Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bonaire Webcam rated among best

From a press release issued by

New York, December 13, 2007 -- EarthCam, the world's favorite webcam network and recognized authority on the Internet camera industry, today released its ninth annual list of the world's most interesting Webcams.
About Underwater Webcam Bonaire, EarthCam's press release says:
Visitors enjoy a spectacular megapixel view of an undersea drop off and coral reef off the coast of Bonaire in the Netherlands, Antilles. The camera is located in the Bonaire National Marine Park and is one of the first undersea cameras installed. This camera is located at a depth of 15 meters on the drop off at the dive site "Something Special". It is pointing to the north about 100 meter south of the mooring line. Learn more about the Bonaire National Marine Park.
Other underwater Web cams also made the list.

An above-water Akumal Webcam broadcasts on the Web site of LocoGringo.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sharks Up Close, 2008

From the Web site of the Ocean Realm Society:

Based at the famous Shark Lab on Bimini Island in the Bahamas, Sharks Up Close is seven days of full-on shark activity. We will be in the water with sharks every day and last year our encounters included Blacknose sharks, Lemon sharks, Nurse sharks, Tiger sharks, Carribean Reef sharks and Bull sharks as well as Southern Stingrays and Eagle rays. The weeks activity is led by the legendary shark scientist ‘Doc’ Gruber, assisted by fisheries scientist Dean Grubbs, with father and son conservation team John and Sune Nightingale there to teach underwater photography and video. . . .

The trip is organised as a non-profit venture helping to support the research work of the Bimini Shark Lab and the conservation work of The Shark Trust.

By the end of this trip you will have had close encounters with lots of sharks, you will have learnt a huge amount about sharks and you should come away with some wonderful shark photos.

Numbers will be strictly limited to 14, with places allocated on a first come first served basis. It will require a 20% deposit to secure a place, with the balance payable one month before departure.

Read about the 2007 trip here.

Send e-mail for more information.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Oil washes ashore in Akumal

Several small oil slicks washed onto the beach of South Akumal on December 22, 2007. Hardly the size of the spills in San Francisco Bay or Korea, but still ugly enough to see what the horrors could be.

Below, Miguel Ángel Maldonado, head of the Marine and Coastal Protection Program of Centro Ecológico Akumal, and a volunteer clean up.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad


Sunday, December 23, 2007

REEF plans survey in Akumal

REEF will conduct a field survey at the Bahia Principe in Akumal, May 17 to May 24.

These week-long trips are a great introduction to fish identification for novice fishwatchers, and a fun way for experienced surveyors to build their life list while interacting with fellow fishwatchers. REEF coordinates Field Surveys to locations throughout our project regions each year. These projects are led by REEF staff and other REEF instructors and feature daily classroom seminars and a full diving schedule.

Call Joe Cavanaugh (REEF) at 305-852-0030 or email to inquire about this trip.8 days/7 nights - $TBA, all inclusive includes 7 nights of accommodations, meals and diving.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Costa Rica again allows shark finning

The Costa Rican government earlier imposed a de facto ban on shark finning, but it recently lifted the ban, according to PRETOMA:

(December 13, 2007 – SanJosé, Costa Rica)

Last Monday, December 10, INCOPESCA, Customs and the Ministry of Public Transportation MOPT, authorized, yet again, the use of private docks for the landing of fishery products by international flag vessels, in clear violationof the orders of the Constitutional Court, in the sense that the authorities must immediately halt their use in absence of pubic infrastructure. The first private dock to illegally receive landings by international flag vesselswas Fortuna del Pacífico.

“We aren’t really surprised by the behavior of our fishery authorities, as they have repeatedly shown a greater interest to protect the interests of the owners of the private docks rather than protect the public interest, which is their constitutional duty”, complained Randall Arauz, President of PRETOMA. “The Constitutional Court will have the last word, as it has long becomeevident that the Executive branch of our government is incapable of orderingthe fishery authorities to abide by the law at the private docks,” expressed Arauz.

“What concerns us most is to see what our authorities are capable of doing with the sole intent of favoring the illegal activities of these foreign flagged vessels at private docks, even openly lying to cover them up”, pointed out Jorge Ballestero, of PRETOMA. According to Ballestero, the Belize flagged vessel Dragon 28 had been waiting in Puntarenas for permission to land its products at the private docks for three weeks. “We requested an explanationfrom MOPT, because if the vessel couldn’t land, it had no business in Puntarenas, but their response and the Manifiesto de Carga was that the Dragon 28 wasn’t carrying fishery products, only basalt, and thus,it wasn’t going to land anything in Costa Rica.

According to the cited documents, the vessel was only granted permission to stay in Puntarenas due to mechanical problems and to supply provisions for the crew. However, at9:45 of December 10 of 2007 the Dragon 28 was caught on video landing tons of shark products. “At this moment we are requesting to know the identity of the public functionaries who allowed these illegal landings, and establish legal responsibilities for supplying false information to the civil society”, informed Ballestero.

The potential for illegal activities at private docks is enormous”,pointed out Miguel Gómez, Director of Campaigns of PRETOMA. “Just last January the Cambodian flagged vessel Dragon III visited Puntarenas, but this vessel is blacklisted by the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) practicing illegal, un regulated and un reported fishing”, pointed outGómez. According to the vessel’s manifest, the Dragon III didn’t carry any fishery products either, only basalt. “Were they lying again?” “Were shark fins landed in the middle of the night, when no officers are present?”, Gómez asked himself. “The truth is that in the privacy of the docks, there is simply no way to know”, sentenced Gómez.

For more information:

Telf: (506) (506) 241 5227
Fax: (506) 236 6017


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Study shows that sea turtles can recover

From an article on

Conservation of sea turtle nesting sites is paying off for the endangered reptiles, reports a new study published this week in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

A team of researchers led researchers from IUCN and Conservation International found that green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting on four beaches in the Pacific and two beaches in the Atlantic have increased by an four to fourteen percent annually over the past two to three decades as a result of beach protection efforts.

"These results should be celebrated," said Milani Chaloupka, lead author and vice chair of the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group. "They demonstrate that green turtle populations and presumably the green turtles’ ecosystem roles can be recovered in spite of drastic population declines in the past."

"This analysis shines a light of hope on marine conservation efforts for endangered species and for biological diversity as a whole," said Sebastian Troëng, co-author, MTSG member, and senior director of regional marine strategies at Conservation International. "Ambitious strategies including long-term protection of habitats and reduction of survival threats are working, and endangered species can be recovered."


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Comment on proposed rule for protection of elkhorn and staghorn corals

From NOAA's Coral_list:

NOAA Fisheries Service is seeking public comments on a proposed rule to further protect elkhorn and staghorn corals, which we listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on May 9, 2006. This proposed rule, called a 4(d) rule (after section 4(d) of the ESA), details prohibitions necessary to provide for the conservation of these two coral species. Specifically, the proposed 4(d) rule would prohibit import, export, take, and all commercial activities involving either of these threatened species.

The public comment period for this proposed rule ends on March 13th, 2008. Please find the /Federal Register/ notice for the proposed rule, supporting documents, and Frequently Asked Questions on our website at:

A press release is forthcoming. If you would like a copy of any of the previously listed documents emailed, mailed, or faxed to you, please contact me with your
request (see contact information below). Additionally, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me. Your participation in the public comment process is strongly encouraged. Instructions for providing comments on this action are included in the /Federal Register/ notice.

