Sunday, March 29, 2009
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Sunday, March 22, 2009
By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A nerve toxin produced by marine algae off California appears to affect creatures in the deep ocean, posing a greater threat that previously thought, U.S. researchers said on Sunday.
Surface blooms of the algae known as Pseudo-nitzschia can generate dangerously high levels of domoic acid, a neurotoxin blamed for bizarre bird attacks dramatized in Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film "The Birds."
"It's a natural neurotoxin. It is produced by a diatom, which is a phytoplankton. As other animals eat this phytoplankton, like sardines or anchovies, this toxin can be transferred up the food chain," said Emily Sekula-Wood, a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina whose study appears in the journal Nature Geoscience.
"If you consume enough of it, you can get brain damage. In humans it's called amnesic shellfish poisoning. You experience short-term memory loss," Sekula-Wood said.
Large toxic blooms of Pseudo-nitzschia have closed beaches and disrupted the shellfish industry in the western United States. They have been implicated in toxic blooms throughout the coastal waters of Europe and Asia and North America.
Monitoring programs test the surface blooms for the toxin.
Sekula-Wood and colleagues looked to see whether the toxin was reaching the ocean floor.
"We used a sediment trap. It is like a rain gauge that you put out in a water," she said.
The trap, set 500 meters (1,600 feet) and 800 meters (2,600 feet) below the surface of the ocean, filtered out toxins that sank after an algal bloom.
They found that large quantities of domoic acid were sinking to the ocean floor, invading the deep-sea food chain.
And the toxin appears to linger.
"Our data further confirm that domoic acid-laced sinking particulates are incorporated into underlying sediments, where they are available for consumption and incorporation into bottom feeders," the researchers wrote.
"It can make us think about the longevity of these toxins," Sekula-Wood said.
For More information: www.reuters.com
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Whale sharks can grow to lengths of 60 feet. They are the largest fish in the ocean, yet we know little about their mating rituals and birthing process. These large fish are being slaughtered by the hundreds as they simultaneously sit on the CITES threatened species list.
We are trying to bring attention to these and to other shark species around the world. We need to call for a moratorium on Shark Fin Soup and other needless shark products.
This week an astute tourism operator pulled together a government team in the Philippines. He had found a small whale shark… approximately 15 inches in length being sold off the coast of Luzon. Luckily the fisherman intended to sell the fish while alive. All that was visible from the shore was a stick stuck in the sand and an attached string that was tied around the fish’s tail.
If we are killing 15 inch whale sharks, we are in deep trouble. We do not know about their natural history, yet we are killing off the newborns. Let’s spread awareness before it is too late.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
March 3, 2009
Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
- Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
- This Act may be cited as the `Shark Conservation Act of 2009'.
SEC. 2. AMENDMENT OF HIGH SEAS DRIFTNET FISHING MORATORIUM PROTECTION ACT.
- Section 610(a) of the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1826k(a)) is amended--
- (1) by striking so much as precedes paragraph (1) and inserting the following:
- `(a) Identification- The Secretary shall identify, and list in the report under section 607--
- `(1) a nation if--';
- (2) in paragraph (1) by redesignating subparagraphs (A) and (B) as clauses (i) and (ii), respectively;
- (3) by redesignating paragraphs (1) through (3) as subparagraphs (A) through (C), respectively;
- (4) by moving subparagraphs (A) through (C) (as so redesignated) 2 ems to the right;
- (5) in subparagraph (C) (as so redesignated) by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and'; and
- (6) by adding at the end the following:
- `(2) a nation if--
- `(A) fishing vessels of that nation are engaged, or have been engaged during the preceding calendar year, in fishing activities or practices that target or incidentally catch sharks; and
- `(B) the nation has not adopted a regulatory program to provide for the conservation of sharks, including measures to prohibit removal of any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) and discarding the carcass of the shark at sea, that is comparable to that of the United States, taking into account different conditions.'.
SEC. 3. AMENDMENT OF MAGNUSON-STEVENS FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT ACT.
