Last month Chileâ€™s government approved a controversial coal mine project in southern Patagoniaâ€™s Riesco Island, despite opposition from local residents and environmental groups, including Oceana.
Oceana presented a report to Chileâ€™s environmental ministry outlining the threats facing mammals and birds in the region, including the areaâ€™s most emblematic seabird, the Magellanic penguin. The threats from the mine include heavy metal pollution (such as mercury), oil spills, and boat collisions with marine mammals.
Riesco Island is part of Chileâ€™s Alacalufes National Reserve, which is home to an important colony of Magellanic penguins â€“ around 10,000 of the seabirds live around the island. The island and its surroundings are also home to at least 27 species of bird and 7 marine mammal species, including humpback whales. One of the regionâ€™s waterways, Otway sound, is one of the only places on the Chilean coast where the Chilean dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and southern dolphin can all be found.
The heavy metals released by coal mining would affect seabirdsâ€™ reproduction, especially the penguins. Oil spills can contaminate the eggs, cause death by inhalation and ingestion, and loss of feather waterproofing, which can lead to hypothermia.
Plus, Chile does not have a contingency plan to treat animals affected by oil spills. According to our report, of 76 penguins treated for oil contamination in 2006 in Patagoniaâ€™s Madalena Island, 22 died. And in 2004, an oil spill in Chileâ€™s Tierra del Fuego led to the loss of 88% of the adults in a colony of rock cormorants.
The little penguin is the smallest penguin in the world at only about 17 inches tall. Little penguins typically mate for life and males and females share the responsibility of incubating their eggs.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence based on cuteness, I think the little penguin might just be the cutest penguin around!
Who do you think is the cutest? Browse Oceana.org/Explore and let me know!
Happy spring Friday!
Offshore drilling was on everyone's lips this week. And while we were disappointed with Obamaâ€™s decision to open new areas to drilling, he also cancelled four lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas that had been scheduled by President Bush and committed to conducting significant scientific research and monitoring before any new lease sales are held in those areas -- which is very good news for Arctic people and ecosystems.
In other ocean news,
â€¦U.S. Department of State banned imports of wild-caught Mexican shrimp if they are collected in ways that threaten endangered sea turtles; in other words, turtle excluder devices are now required in Mexicoâ€™s shrimp trawl nets.
â€¦NOAA administrator and marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco talked to Smithsonian Magazine about our changing view of the oceans, dead zones and a cohesive national ocean policy.
â€¦Anderson Cooper dove unprotected with great white sharks in South Africa with â€śshark manâ€ť Mike Rutzen. The video includes disturbing footage of a shark being finned and thrown back into the sea, still alive.