Sarah E. Heberling
Natural Resource Specialist
Protected Resources Division
NOAA Fisheries Service
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 824-5312
Fax: (727) 824-5309


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Underwater Photography & Video Competition


Popular websites and have teamed up again in association with Our World Underwater to celebrate the beauty and delicacy of the marine environment with the announcement of the 3rd annual, international underwater photography and video competition. The competition has become the “Superbowl” of international underwater imagery competitions, with world-class prizes, celebrity judges, and the opportunity to have your images showcased to the world as some of the planet’s best.

Photographers & videographers will compete in seven still-image categories and two video categories, to win more than $50,000 in prizes including premium dive travel, underwater photo/video and diving equipment and more! Dive packages include trips to some of the top photo destinations in the world, including Socoros Islands, Wakatobi-Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Ambon-Indonesia, the Red Sea, Grand Cayman, the Solomon Islands and Vietnam! Other prizes include camera housings, strobes, lighting systems, and other valuable items. The competition includes a category for images that focus on conservation and the marine environment, and one specifically for entries taken by compact digital cameras.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Caribbean Underwater Reef Guide

A new book from Reef Check:

Looking to make the most of your diving and snorkeling experience? Then take the Reef Check Underwater guide with you. More than just a standard fish ID sheet, the RC Underwater Field guide has photos and key facts on over 50 different reef species, allowing you to fully explore and understand life on the world’s coral reefs. It’s like taking a marine biologist with you on every dive. There is also a slate and pencil so you can record what you see and contribute valuable data on the health of the worlds coral reefs. Order yours today. Your diving will never be the same.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Best practices for turtle viewing

From the Web site of The Ocean Conservancy:

Live Blue
Travel to beautiful places is more meaningful if leave a positive impact. . . .

Go Local
Wherever possible, use local services. You will get a more authentic experience and contribute more to the local economy. . . .

Protect Beach Habitat
Beaches are a fascinating ecosystem and are the crucial link between land and water. Tread lightly on turtle nesting beaches (or any beach you visit.) . . .

Best Practices for Viewing Sea Turtles in the Wild

In the Water
The grace and beauty of a turtle in the water is a magical experience. Whether boating, snorkeling, or diving, remember that the ocean is home for sea turtles and other ocean wildlife. . . .

On a Nesting Beach
The mystery of witnessing a nesting sea turtle can be a life changing experience. When you visit a nesting beach, go with a trained, professional guide who can ensure your safety and the turtle’s. Nesting turtles are very sensitive to disturbance, which may prevent them from laying their eggs. . . .
On the Web site, each heading has a number of more specific suggestions.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Coral Reefs Worldwide Imperiled by Climate Change, Study Says

From an article by Adam Satariano on

Global climate change may push the Great Barrier Reef and other coral colonies past a fatal tipping point, imperiling fisheries and tourism-dependent economies of many developing nations, a study said.

Researchers warn in the latest edition of the journal Science that rising global temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may cause irreversible damage from mass coral bleaching, disease and mortality. With declining water quality and over-fishing, reefs are moving ``toward the tipping point of functional collapse,'' the study said.

The beauty of coral reefs will likely ``fundamentally alter'' as a result of climate change and ocean acidification, a shift that will be particularly devastating to poor coastal countries, researchers said.

``Under-resourced and developing countries have the lowest capacity to respond to climate change, but many have tourism as their sole income earner and thus are at risk economically if their coral reefs deteriorate,'' said researchers, who based their analysis on climate scenarios laid out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Reefs may turn into ``rapidly eroding rubble banks'' like what has been seen in some inshore regions of the Great Barrier Reef, where coral populations have disappeared during the past 50 to 100 years.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reaching young people

An article by Mauricio Bautista in the newsletter of Centro Ecológico Akumal:

As part of our Environmental Education Program, we took 15 children from the Francisco Sarabia School in Akumal to the "Star" Cenote. After studying the importance of taking care of water, this activity gave the children a chance to see the local aquifer firsthand, to enjoy the cool waters of the cenote and to understand the structure of the unique aquifer on our coast. They saw how the groundwater is connected to the sea and how improper waste management (liquid or solid) can negatively affect the health of the reefs and humans. This activity was done with the generous help of Aventuras Mayas S.A de C.V (Mayan Adventures and Tulum Xtreme).
The complete newsletter is online in English and Spanish.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happy Holidays! ¡Felices Fiestas! from Centro Ecológico Akumal

We hope you enjoyed the most recent edition of the CEA Newsletter you received last week. If you ever have questions or comments about any of the information that we're sharing with you, please feel free to contact us.

It has been an amazing year at Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA)! We are closer than ever to solid protection for Akumal’s bays, working with the local hotels, dive shops, tour boat operators and local and federal authorities to better manage the marine area. CEA's Sea Turtle Protection Program is recognized by the federal wildlife agency and our Water Quality Program has worked to understand better the sources and management of groundwater contamination in the coastal zone. Likewise, our education and communication efforts have reached over 10 schools in the region and hundreds of visitors to the area.

Progress was made in the recycling program as well; the separated glass, plastic, aluminum, paper and batteries are actually being put back into a recycling process in the municipality or being shipped to recycling plants. We still need to guarantee a more reliable pick-up system inside Akumal, and we continue to look for ways to improve the process so that everyone is recycling.

CEA participated in numerous meetings and on several committees at the state, municipal and federal levels to ensure that the region’s unique and fragile aquifer was not lost in development plans—that improved waste management is not only a human health issue but a key element in protecting both our drinking water and the coral reef.

Of course, we did not do all this alone; we were fortunate to have the support of so many people, from local businesses and universities, to international volunteers and universities, foundations and individual donors. More than 50 students participated in our work this year. Two examples include the fantastic work of film students from Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, who produced a video about our Sea Turtle Protection Program which was presented at the First International Cancun Riviera Maya Film Festival. We also participated in another video which was presented, with the Sea Studios Foundation, 'Coral Connections.'

While important strides were made in 2007, we face unrelenting challenges in the coming year as tourism development continues unabated in the region. Our struggle will be to help decision makers understand the importance of coral reefs, mangroves and jungles as primary natural capital in the economic boom sweeping down the coast and we invite visitors to help protect their favorite vacation spot. CEA will focus on linking environment with economics as we participate in defining sustainability for Akumal. Our goal is to help Akumal become an example for the rest of the state, on the details of managing paradise: balanced use of our bays; applied technologies in wastewater management and renewable energy; species protection; dune protection; and preparing for the growth around Akumal.

Akumal’s Bay Management Program is a major element of our conservation strategy for 2008, The International Year of the Reef. We invite you to join us in our efforts to protect Akumal’s marine life and coastal ecosystems. Please contribute to CEA this Holiday Season. We depend upon your support. All of us at Centro Ecológico Akumal wish you a healthy and peaceful season.

