The most familiar victims of the oil spill are the ones with faces: birds, sea turtles, dolphins, whales.
But as the New York Times reports today, there are at least three extensive deep-sea coral reefs lying directly beneath the oil slick in the gulf. And coral reefs can’t swim or fly away from the plumes of partly dispersed oil spreading in the deep sea.
Both oil and dispersants are toxic to corals and have been found to impede the ability of corals to grow and reproduce, and the effects are amplified when they are mixed, which may be the case with these plumes.
It’s unknown exactly how sensitive deep-sea corals are to oil and dispersants, though as Oceana’s Pacific science director Jeffrey Short told the Times, “It might be locally catastrophic, particularly if there’s an oxygen-depleted mass that develops.”
This is the second in a series of posts about the 2009 Ocean Heroes finalists.
Today we’re catching up with Lynora Indiviglio, who was a finalist last year because she founded the PalmBeach HammerHeads, South Florida's largest environmental dive club. For the past 8 years, the group has cleaned the areas reefs the last Sunday of every month. Lynora is also a member of the Palm Beach County Reef Research Team, which documents the health of Palm Beach County's Artificial Reef Program.
Sounds like she and the HammerHeads are busy as ever. She sent us this e-mail:
“The HammerHeads are still working hard at their cleanups and spreading the important news about the ocean and its importance to us all.
I met with Karen the 'Red Tide Coordinator' this past week as myself and some other HammerHeads have been collecting samples for her. We also had a representative from South Florida Water Management District come talk to us about the laboratory they have in the Everglades and what they're doing out there. She did a presentation at our March meeting and we had a full house.”
Inspired by Lynora's commitment to ocean conservation? Nominate an ocean hero you know, young or old.
A very happy birthday to E, the Environmental Magazine, which recently turned 20 years old. A lot has happened in the environmental world in those two decades, and a lot has also stayed the same.
This excerpt of their article retrospective brings to mind some all-too-familiar ocean threats. (Oh, and thanks for the shout-out):
"A fish in a net was the cover model for E’s July/August 1996 feature on overfishing. With the headline “Vacuuming the Sea,” the article reported that 70% of the world’s marine fish stocks had been heavily exploited.
After receiving nearly 500 nominations and thousands of votes for its final group of nominees, out of eight finalists, this year’s Ocean Hero is John Halas, a marine biologist and manager of the Upper Region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Halas has been working to protect coral systems in Florida since 1981. After observing coral damage caused by careless anchoring, he took it upon himself to develop an environmentally friendly anchor and mooring buoy system that prevents damage to coral reefs and has worked to implement this anchorage system in 38 countries.
“My work is something I have felt strongly about and it is really a great honor to receive this acknowledgement,” Halas said.