Posted on April 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A green sea turtle cruises the sea bottom in this NOAA image.
Relentless fishing pressure pinches population
FRISCO — Endangered green sea turtles aren’t getting much of a break in Central America, where a 20-year assessment shows steeply declining catch rates in Nicaragua — as much as 56 percent in the past two decades, according to conservation scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Florida.
The researchers estimate that more than 170,000 green turtles were killed between 1991 and 2011, with catch rates peaking in 1997 and 2002 and declining steeply after 2008, likely resulting from over-fishing. The trend in catch rates shows a clear need for limits on this legal fishery, according to the report’s authors.
“The significant decrease in the catch rates of green turtles represents a concern for both conservationists and local, coastal communities who depend on this resource,” said Dr. Cynthia Lagueux, lead author of the study. “We hope this study serves as a foundation for implementing scientifically based limits on future green turtle take.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Environment, green sea turtles, Nicaragua, ocean conservation | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 27, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Majestic manta rays are among the species identified as facing a significant threat. Photo courtesy NOAA.
‘Unless binding commitments to protect these fish are made now, there is a real risk that our grandchildren won’t see sharks and rays in the wild …’
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Overfishing is putting about 25 percent of the world’s sharks and rays at risk of extinction, according to ocean experts who took a close look at the global distribution, catch, abundance, population trends, habitat use, life histories, threats and conservation measures.
Previous studies have documented local overfishing of some populations of sharks and rays, but this is the first survey of their status throughout coastal seas and oceans. According to the findings, 249 of 1,041 known shark, ray and chimaera species globally fall under three threatened categories on the IUCN Red List.
“We now know that many species of sharks and rays, not just the charismatic white sharks, face extinction across the ice-free seas of the world,” said Nick Dulvy, a Simon Fraser University Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. “There are no real sanctuaries for sharks where they are safe from overfishing,” Dulvy said. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: biodiversity, ocean conservation, rays, sharks | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 3, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Ocean acidification will have impacts on most life in the coastal zone. bberwyn photo.
‘For vulnerable coastal marine ecosystems, this may be adding insult to injury …’
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — In addition to the long-term threat of ocean acidification resulting from increased atmospheric greenhouse gases, marine organisms also must deal with short-term spikes of increased acidity.
Those acute episodes are caused by a variety of natural factors, including temperature and algal activity, according to a new study led by researchers with Duke University, who took a close look at natural cycles of acidity in a North Carolina estuary.
“The natural short-term variability in acidity we observed over the course of one year exceeds 100-year global predictions for the ocean as a whole,” said Zackary I. Johnson, a molecular biologists at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming, ocean acidification | Tagged: climate, global warming, greenhouse gases, ocean acidification, ocean conservation | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Lawsuit highlights potential impacts to marine mammals from sonar and underwater explosives
An orca and calf. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Conservation advocates say federal authorization of a five-year U.S. Navy plan for testing and training activities off Hawai‘i and Southern California doesn’t do nearly enough to protect marine mammals from the impacts of sonar noise and underwater explosions.
The plan acknowledges that the training could cause up 9.6 million instances of harm to whales and dolphins and other marine mammals. The use of active sonar and explosive are known to cause permanent injuries and deaths to marine mammals.
According to the lawsuit filed this week Hawai‘i federal court, the plan violates federal environmental laws. The National Marine Fisheries Service didn’t evaluate alternative plans that would have required the Navy to avoid biologically important areas, the conservation groups said in a press release. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: marine mammals, ocean conservation, oceans, sonar | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A sea turtle comes up for a breather. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Long-lining a huge threat to sea turtles and sharks
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Despite its reputation as an eco-haven, some research suggests that Costa Rica’s longline fisheries pose a significant threat to sea turtles and sharks.
Ecologists studying the impacts suggest that more regulation is needed. Well-timed and targeted closures in critical areas could go a long way toward protecting sensitive species — and to ensuring a sustainable fishing industry.