Happy Holidays! Paul Sánchez Navarro,
Director, CEA

En español, haz clic aquí.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Green Guide to the Cayman Islands from CCMI

Though the beautiful Green Guide produced by the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) addresses the Cayman Islands, its message and suggestions apply to any Caribbean location:

At the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, our mission is to sustain marine biodiversity through research, education, and outreach. We learn about our natural environment, teach what we know, and reach out to our community and government as partners who will benefit from that work. As part of that mission, we aim to produce, in partnership with our sponsors, a series of Green Guides to help residents and visitors to these beautiful islands preserve their natural treasures. In many ways, our islands come from the sea.

The sea is the link between our past and our future. We hope that this Green Guide to the Cayman Island’s Marine Environment will help you to appreciate and understand the ways in which we can all work towards protecting that wonderful natural heritage for future generations.
The Green Guide offers these tips for becoming a green traveller:
• Choose a dive operator that is aware of the marine environment.
• Support environmentally responsible resorts and tour operators that properly treat
• Never eat local threatened sea food.
• Never purchase souvenirs made from coral or any threatened or endangered marine
• Hang your towels to dry so you can reuse them and reduce water and energy consumption.
• Be aware of protected fish and sea food in the Cayman Islands.

What to eat and not to eat: Visit to get advice.
A Click a couple of times to move down the CCMI home page to a link to a PDF of the Green Guide.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Adopt a turtle as a gift

From an article by Alma Boada the newsletter of Centro Ecológico Akumal:

Turtle nesting season is almost over and we are waiting for the last six nests to hatch. In our next newsletter we will let you know the final number of turtles that we had this year. Remember that your donations are very important for us. This year, with your help and with our social service students, we were able to produce a documentary video of our turtle program. Next year, we plan on improving our educational displays in the center and our sea turtle education material for the local schools.

To support these efforts, please consider adopting a turtle for your child, friend, mother or father as a Christmas gift! This way they are able to help give something back to the Earth. Also, 2008 is the International Year of the Reef and you can begin the New Year by joining our efforts to protect the beautiful sea turtles, one of the many species that depends on a healthy reef.

If not adopting a turtle, CEA would gratefully accept memberships and contributions.

The complete newsletter is online in English and Spanish.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Keys' coral reef faces more trouble

From a story by Marc Caputo in the Miami Herald:

TALLAHASSEE -- Boat run-agrounds are up nearly 62 percent. Fragile coral species haven't recovered from serious diseases. And polluting nutrients are choking out some sea grasses.

The 10th annual status report of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary shows that the aquatic life is in trouble in the world's third-largest barrier coral reef -- despite a decade of protection plans and regulations designed to save it.

And though the report indicates that fish populations are rebounding in a no-fishing zone and the reef's health isn't as severely declining as in the past, things could get far worse because of something no regulation can stop right now: global warming.

Warmer and warmer waters make it tougher and tougher for the tiny clustering coral animals to live.

''Corals are the canary, the canary in the coal mine. And they have shown us for some time that we have elevated sea surface temperatures,'' Billy Causey, the director of marine sanctuaries in the Southeast, told Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet before they voted to accept the sanctuary plan Tuesday.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Saving the Sawfish

You can watch Saving the Sawfish on the Web site of Cinemaquatics:

Saving the Sawfish is a short film about the habitat destruction occurring on a grand scale on the North Island of Bimini in the Bahamas. A huge scale resort and golf course is being developed on this small island, the final population of which will dwarf the size of the local population. Already phase 1 of the project is massive, but if phase 2 goes ahead it could signal distaster for the creatures that live there.

The island is low lying, covered in rich mangroves with a sea grass lagoon interior. A perfect nursery ground for lobster, fish, conch, sharks, as well as prime habitat for the critically endagered Smalltooth sawfish.

Not only have vast tracks of mangroves been bulldozed but because the islands are low lying the developers have been dredging the lagoon areas and dumping the spoil onto acres of shallow lagoon areas in order to be able on them. This not only destroys the mangroves but also the sea grass areas - vital sawfish habitat.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Two weeks without shark finning in Costa Rica

From the Web site of of Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas (PRETOMA):

Since November 13, in compliance with a mandate by the Constitutional Court, the Puntarenas Port Authority, by order of the Director of Navigation and Security of the Ministry of Public Transportation, has not authorized the arrival of international flag longline vessels at private docks in Puntarenas (Resolution CPP-2007-379). The Port Authority’s position is in response to an accusation of disobedience to the Constitutional Court’s ruling of February 3, 2006, (Case: 2006-1109), which ordered the Port Authority, the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA) and Customs Office of the Ministry of Treasury), to immediately halt the landing of these vessels on private docks that are not provided with public infrastructure. The accusation was presented by PRETOMA, in January of 2007, after the authorities had disobeyed the Constitutional Court order for a year.

“We are very satisfied with this victory, given the importance of compliance with national laws,” said Jorge Ballestero, of Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas (PRETOMA). “The landing of shark fins and other fishery products at the private docks of Puntarenas by international flag longline vessels is an illegal activity, and one which clearly favors activities like shark finning, given that in the privacy of these docks it is impossible to protect the public interest,” explained Ballestero.

PRETOMA has identified the use of private docks by international flag longline vessels to be the greatest loop hole that facilitates shark finning in Costa Rica. In fact, Articles 211 and 212 of the Customs Law orders the obligatory use of public docks by international flag fishing fleets. In spite of these laws, Costa Rica has continued to receive these landings at private docks, uninterruptedly, since 1998.

Since the adoption of this policy by the Port Authority two weeks ago, three international flagged longline vessels have attempted, without success, to land their products. All three vessels, the Dragon 28, the Conchita 8, Yu Long 6, sail under the flag of Belize, and are currently docked at the private docks. This situation, however, could be only temporary, given that the Ministry of the Treasury has expressed its dissatisfaction to the Constitutional Court regarding the recent ruling, and has petitioned the accusation of disobedience to be dropped, with the intention of prolonging the illegal use of private docks to land shark fins and other shark products.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Climate Change Pushing Tropics Farther, Faster

From an article by Richard A. Lovett for National Geographic News:

Over the past 25 years the tropics have expanded by as much as 300 miles (500 kilometers) north and south—evidence of climate change in action, a new study says.

This not only means that rain-drenched regions near the Equator are growing, experts say, but also that global warming may be pushing deserts poleward in places such as the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, South America, and the Mediterranean.

(See a map of where global warming will hit the hardest.)

"The rate of increase is pretty big," said study lead author Dian Seidel of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Air Resources Laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland.

"It's several degrees of latitude over the course of 25 years."

Tracking Air Circulation

If it sounds strange to think of the tropics as expanding, that's because geographers and climate scientists view them differently. To mapmakers, the tropics are simply the regions between 23.5 degrees north and south latitude, where at least once a year the sun is directly overhead.

But Seidel and her team based their definition of the tropical belt on air circulation.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

NOAA neeeds Communications/Outreach Specialist

From NOAA's Coral_List listserve:

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program is recruiting for a Communications and Outreach Specialist. This position is located at NOAA's headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland and will be filled through I.M. Systems Group, a firm under contract to NOAA.

I.M. Systems Group ( ), a contractor to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, MD, seeks an individual to serve as a Communications and Outreach Specialist to coordinate and promote coral reef program activities. This individual will work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Coral Reef Conservation Program.

To Apply: Send resume in Word format to with the following subject heading: NOA07038 -- Communications/Outreach Specialist. Along with a resume submission, include references and some outreach product examples. Salary for this position is commensurate with experience.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Will ocean rise threaten Caribbean islands and shores?

