âWalls of death.â Gillnets have often been described in this haunting way due to their devastating ability to catch all kinds of fish, as well as sea turtles, seals, dolphins, and even whales. Marine creatures of all sizes and species are indiscriminately snared and drowned in these death traps, and a recent report reveals that even birds are being killed by these sea nets. A study in the journal Biological Conservation reported that fishing vessels that deploy gillnets snare and drown at least 400,000 sea birds around the world every year. The actual figure could be even higher.
Sawfish have a reason to breathe a little easier today: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has completed comprehensive status reviews under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and has determined that five foreign species of sawfish meet the definition of âendangeredâ under the Act. Of course, this âvictoryâ is bittersweet: no one is celebrating the fact that sawfish species are endangered, but rather that they now will finally receive the protections they so desperately need to recover their numbers.
An environmentalist fighting for endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica has been found dead, suspected killed by sea turtle poachers. Jairo Mora Sandoval, a noted Costa Rican environmentalist, was a biology student who worked for the state-sponsored Paradero Eco-Tour, an animal rescue group and turtle sanctuary. Mora Sandoval also worked as a volunteer with the nonprofit environmental group Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), which works to protect sea turtles and their eggs across Central America. Mora Sandoval worked particularly to protect leatherback turtle nests from poachers and smugglers in Moin beach in Limon province. He was reported found badly beaten and shot in the head, face down with his hands tied on Moin beach, which lies 105 miles east of Costa Ricaâs capital, San Jose. Sandoval was 26.
Happy World Turtle Day! While World Turtle Day celebrates turtles that roam both the land and the sea, as well as tortoises, we at Oceana would especially like to recognize the magnificent species of sea turtles that roam throughout the worldâs oceans. The seven species classified as sea turtles around the world are truly incredible: most undergo incredible long migrations â some as far as 1,400 miles âbetween their feeding grounds and the beaches where they nest. Some loggerhead sea turtles nest in Japan and migrate to Baja del Sur, Mexico, to forage before swimming across the Pacific Ocean again to return home! Amazingly, female sea turtles even return to the exact beach where they hatched as babies to nest and lay their eggs.
May 17th is the day to show your love for endangered sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and all sorts of marine creatures. Why? Because itâs Endangered Species Day! Today is the day to learn and share information about your favorite endangered animals and rally support around the creatures that need it most.
Following Oceanaâs newly released report on the harmful impacts of illegal fishing, one of the questions that I as Oceana's Northeast representative was asked most often was, âWhere is this happening?â The short answer: Illegal fishing happens everywhere, from the most distant waters near Antarctica to just off the U.S. coast.
While weâre going to file this under the âdonât try this at homeâ category, a promotional video for the GoPro underwater camera showing a free diver from Hawaii swimming with a great white shark is bringing immense amounts of attention to this majestic predator, and encouraging many to rethink the great whiteâs fearsome âJawsâ reputation.
The video, entitled âA Blonde and a Great White Sharkâ shows diver Ocean Ramsey (yes, you read that right) approaching a great white shark and stroking the sharkâs back before gently holding its dorsal fin while it swims through clear azure waters. With more than half a million views, the video, appropriately released on Valentineâs Day, shows that the great white shark as a magnificent ocean creature to be respected, loved, and protected, rather than a deadly man-eater to be feared. Ramseyâs website, www.waterinspired.com, quotes the Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum: â âIn the end people will only protect what they love, and only love what they understand . . .â I hope that by sharing my experiences with sharks I might inspire others to take action and help protect these amazing creatures before it's too late,â Ramsey writes.
As 2013 rapidly approaches, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past year at Oceana. Thanks to your support, we were able to achieve more than a dozen major victories for the oceans! You signed petitions to lawmakers and companies, submitted seafood samples and participated in rallies and events, and it made a difference. Here are five of the major victories we won in 2012 as a result:
1. Alibaba.com stops selling manta ray products
When Oceana discovered that the online international marketplace Alibaba.com was selling manta ray products, we asked for your help in stopping it. Nearly 40,000 of you responded by signing our petition, and Alibaba listened, removing manta ray leather products from the website.
2. Victories for the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle
2012 was a good year for endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles. We helped establish the first permanent safe haven for leatherbacks in continental U.S. waters this year. The government designated nearly 42,000 square miles of critical habitat off the West Coast. The Pacific leatherback was also designated as Californiaâs official state reptile following a bill sponsored and supported by Oceana with the support of thousands of California citizens and more than 30 conservation groups.