The Beacon: Emily Fisher's blog
This is the second in a series of ocean infographics by artist Don Foley. These infographics also appear in Oceana board member Ted Danson’s book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.”
With shark week fast approaching, how about a shark-related infographic to whet your appetite?
Today’s infographic illustrates how overfishing fundamentally alters ocean ecosystems, leading to fewer and smaller fish over time.
If overfishing isn’t stopped, the largest fish like sharks, tuna, cod, and salmon eventually run out and overfishing expands to previously untargeted, smaller species, some of which were considered undesirable. As a result, the world catch is now primarily made up of small fish like pollock rather than large predators like grouper, and this shift to smaller and smaller species over time is called “fishing down the food chain.”
Shark Week is almost here -- are you ready?
For the second year in a row, Oceana is partnering with Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which kicks off on Sunday, July 31st at 9PM. We’re especially stoked about the host this year, comedian and Chief Shark Officer Andy Samberg.
For a one-hour special, Samberg travels to the Bahamas to swim with sharks off the shores of Nassau. Another of this year’s highlights is “Jaws Comes Home,” a Mike Rowe-narrated feature that follows five great white sharks as they make their 1,200-mile journey up and down the eastern seaboard.
Keep your eyes peeled for the nightly Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that encourage viewers to help protect sharks with Oceana.
Here are a few more ideas for how to celebrate the 24th annual sharktacular:
1. Take Action If even just 10% of all Shark Week viewers took action to protect sharks, that would equal millions of people speaking up for the animals they tune in to see each year.
2. Adopt a Shark. Make a $35 donation and get a shark cookie cutter and recipe card.
3. Play Shark Bingo. Add a little competition to your shark-watching with these Shark Week Bingo Cards. Grab a beverage, and turn it into a drinking game -- you can even use bottle caps as playing pieces.
Check out Discovery’s full programming schedule and stay tuned for our episode recaps and more shark fun next week!
Lucas visited picturesque Yaquina Head, a promontory southwest of Portland known for its views of the gray whale migration route and seabird nesting areas. Here he is on the water:
“We were all inside a landscape that was electrifying and it made you understand why the conservation movement is so profound and important,” Lucas told GQ. “That’s the thing I’ve learned working with Oceana: If you deplete one little place like the ocean waters off Cascade Head—which is so magnificent and so lush with life—that depletion begins this domino effect that rings true across a large area.”
You can read more about Lucas’s journey at the GQ Gentlemen’s Fund. Needless to say, we’re thrilled that he has joined the cause to protect the world’s oceans.
Josh Lucas appeared in the Oscar-winning “A Beautiful Mind," and will also appear in NBC’s forthcoming drama “The Firm.” Catch him as Charles Lindbergh in “J.Edgar,” opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Judi Dench, in theaters this fall.
Since a lot of what happens in the oceans is hidden from view, the issues we discuss here on the blog can often be abstract and hard to visualize.
That’s why starting today, I’ll be featuring an ocean infographic by artist Don Foley each week. These infographics also appear in Oceana board member Ted Danson’s book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.”
I thought I’d start with one of the most mysterious players in the ocean: fishing gear. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never actually seen any of these in real life (have you?), so I find this infographic quite helpful:
Dredges catch scallops and fish by dragging across the seafloor. They can crush corals, catch sea turtles, and disturb all kinds of seafloor life.
Purse seine nets catch schooling fish like tuna by encircling the school with a wall of netting. They can capture dolphins and other natural predators feeding on the school.
Trawl nets catch shrimp, cod, haddock, and other fish. Bottom trawls drag weighted nets across the seafloor, crushing corals or any other marine life in their path. Bottom trawls also discard more unwanted fish than almost any other form of fishing and are extremely destructive. Midwater trawls drag large nets through the water to catch pollock and other schooling fish, and when their nets are full, they may also drag on the bottom.
Gillnets are one of the most widely used methods in the world for catching salmon and sharks. When not closely tended, gillnets can entangle and drown sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals. Some gillnets also snag large numbers of juvenile fish, which contributes to overfishing.
Read more about fishing weaponry and see a larger version of this infographic, and come back next week to ogle more ocean visuals!
As you can see, these cetaceans have a bulbous head and short jaw, with flippers that almost look like elbows due to their sharp backward bend. Long-finned pilot whales feed mainly on deep-sea squid and octopus, and they are quite sociable, often living in groups of hundreds. They sometimes become disoriented in shallow waters and have been known to strand in large numbers.
Stay tuned for a new photo each week!
The Oceana Ranger has now been at sea for several weeks, and as usual, the crew has been sending us some incredible photos. Starting this week, I’ll be posting a photo of the week from the journey.
This week’s photo of a beautiful octopus comes from a dive the team did off Portugal’s beautiful Algarve region, in Pedra de Martinhal. As the photographer noted, this curious octopus wasn’t scared off by the camera, perhaps because it was mesmerized by its reflection in the glass.
Stay tuned for more great photos in the coming weeks, and check out the Ranger set on Flickr.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s start with the bad:
In a new report released this week, the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) warns that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.
The preliminary report from IPSO is the result of the first-ever interdisciplinary international workshop examining the combined impact of all of the stressors currently affecting the oceans, including pollution, warming, ocean acidification, overfishing and hypoxia.
It turns out that the confluence of overfishing, pollution and climate change is worse than previously thought, as Oceana’s Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield explains to CBS News in this clip:
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!
Washington Post environment and politics reporter Juliet Eilperin has a new book out today that explores the science and mythology behind the ocean’s top predators.
In “Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks,” Eilperin travels the globe -- she swims with whale sharks in Belize and great white sharks in South Africa -- to investigate how individuals and cultures relate to sharks and how the misperceptions surrounding them threaten their continued existence on the planet.
The book also includes a few nods to Oceana’s shark campaign work, including our work to combat the use of squalane in beauty products, and actress January Jones’ visit to Capitol Hill to advocate for sharks.
But enough about us, be sure to check out NPR’s great interview with Eilperin, and catch her on tour in the coming months. You can see her full tour schedule as well as excerpts, reviews and other information about the book at www.demonfishbook.com.
Here’s a book trailer for “Demon Fish” to whet your appetite:
Last Thursday Oceana board member Ted Danson was the featured guest on WAMU’s The Diane Rehm Show. He covers a lot of ground in the hour, including overfishing, seafood fraud, aquaculture and bottom trawling.
He explains to Diane,
“…It's one of those amazing potential worldwide disasters that does not have to happen. It's a great story. Hey, how did -- hey, grandma and grandpa, what did you do when you found out that we were fishing out our oceans? To be able to turn around and say, well, this is what I did and this is why we still have fish. That's an exciting thing. We should not be overwhelmed by this. We should educate ourselves. We should let science lead the way and then you pass laws to change policy and you enforce those laws.”
Have a listen and don’t forget to check out Ted’s new book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them.”