Leaders of Pacific Island nations sense the growing urgency of combating global warming, since the sea may soon swallow their nations. But very little discussion touches on the rise of sea levels in the Caribbean. Will the rise be too small to cause a threat? What will happen? Have any sutdies made any predictions?

Here's an excerpt article posted on AFP about on the concerns of Pacific island nations:

KURUMBA VILLAGE, Maldives (AFP) — Dozens of the world's small island nations appealed Wednesday for rapid international action against climate change, fearing it is only a matter of time before they are submerged.

Delegates from 26 low-lying nations, including Tuvalu, Micronesia, Kiribati and Palau, ended two-days of talks in this Maldives tourist by closing ranks ahead of a global climate change meeting in Bali in December.

"We are the most affected. We deserve more support to protect our countries, our communities, from rising sea levels... our voices, our concerns must be heard and taken note of," Maldivian Environment Minister Ahmed Abdualla said.

He said low-lying nations urged the United Nations to include the human dimension of global climate change -- in other words the very survival of low-lying islanders -- on the agenda at Bali.

More than 100 ministers are expected to attend the Bali meeting, which aims to secure the agreement of nations to negotiate a new regime to combat climate change when the current phase of Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

"We hope leaders who attend the Bali summit will take our concerns seriously," said a representative of the Comoros Permanent Mission to the United Nations, El-Marouf Mohamed.

Small nations feel the human element will give a new dimension to their fight to persuade bigger nations to cut back on the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming.

"We are using a different lever, to remind bigger countries of their moral obligations to honour their promises," Grenada's permanent representative to the UN, Angus Friday, told reporters.

Experts have warned that global warming will melt glaciers and polar ice caps, leading to a sharp increase in sea levels before the end of the 21st century.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Sanibel Sea School seeks Lead Teacher

From the Coral-List:

Sanibel [Florida, USA] Sea School is currently seeking a Lead Teacher.

The Sanibel Sea School is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting marine conservation through experiential education. We are located on Sanibel Island, Florida. We offer day courses for both young people and adults. The young students range in ages 6-13 and may enroll for a single day, or for up to ten consecutive days. A detailed description of Sanibel Sea School, our programs and course offerings may be found on our web site, .

The Lead Teacher is the curriculum supervisor of, and an instructor in Sanibel Sea School, Inc. The Lead Teacher reports to the Executive Director, and is responsible for the organization's achievement of its mission, through the planning and execution of an excellent curriculum of experiential education centered on marine environments and conservation.
More details about the school and position here.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Coral initiative meeting kicks off Year of the Reef

From the Web site of IRIC:

The Governments of Mexico and the United States of America, as co-hosts of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) Secretariat, in conjunction with the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, are pleased to announce that the first General Meeting of the current secretariat, and the launch of the International Year of the Reef will be held in Washington DC, US.

Date: 22-25 January
Location: Washington DC
Click here for the agenda.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Babies dash to the ocean

Though filmed at Escobilla Beach near Oaxaca on the Pacific side of Mexico, a video on the Web site of The Guardian shows babies headed for the sea. It's definitely fun to watch them scurry to the water.

The photo above shows baby leatherbacks (not the turtles in the video) headed to the Atlantic along the North Carolina coast. Photo by Jeff Pollin/Marine Photobank.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Saving coral reefs becomes a tourism priority

From an article by Bonnie Tsui in the New York Times:

GREEN sea turtles, cascades of glittering reef fish, blooming coral pillars — countless travelers have come nose to nose with a thriving undersea universe while on vacation. But increasingly, divers and snorkelers are swimming over bleached hunks of coral devastated by shore runoff or overfishing.

From the South Pacific to the Caribbean, coral reefs — which are among the most delicate of marine ecosystems — are bearing the brunt of climate change and other human-driven activities — including coastal development, deforestation and unrestricted tourism. Now, many in the tourist industry are trying to halt the damage.

And it is no wonder. The dollars involved in reef-based tourism are significant: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef alone draws about 1.9 million visitors a year, supporting a $4.2 billion industry. According to the Nature Conservancy, the annual economic value of coral reefs to world tourism is $9.6 billion.

Growing awareness of environmental issues means that the tourism industry has lately been a partner to conservation efforts in major reef areas. Though the Great Barrier is the most famous reef, it is not the most threatened; its extensive marine management program is widely regarded as a model for conservation. It includes eco-certification programs for tourism operators within the boundaries of the marine park, environmental tourist fees, large no-take zones, species monitoring and tourism industry contributions to the Great Barrier Reef’s main research center.

But the world’s second-largest barrier reef, the Mesoamerican Reef in the Caribbean, is seriously endangered by coastal development, runoff and pollution. The reef system stretches nearly 700 miles from the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico to the Bay Islands of Honduras.

And reefs in the Coral Triangle in Southeast Asia — which reaches from Malaysia to the Philippines, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, encompassing some of the planet’s most diverse marine habitats — have been severely damaged by overfishing and destructive practices, including the use of cyanide and dynamite to capture fish.


Monday, November 19, 2007

From an article by Joe Cavanaugh in the newsletter of REEF:

In an E-news article last May, I wrote about a collaborative effort between REEF and the Bahia Principe Resort in Akumal, Mexico. The Resort has been working with ReefAid ever since Hurricane Wilma (2005) did major damage to the reefs just in front of the resort, in an effort to study, protect, and restore these reefs. I was originally invited down to conduct a fish census on a large patch reef area off the beach from the property. The destruction to the inshore reef during Wilma was severe and ever since, Bahia Principe has worked with ReefAid to restore this patch reef area, establishing a protected zone around the most hard-hit areas. Part of Bahia Principe's long-term plan is to create a mitigation plan for future storms and to educate guests about ways they, too, can help protect the reefs. The Hotel Gran Bahia Principe is the Yucatan's largest resort complex, and there are currently 14 such resorts worldwide. After our last visit, ReefAid's Founder, Eric Engler and I co-wrote a protection and monitoring plan for the Resort that included periodic roving diver surey assessments, special signs and enforcement of no-swim areas, a coral nursery, and coral and invertebrate monitoring using another non-profit's methodology (ReefCheck).

On our last trip a few weeks ago, Eric and I received Reefcheck training over two days with Gabriela Georgina Nava Martinez, learning their survey methodology. Gaby also taught a Reefcheck class to the Bahia Principe dive staff , their onsite turtle rescue non-rpfit, Ecologica Bahia, and some of the Resort public relations personnel.. Bahia Principe is now a REEF Field Station and is close to becoming an educational center for REEF, teaching fish ID classes and training Resort guests in how to conduct fish surveys. Resort staff will soon routinely conduct Roving Diver Surveys of both the protected area and the offshore reefs frequented by multiple dive operators. Additionally, Reefcheck will train the dive staff to conduct 3-4 surveys per year at first to form a baseline assessment of the inshore protected reef. And finally, this year REEF is running a Field Survey to Bahia Principe (May 17-24, 2008). Please see our Field Survey page on our website to learn more about our upcoming survey and how to participate.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Marine extension position, St. Thomas

From Coral-list listserve:

JOB TITLE: Extension Specialist II


DEPARTMENT: Center for Marine and Environmental Studies (CMES)

ASSIGNMENT: The successful candidate will work as the primary agent for the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service covering the St. Thomas, St. John, and Water Island area. The candidate will be responsible for developing a comprehensive outreach and environmental education program addressing marine habitat conservation and the impact of human activities on marine environments; including non-point source pollution on coastal resources and the importance of marine protection areas for the sustainability of fishery resources. Candidate will also interact with local fishermen, teachers, students within the public school system, and the community; be expected to pursue other sources of grant funding and develop independent outreach projects; complete administrative tasks; and perform other related duties as assigned.


