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

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