The Beacon

Blog Tags: Sea Turtles

Spill May Be Headed for Florida Keys

It’s hard to believe it has been almost a month since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, and yet this weekend was the first sign of any kind of progress to contain the disaster bleeding into the Gulf.

Using a mile-long “insertion tube” to siphon the oil to a tanker ship, BP captured some of the oil gushing from the Gulf of Mexico seabed -- though the company still hasn't made any progress toward actually stopping the flow.

Scientists from NOAA are worried that the still-gushing oil spill will enter the powerful Loop Current, if it hasn’t already, which would take it through the biodiverse barrier reef that makes up the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Carolyn Caggia

carolyn caggia

Carolyn Caggia with NC Rep. Jimmy Love and part of the 72 yard long scroll she created.

This is the eighth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured finalist is 16-year-old Carolyn Caggia, who is devoted to protecting sea turtles from gillnets in her home state of North Carolina.

Gillnet fisheries use hundreds of yards of fishing net that remain in the water for days or longer, ensnaring sea turtles and other species incidentally.

Carolyn was inspired to act after visiting Jean Beasley’s sea turtle hospital in Topsail Island, NC several years ago. She decided to undertake a grass roots advocacy effort to help save sea turtles as her Girl Scout Gold Award project.  


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Wallace 'J.' Nichols

wallace j nichols

Image courtesy of Wallace J. Nichols.

This is the sixth in a series of posts about the Ocean Heroes finalists.

We’re wrapping up our week of Adult Ocean Hero finalists with Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols.

J.’s love of sea turtles started when he was a kid, growing out of a dual obsession with dinosaurs and the ocean.

That curious kid grew up to become an ocean activist and Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. He has authored more than 50 scientific papers, book chapters, articles and reports on sea turtle ecology and ocean conservation. His work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Time and Newsweek, among others.


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10 Ways the Oil Spill Could Affect Marine Life

oiled bird

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

While oil-covered birds have become an emblematic image of catastrophic oil spills, sea birds aren’t the only ones affected. Oil is extremely toxic to all wildlife, and the toxic effects on marine life begins as soon as the oil hits the water.

 


Here are 10 examples of how marine life may be affected by the Gulf spill in the coming days, weeks and years


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Endangered Sea Turtles Imperiled by Oil Spill

kemp's ridley sea turtle

Image via Wikimedia Commons

A few days ago, more than 20 dead Kemp's ridley sea turtles washed up on Mississippi’s shores. While there is no evidence the deaths are linked to the oil spill, the incident may be merely foreshadowing what’s to come for sea turtles in the Gulf.

Sea turtles come to the surface to breathe, and NOAA reports that between 30 and 50 sea turtles (species unknown) were seen swimming yesterday in or near the oil spill. It may be only a matter of time until we see oiled turtles stranded on beaches as well.

Kemp’s ridleys, the smallest and most threatened sea turtle in the world, typically spend their entire lives in the Gulf of Mexico, nesting only on beaches in Mexico and southern Texas, giving them the name the “Gulf’s Sea Turtle”. And right now is the peak migration season for the turtles as they return to their nesting grounds.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Suzanne Thurman

suzanne thurman merr

Suzanne Thurman with a Kemp's ridley sea turtle. © Kevin Fleming

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the 2010 Ocean Hero finalists.

Starting today, I’ll be highlighting one finalist per day on the blog. First up is Suzanne Thurman, the founder and director of the Marine, Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute, Inc. (MERR), Delaware’s only organization devoted to the response and rescue of marine mammals and sea turtles.

Suzanne has been participating in stranding response in Delaware since 1995, and before that, she worked for many years in environmental education and special education.

MERR, which is 10 years old this year, has provided stranding response to more than 1000 animals, beginning with one sea turtle that spent the night in Suzanne’s laundry room.


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Oil Spill Threatens Hundreds of Species

It just keeps getting worse.

A NOAA scientist has concluded that oil is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 5,000 barrels a day, five times the initial 1,000 per-day estimate. And a third leak was discovered yesterday afternoon. 

If the estimates are correct, the spill, which is nearly the size of Jamaica, could match or exceed the 11 million gallons spilt from the Exxon Valdez within two months -- becoming the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

 


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Earth Day Blue Link Bonanza

planet earth

Happy Earth Day!

Since there’s so much going on today, here’s a list of things you can do right now to protect the blue marble we call home. Enjoy!

1. Support a ‘safe zone’ for Pacific leatherbacks.

Tell the government to expand critical habitat for endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles to more than 70,000 square miles off the coast of Washington, Oregon and California. Comments are due tomorrow, April 23, so please voice your support today.

2. Take action with Sigourney on ocean acidification.

Sigourney Weaver is testifying before a Senate Committee today on the effects of ocean acidification on marine life and our economy.

You can take action too -- tell your representative to support a Congressional resolution that will support policies to study and address the effects of ocean acidification.

3. Stop expanded offshore drilling.

An oil rig about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana exploded Tuesday, in what could be one of the country’s deadliest offshore drilling accidents of the past 50 years. Seventeen people were injured in the blast.

Tell your senator today that you won’t stand for expanded offshore drilling.

4. Bid and text for the oceans.

Today is Christie’s Green Auction, which benefits Oceana, Conservation International, NRDC and Central Park Conservancy. Check out the online auction items, or for a cheaper option, you can text “GoGreen” to 20222 to make a $10 donation today.


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And the Winner is...

Lori Albrecht and her two children. (Photo courtesy Lori Albrecht)

Of the nearly 9,000 of you who entered to win the Ocean IQ Quiz grand prize drawing, the winner is… (drum roll, please)

Lori Albrecht!

I spoke to Lori by phone yesterday and was thrilled to learn that she is passionate about ocean conservation -- particularly sea turtles.

The grand prize, an eco-vacation with SEE Turtles, happens to be a perfect fit. While she can’t take any more time off this year, she said she’s excited to choose a trip in 2011, and is already eyeing the trip to Costa Rica.

On a trip to Hawaii last year, she saw her first sea turtle while snorkeling. “It was incredible, I could hear him crunching, eating the algae off the rocks,” she said. “He turned and looked at me and kept right on eating. It was fascinating. I fell in love with them.”


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New Study: Millions of Sea Turtles Caught Globally

sea turtle x-ray

© Oceana/Cory Wilson

The first ever global assessment of sea turtle bycatch came out this week in the journal Conservation Letters -- and it’s not pretty.

The study found that 85,000 sea turtles were reported caught by commercial fisheries worldwide over the last 20 years, but the scientists estimate that the actual number is two orders of magnitude higher than that -- in the millions.

The 85,000 figure only accounts for sea turtle bycatch that was reported, but the actual number of turtles caught is significantly higher because typically less than 1% of fleets have fishing observed and many small scale fisheries have no observer coverage at all.

The study looked at sea turtles caught by gillnets, longlines and trawls, three of the most commonly used fishing gear types. The bottom line here is that the number of sea turtles caught as bycatch is enormous. Without additional bycatch reduction and better enforcement of established protections, many sea turtle populations may go extinct.


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