Earlier this week, Oceana launched an expedition to document three seamounts located between the islands of Mallorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, all of which belong to the Balearic Islands. Using an underwater robot known as a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), a team of Oceana marine scientists will capture footage at depths of up to 3,280 feet. The 10-day expedition will allow Oceana to learn about and map areas of ecological importance that are in need of conservation.
Oceana is a truly international organization, with campaigners at work in places from Alaska to Chile and Europe. And our leadership reflects that international agenda. We’re fortunate to have the vision of board members from around the world.
In the past week, two of our board members have spoken up on our behalf with essays in the Huffington Post, and I wanted to share their insight with you.
María Eugenia Girón is a Spanish business leader as well as Oceana board member, and she reported on Oceana’s successful battle to get the government of Spain to issue mercury warnings on certain seafood. Spain is one of the world’s largest consumers of seafood per capita, so the warning is much-needed. The announcement came after Oceana was forced to sue the Spanish government to release its own reports that show high levels of mercury in Spanish seafood.
María writes in the Huffington Post:
As a Spaniard, I'm proud of our seafood tradition. Unfortunately, as a mother, I'm worried. There's a downside to our seafood habit: studies have shown that the mercury level in our blood is 10 times that of the average level in the US and in other countries.
The next step is to get Spanish grocery stores to post mercury warnings, much like the stores on Oceana’s Green List in the U.S. have done after our prodding.
Our chairman, Dr. Kristian Parker, is a marine biologist and citizen of Denmark. He reported on Oceana’s summer expedition in northern Europe’s Baltic Sea. He writes:
Despite being surrounded by some of Europe's oldest cities, such as Stockholm and Copenhagen, the Baltic Sea doesn't get too much global attention. That's a shame, because the Baltic has provided fish for millions of people since the days of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, the sea is increasingly sick as a result of decades of pollution and overfishing.
The Baltic Sea expedition was the first of its kind launched by a nonprofit; the crew of campaigners and scientists covered 7,000 nautical miles, some of it in absolutely frigid conditions. Now back on shore, we will analyze all the good data the crew gathered to help make the case for additional protections for this important source of seafood in Europe.
Several other members of our board of directors, including board president Keith Addis and Susan Rockefeller, have also spoken out on Oceana’s behalf. Their commitment to the future healthy and vitality of our oceans is greatly appreciated, as is yours.
The expedition team is analyzing areas of special ecological importance in the Baltic to propose new Marine Protected Areas. Using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), the crew is documenting marine biodiversity as well as fisheries activity in the Baltic Sea.
The expedition divers have been braving the icy waters -- reportedly 2° Celsius (35° Fahrenheit) at one point -- to record some fantastic photo and video. Diver Gorka Leclercq writes that during one -1° C dive, the team attempted to collect samples of the seabed by hand, only to find the sand was “frozen hard as stone.”
On the plus side, the lack of sediment in the water meant the divers were better able to see some of the cool creatures in the photos below. The images in the icy waters are my favorite, what about you?