If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.
Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history. Continue reading →
This March, a Seattle-based federal judge issued a decision dealing with the continued practice of whaling in Antarctic waters. The court’s ruling, arising from a dispute between whalers and the activists depicted on the TV show, “Whale Wars,” stopped short of declaring whaling to be a violation of international law, but nevertheless declared it to be against the public interest of the United States as reflected in U.S. marine environmental legislation. The court also highlighted the potential importance of a dispute concerning this issue between Australia and Japan, currently pending before the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”).
The International Ban on Commercial Whaling
The hunting of whales, once a major industry in several maritime states, became subject to international regulation in 1946, through the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (“ICRW”). By that treaty, which gained widespread adherence, an International Whaling Commission (“IWC”) was established, with power to set annual catch quotas for each member state. Continue reading →
“Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.” Source: TED Talks Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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.
~~ note: select 1080p HD for best quality under player settings ~~
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 →
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 →