The Beacon: Andy Sharpless's blog
Every year environmental and animal welfare groups join forces to boo and hiss at (and work to oppose) Japan during the International Whaling Commission meeting. In 1986 the IWC instituted a moratorium on commercial whaling, and ever since, Japan has been fighting to overturn it. This year, Japan and its allies came dangerously close to inhaling the sweet smell of success.
Juliet knew what she was talking about when she uttered the famous line, "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But the question remains "would it taste as good?"
Scientists say abnormal "intersex" fish, with both male and female characteristics, have been discovered in the Potomac River and its tributaries across the Capitol Region. Although scientists are not sure of the source of the problem, they suspect Felicity Huffman is to blame.
irony; from the Latin ironia; incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result; example: earning fame and fortune wrestling crocodiles and being killed by a basically inoffensive marine creature.
Beloved naturalist Steve Irwin, aka "the crocodile hunter," was killed by a stingray during a diving expedition off the Australian coast on Sunday. The stingray's barb had pierced the tv personality's heart and he died within moments.
Although I'm no fan of the cigarette companies, I have to give credit where credit is due. They have often been on the cutting edge of advertising and marketing. Marlboro made it cool for men to smoke, Virginia Slims made it cool for women to smoke and Camels made it cool for - well, let's not go there.
Flipping through Newsweek the other day, I came across an ad for American Spirit. Since I'm a non-smoker, I didn't realize there was a cigarette company marketing itself as the "organic" cigarette manufacturer. As I was rolling my eyes at the advertisement, a silver lining emerged from the cloud of tobacco smoke.
With the height of hurricane season approaching, and the Katrina anniversary monopolizing the media, it's fair to say America's got hurricane on the brain. While coastal residents and (let's hope) the government prepare for this year's storms, so, too do marine creatures.
Scientists and volunteers near Conch Reef rounded up about 500 long-spined sea urchins (critical to the health of coral reefs) in a shallow rubble zone and moved them to deeper water on the coral reef where they'll be safer.
Take note, Mr. President. Preventative action before hurricanes = good. Still in the "beginning" stages of recovery a year after the fact = bad.
The classic battle of man vs. fish has resulted in dozens of blockbusters and bestsellers. But the drama and adventure that makes these stories great are noticeably absent from most fishing practices in this day and age. Take, for example, sharking.
A recent article in the Sun Herald outlines a simple three-step process for hunting sharks. Follow a shrimp boat. Wait. Stick your pole in the water.
Shrimp boats, after pulling trawls throughout the night, collect their shrimp and then throw the rest of the catch overboard. This "bycatch" is a smorgasbord of dead or dying fish, and a "feeding frenzy" of sharks quickly ensues. According to the article's author, Al Jones, "fishing behind anchored shrimp boats can be an awesome experience once a feeding frenzy is under way."
Quint must be rolling over in his grave.
Am I the only one who thinks world record titles should be reserved for people that actually have a skill? I'm not impressed by the fastest tomato ketchup drinker (Dustin Phillips) or the largest group hug (6,623 participants). And I really don't care who the most overrated celebrity is (Paris Hilton - big surprise).
What does interest me is athletes that excel at their sport to such a degree that if it wasn't videotaped we wouldn't believe them. Athletes like Aaron Peirsol.
Aaron defeated American teammate Michael Phelps by 2.37 seconds for a world record in the 200-meter backstroke at the Pan Pacific Championships on Saturday night in what he called "the best swim of my life." Aaron completed the race in 1 minute 54.44 seconds - about the time it takes you and me to make a sandwich.
You're probably thinking, "that's all very nice and good - but what business does this accomplishment have being on an oceans blog?" The answer is Aaron isn't just a three-time Olympic gold medal winner, he's also an ocean advocate. And when he isn't racing for the gold, he's racing for the oceans.
Twenty-eight years ago, the world welcomed (albeit with raised eyebrows), the first "test tube baby" into the world. Back then, in vitro fertilization (IVF) was considered a radical medical procedure. But after the success of a few hundred thousand IVF babies, it was only logical to take the concept to the next level. Enter coral reefs.
A team of University of Miami marine science researchers is collecting coral eggs and sperm all this week during an annual reproductive ritual, dubbed coral spawning. They hope "test-tube coral babies" will take root to help restore a tract of reef ravaged by a 1984 ship grounding in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Brace yourself for an even more radical idea to help coral reefs: not destroying them in the first place.
On Wednesday, more than 150 admiring beachgoers said goodbye to "Little Crush" as it was returned to its salty underwater home. This rehabilitated green sea turtle washed ashore five months earlier, underweight and ill from ingesting more than 70 man-made items discarded in the oceans. After being treated by a team of Walt Disney World animal care specialists, it regained its health and was released into the ocean. Little Crush (so named for his resemblance to Disney's turtle character in Finding Nemo) was also equipped with a satellite transmitter enabling researchers to keep tabs on its ocean voyages. According to 11-year-old Alex Custer, the ceremony was "awesome."
Little did Alex and those other 150 beachgoers know that Little Crush is not heading into a ocean of possibilities, he's heading into a sea of danger. He'll have to run a gauntlet of commercial fishing gear and may -- if he's like many other sea turtles -- end up hooked on a longline or captured in a net. Alex and the beachgoers also mostly likely don't realize that our government ignores its own laws and officially sanctions and allows the catching (and killing) of thousands of endangered and threatened sea turtles by commercial fishing operations every year. Not quite the Disney ending we'd (all) hope for.
- Puffins Are Struggling with Warming Waters Posted Thu, June 13, 2013
- Scottish Government Welcomes New Wind Subsidies! Posted Thu, June 13, 2013
- Oceana Testifies in Support of MA Seafood Labeling Bills Posted Fri, June 14, 2013
- Meet the Faces of the Ocean Hero Junior Awards! Posted Fri, June 14, 2013
- Destructive Fishing Gear Kills 400K+ Seabirds per Year Posted Mon, June 17, 2013