The Beacon

Victory for Sharks in Washington State

chris gregoire and oceana

Senator Ranker (left) and Oceana's Whit Sheard (right) with Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Senate.

Stellar news for sharks today: Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law a ban on the trade of shark fins.

“By signing this legislation the Governor took a very large west coast leadership role in initiating action to address a global problem,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “This bill will do two things, help us move closer to ending the wasteful and unnecessary depletion of our ocean’s top predators and serve as a model for Oregon and California as they have similar pending legislation.” 

While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with limited to zero shark protections in place. Similar legislation passed recently in Hawaii and Guam and is pending in Oregon and California.

Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to make shark fin soup. In this wasteful and cruel practice, a shark’s fins are sliced off while at sea and the remainder of the animal is thrown back into the water to die.

Congrats to Oceana’s Pacific campaigners for helping win this great victory for sharks!


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Zander Srodes

Zander Srodes with a leatherback sea turtle.

This is the third in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.    

The featured finalist today is Zander Srodes, who, at age 11, created “Turtle Talks,” an interactive workshop and activity book that teaches kids about sea turtle conservation.

Ten years later, more than 200,000 of Zander’s “Turtle Talks” books have been printed and sent to six continents, from Cuba to Mozambique, and it has been translated into several languages, including Tamil and Telugu. 

“I hope [Turtle Talks] will have a significant impact of the biodiversity of our planet,” Zander said via e-mail. “Turtle Talks promotes the message to youngsters that they are the generation that needs to become advocates for these charismatic reptiles.”

Recently Zander has expanded his sea turtle conservation efforts through eco-tourism. Last summer he hosted two groups of college students on service trips to Costa Rica, where they worked with local organizations that are preserving leatherback sea turtles.


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For 3rd Year Running, Oceana Receives 4-Star Rating

For the third year in a row, Oceana has received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, the largest independent evaluator of charities in the U.S., which recently updated their charity ratings.

Our 4-star rating is due to our outstanding organizational efficiency ratings. In other words, we put your money to work.

According to Charity Navigator CEO Ken Berger, "only 13% of the 5,500 charities we rate have received at least 3 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Oceana consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way, and outperforms most other charities in America." He also stated that the designation "differentiates Oceana from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust".


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Nancy Caruso

nancy caruso.

Nancy Caruso.

This is the second in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured finalist is Nancy Caruso, who was selected for her work to protect giant kelp forests in California. Nancy was inspired to become a marine biologist at age 10, and she has been involved in ocean conservation ever since.

After working on the Orange County Giant Kelp Restoration Project, Nancy started her own non-profit organization, Get Inspired!, which teaches students to grow giant kelp in classroom nurseries. Over the last nine years, Nancy has taught 4000 students to grow giant kelp, which is then planted in the ocean by the 250 volunteer scuba divers that she trained. In addition, this year Nancy started the only program in California to restock green abalone and white sea bass, also in classroom nurseries.

In 2010 Nancy started Kelpfest!, an annual festival with a mission to celebrate giant kelp forests. Thousands turned out in April for the second annual event in Laguna Beach, which included live music, a live underwater broadcast from the kelp forest just offshore, and a scale model of a kelp forest for people to walk through.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Zach Rome

zach rome

Zach Rome.

This is the first in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Starting today, I’ll be highlighting each of this year’s Ocean Hero finalists on the blog, since their stories deserve more space than what fits in the voting boxes at oceana.org/heroes.

First up we have Zach Rome, whose love for the oceans began at age 11, when his grandfather took him scuba diving in the Florida Keys. He was hooked, and spent subsequent summer vacations scuba diving around the world, climbing the scuba certification ladder.

He went on to study marine biology at the University of Miami, where he learned just how important and fragile the oceans are. He decided that after graduation, he would devote himself to passing on that knowledge.

After spending a few years working as a scuba instructor and middle school science teacher, he founded The Schooba Academy, a nonprofit organization based in Brooklyn, NY that teaches students from low-income communities about science through scuba diving.


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Vote for the 2011 Ocean Heroes!