Master's of Science degree in marine science or related field or Bachelor of Science degree with two (2) years experience;

Two (2) years experience related to public outreach and environmental education;

Working knowledge of Caribbean marine habitats and associated organisms preferred;

Proficiency in the use of word processing and data processing computer applications;

Excellent communication, interpersonal, organizational, analytical and problem-solving skills;

Able to work independently and cooperatively with others.

COMPENSATION: The salary for this position is $30,587 to $43,079 for the administrative year depending on experience and qualifications. Benefits include two retirement plans and a group medical, dental, and life insurance program.

If applicable, economy jet fare to St. Thomas for appointee and immediate family and shipping allowance of up to $1,250 will be paid by the University upon presentation of receipts.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES: In order to be considered please submit an employment application, cover letter, resume/curriculum vitae, official college transcript(s) and three (3) letters of recommendation to: Human Resources Department, University of the Virgin Islands, #2 John Brewers Bay, St. Thomas, VI 00802-9990 or email at


When applying for this position, the job title and job code number must be included on your resume/cv.

Call (340) 693-1410 for assistance


Friday, November 16, 2007

Florida nursery to raise staghorn corals

Fragment of staghorn coral illustrates the fast re-growth of the species between July and October 2007. Credit: James Herlan

From an article posted on Underwater Times:

Coral Gables, Florida (Nov 15, 2007 13:21 EST) In response to the need for localized efforts to protect and recover the surviving populations of the threatened staghorn coral, Diego Lirman, Ph.D., and James Herlan, researchers from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) have established an underwater nursery dedicated to the propagation of staghorn corals.

The goals of the coral nursery are to develop effective coral fragmentation and propagation methodologies, and to evaluate the role of coral genetics on the resilience of this species to disturbance. A total of 250 fragments of staghorn coral have been collected to date, and placed on cement platforms where they are individually measured at monthly intervals to assess growth and mortality patterns. It is expected that the staghorn fragments kept in the nursery will provide an expanding coral stock to be used in future reef restoration, as well as in scientific experiments.

Until recently, branching Elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) corals were among the most abundant reef-building corals in Caribbean and Florida reefs. However, in the last few decades a drastic regional decline of this genus has been recorded due mainly to elevated temperatures, coral diseases, and the impact of hurricanes. This region-wide decline, which has resulted in losses of up to 95 percent of colonies at several locations, has prompted the listing of these species as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2006.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ocean trash kills turtles

Green turtle stomach contents.More photos. Courtesy of Australian Seabird Rescue.

The Ocean Conservancy recently released the results of a five-year study of marine debris:

. . . Marine debris not only kills turtles, fish, birds and other wildlife through ingestion and entanglement, but it also costs coastal communities through removal, lost revenue from tourism and reductions in property values. Results from the study indicate that marine debris continues to plague the United States, and that certain regions face larger debris problems than others.

“This milestone research shows us that trash comes from a number of activities in the ocean and on land. Trash in our ocean doesn’t fall from the sky, it falls from our hands and it can be prevented,” said Laura Capps, Senior Vice President for Communications and Outreach at Ocean Conservancy. “Simple steps like properly disposing of trash, reusing packaging, and removing discarded fishing gear from the water makes a significant positive impact on the health of the ocean and its wildlife. Regardless of where we live, we all can play a part in keeping our beaches clean and our ocean healthy.”


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hard-to-swallow hooks save turtles in Latin America

From a Reuters article by John McPaul posted on Planet Ark:

PUNTARENAS, Costa Rica - Endangered sea turtles accidentally caught by fishermen off Latin American coasts usually die but innovative hooks that are too big to swallow are increasingly saving the reptiles' lives.

The use of circular-shaped hooks lets fishing crews more easily remove hooks from the mouths of loggerhead, leatherback and other turtles caught up in long lines meant to catch fish and prevents them from bleeding to death.

Four years ago, the World Wildlife Fund conservation group, or WWF, began encouraging long-line fishermen from Ecuador to Mexico to replace traditional J-shaped hooks, which fish and turtles tend to swallow, with various sizes of circular hooks.

Unlike the J-shaped hook that has its point parallel to the shaft, the circular hook points toward the shaft and is also wider, making it more likely that it will lodge in the lip rather than the throat or stomach, which is fatal, the WWF says.

The WWF believes close to 250,000 endangered turtles, as well as thousands of sea birds, sharks and sea mammals, are accidentally caught every year by long-line fishermen, who troll the ocean with lines strung with thousands of hooks.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Theme song for International Year of the Reef (IYOR)

From Reef Check:

The International Year of the Reef (IYOR) 2008 is a year long celebration intended to increase global awareness of the value of coral reefs, and the crisis affecting them and associated ecosystems. During IYOR, government agencies, environmental groups, universities and businesses are requested to come together to host and support activities that promote coral reef conservation. As Reef Check’s first activity leading up to IYOR, we present “The Year of the Reef” song. Please feel free to download this song and use it to help educate and inspire people everywhere about the value of coral reefs and the need to work together to save them. The song has been donated to Reef Check by our Board Member, Russ Lesser and his band Thin Ice.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Take classes live from Aquarius underwater habitat

Monday, November 12th, through Wednesday, November 14th, the Living Oceans Foundation and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will present six live underwater coral reef classes from the NOAA National Undersea Research Center Aquarius underwater habitat in Key Largo, FL. The four "Aquanauts" will descend to Aquarius Monday morning and our first live Internet webcast will occur at 2 pm EST followed by a night class at 7 pm. The four Aquanauts are CAPT Phil Renaud (Living Oceans Director), Mark Patterson, PhD (VIMS), Annelise Hagan, PhD, (Living Oceans Chief Project Scientist), and DJ Roller (Liquid Pictures Cinematographer). Coral and Sponge classes will occur on Tuesday (Nov 13) at 11 am and 2 pm. Physical Oceanography classes will take place on Wednesday (Nov 14) at 11 am and 2 pm. All times are EST.

You may freely access the detailed schedule and live webcasts at:


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Marine ecology and conservation semester abroad - Bonaire - Spring 2008

From Rita BJ Peachey, PhD, Resident Director, CIEE Research Station Bonaire:

Undergraduate Study Abroad Opportunity in the Caribbean

The Tropical Marine Biology and Conservation study abroad program is accepting applications for spring semester (2008). Student participants will register for 17 semester hours: Coral Reef Ecology, Scientific Diving, Environmental and Cultural History of Bonaire, Marine Conservation Biology and Independent Study. Complete details here.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mom irate over toy shark hunting ship; 'There is no excuse'

From a story on

An irate mother has bitten back at shops for selling a "shark ship" that encourages children to fire a plastic harpoon into the head of an oversized shark.

