This is part of a series of posts about our Pacific Hotspots expedition. Today's highlights: On their last day in Washington, the team saw an orca, spiny dogfish, techno-colored crabs and more.
Washington Leg, Final Day
As we prepped the ROV for its first dive, an orca slowly made its way around the island, easily identified by its magnificent tall, black dorsal fin. It was dinner time as we arrived at Kellett Bluff in Puget Sound. A harbor seal moved effortlessly across the surface of the water carrying its dinner, a large salmon. As we readied for the dive, more rhinoceros auklets feasted on sandlance.
Once the ROV was deployed we soon saw several spiny dogfish swimming back and forth in front of the camera’s path. This grey shark is important because it serves as both predator and prey, and this abundant little shark can have large effects on its ocean ecosystem. It’s also important to note that spiny dogfish reproduce in a way that makes them extremely vulnerable to overfishing. The age at which they reproduce has been estimated to be from 10 to 20 and even 30 years.
In Andrew’s Bay the crabs stole the show. A crab that can only be described as techno-colored perched on a rock. It was miraculously camouflaged despite its bright orange and red colors. Another intriguing crab was wearing a hydroid coral as a headpiece. It proudly wore this fanned coral with a height equal to the length of the crab’s body.
This is part of a series of posts about our Pacific Hotspots expedition. Today's highlights: On their first day in Washington, the team saw a minke whale, harbor seals and more in the San Juan Islands.
Washington Leg, Day 1
Just before 5 a.m., captain Todd Shuster started the two quiet engines of the eco catamaran, Gato Verde. Shortly thereafter we were riding the waves out of Port Angeles Harbor.
Due to gale force wind advisories in the central Strait of Juan de Fuca, we were forced to re-route our diving to the San Juan Islands. For years, we have been interested in the abundant forage and orca whale populations, steep drop-offs and strong currents in this area. As we approached the islands we were exuberant, curious, and hopeful of what we would find today.
Living among the sand and rocks of Hein Bay, a bed of scallops and sea urchins were kept company by corals and a diversity of fish species. A brief appearance by a minke whale off the bank was a highlight of this dive.
Stellar news for sharks today: Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law a ban on the trade of shark fins.
“By signing this legislation the Governor took a very large west coast leadership role in initiating action to address a global problem,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “This bill will do two things, help us move closer to ending the wasteful and unnecessary depletion of our ocean’s top predators and serve as a model for Oregon and California as they have similar pending legislation.”
While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with limited to zero shark protections in place. Similar legislation passed recently in Hawaii and Guam and is pending in Oregon and California.
Each year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins, mostly to make shark fin soup. In this wasteful and cruel practice, a shark’s fins are sliced off while at sea and the remainder of the animal is thrown back into the water to die.
Congrats to Oceana’s Pacific campaigners for helping win this great victory for sharks!
Great news from the Evergreen State: Washington State’s legislature has passed a bill banning the illegal trade of shark fins, an extraordinary step toward shark conservation on the U.S. Pacific coast. The legislation now goes to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
While shark finning is illegal in the U.S., current federal laws banning shark finning do not address the issue of the shark fin trade. As a result, fins are being imported to the U.S. from countries with limited to zero shark protections in place. Similar legislation passed recently in Hawaii and is pending in Oregon and California.
“This legislation is an excellent example of a state taking action to address a global problem,” said Whit Sheard, Senior Advisor and Pacific Counsel for Oceana. “This bill will help us move closer to ending the wasteful and unnecessary depletion of our ocean’s top predators.”