Education the path to more support for shark conservation

A whitetip reef shark. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A whitetip reef shark. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Study says recreational anglers need more and better info

Staff Report

A little education could go a long way toward spurring more support for shark conservation among recreational anglers, said a team of scientists who recently questioned anglers on the subject.

The study, led by University of Miami scientists, showed that recreational anglers were more supportive of shark management and conservation if they had prior knowledge of shark conservation. Continue reading

Do seals compete with commercial fishermen?


Do seals compete with commercial fisheries? @bberwyn photo.

New UK study tries to answer the age-old question

Staff Report

Like in other countries, some Irish fishermen have been complaining that seals are increasingly eating up valuable commercial fish stocks, but a new scientific study says that’s generally not the case, with the possible exception of wild Atlantic salmon.

The work done by researchers with Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, shows that seals don’t have a significant impact on herring, mackerel, cod, haddock, whiting and 30 other species caught for commercial purposes along the south and west coasts of Ireland, from counties Galway to Waterford. Continue reading

Scientists say it’s time to step up ocean conservation efforts

The Mediterranean at Cassis, France.

The Mediterranean Sea at Cassis, France. @bberwyn photo.

‘The politics of ocean protection are too often disconnected from the science and knowledge that supports it …’

Staff Report

In a perfect world, anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of the world’s oceans would have some type of protection to help sustain ecosystems and critical resources. But while recent decades have brought some progress in ocean conservation, we’re still far from the targets set by scientists, according to a new study published in the journal Science.

Right now, about 1.6 of the world’s oceans have strong protections, lagging far behind terrestrial conservation efforts. In the new study, researchers with Oregon State University point out that numerous international policy agreements call for protection of 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. Continue reading

Scientists search for ‘acoustic wilderness’ in the oceans


A supply ship lumbers through the biodiverse waters of the Antarctic Sound. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Ocean scientists are advocating for the designation of quiet zones to help gain a better understanding of how noise pollution affects marine life.

Creating areas where ship traffic is limited would help researchers find the best way to protect marine life from harmful noise, according to a new study published in the journal  Marine Pollution Bulletin. By assigning zones through which ships cannot travel, researchers can help find the best way to protect marine life from harmful noise.

Almost all marine organisms, including mammals like whales and dolphins, fish and even invertebrates, use sound to find food, avoid predators, choose mates and navigate. Chronic noise from human activities such as shipping can have a big impact on these animals, since it interferes with their acoustic signaling. Increased background noise can mean animals are unable to hear important signals, and they tend to swim away from sources of noise, disrupting their normal behavior. Continue reading

Study offer new clues in sea star wasting epidemic

Northern rainbow star afflicted with sea star wasting disease. This species had virtually disappeared from central California kelp forests as of February 2014. Photo: Steve Lonhart / NOAA MBNMS

A northern rainbow star afflicted with sea star wasting disease. This species had virtually disappeared from central California kelp forests as of February 2014. Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA MBNMS.

Unique student research project tracks immune response to virus at genetic level

Staff Report

Biological sleuthing by a group of young marine-disease researchers from around the country may help solve the mystery of a massive sea star die-off along the West Coast.

Millions of the animals have died the past few years. Scientists still don’t why. They suspect a common ocean virus is at fault, and the new study, published this week in PLOS ONE, has contributed key information about the sea stars’ immune response when infected with this virus, which causes the marine creatures to develops white lesions on its limbs and within days dissolve or  into a gooey mass. Continue reading

Sea Shepherd activists face court charges for disrupting bloody whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands

Conservation advocates say annual hunt violates international treaties


Faroe Islanders defend their annual whale slaughter as important cultural tradition, but face a growing tide of public opposition, Photo courtesy Sea Shepherd.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Five international Sea Shepherd crew members who tried to disrupt a bloody whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands are in court this week, facing charges of violating  Faroe Island’s Pilot Whaling Act. The penalties include fines of up to about $3,000 or up to two years in prison.

Several other Sea Shepherd crew members were found guilty of disrupting the hunt in 2012, and a captain of a small Sea Shepherd boat was charged with not reporting a sighting of dolphins.

The law authorizes the slaughter as part of Faroe Island’s cultural tradition, but conservation advocates say the annual hunt may violate a European wildlife treaty. In the hunt, entire pods of whales and dolphins are driven to shore when they approach the coast and then killed, turning the seawater bloody red. Continue reading

Report: Australia’s humpback whales are thriving

A humpback whale near Hawaii. Photo courtesy NOAA.

A humpback whale near Hawaii. Photo courtesy NOAA.

FRISCO — While many Australian animal species are being pushed toward extinction, humpback whales off both the country’s east and west coasts are making a strong comeback from the whaling era.

Recent research suggests humpback populations are growing at about 10 percent annually, and that populations have recovered to between 60 and 90 percent of pre-whaling numbers, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Policy. Continue reading


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