Louise Pearse saw the Mega Rig Shark Ship advertised in a Toyworld catalogue delivered to her home in Paraparaumu Beach over the weekend.

"There is no excuse they can give for that toy. They should apologise for even publishing the wretched thing in their catalogue, and certainly withdraw it from sale."

Mrs Pearse believes the toy, made by Mattel, is simply a whaling ship in shark's clothing.

"What are we going to get next? The Battered Seal Kit with realistic blood that squirts out when you hit it with a baseball bat?"


Friday, November 9, 2007

New virtual stations and remote sensing resources from NOAA Coral Reef Watch

From the Coral-List listserve:

NOAA Coral Reef Watch is pleased to announce two new products now available on our website: an experimental expansion of our Satellite Bleaching Alert system, and a webpage that links to remote sensing datasets for coral reef managers. Both are available at:

Adding to our 24 operational sites, 33 new experimental Virtual Stations have been implemented. These include many locations in the Florida Keys, plus the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Special focus was given to the Centre of Excellence sites designated under the World Bank/GEF Coral Reef Targeted Research Program: Zanzibar, Tanzania; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; Heron Island, Australia; and Bolinao, Philippines. Each of these sites now has its own webpage, with zoomed-in views of the CRW satellite bleaching data products and time series graphs. For all of the new sites, users can sign up for Satellite Bleaching Alert e-mails, automatically warning them when bleaching conditions change in their location. These new Virtual Stations are currently in an experimental phase, while we continue to expand the network.

A new website has also been developed as a data portal to remote sensing datasets that are freely available over the web. The focus is on global, near-real-time data that would be useful for coral reef managers and researchers around the world: e.g. sea surface temperature and thermal stress, ocean surface winds, sea surface height anomalies, precipitation, sea surface currents, etc. We tried to include a variety of data formats, including easy-to-use imagery, to meet a variety of user needs. This project is part of the Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR) Program?s Remote Sensing Working Group. The new resources are [also] available at:

C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D.
Coordinator, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Satellite Oceanography & Climate Division

E/RA31, SSMC1, Room 5308
1335 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3226
301-713-2857 x109
Fax: 301-713-3136


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Recognizing individual turtles

Though focused on Hawaiian green turtles (called honu), Turtle Trax explains how to identify individual turtles, which presumably would work for unique identifation of turtles world wide:

One of the first questions that occurs to people hearing about our turtle experiences is, "How do you tell them apart?" This question is of the utmost importance to us. If we could not tell them apart, we could not document the changes in a each turtle's tumors from year to year.

The answer is in the faces. Although some turtles are readily identifiable by some obvious characteristic, such as Noke's missing flipper, many turtles look alike at a casual glance--but not if you examine the turtle's "mug shots" closely.

Like people, turtles have individual faces. Most honu have 15-20 darkish scales on their cheeks, although some have more and some less. Regardless of number, the shape and arrangement is constant and in our experience, unique. This provides a way to tell honu apart.

While we can't prove definitively that no two turtles share the same facial pattern, we have collected plenty of documentation to show that within the Honokowai population, turtle profiles are a reliable way of identifying individual turtles.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New Caribbean coral ID guide available

From the coral-list listserve:

An identification guide to corals, octocorals and sponges of Caribbean reefs is available. It is called Coralpedia v 1.0. It is free (its development was paid for by the OTEP fund of the UK government, to assist conservation work in the UK Overseas Territories).

Version 1 contains images and descriptions of about 64 Caribbean stony corals, 74 reef sponges and 41 octocorals (and a few other groups). Altogether over 1000 images are included. Its operation is designed to be by simple clicks only. Options are that species of each group may be ordered taxonomically (default) or by 'shape', and language options are English (default) or Spanish.

The Notes file (English and Spanish) gives many of the sources, other databases, and other taxonomic information and, most importantly, it contains the credits for all those who participated taxonomically, photographically, or both. The Notes file also explains that this can be regarded as work in progress, with feedback and additions welcome. (Other groups may be added, if someone is keen to add another Caribbean reef-dwelling group, or another major Caribbean language, given a volunteer translator). This Notes file is located in the main folder and is accessible both from the software itself or directly by a word processor.

Another file 'Readme.txt' is in the primary folder, for installation instructions and how to run it.

There are three ways to obtain it.

1. The primary source is a cd, available from Prof. Charles Sheppard. Send an email to (with a mailing address in the text which is easy to copy and paste, please).

2. Download the cd as a .zip. For this, send me your email address (in the text of the message for easy copying, please), and I then get my University 'files' site to send you the link to download the zip file (it is 200 mB). This (when unzipped) is the cd content.

3. A web based version is available:
Its format is, as near as we can make it, a 'match' with the cd, although because of differences in how pages are loaded, families are ordered differently (alphabetically). Obviously, viewing images of sufficient resolution means that the web way will work slower. The British Virgin Islands' National Parks Trust will be hosting this shortly as well.

We hope it is useful.

Best wishes
Professor Charles Sheppard
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Warwick
(+44) (0) 2476 524975


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fla. loggerhead turtle nests lag in 2007, green and leatherback are up

From an Associated Press story:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The number of loggerhead turtle nests was substantially lower in 2007 than in past years, according to preliminary numbers from scientists statewide.

Scientists found 28,500 nests from 19 surveyed beaches, down from almost 50,000 last year. The number was so low that this could be the lowest nesting year on record for loggerheads, said Blair Witherington, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The turtles' nesting numbers have declined in at least four of the past seven years.

Green and leatherback turtles, however, surpassed scientists' expectations and may have made a record number of nests this year on Florida's Treasure Coast.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Green turtle nesting sites discovered in Senegal

From the WWF:

Dakar, Senegal – A WWF survey has discovered several marine turtle nesting sites on the beaches of Senegal, prompting calls from conservationists to improve protection of the endangered species.

The survey — conducted by WWF staff, Senegalese wildlife officials and the local community between July and September — discovered nine new green turtle nests on the beaches of Joal-Fadiouth in the Saloum Delta south of the capital, Dakar.

Turtle tracks in the sand left by female turtles were also discovered at nearby Palmarine Beach as well as at Langue de Barbarie at the mouth of the Senegal River in the northern part of the country.

“The nests confirm that these beaches are important nesting sites and must be protected,” said Dr Mamadou Diallo, WWF Senegal’s programme manager for species.

“Even beaches with tracks but no nests are important to protect as they are potential nesting sites.”
In Joal-Fadiouth, where the nine nests were found, each was marked and enclosed with wire mesh to protect them from predators.

Thanks to a broadly supported public awareness campaign, illegal turtle capture and consumption has dropped by over 80% in Joal-Fadiouth.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Mote Marine Lab announces grant RFP for Florida-based groups

From the Mote Marine Laboratory:

Mote Marine Laboratory is proud to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Protect Our Reefs License Plate grant funding for 2008.

Approximately $450,000 will be available from 2007 license plate receipts for use in 2008.

Elibible organizations shall be based in Florida and engaged in reef research, education and/or conservation.

