The Beacon

Blog Tags: New England Aquarium

Andrew Sharpless Speaks at the New England Aquarium

(Photo: Oceana)

Last month, Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless visited the New England Aquarium to talk about his new book, The Perfect Protein: A Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World. Co-authored with Suzannah Evans, the book explains how seafood will be key to solving the coming global hunger crisis. Wild fish populations in decline because of overfishing, destruction of habitat and bycatch, and we need to act fast in order to save them.


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Leatherback Sea Turtle Rescue

Over the past week, the New England Aquarium pulled off the dramatic rescue, rehabilitation and release of a 655-pound, 7-foot leatherback sea turtle which had stranded on Cape Cod (as seen in the video above). The prehistoric-looking reptile was found suffering from dehydration and shock with a significant portion of its left-front flipper missing, an injury the Aquarium said was consistent with entanglement in fishing gear, a sadly common occurrence with these severely threatened animals.

Leatherbacks are long-distance swimmers, using their giant paddle-like flippers to propel them over vast distances.  This turtle from the Western Atlantic population travels all the way from the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean to the jellyfish-rich waters of New England each year, and may even swim as far north as Newfoundland. After a weekend being nursed back to health by aquarium staff, this beleaguered leatherback, which veterinarians estimated to be around 25 to 30 years old, was released off of Cape Cod on Sunday.

If the turtle survives, it will be a cheerful chapter in an increasingly desperate story about a species that has survived for a hundred million years but faces extinction in the coming decades.  As many as 2,300 leatherbacks may have died at the hands of commercial fishing activities each year throughout the 1990s.  Aside from entanglement in fishing gear, many turtles also face threats from poaching and countless die from ingesting plastic. Leatherbacks, whose throats are lined with backward-pointing spines to prevent swallowed jellyfish from escaping, are especially vulnerable to choking on plastic bags, which they mistake for their favorite prey.

But there is hope for the leatherback sea turtle. In 2007, Oceana petitioned the federal government to designate critical habitat for off the U.S. West Coast, where Pacific populations have plummeted by as much as 80% in recent decades. In response, earlier this year, The National Marine Fisheries Service finalized protection of almost 42,000 square miles of protected ocean habitat off the shores of Washington, Oregon and California for the endangered turtle.  Turtles arrive in these areas each year after swimming as far as 6,000 miles across the open ocean from nests in Indonesia. This is the first permanent safe haven designated for leatherbacks in U.S. waters.  The National Marine Fisheries Service has yet to designate similar critical habitat for loggerhead turtles in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans even though they are required by law to do so.

Help Oceana continue to fight for this incredible animal, the largest turtle and one of the largest living reptiles on Earth.


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A Sea of Football Fans

Hey there ocean fans… are you ready for the NFL playoffs? No? Well even if you aren’t, the animals at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the New England Aquarium sure are ready for the first round when the Baltimore Ravens play against the New England Patriots this Sunday afternoon.

Jen Bloomer, the Media Relations Manager for the National Aquarium and good friend of mine, just sent me an email with videos from each aquarium rooting for their respective teams.

Check out some of Baltimore’s other birds (Margaret and Louise) showing what they think the Ravens will do to the Patriots.

“We know the Ravens aren’t the only birds in town that like to destroy things,” Jen told me as we exchanged some pro-Ravens emails today. “Margaret and Louise love to show off for our visitors and the camera, and apparently love to support their fellow birds!”

 

Not to be outdone, the Harbor Seals at the New England Aquarium fired back with a message of their own.


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