- Section 307(1) of Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1857(1)) is amended--
- (1) by amending subparagraph (P) to read as follows:
- `(P)(i) to remove any of the fins of a shark (including the tail) at sea;
- `(ii) to have custody, control, or possession of any such fin aboard a fishing vessel unless it is naturally attached to the corresponding carcass;
- `(iii) to transfer any such fin from one vessel to another vessel at sea, or to receive any such fin in such transfer, without the fin naturally attached to the corresponding carcass; or
- `(iv) to land any such fin that is not naturally attached to the corresponding carcass, or to land any shark carcass without such fins naturally attached;'; and
- (2) by striking the matter following subparagraph (R) and inserting the following:
- `For purposes of subparagraph (P), there shall be a rebuttable presumption that if any shark fin (including the tail) is found aboard a vessel, other than a fishing vessel, without being naturally attached to the corresponding carcass, such fin was transferred in violation of subparagraph (P)(iii) and that if, after landing, the total weight of shark fins (including the tail) landed from any vessel exceeds five percent of the total weight of shark carcasses landed, such fins were taken, held, or landed in violation of subparagraph (P).'.
Passed the House of Representatives March 2, 2009.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Many plans, ideas, statistics and researched material was shared via powerpoint presentations and there was a prevailing sense of urgency. Most every scientist in the room agreed that our oceans, and therefore our entire earth, is on a disaster collision course. We are engaged in a race to decrease our carbon footprint before..... well we do not know exactly. But before bad things happen. Unfortunately, most of the studies discussed do not account for current population trends. So, even IF we are correct in our calcualations, and IF we are able to convince the general population that they must alter current habits and IF we are able to overcome all the challenges and meet our projected goals, we STILL will only been meeting the goals established for today's population numbers.
When I asked at the opening discussion, how we as a community might take this essential factor into account. There was a loud hum in the roam. There were a few smiles and knowing nods of agreement. Then the panel acknowledged that this indees was an important factor BUT it was very difficult to overcome. "Look what happened in China!" Was an insightful comment intended to quite the room. Then the hum diminished, and the room returned to normal and the presentations continued as they had before. Goals and projections based upon static population numbers are not realistic. Therefore the foundation of all these well laid plans is not sound. What can we do about the soaring population around the world? I do not know, but I do know that we must begin to discuss and battle this challenge if we are serious about solving virtually all conservation issues listed on our docket.
(San Jose, Costa Rica - March 9, 2009) – Members of the Shark Coalition, represented by experts of the Humane Society International (HSI), participated in a meeting of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI) last week (March 2-6) in Rome, Italy, where Costa Rica led the call for a global “fins-attached” shark conservation strategy. Joined by 10 other Latin American countries, Costa Rica formally requested a U.N. workshop to address the barbaric and wasteful practice of shark finning.
Each year, around the world, tens of millions of sharks are hauled up on deck, where their fins and tails are sliced off and the (often still-living) sharks are then thrown back overboard to die a lingering and painful death. The reason for this shameful waste is the demand for shark fin soup. The effect has been the devastation of shark populations worldwide. Some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent in the past 20 years. Some may never recover.
“Costa Rica has got it right”, says Patricia Forkan, president of Humane Society International, which has worked extensively on the issue of shark finning. “The Costa Rican proposal promotes the idea that sharks should be landed with fins partially or wholly attached to the carcasses, a practice that is required by law in Costa Rica and is the most simple and sure way to prevent shark finning.”
The FAO was the first multilateral body to address the problem of shark finning. However, the agreement that suggests a prohibition on finning is voluntary and open to interpretation, with the result that the FAO has achieved little in the way of shark protection to date. Sharks are in serious trouble. Strong finning bans combined with limits or bans on shark fishing must be implemented fully around the world to curb the rapid decline of shark populations.
“Due to the highly migratory nature of sharks, the regulation must be regional and global to be effective”, informed Randall Arauz, Coordinator of the Shark Coalition and President of the Costa Rican organization PRETOMA. “A U.N. workshop addressing the issue could help promote this policy in the European Union and in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations where shark finning is an issue”, said Arauz with optimism.
• Recent studies in the Northwest Atlantic have shown steep declines in shark populations, particularly among highly migratory species. Since 1986, hammerheads have declined by 89 percent, thresher sharks by 80 percent, white sharks by 79 percent and tiger sharks by 65 percent. All recorded shark species in the region, with one exception, have declined by more than 50 percent in the past eight to 15 years. It is highly likely that similar results will be seen across the world's oceans.
• In the Costa Rican Exclusive Economic Zone, shark relative abundance declined 60% from 1991 to 2001.
