The Beacon: Ashley Blacow's blog
This is part of a series of posts about our Pacific Hotspots expedition.
Today, in beautiful Monterey, Oceana kicked off the first part of a three-week research cruise. This week we are aboard the research vessel Derek M. Baylis, focusing on Important Ecological Areas (ocean hotspots) in Monterey Bay.
Today’s goal consisted of conducting trial runs with the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) called Video Ray Pro IV as well as allowing the Oceana crew from South America, Alaska, Oregon, and California to get our sea legs and refine our on-board duties. With a small High Definition camera on the ROV, we recorded about an hour of footage at each of the four sites we visited.
At the Monterey Shale Beds, at depths up to 125 feet, we observed a myriad of life in the nooks and crannies including sea cucumbers, anemones, gobies, juvenile rockfish, kelp rockfish, sculpins, gorgonian corals, an octopus, a wolf eel, and a metridium (an anemone that looks like white cauliflower). We watched a sunflower star feeding and a sheep crab that was not so ‘sheepish’ as it instigated a wrestling match with the ROV.
Yesterday afternoon, the California Assembly acknowledged the critical role that forage species play in maintaining a healthy marine food web by passing Assembly Bill 1299 (AB 1299), sponsored by Oceana and introduced by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael).
Forage species, like sardines, herring, and market squid, are truly the “heartbeat” of the ocean forming the foundation of the food web – which in turn benefits everything else that eats these small fish.
AB 1299 provides a much needed change in the way California manages its fisheries by establishing a state policy that will for the first time consider how much forage should be left in the ocean. This is not just an environmental issue, but largely an economic one; forage species help support California’s recreation and tourism economy, which is worth over $12 billion annually, providing more than 250,000 jobs in the state.
Chinese NBA basketball star Yao Ming hopes so. As center for the Houston Rockets, Ming is spreading the word to “Say no to shark fin soup” with his new ads sponsored by Oceana and WildAid.
Ming’s message is traveling through San Francisco by bus, including those on Chinatown routes to support legislation (AB 376) to ban the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins in California.
Oceanography legend Jacques Cousteau once said “The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” This spellbound wonder is certainly true for our fascination with the 7 species of sea turtles that have inhabited the world’s oceans for four million years and, sadly, which are all now threatened or endangered with extinction. These awe-inspiring ocean reptiles were the focus of the 31st Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology & Conservation in San Diego.
Actress and sea turtle advocate Rachael Harris (“The Hangover”) presented at our Friday reception. She shared a special connection she made with a green sea turtle named Esmeralda while touring a sea turtle rehabilitation center in Mexico with Oceana last year.
Harris was captivated by how expressive Esmeralda was despite her flippers being mutilated after becoming entangled in fishing line and being attacked by a dog while on a beach to nest. Harris’ enthusiastic support for sea turtle protections is shared by fellow sea turtle advocate Angela Kinsey (“The Office”). The two will storm the nation’s capitol in early May to educate Congress about why we need to get turtles off the hook and the need for more sea turtle protections throughout our nation’s waters.
California voters successfully defeated Proposition 23 that would have essentially repealed California’s landmark climate change legislation. The Wavemakers of California sent a strong message to Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro and the California Legislature that we want clean air, clean energy, and we want to protect our oceans.
Thanks to you, California can continue to move forward to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions-ultimately, keeping the world on the right path to reduce the impacts of ocean acidification and other climate induced effects including sea level rise, changes in species distribution, and loss of ocean habitats.
California’s Parks System faced collapse last year and the picture for the coming years looks grim.
Enter Proposition 21, a statewide ballot initiative that offers hope to help ensure our 278 state parks and beaches stay up and running and our wildlife and marine resources are protected. Prop 21 establishes a stable, reliable and adequate funding source through an $18 increase in the California vehicle registration fee. These funds will be directly deposited into a State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund and can only be used for operation of state parks and protection of ocean resources and wildlife.
- What Do Historic CO2 Levels Mean for the Oceans? Posted Tue, May 14, 2013
- U.S. Coast Guard Captures Illegal Fishermen in Texas Posted Tue, May 14, 2013
- Victory! Delaware Becomes Seventh State in U.S. to Ban Shark Fin Trade! Posted Thu, May 16, 2013
- It's Endangered Species Day! Posted Fri, May 17, 2013
- Stocks Show Signs of Recovery, But Still Work to Do Posted Fri, May 17, 2013