The Beacon: Emily Fisher's blog
Fantastic news from the international negotiations we told you about last week: the talks concluded on Friday with conservation measures that will protect more than 16.1 million square miles of seafloor habitat in the North Pacific Ocean from bottom trawling and other bottom contact gear.
Delegates also concluded negotiations on a new treaty. Once signed and ratified, it will establish a new fishery management organization charged with sustainably managing North Pacific Ocean fisheries.
Bottom trawls are massive weighted nets that drag along the ocean floor, destroying anything in their path, including ancient coral forests, gardens of anemones and entire fields of sea sponges. Today’s bottom trawlers go deeper and farther from shore than they could ever reach before, into high seas areas populated with slow-growing deep-sea fish and corals that are especially slow to recover from trawling. Nets can be 200 feet wide and 40 feet high, weighing as much as 1,000 pounds and reaching depths of more than 5,000 feet.
Why are sea slugs so much more beautiful than their terrestrial counterparts? I don’t know, but thank Neptune for nudibranchs.
Here’s a slideshow of some of the gorgeous “nudibranquios” (new favorite Spanish word) captured during the Oceana Ranger’s expeditions:
On March 29th, for the second year running, Oceana will benefit from Christie’s Green Auction, along with NRDC, Central Park Conservancy and Conservation International.
There are some fantastic items already up for bid online, including a chance to meet Lady Gaga, an eco-vacation in the Maldives, a day of sailing with David and Susan Rockefeller, and much more.
Leading up to the big day of the auction, we also want to know: what’s your personal “bid” to save the earth? It can be as small or big as you want. Maybe you want to start composting (that’s my bid), or bike to work more, or eat only sustainable seafood. Maybe you vow to use only eco-friendly products in the shower. Whatever it is, we want to know!
So here’s how to tell the world: Make a 15 second video with your bid and upload your video to your YouTube account. Label your video “mybid,” and include your name. All videos will be linked to the Bid to Save the Earth YouTube page.
Here’s a video explanation:
So go on, make those bid vids -- or just tell us your bid in the comments!
It’s one of the most miraculous journeys in the natural world: sea turtles travel thousands of miles across the ocean to return to the very beach where they first scuttled into the sea.
There aren’t exactly brightly lit mile markers in the sea, so how they do it? Scientists from the University of North Carolina (my alma mater!) say they have figured it out.
The researchers say that loggerhead sea turtles appear to be able to determine their longitude using the strength and angle of the Earth's magnetic field. Although several species of turtles are known to use magnetic cues to determine latitude, it had never been shown for longitude.
I didn’t realize this, but apparently the most difficult part of open-sea navigation is determining longitude (east-west position.) While human navigators struggled for centuries to figure it out on long-distance voyages, loggerhead hatchlings are naturals as soon as they hit the water.
To carry out the research loggerhead hatchlings were placed in circular water containers and tethered to electronic tracking systems to monitor their swimming direction.
Big news from across the pond: Oceana is growing.
We have just opened a new office in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark and one of Europe’s greenest cities. Copenhagen is perched between two major bodies of water: the brackish Baltic Sea to the east and the North Sea and Atlantic to the west.
While the Baltic region has provided enormous amounts of seafood historically -- most famously, cod -- today the Baltic faces pressure from industrial fishing. In addition, Copenhagen is an important city for diplomacy, and Oceana’s European offices in Madrid and Brussels will be well complemented by a team in Copenhagen.
The leader of our new Copenhagen office is a familiar face at Oceana. Anne Schroeer has worked as an economist for Oceana in Madrid for years, and she brings an intimate knowledge of fisheries and European diplomacy to the job. She will have her hands full in the coming months staffing the new office and planning her campaigns, which will include on-the-water expeditions.
Some sad news today -- the bodies of 20 infant and stillborn dolphins have been discovered since Jan. 20, most of them during the past week, on islands and beaches from Gulfport, Mississippi to Gulf Shores, Alabama, in what may be fallout from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
That’s about 10 times the number normally found in the two states during this time of the year, which is calving season in the region. None of the carcasses showed any obvious signs of oil contamination; necropsies are being performed and tissue samples taken to determine if toxic chemicals from the oil spill may have been a factor in the deaths.
We’ll let you know if we hear any more details. In the meantime, you can take action to prevent another oil disaster by asking Congress to stop subsidizing the oil industry and transition to clean energy.
On Sunday Oceana and the National Geographic Society, in an unprecedented collaboration with the Chilean Navy, launched a scientific expedition to the waters that surround Chile’s Sala y Gómez Island and Easter Island.
The expedition comes after a preliminary trip by Oceana and National Geographic last March. The results of that initial journey, as you may recall, led the Chilean government to create a no-take marine reserve, Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park, around Sala y Gómez. At 150,000 square kilometers, the park increases Chile’s protected marine areas from 0.03% to 4.4%.
The scientific results of this expedition will be crucial in monitoring the new marine park, and the scientists will assess the health of the waters surrounding Easter Island to determine the need for new conservation measures. Easter Island’s EEZ includes currently unprotect underwater mountains.
Ever visited a sea turtle sick ward? I have, and it's an enlightening, if sad, experience. Here’s your chance to do so virtually. Oceana supporter and actress Lauren Norman visited a Florida sea turtle hospital and science center and made the video below about what she learned.
Lauren discovers the main reasons sea turtles end up in rehab (fishing gear, boat propellers and cold stunning) and what can be done to protect sea turtles from ending up tangled in fishing gear, such as the use of turtle excluder devices.
Inspired by Lauren’s video? Now take action to protect sea turtles by telling President Obama that the ancient mariners need comprehensive protections in U.S. waters. Thanks to Lauren and all of you for helping protect sea turtles!
The Latest NYT “Scientist at Work” blog follows a sea turtle researcher, Lekelia “Kiki” Jenkins, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington, as she travels to Ecuador to study factors in the cross-cultural adoption of sea turtle conservation technologies like turtle excluder devices and circle hooks.
Here’s an excerpt from her first post, including a great explanation of how circle hooks help sea turtles, and why turtles are like 40-year-old virgins:
“Some scientists estimate that a quarter of a million sea turtles are ensnared in fishing lines each year. This is truly a problem for sea turtles, which are the “40-year-old virgins” of the oceans. Turtles have a life span similar to humans, but might not start having young until they are several decades old. Dehookers and circle hooks are part of a suite of solutions that help longline fishers protect sea turtles, allowing them to mature and bear young while helping fishers continue to catch profitable tuna, swordfish and mahi-mahi.
The new issue of the Oceana magazine features a Q&A with author Paul Greenberg, whose book Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, has won praise from conservationists and foodies alike. Greenberg also wrote several guest blogs posts for us in the fall. Needless to say, we are big fans. You'll see why:
Why salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna?
Salmon, usually farmed Atlantic salmon, is like the corn of the sea, grown on every continent now, save Antarctica, even though it historically never lived south of the equator.
Sea bass, that catch-all name that describes so many fish, has become the market niche of the white, meaty fish. The name "bass" itself is a cover for a troubling fish swapping game where we progressively replace depleted species with new ones and give them the same name so that consumers don't notice the swap.
Similarly, cod represents an even more massive example of fish swapping. Only with cod, you're talking about the swapping of literally billions of pounds of fish for a whole array of both farmed and wild fish that fill a similar flesh niche.