Good news for marine conservation/sharks

Just two weeks shy of his final day as President, George W. Bush announced today that 195,280 square miles will be designated as three new marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean. Contrary to his resistance to sign the Kyoto Protocol and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and his other unpopular environmental policies, Bush is leaving a decent legacy when it comes to the ocean. This good news combined with the good news of a bill to ban shark finning in the US put forth in the new session of Congress (sea below) put a smile on my face!

Diodon holocanthusFrom his press release:

On June 15, 2006, I established the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, and on May 15, 2007, I instructed the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization to submit a proposal for international measures to enhance protection of the Monument. On April 4, 2008, the International Maritime Organization adopted our proposal, and the Papahanaumokuakea Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) was established. Continue reading

Why corals need urgent protection

Time Magazine published this great article earlier this month. Read:

You don’t have to be a marine biologist to understand the importance of corals — just ask any diver. The tiny underwater creatures are the architects of the beautiful, electric-colored coral reefs that lie in shallow tropical waters around the world. Divers swarm to them not merely for their intrinsic beauty, but because the reefs play host to a wealth of biodiversity unlike anywhere else in the underwater world. Coral reefs are home to more than 25% of total marine species. Take out the corals, and there are no reefs — remove the reefs, and entire ecosystems collapse.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what appears to be happening around the world. Continue reading

No offshore drilling… stop oil speculation

So David suggested that I blog about topics that are a bit, meatier, than say… reusable bags. I love those bags! Particularly after stuffing my pockets with water-inflated plastic bags and other jetsam and flotsam in a remote sea in Indonesia. And, I get excited when I see companies doing something good for the planet. Continue reading

Penguins = canaries in a coal mine

Spheniscus magellanicusI always loved the song “Canary in a Coal Mine” by the Police:

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live your life like a canary in a coalmine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line

Now the first line of the song and the comparison of penguins to canaries in coal mines is disturbing. Are we going to be a generation remembered for celebrating penguins in films like “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet” only to be the generation that announces their extinction? I hope not. It would be a tragic loss to the animal kingdom and to mankind. Continue reading

“Eating shark fin = self-poisoning”

Health Alert Over Shark Fin Consumption
May 9, 2008

Release from: Nickkita Lau
The Standard (Hong Kong)

The use of shark fin as a delicacy was once a hot ecological issue with local environmentalists forcing Disneyland to drop the popular soup from its menus.

Now, shark fin may also present a health hazard, based on a survey that showed eight of 10 samples sold in Hong Kong contain mercury levels above the legal standard. Continue reading

Shark fin soup being sold on Amazon

A new Plankton Forums member recently posted that Amazon is selling two brands of shark fin soup. Here is the information he posted:

It seems that Amazon.com is carrying shark fin soup through two third-party vendors, Dragonfly Shark and American Roland Food Corp. With all the controversy surrounding shark fins and the horrible practices used to harvest fins, Amazon should be ashamed to be carrying shark fin soup and should rectify the problem immediately by pulling all shark fin products from their catalog.

What you can do: Continue reading

The Case of Animals versus Man

David recently posted a thought provoking article in the Plankton Forums that was written by David W. Orr and published in Conservation Biology. I thought I’d post it here as well for your entertainment and for some food for thought for the end of the year.

The Society for Conservation Biology is an excellent organization and their publications are top notch. I highly encourage those of you unfamiliar with them to check out their work.

The Trial

I once asked the students in my introductory environmental studies class to assume they were the attorneys representing Homo sapiens before a Congress of all Beings as once described by Joanna Macy and Jonathan Seed.*

The charge against us reads something like the following: Continue reading

Response from Iceland to an anti-whaling letter

I and other Plankton Forums members got this form letter in response to an action letter sent through the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society website. What this letter says to me is that Iceland’s policy makers put their hands over their ears and chant “la la la la… I can’t hear you….” in response to pleas from environmentalists to stop commercial whaling. They, like Japan, claim their whaling activities are in the name of “science” – I have another name for their letter and their whaling activities. I won’t repeat it here as it’s not appropriate language to use in this blog.

I truly don’t understand Iceland and Japan’s insistence on commercial whaling given that the market for whale meat is reportedly weak.

Here is the letter: Continue reading

Can I make a difference? The power of one.

I just ordered a copy of David Helvarg’s “50 Ways to Save the Ocean.” The concept of the book got me thinking – what can I do, as an individual, to protect and possibly restore the health of the ocean? The answer is, a lot. We can all do a lot as individuals, and collectively, we can make a huge difference. And we need to – before it’s too late and the damage already being done is irreversible. If we begin taking greater care of the ocean now, it will bounce back. The ocean has been around for millenia, and it’s resilient enough to recover from harm caused by human activity. What can we do? Well, there are at least 50 things according to Helvarg’s book. Continue reading

Excess CO2 Threatens Marine Life

Staghorn coral, Bonaire - Aug, 2004

By Rosanne Skirble, Washington, D.C.

The chemistry of the world’s oceans is changing with increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of the burning of fossil fuels in cars and power plants. A report released recently by the National Center for Atmospheric Research says the change in the air is putting marine life and ecosystems at great risk. Continue reading

Is The World Ready?

For the oceans to recover from more than 50 years of daily abuse worldwide from overfishing and pollution from a million sources, stronger measures are needed on a global scale and enforced on a global level. MarineBio poses the question: What if the following policies were put into place? Though some may seem a bit radical, the question is – what radical changes will the ocean suffer if the way we treat it is not radically changed? What if we had a global governing body that would provide oversight for global ocean management and enforce policies with strict penalties for violations? Continue reading