Every year, our research vessel, the Oceana Ranger, explores new areas of the ocean and collects scientific data – and incredible photos! -- to help protect vulnerable marine habitats.
This week, our colleagues in Europe presented their findings to an environmental rule-making body in the Northeast Atlantic, and we’re hopeful that it will lead to exciting new ocean protection measures.
Europe’s Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) offers guidelines about threatened species and habitat types that should be protected. However, these principles rely on old and incomplete data, so countries have had trouble using them effectively.
Although Norway, the UK, and Germany have already taken steps to explore and protect their seafloor communities, Spain and Portugal have had much less information about their oceans and so have been less active in preserving it.
But thanks to our expedition findings, that might change. Oceana presented OSPAR with findings about coral gardens, deep sea sponges and seapen communities from our expeditions in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean. In total, our scientists presented 28 previously unknown areas that have these types of habitats.
These habitats are home to some of the most diverse and unique communities in the oceans. Creating marine protected areas to preserve them can go a long way in keeping the oceans and everything that lives in them healthy.
Here’s hoping that today’s presentation will pave the way for both continued scientific study and additional protections.
It’s a busy and exciting time of year for our campaigners on the water -- and for those of us who get to see the photos and videos of the incredible marine life and habitats that they send back to land.
As you know if you’ve been following the blog for the past week or so, we have a team off the coast of Oregon right now exploring important ecological areas. And today, our team in Europe is launching its seventh annual summer expedition.
This year the Oceana catamaran, Ranger, will sail for two months through the western Mediterranean and the Atlantic to study seamounts and sea canyons, ocean environments that are rich in biodiversity but relatively unexplored due to their depth and complex terrains. That’s where our scientists, divers and underwater robot (ROV) come in.
In one of the most exciting aspects of this year’s expedition, Oceana will collaborate with Portuguese government officials and scientists to investigate the Gorringe Bank, a little-explored seamount and an oasis of biodiversity southwest of Portugal. Oceana last surveyed these waters in 2005, but this time around, using the ROV, the team will be exploring and documenting areas more than 2,500 feet -- that’s about half a mile! -- below the surface of the ocean.
The ROV will record high-resolution videos and photos, which will ultimately be used to propose the creation of marine protected areas and other conservation measures.
We can’t wait to see what our teams find in the ocean’s depths. We’ll keep you updated as the journey progresses!
As a part of European Maritime Day, today Oceana’s team in the Baltic released some initial findings from the ongoing expedition. They presented guidelines for the protection of the Baltic Sea, including rules for sustainable fisheries management, habitat protection and ending harmful fishing subsidies.
The expedition team has been documenting the incredible biodiversity of the Baltic; check out the latest photos - from beautiful nudibranchs to grey seals to a dead jellyfish in the oxygen-deprived bottom of the deepest part of the Baltic:
These photos reveal the impact of pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices on the Baltic, but they also show areas with healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, providing a window into what the Baltic Sea could look like if Marine Protected Areas are expanded and well-protected, and if laws and regulations are fully enforced.
Studies have shown that such enhanced protection measures and more stringent management of fish resources would benefit fishermen and local communities dependent on fisheries, as well as at-risk ecosystems.
Stay tuned for more from our team in the Baltic!
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.