• Reported global trade in shark fins increased from 3,011 metric tons in 1980 to 11,732 metric tons in 2000. Much of the trade is unreported because many fins do not pass through normal landing channels and because most of the fin trade is conducted in cash to avoid tax and duties.
• Research in Hong Kong found that dried fins sold for as much as $744 per kilogram in 2002. In 2003 dried shark fins in China retailed for $200 – 300 (per kilogram).
• Shark fin soup can cost up to $150 per serving in Hong Kong, but there are worrying signs of a new market opening up for lower-quality fins, allowing millions more people to buy products such as shark fin sushi, shark fin cookies, shark fin cat food and canned shark fin soup.
• Shark fin consists of collagen fiber and has no taste. Flavor is added to the soup by the addition of chicken or fish stock.
• Unlike other fish, sharks take many years to mature, they have long gestation periods and they give birth to live young – or they lay eggs – in very small numbers. In some cases of severe overfishing, recovery of the stock, if possible at all, will take decades.
Imaging Foundation- Sea Save is proud to announce the addition of three new advisors. Wyland, Sylvia Earle and Bob Talbot will be working with our team during our upcoming PSA contest as well as other upcoming projects.
Imaging Foundation is also delighted to announce a partnership with the SCUBABoard online community. Peter Netdoc Murray is heroically developing mechanisms that will enable consistent uploads from the IF Sea Save "It's Your Ocean, Do Something About it!" blog and will provide SCUBABoard members access to all our ocean conservation efforts. For addition information about these advisors and service, please see below.
Sylvia Earle Ph.D. is an oceanographer. She was chief scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1990-1992. She is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Earle was named Time magazine's first "hero for the planet" in 1998. She is a Knight in the Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark. She won the TED Prize in 2009. She was instrumental in adding a new feature of displaying oceans in version 5.0 of Google Earth.
Sylvia is an Inductee in the Women Divers’ Hall of Fame Earle received a B.S. degree from Florida State University (1955), M.S. (1956) and PhD. from Duke University (1966). Radcliffe Institute Scholar (1967-1969) and Research Fellow or Associate at Harvard University (1967-1981). She led the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970. In 1979, she made an open-ocean JIM suit dive, setting a women's depth record of 1250 feet (381m); she also holds the women's record for a solo dive in a deep submersible(3280 feet, 1000m). In 1990 Sylvia accepted an appointment as the Chief Scientist for NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration). In 1992 she founded Deep Ocean Exploration and Research to further advance marine engineering. Today, Earle serves as Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society
She is the author of more than 125 publications concerning marine science and technology including the books Exploring the Deep Frontier, Sea Change (1995), Wild Ocean: America's Parks Under the Sea (1999) and The Atlas of the Ocean (2001), she has participated in numerous television productions and given scientific, technical, and general interest lectures in more than 60 countries. Children's books that she has written include Coral Reefs, Hello Fish, Sea Critters, and Dive!
Wyland is an artist best known for painting large, outdoor murals of whales and other ocean life. Since 2003, the Wyland Foundation has embarked on a five-year touring schedule to promote art, science, and conservation. The program has reached children along the East Coast, West Coast, and the Mississippi River regions. To date, the Wyland Foundation has conducted tour events in more than 35 states, Mexico, and Canada, reaching more than 50 million people. In 2007, the artist, along with science educators and volunteers, conducted a national tour for clean water, themed, "From Pike's Peak to the Chesapeake Bay — Every Drop Counts," to raise awareness through art and science about protecting watersheds nationwide.
Bob Talbot's stunning photographs of marine life and his deep commitment to its conservation have earned him international renown. Film Credits include "Free Willy", "Orcas in Crisis" and "Ocean Men, Extreme Water"His fascination with creatures of the sea began when he took up snorkeling on the coast of southern California at the age of eight; by thirteen he was a certified diver. While studying photography during his teens, Talbot's many expeditions included trips to the Pacific Northwest to photograph orcas and to Hawaii to photograph humpback whales. He realized that through his photographs he could educate people about the urgent need to conserve animal life, and since 1979 his work has been published in magazines such as Audubon, Go, Omni and Natural History, as well as in numerous books and multimedia productions.
