Study maps biodiversity in Bering Sea canyon

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New research reveals biodiversity secrets deep beneath the surface of the Bering Sea.

Protection could benefit entire Bering Sea ecosystem

Staff Report

FRISCO — An undersea canyon in the Bering Sea is a biodiversity hotspot, scientists said in a new report that reinforces a push to establish protection for the area.

The study, conducted by the Marine Science Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Greenpeace concluded that Pribilof canyon is the most significant location for deep sea corals and sponges along the entire eastern Bering Sea shelf.

With protections in place for coral and sponge habitat, Bering Sea fish and king crab populations could increase, according to conservation advocates. The study, published in Global Ecology and Conservation, also found that restricting bottom-contact fishing in Bering Sea canyons would not have significant negative impacts on the fishing industry. Continue reading

Protected zones pay off for Great Barrier Reef

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A NASA Earth Observatory view of the Great Barrier Reef.

Study shows rebound of coral trout in no-fishing zones

Staff Report

FRISCO — Long-term monitoring in the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem shows that marine protection pays off in a big way, as scientists said that coral trout biomass has more than doubled since the 1980s in the green zones.

The trout in the protected reserves are bigger and more abundant than those in fished “blue zones” of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and they are also better able to cope with cyclone damage, according to a long-term study published today in Current Biology. Similar approaches may be beneficial for coral reefs around the world, the researcher concluded. Continue reading

Environment: NOAA doubles size of marine sanctuaries along northern California coast

Just 50 miles northwest of San Francisco, Cordell Bank teems with life above and below the surface. This thriving 'underwater island' is the centerpiece of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which NOAA has now expanded to protect additional areas like Bodega Canyon along the continental shelf.

Just 50 miles northwest of San Francisco, Cordell Bank teems with life above and below the surface. This thriving ‘underwater island’ is the centerpiece of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which NOAA has now expanded to protect additional areas like Bodega Canyon along the continental shelf. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones home to 25 threatened and endangered species

Staff Report

FRISCO — A pair of marine sanctuaries off the coast of northern California are doubling in size, offering more protection for globally significant and productive marine ecosystems. The sanctuaries encompass estuarine wetlands, rocky intertidal habitat, open ocean, and shallow marine banks.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located 42 miles north of San Francisco, will expand from 529 square miles to 1,286 square miles. Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary will expand from 1,282 square miles to 3,295 square miles of ocean and coastal waters. Continue reading

Biologists map key habitat for Mediterranean sea turtles

Green sea turtle conservation

Green sea turtle. Photo courtesy Andy Bruckner/NOAA.

New marine protected area needed to protect the threatened species

Staff Report

FRISCO — UK scientists say that, based on mapping of critical foraging grounds for green sea turtles in the Mediterranean they recommend creation of a new marine protected areas to help protect the species, identified as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

The study involved tracking turtles from breeding grounds in Cyprus, Turkey, Israel and Syria and pinpointing ten foraging grounds. Two major hotspots in Libya account for more than half of the turtles which were tracked to conclusive endpoints.

Recent green sea turtle studies by U.S. scientists show how protected areas can help protect the species. The U.S. Geological Survey researchers confirmed the turtles’ use of the protected areas by tracking nesting turtles with satellite tags and analyzing their movement patterns after they left beaches in the Florida Keys. Continue reading

Study shows why Penguins need more protection

‘If we don’t worry about the imminent threats now, it’s probably not worth worrying about the medium-term future’

Gentoo penguins and the S/V Professor Molchanov at sea.

Gentoo penguins and the S/V Professor Molchanov. bberwyn photo.

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A penguin dives in and out of the icy waters near the Antarctic Peninsula. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The world’s penguins could use a little help, a team of  leading conservation biologists said last month, announcing results of a study that systematically assessed global risks to the southern hemisphere sea birds.

While global warming remains a long-term threat, other impacts, primarily related to human activities, are a more clear and present danger, the scientists said, advocating for a more widespread network of marine protected areas to buffer penguins from pollution, tourism and fishing.

“We need to address some of these issues before we think about resilience to climate change,” said Dr. Phil Trathan, head of conservation biology with the British Antarctic Survey. “If we don’t worry about the imminent threats now, it’s probably not worth worrying about the medium-term future,” Trathan said, explaining that penguins living and breeding in southern Africa and South America face the highest risks.

“If you want to create resilient populations, deal with some of the immediate threats, and where the threats are most evident is where penguins inhabit areas close to mankind,” he said. Continue reading

Morning photo: Antarctica wildlife

Plans to protect Antarctic marine biodiversity falter

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Fur, elephant and Weddell seals are share this beach on Dundee Island.

FRISCO — For all its reputation as an icy wasteland, Antarctica actually teams with life, which makes it all the more disappointing that an international conservation commission once again failed to finalize plans for long-sought marine protected areas in the Ross Sea and off the coast of East Antarctica. The finger is being pointed at Russia, acting as a rogue nation to block those conservation plans, but in reality, it’s up the rest of the world community to encourage Russia to come back to the table in October in good faith at the next scheduled CCAMLR meeting.  In the meantime, here are a few pictures showing what’s at stake. Read more Summit Voice Antarctica stories here. Continue reading

Argentina creates new marine reserves in Patagonia

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Parts of Patagonia‘s spectacular coastline will have more protection following the designation of two new marine preserves.

Isla Pingüino and Makenke Coastal Marine Park provide habitat for seabirds and marine mammals

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Dolphins, penguins, seabirds and sea lions along the coast of Patagonia will get more protection in a pair of new marine protected areas designated by Argentina this week.

Both areas were identified as priority conservation sites under the collaborative Patagonia Coastal Zone Management Plan project, covering an area where Charles Darwin traveled, and where Ferdinand Magellan executed and marooned a group of mutineers intent on aborting what would become the world’s first circumnavigation of the globe.

Darwin first described the wildlife of Isla Pingüino in 1833, during his seminal voyage aboard the HMS Beagle — now, the  Isla Pingüino Coastal Marine Park will protect about 720 square miles, including habitat for large populations of South American sea lions, red-legged cormorants, and one of the largest colonies of imperial cormorants found anywhere (with more than 8,000 breeding pairs). Isla Pingüino also boasts one of the only colonies of rockhopper penguins on the coast of Patagonia. Continue reading

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