reading

Resolution 2010: Walking the walk

Happy New Year!

So my blog posts have been few and far between over the past few months, but I have a good excuse. For the past 15 years I’ve been commuting 25 miles to work. Alone. In my car. Then coming home in the evenings and blogging about global warming. Feeling every bit the hypocrite. I’d rationalize by saying, well, I work from home frequently to avoid the commute. And I’m very conservative with electricity. But 50 miles round trip for 15 years? That’s a lot of emitting and contributing to the problem. So. I’ve been house hunting for the past few months with the goal to reduce my commute to under 5 miles from an energy efficient home. I’m proud to say that two days ago I closed on a home 3.5 miles from my office. A home built in 2005, which means it’s much more up-to-date in terms of efficiency than the 43 year old house I was living in. I’ll have to give up my power showers in the old house where the water pressure could clean graffiti off cement, but my conscience welcomes the dramatically decreased water usage. Continue reading

A Message from Erich Hoyt

A Message from Erich Hoyt on Defending Antarctic Toothfish in the Ross Sea:

I am a whale researcher and conservationist, writes Erich Hoyt, Senior Research Fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and MarineBio’s Director of Marine Mammals. Recently I became very interested in toothfish in Antarctica. At up to 2.5 m long they can be the size of a porpoise or dolphin. Left alone, they live for up to 50 years; they don’t breed until they’re about 16 and not every year thereafter. But aside from some remarkably similar reproductive parameters how is this relevant to my interest in whales and dolphins? Continue reading

Healthy Oceans vs Climate Change

International coalition advances marine conservation as part of the solution to climate change

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A large international coalition today urged the United States to support marine conservation options that will help mitigate climate change.

The ‘Blue Climate Coalition,’ comprised of sixty-six conservation groups and interests and over 150 marine scientists and professionals, from 33 countries, issued communications today addressed to President Obama and the United States Senate.

MangrovesTogether, the coalition letters request the option for marine conservation solutions to climate change to be considered in national climate change legislation and international climate change treaties, and support for marine science research that further explores this concept. Continue reading

First high seas MPA in the Antarctic Region

The first high seas Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Antarctic region has been declared in an area south of the South Orkney Islands. The proposal was successfully pitched by the UK delegation to the meetings last week of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Tasmania. The South Orkneys MPA is situated in the northern Weddell Sea, east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula — a prime area for feeding humpback whales.

At just under 94,000 sq kms, the protection of the South Orkneys MPA is of a significant size. Overnight the global area of protected waters, with this announcement, increased by 4% according to Louisa Wood, from the IUCN Global Marine Programme. The global area of protected waters now stands at 0.92% of the world ocean — still far behind the land with as much as 12% protected, according to some estimates. Continue reading

Seafood Choices Alliance – Seafood Summit 2010

Seafood Summit 2010 – Challenging Assumptions in a Changing World
31 January – 2 February 2010
Paris, France

Seafood Summit brings together global representatives from the seafood industry and conservation community for in-depth discussions, presentations and networking with the goal of making the seafood marketplace environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

Paris_webWhile many industry events offer companies networking opportunities to showcase their products and services, Seafood Summit is different. It is the only venue that connects large and small companies from a diverse array of industries with leaders from the conservation community to bridge the gap between the latest science and the reality of the seafood marketplace. Summit attendees include international representatives with vested interest in the seafood industry, including: fishermen, fish farmers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, food professionals (chefs, restaurateurs), conservation organizations, academic scientists, media, and policy makers. Continue reading

Healthy Oceans Binding Carbon

Oceans play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. Not only do they represent the largest long-term sink for carbon but they also store and redistribute CO2. Some 93% of the earth’s CO2 (40 Tt) is stored and cycled through the oceans.

Blue CarbonThe ocean’s vegetated habitats, in particular mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, cover <0.5% of the sea bed. These form earth’s blue carbon sinks and account for more than 50%, perhaps as much as 71%, of all carbon storage in ocean sediments. They comprise only 0.05% of the plant biomass on land, but store a comparable amount of carbon per year, and thus rank among the most intense carbon sinks on the planet. Blue carbon sinks and estuaries capture and store between 235–450 Tg C every year – or the equivalent of up to half of the emissions from the entire global transport sector, estimated at around 1,000 Tg C yr–1. By preventing the further loss and degradation of these ecosystems and catalyzing their recovery, we can contribute to offsetting 3–7% of current fossil fuel emissions (totaling 7,200 Tg C yr–1) in two decades – over half of that projected for reducing rainforest deforestation. The effect would be equivalent to at least 10% of the reductions needed to keep concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere below 450 ppm. If managed properly, blue carbon sinks, therefore, have the potential to play an important role in mitigating climate change. Continue reading

Fun new items in the MarineBio Gear Shop

Like everyone else, we’re trying to find ways to stay afloat in this crazy economy. To help support MarineBio and to be the envy of all of your friends – check out the new items in the MarineBio gear shop: http://www.zazzle.com/marinebio

You’ll find everything from apparel, our new 2010 calendar, stickers and cards, mugs, mousepads, and even skate boards!  All proceeds from purchases go toward maintaining the MarineBio Network. All MarineBio Gear can be fully customized, for example you can change shirt styles and colors, and even what the designs look like or say! Have an idea for a design related to marine life, conservation or ocean science? Tell us about it and we’ll notify you when it’s online!

Biologist Saves Thousands Of Sea Turtles

Todd SteinerTodd Steiner of Sea Turtle Restoration Project Has Ended Sea Turtle Slaughter, Closed Deadly Fisheries and Protected Nesting Beaches During Two Decades of Global Grassroots Organizing

20th Anniversary – Big Splash – Nov. 14 – Berkeley, CA

Biologist and ocean activist Todd Steiner of Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP) in Forest Knolls, CA, near San Francisco has been fighting to stop the slide of sea turtles to extinction for 20 years. Continue reading