tmarshall's blog

Why We Should Write More Letters

Posted Wed, Sep 30, 2009 by tmarshall

When I attend a conference held in a hotel, there are a few things I expect. Chilly meeting rooms, people running to the door for smoke breaks and complimentary pens top the list. So I was surprised when a run-of-the-mill seminar led me to writing a letter (a real one, with a stamp and all) about shark conservation and climate change. And even more surprised when that letter made a difference in at least one branch of an international hotel chain!

Here’s the letter (abridged) I sent earlier this month –

Dear Hilton Alexandria Mark Center,

I recently completed a two day seminar at your hotel and overall, had a pleasant experience. However, as a company that has a “Sustainability” tab on your homepage, two things that I encountered during my time should not have happened.

During lunch on 14 September 2009, mako shark was one of the offered entrees. Sharks grow slowly, have few young and are victims of widespread overfishing and bycatch. Also, as top level predators, mercury and other contaminants accumulate in their bodies. Once a person eats the contaminated shark meat, the toxins are passed along. You should not be serving shark, not only for the environmental impact on the world’s oceans, but also for the safety of your guests.

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Herbie's Looking for Love

Posted Wed, Sep 9, 2009 by tmarshall

If you are lucky enough to be in southern California soon, make sure you stop by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to check out their new exhibit, The Secret

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The Bahamas Outlaws Sea Turtle Killing

Posted Tue, Sep 1, 2009 by tmarshall to

hawksbill sea turtle

Effective today, it is illegal to kill any turtle in the waters surrounding the Bahamas.

Five of the world’s seven sea turtles spend some portion of their life in the waters and on the beaches of the Bahamas. Previously, it was only illegal to kill hawksbill sea turtles.

In addition to the great work of many groups on the ground in the Bahamas, Oceana played a pivotal role. Our campaigners wrote formal letters and you, our Wavemakers, emailed the Bahamian government in the thousands, voicing your support for our flippered friends.

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The Human Side of Bycatch

Posted Tue, Sep 1, 2009 by tmarshall to

Shrinking fish populations often dominate conversations on bycatch. As well they should – irresponsible fishing has left many of the world’s fisheries in dire straits, threatening species with extinction. But what of the human element of bycatch? For many fishing communities in Alaska, the pollock fishery and resulting king salmon bycatch paint a bleak picture for the winter ahead.

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The Scanner

Posted Fri, Aug 28, 2009 by tmarshall

sea lion

Happy Friday, everyone!

Before going off to enjoy the last weekend in August, check out this week’s ocean news.

...Regrowth of staghorn corals has Florida scientists rejoicing but also scratching their heads.

...Jeremy Piven's mercury poisoning held up in court.

...Humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy whale watching humpbacks seem to enjoy the attention too.

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Back to School: Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Posted Thu, Aug 27, 2009 by tmarshall to

The carapace, or shell, of the hawksbill sea turtle likely looks very familiar to you. Often considered the most beautiful sea turtle shell, it is also the most common source of tortoiseshell products. Even though they are listed as critically endangered, hawksbill products are still sold as souvenirs in some countries.

Learn more about this marine reptile and other sea creatures at the Creature Corner. I hope you learned a bit more this week about the animals we share the oceans with this week!

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Back to School: Sperm Whale

Posted Thu, Aug 27, 2009 by tmarshall to sperm whales, whales

sperm whale

Sperm whales are named for the waxy oil in their head, spermaceti. Used in many industries ranging from cosmetics to automotive, spermaceti drove whalers to target sperm whales and they are now listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Due to their size, however, sperm whales have been known to fight back, famously attacking and sinking the whaling ship, Essex, the ship Moby Dick is based upon. Learn more about these large predators and other animals in the Creature Corner.

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Whale Wednesday: Land Lubber Whale Watching

Posted Wed, Aug 26, 2009 by tmarshall to whale watching, whale wednesday, whales

No matter where you are in the world, you can get in on whale watching action via the magic of the interwebs. Whale watching has gone digital, bringing cetacean sightings to all, even those in landlocked states. Documentary filmmaker David Anderson has mounted several cameras on his 50-foot catamaran, allowing anyone with internet access the chance to see whales and dolphins off the southern California coast. And for those who can’t afford to spend all day staring at a computer screen hoping to catch a glimpse of a flipper, Anderson updates his viewers via Twitter, sending out alerts prior to sightings. Check out his website for more info, including how to sign up to be an indoor whale watcher.

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Back to School: Manta Ray

Posted Wed, Aug 26, 2009 by tmarshall

The largest ray species in the world, manta rays feast on plankton and small fish. They move through the water by gently flapping their wide wings. Despite their size, they also “fly” through the air, propelling themselves out of the water and in the process, occasionally give birth. Talk about a grand entrance into the world!

Learn more about rays and other marine animals in the Creature Corner.

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