Proposal are due; December 14, 2007.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Parrotfish on menu puts
Caribbean coral at risk

From an article in Nature, as reported by on Underwater Times:

Exeter, U.K. (Oct 31, 2007 20:17 EST) Coral reefs could be damaged beyond repair, unless we change the way we manage the marine environment. New research by the Universities of Exeter and California Davis, published today (1 November 2007) in Nature, shows how damaged Caribbean reefs will continue to decline over the next 50 years.

Coral reefs conjure up images of rich, colourful ecosystems yet an increasing number of reefs are becoming unhealthy and overrun by seaweed. The research team wanted to test whether reefs that are overgrown with algae could return to good health if the original causes of the problem, such as fishing or pollution, were addressed. This could mean, for example, reducing fishing or introducing better sewage management. The study revealed that the answer is ‘no’ because coral reefs can become permanently unhealthy.

In the 1980s, reefs in the Caribbean were hit by the devastating impact of the near-extinction of the herbivorous urchin, Diadema antillarum, with devastating results. Along with parrotfish, this grazing urchin kept seaweed levels down, creating space for coral to grow. Parrotfish are now the sole grazers of seaweed on many Caribbean reefs, but fishing has limited their numbers. With insufficient parrotfish grazing, corals are unable to recover after major disturbances like hurricanes and become much less healthy as a result. The team discovered this result by creating and testing a computer model that simulates the effects of many factors on the health of Caribbean reefs.

Professor Peter Mumby of the University of Exeter, lead author on the paper said: “The future of some Caribbean reefs is in the balance and if we carry on the way we are then reefs will change forever. This will be devastating for the Caribbean’s rich marine environment, which is home to a huge range of species as well as being central to the livelihood of millions of people.”

Photo (c) Wolcott Henry 2005, Marine Photobank


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And the winner is . . . .

Oceana announced the winner of the freaky fish voting:

The polls are closed, the votes are tallied and the winner is (drum roll please): the red lipped batfish! No word if this bottom dweller is doing the Time Warp on the seafloor in celebration of the win, but one thing's for sure, the fish with the crimson kisser would be a shoo in for the aquatic rendition of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Also known as the Galapagos batfish, this oddball is a poor swimmer that spends an abundance of time "walking" on its pectoral fins. In addition to its freaky walking ability, its body is covered in gnarled lumps, so it's no wonder this warm water species looks like it's wearing lipstick -- how else could it get a date?

It was a close competition with creatures like the patagonian toothfish, the phantom anglerfish and the wretched, fearsome tubeworm fighting the good fight through the final stretch. But in the end the red lipped batfish pervailed.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Need info?

MarineBio's page on "relevant journals" lists 81 "scientific journals we recommend and periodically review for information concerning marine life."

In addition, the page contains a link to the Directory of Open Access Journals, a searchable database service covering "free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals. There are now 1642 journals in the directory. Currently 413 journals are searchable at article level. As of today 75605 articles are included in the DOAJ service."

Happy searching in journals ranging from the Journal of Biology to Coral Reefs - Journal of the International Society for Reef Studies!


Monday, October 29, 2007

REEF launches new Web site.

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)is a grass-roots organization that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists.

REEF's newly designed Web site makes access easier to all of the site's data and REEF's excellent programs.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Vote for freaky fish

From the Web site of Oceana:

A few weeks ago, we asked our WaveMakers to nominate ocean creatures for our second annual Halloween-inspired Freakiest Fish competition. We offer a big thanks to everyone who submitted a nominee, and although we reviewed many excellent options, our Marine Freakiness Committee (also known as the "Barometer o' Freak") selected the nominees below as the Top 10 finalists. We had a ton of fun learning about these creatures, and we hope you do too. Now get your freak on, and go vote!
I voted for the Red Lipped Batfish (Ogcocephalus darwini) over the other nominees: Deep Sea Black Dragonfish (Grammatostomias flagellibarba); Denise’s Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus Denise); Goblin Shark (Mitsukurina owstoni); Devil Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis diabolus); Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran); Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides); Phantom Anglerfish (Haplophryne mollis); Tubeworms (Riftia pachyptila).

However, none of these even come close to last year's winner, the Blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus):


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Survey on communications for marine wildlife

From the Coral-List listserve:

This is a second invite to participate in a very brief online survey on "Communicating Science for Conservation of Marine Wildlife." The survey was designed to investigate attitudes and opinions of those involved in the marine wildlife field regarding how scientific results are applied in the conservation of marine wildlife. The results of the survey will be used to help improve the effectiveness of communications regarding marine wildlife conservation issues. All responses are anonymous unless you indicate that you are willing to be contacted to answer some follow-up questions.

Thanks to all of you who have participated so far, the response rate has been great!

The survey will close at the end of this month, and your participation would greatly contribute to the results. Notice of this survey has been posted on several marine wildlife-related listserves, including Coral-list (corals), C-TURTLE (sea turtles), Fish-Sci (fisheries), MARMAM (marine mammals), and seabird (seabirds and marine ornithology). Our apologies if you have received multiple copies of this email as a result of cross-postings.

Link to survey.

Vicki Cornish (
Raychelle Daniel ( Ocean Conservancy, Washington, DC USA 202-429-5609


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ambitious inventory of marine life

From an article by Zilia Castrillón on the Inter Press Service:

BOSTON, Oct 19 (IPS/IFEJ) - The inclusion of coral on the Red List of Threatened Species 2007 -- of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) -- is the first result of an ambitious marine life observation project, one that has goals of global conservation.

The decision to add corals to the Red List was based on studies begun a little more than a year ago by the Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA), a joint effort of IUCN and Conservation International.

Ten species of coral in Ecuador's Galápagos Islands -- two in critical danger of extinction and one vulnerable -- have been included on the Red List, the most detailed guide to the global state of conservation -- or decline -- of plants and animals.

This is the first in a series of assessments and additions to the list focused on marine species around the world, said Kent Carpenter, coordinator of GMSA, based in the biological sciences department of Old Dominion University, in the eastern U.S. state of Virginia.

GMSA compiles information about all known species of vertebrates and of a selection of invertebrates and plants, and adds them to the IUCN's Species Information Service database.

The experts responsible for the project hope to have detailed data on the status of 20,000 marine species from around the world by 2010, and thus determine the relative risk of extinction of each one according to the Red List's criteria and categories.

So far, there are just 1,530 marine species among the 41,415 flora and fauna species included on the Red List this year in the various categories, ranging from "extinct" to "not evaluated". According to the GMSA scientists, sea life has not been adequately studied.

"The marine world has been relatively little studied and explored in comparison with land species," said Stuart Banks, oceanographer with the Charles Darwin Foundation, in an interview.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Opportunities for shark research at Bimini Bahamas, 2007 and 2008

From the

Volunteer positions at the Bimini Biological Field Station (Sharklab) will be available through the year starting in November 2007 through December 2008.

If you have a biological background or interest in shark biology and wish to join the research team either as a volunteer or project leader (PhD candidate or Post Doc)--for a minimum of one month--please contact Dr. Gruber at with a copy to Kat Gledhill (Station Manager) at Please also visit our website at for details about the station, our research and courses.

For the coming season we are collaborating with marine biologists from universities in the US, UK and Canada and will be conducting field research on the population dynamics and behavior of young lemon sharks (*Negaprion brevirostris*) using long line collections, visual census, telemetry-tracking and monitoring as well as observation and experiments on captive animals. A second, continuing project concerning quantitative genetics and reproductive biology will involve intensive tagging and collection of DNA from the 2008 cohort of lemon sharks born at Bimini lagoon and elsewhere.