This year's Junior Ocean Hero finalists.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year - time to vote for this year’s Ocean Heroes! The contest is back for the third year and the nominees are more inspiring than ever.

After carefully reviewing more than 500 excellent nominations (thanks to all the nominators!), our expert panel selected a group of six adult finalists and six junior finalists from around the country.

We’re really excited about this year’s crop of finalists, which include an inner-city scuba teacher, a deep-sea engineer, a young artist, plus shark, sea turtle and anti-oil drilling activists, and that’s just a start -- you won’t be disappointed by their stories.

The winners will be announced on June 8th, World Oceans Day, and will receive a prize package that includes great gifts from our corporate sponsors: a gift card from Nautica, a pair of Revo polarized sunglasses and a copy of For Cod & Country, the new guide to sustainable seafood from acclaimed Washington D.C. chef Barton Seaver.

You can vote for your favorite heroes in both the adult and junior categories until May 31. After voting, please help us spread the word by sharing on Facebook and Twitter!

What are you waiting for? Go vote!


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Exploring the Human-Dolphin Connection

© Oceana/Carlos Suarez.

In his new book, “The Voice of the Dolphins” ocean conservationist, filmmaker and Oceana supporter Hardy Jones reflects on his decades of work to protect dolphins and whales around the world, from killer whales in Norway’s fjords to sperm whales off the Galapagos Islands.

In addition to fighting dolphin hunting in Japan, Jones writes of his more recent work to stop one of the greatest threats to dolphins and humans: the rising level of contaminants, such as mercury and PCBs, in the ocean food chain.

The issue hit close to home with Jones when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2003, a form of blood cancer associated with chemical toxins. Blood tests revealed that he had highly elevated levels of chemicals such as DDT and flame retardants in his blood and tissues—the same chemicals found in ever-greater concentrations throughout dolphin populations around the world.


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Oceana’s Baltic Expedition

As we speak, a team of Oceana campaigners is exploring the Baltic Sea on a two-month scientific expedition. The Hanse Explorer set sail in April out of Copenhagen, where we recently opened an office.

The expedition team is analyzing areas of special ecological importance in the Baltic to propose new Marine Protected Areas. Using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), the crew is documenting marine biodiversity as well as fisheries activity in the Baltic Sea.

The expedition divers have been braving the icy waters -- reportedly 2° Celsius (35°  Fahrenheit) at one point -- to record some fantastic photo and video.  Diver Gorka Leclercq writes that during one -1° C dive, the team attempted to collect samples of the seabed by hand, only to find the sand was “frozen hard as stone.”

On the plus side, the lack of sediment in the water meant the divers were better able to see some of the cool creatures in the photos below. The images in the icy waters are my favorite, what about you?

 


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The Climate Crisis, Digitized

In Al Gore’s “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis”, published in November 2009, the former Vice President describes the changes we need to make in technology, business and politics to avert climate catastrophe.

This week, the book got a dramatic digital makeover through the Our Choice App, essentially the first full-length interactive book for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

The new app allows you to scroll through all nineteen chapters, zoom into any page, and pick up and pop open any item, including more than 250 photos and 30 interactive infographics and animations.

Anything that makes climate change more visually – and tangibly -- accessible is a great thing in our book (no pun intended.)

Watch the mesmerizing demo below and download it at the iTunes store.

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Al Gore's Our Choice from Push Pop Press on Vimeo.


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As Profits Surge, BP Plans to Resume Drilling

With the anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill still fresh in our minds, the first quarter of 2011 could turn out to be one of the oil industry’s most profitable ever. BP said yesterday it expects to resume drilling in the gulf in the second half of this year.

And that’s not all. As a result of soaring oil prices, the company also said that its net profits rose 17 percent in the first quarter to $7.1 billion. (In a slight consolation, BP’s profit fell 2 percent when compared with the first quarter of 2010, not counting a surge in the value of the company’s inventory.)

As Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in response to this news:

“When BP makes billions in profits, even after the year they just had, you know it’s time to cap the gusher of tax breaks that have been subsidizing the biggest oil companies for decades.”

We couldn’t agree more. Tell Congress to support clean energy legislation, not more dirty drilling.


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