The findings from a recent round of studies were published recently in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, based on research conducted by a team including scientists from Drexel University, the Costa Rican non-profit conservation organization Pretoma andThe Leatherback Trust, a U.S. non-profit working in Costa Rica. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Costa Rica, Environment, longlining, ocean conservation, sea turtles | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation commission still striving for consensus during special 2-day meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany
Proposed new marine protected areas would protect Antarctic biodiversity. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A long-running global effort to establish new marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica hit a stumbling block this week, as Russia and Ukraine challenged the world community’s legal basis for proposing the reserves.
The new hurdle emerged this week during a special meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Bremerhaven, Germany, called specifically to address the proposals for the Ross Sea region MPA proposal and the East Antarctica MPA proposal.
Other issues that cropped during the first day of the Bremerhaven meeting were related to the size of the protected areas, as well as the duration of the agreement, with some member nations requesting a 50 year review term. Other commission members said they want to make sure a management plan is in place when the protected areas are established. Continue reading
Filed under: Antarctica, biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Antarctica, biodiversity, Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, East Antarctica protected area, ocean conservation, Ross Sea marine protected area, Southern Ocean | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Biologists find nuanced response to simulated noise pollution
Some blue whales abandon feeding areas when exposed to sonar-like noise pollution, scientists found after tagging some of the cetaceans in the California Bight. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Biologists are a little closer to understanding how the use of sonar during naval training exercises affects blue whales, with a new study showing that some tagged whales feeding in deep water stopped eating and sped up or moved away from sonar-like noise
The study, funded by the U.S. Navy, showed that the response to noise pollution is nuanced, depending in part on the what the whales are doing at the time. To assess the impacts, the researchers tagged whales and simulated mid-frequency sonar sounds significantly less intense than the military uses.
“Whales clearly respond in some conditions by modifying diving behavior and temporarily avoiding areas where sounds were produced,” said lead author Jeremy Goldbogen of Cascadia Research. “But overall the responses are complex and depend on a number of interacting factors,” he said. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: blue whales, marine mammals, ocean conservation, sonar, United States Navy | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Feds, oil companies agree to some limits on seismic airgun testing
Marine mammals like coastal bottlenose dolphins will get some relief from seismic airgun blasting in the Gulf of Mexico. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Whales, dophins and other marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico will enjoy a little more peace and quiet under a new agreement that limits seismic airgun testing.
Under the deal, oil companies and the federal government will make some biologically important areas off-limits to testing. The agreement will also expand protection to additional at-risk species, and require the use of listening detection devices to better ensure surveys do not injure endangered sperm whales. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, gas drilling, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico, marine mammals, ocean conservation, oceans, seismic airgun testing | 2 Comments »
Posted on June 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
About 153,000 metric tons of pollutants washed down the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers in May
Mapping the size of the Gulf Dead zone helps assess the impacts to marine ecosystems and potential costs to commercial and recreational fisheries.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Big runoff in the Mississippi River could lead to a record or near-record dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, according to a forecast from scientists preparing to measure the oxygen-starved waters where fish and other organisms struggle to survive.
The dead zone in Chesapeake Bay is expected to be smaller than average, based on several NOAA-supported forecast models developed by researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, water | Tagged: Environment, Gulf of Mexico dead zone, hypoxic oceans, ocean conservation, oceans | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A pteropod shell damaged by corrosive water. Photo courtesy British Antarctic Survey.
Work group to discuss possible new water quality standards that would help assess acidification threats
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The EPA is taking a step toward tackling the issue of ocean acidification, which is leading toward a huge marine biodiversity catastrophe. The agency recently said it will task a panel of scientists to discuss a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity that requests new water quality standards to enable better detection and monitoring of acidification.
Some of the carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere is finding its way to the seas, where it’s changing the basic chemistry of the water and starting to have an impact on corals, shelfish and other marine organisms. One recent study showed exactly how ocean acidification is dissolving the shells of tiny sea snails in the Southern Ocean.
The federal government also has an interagency working group, with scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies working on the issue. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Center for Biological Diversity, climate change, EPA, global warming, Great Barrier Reef, greenhouse gases, marine biology, ocean acidification, ocean conservation | 3 Comments »