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.

The World’s Rarest Whales

Spade-toothed Beaked Whales, Mesoplodon traversii

The appearance of the world’s rarest whales has been recorded for the first time after a mother and her calf washed up on beach in New Zealand in 2010. Spade-toothed beaked whales (Mesoplodon traversii [IUCN]), aka Bahamondi’s or Traver’s beaked whales, are so rare that they have yet to be seen alive and only recently have scientists confirmed that a five-meter specimen found alongside its male offspring two years ago belonged to the rarest species of whales. Continue reading

Reef Life of the Andaman

The following outstanding 2 hour video shows the amazing biodiversity of the marine life in the Andaman Sea (in the northeast Indian Ocean). Produced by Nick Hope at Bubble Vision, he again amazes us while introducing us to many rarely seen marine species the way they should be met, in their home under the sea.


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

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!

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