SCUBABoard.com is an online community that services SCUBA divers around the world by providing information and a virtual community to SCUBA enthusiasts. SCUBABoard is the largest online SCUBA community in the world.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Terry Tamminen is a compact, effective speaker. He is blunt and entertaining, Arnold Schwarzenegger brought Tamminen on as his environmental adviser in 2003, elevated him to secretary of the state EPA, and then appointed him a senior cabinet adviser in 2004. Unfortunately, it seems that Tamminen is more keen on entertaining his audiance than addressing the issues at hand.
Michael D. Lemonick - A senior science writer at Time magazine in New York. Was also executive editor at Discover magazine a senior editor at Science Digest magazine. Michael is a pro at taking scientific information and making it interesting for a general readership.
The range of topics included Global Warming and how it has been represented by the media. Lessons we have learned and successes environmentalists have enjoyed.
Blue Frontier “Peter Benchley” Awards Followed.
Introduction – Wendy Benchley & David Helvarg
Science - Jeremy Jackson & Nancy Knowlton, Scripps – Presenter Enric Sala National Geographic
Media – Mark Shelley, Sea Studios – Presenter Philippe Cousteau, Earth Echo
Youth Award – Zander Srodes, sea turtle champ – Presenter Wallace “J.” Nichols, Ocean Revolution
Hero of the Seas – Richard Charter, OCS Coalition – Presenter, Warner Chabot, CA. LCV
Policy – Rep. Sam Farr (D. CA) – Presenter David Wilmot
Blue Vision Summit - Optimism Mixes with Reality. Scientists and Environmental Leaders Gather in Washington DC.
The three key themes of the Summit will be:
* Solutions that are working at the local, state and regional level and how to expand them
* Climate and Oceans. How the Marine Community can develop a common voice and plan of action to address fossil fuel fired climate change impacts on the ocean and coastal ... Read Moreenvironment.
* Federal Legislation. The state of the Ocean Act and how to build an effective national constituency for ocean governance reform.
This Summit will demonstrate to the new Obama administration and Congress that there is a strong and diverse constituency ready to work for ocean and coastal protection and restoration. It will also be an opportunity to build a nationwide network of ocean activists ready to act at the local level to assure passage of effective ocean legislation and encourage good administrative and agency policies they support.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
(March 2, 2009 San José, Costa Rica) – On February 16 the National Technical Environmental Secretary (SETENA) rejected an appeal for annulment presented by Pretoma on November 11, 2008, deciding instead to move forward in the approval process of the Tuna Farm Project in Golfito, according to resolution N° 3170-2008-SETENA, November 5, 2008. SETENA’s decision to approve the project comes without completing the Constitutional Court’s order to clear up inconsistencies found within the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) undertaken by the project’s Developer Granjas Atuneras Golfito S.A. and now places the decision to ratify the project with Mr. Roberto Dobles, the Environmental, Energy, and Telecomunications Minister (MINAET).
In July, 2006 Pretoma and the Punta Banco Association of Neighbors filed suit against the project, sighting the serious environmental impacts it might cause. What is still unknown is whether or not the large amounts of metabolic waste, produced by the tuna and dispersed by the currents, will be swept into the Golfo Dulce. These uncertainties, along with questions about the possible effects the project will have on sea turtles that nest along beaches close to the proposed project’s site, represent some of the study’s weaknesses of which the Constitutional Court has asked for clarification in the form of technical studies.
“It’s incoherent how SETENA chooses not to address the Constitutional Court’s doubts, while at the same time recognizing the project’s viability without even researching certain technical criteria that might show how the tuna cages will impact the Golfo Dulce”, mentioned Miguel Gómez, Pretoma’s political campaigns coordinator.
“We hope that the Minister is consistent with other court decisions in this case and asks SETENA to comply with the Constitutional Court’s mandate”, said Andy Bystrom, Pretoma’s communications coordinator.
The project proposes to install 10 tuna cages at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce. It was suspended by court order on May 9, 2007 due to a series of inconsistencies referring to contamination threats to the surrounding ecosystem and its impact on sea turtles.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
The Seattle Times reports the discovery of a new species of anglerfish that has been given the name "Psychedelica". It seems to be the same fish that was discovered 17 years ago, but was mis-classed as another because its colors faded so drastically before the biologists studied it. Now that there is video footage and live testimonial, it is apparent that the fish moves in an utterly new fashion. Scientists are in a tizzy having found a new species.
Full coverage available through the Seattle Times - including video footage.