In addition to the Bimini site, lemon shark projects are underway at the Marquesas Keys, and Jupiter Florida. We are also hoping to continue our research on ecosystem dynamics of lemon shark nurseries including GIS and Ecopath analysis; and broaden our genetic studies. PhD candidates who have completed their course work are encouraged to contact us. Small stipends to cover some travel and living expenses in the Bahamas as well as equipment and supplies are available to successful candidates.

Cordially Yours,
Samuel H. Gruber
Director BBFS and Professor Emeritus
Katie (Kat) Gledhill
Lab Manager
Bimini Biological Field Station
Bimini, Bahamas


Monday, October 22, 2007

Coastal habitats are most imperiled ecosystems

From an article by posted on Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2007) — The BBVA Foundation’s Third Debate on Conservation Biology allowed leading international experts to present findings of their latest research into the scale, causes and consequences of global loss of coastal habitats. The disappearance of these ecosystems, which include coral reefs, mangrove forests, wetlands and seagrass meadows, has serious consequences like loss of biodiversity, depletion of exploitable living resources, impaired capacity of the oceans to sequester CO2 and loss of the leisure value of the coastal zone. Not only that, the coastline becomes more vulnerable to the increased erosion associated with rising sea levels.

Carlos Duarte, researcher at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research and coordinator of the debate, informed the public that “coastal habitats are disappearing at a rate of between 1.2% and 9% a year and are now the biosphere’s most imperiled systems, with rates of loss 4 to 10 ten times faster than those of the tropical rainforest.”

The causes of these losses are many and include “the rapidly growing population of coastal zones, currently home to 60% of the planet’s inhabitants, along with the urban development, infrastructure works and ecosystem destruction this growth entails.” Also, increased discharges of nitrogen, phosphorus and organic matter have caused the deterioration of waters and sediments in many of the world’s coastal zones. . . .

Increased loadings of nitrogen and phosphorus due to coastal urbanization and the use of agricultural fertilizers are eroding the environmental quality of all coastal ecosystems, with tropical systems especially affected.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Enjoy Roatan before the ships arrive

From an article by in the Bay Islands Voice:

While Cruise Terminal in Coxen Hole bogs down in delays, the island is looking at a 10-fold cruise traffic increase over the next 6-10 years.

With Roatan due to turn into a major cruise ship destination, two cruise ship terminals with three to five docks are in preparation to begin construction. While Carnival is doing depth studies for two dock locations in Dixon Cove, Royal Caribbean's dock concession in Coxen Hole has hit some major delays. Royal Caribbean was promised a 30-year terminal contract with all necessary environmental permits, but what they have gotten is a headache of fighting with government regulations.

After breaking ground in December 2006, the work hit a couple of major speed bumps. First, between February 26 and March 9, Ministry of Mining held up work on the dock when Diamond Rock, Roatan's only rock, boulder supplier and subcontractor on the dock project, was shut down because the company never had a proper mining permit. In the meantime, no filling in could be done on the site. While mining permits were eventually issued, another even longer delay began in July when Ministry of the Environment (SERNA) permit for filling in the terminal's western portion, around 40% of the site, didn't materialize.

The existence of coral on the fill-in site caused a halt to the fill-in process. The only way to proceed was to make changes to Honduras' environmental laws. These changes are still in progress as the president had to approve them and congress had to pass and ratify the law before publishing it in La Gazeta. Finally SERNA has to OK it. "We are in a holding pattern," said Ernan Bartez, General Manager of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Terminal, who believes that the good will on the side of the government will make things happen in the end.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Successful beach clean-up

From the newsletter of Centro Ecológico Akumal:

October 6 was International Beach Clean-up Day. It was a great event with many people participating. Children, locals and tourists joined us at 8 a.m. at the CEA Information Center, were divided into teams and came back with 155 kilos of garbage, 95 being recyclable and 60 non-recyclable. Local businesses provided us with food and beverages for the whole crew.

We had our traditional drawing, sand sculpture and beach football contests. The kids had fun while learning, enjoying the beauty of our bay. They also snorkeled in the allowed areas, wearing lifejackets, in groups of 8 children and 2 guides, not approaching the corals or other species, but just watching them and enjoying floating on the sea.

This day was a very good example of how well we can work together to protect Akumal today so we may have our paradise alive tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who made this day happen: MiniSuper Chomak, El Pueblito, La Cueva del Pescador, Turtle Bay Café and Bakery, Akumal Dive Shop, Akumal Dive Center, Las Casitas Akumal, Hotel Vista del Mar, La Buena Vida, La Boutique, Oshun Joya, Ixchel Boutique, and Leticia Cordova.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Celebrate Halloween with contribution to stop scary threats

Celebrate autumn, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, and winter holidays with a donation to Centro Ecológico Akumal.

In October CEA will continue to struggle with the scary threats to the coastal and marine ecosystem in the Mexican Riviera; then, in November, CEA will give thanks for the natural beauty the planet offers; and, finally, in December CEA will give the gifts of its time and energy to protect the Mesoamerican paradise into the future.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Small-scale fishing threatens loggerheads

From a press release issued by the Ocean Conservancy:

Washington, DC — Ocean Conservancy Scientist, Wallace J. Nichols and University of California (UC)-Santa Cruz researcher Hoyt Peckham found surprising results in a recent peer-reviewed loggerhead sea turtle study that Nichols and Peckham conducted over the course of 10 years. The full study will be released on October 17th. The study reveals that small-scale fishing operations are a greater threat to the survival of north Pacific loggerhead sea turtles than large industrial fishing operations.

The species is seriously threatened. As The New York Times recently editorialized, “For an oceanic species such as the loggerhead, these are incredibly dangerous times. It is partly the longevity of these creatures that makes their death as bystanders among the global fishing fleets feel so tragic, a truly colossal waste of life.”


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mayan women turn cenote dump into tourist dollars

From a story by Sara Miller Llana in The Christian Science Monitor:

Yokdzonot, Mexico - The name of this town in the Mayan language means "above the cenote," but for years the cenote, or freshwater pool, in the middle of this tiny community of 500 operated as the neighborhood garbage dump.

And then a group of middle-aged women here, looking for more work in a town where most families merely subsist on crops they grow on small pots of land, decided to capitalize on the growing craze for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving among the sinkholes that dot the tourist circuit throughout Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.

The men called them foolish, and as the group of 25 cut through the jungle with machetes, the other women shook their heads. They hiked 20 meters down to the water's edge, dragging out glass bottles and plastic bags, one by one. They hiked up into the mountains to bring back flat stones to create foot paths, and cut down wood to create rails. The whole effort took more than a year.

"We are all housewives," says Mirna Yolanda Mendez, a mother of four, standing at the Yokdzonot Ecological Park and Cenote, which opened this winter. It is fringed by lush vines. The water is crystal clear, revealing brightly-hued fish below. On a recent day a family splashed around a dock anchored in the middle. "No one believed we could do it," says Ms. Mendez. . . .

Today homemade signs on the highway invite visitors to take a swim. The cenote is still a work in progress. The group takes shifts managing the new tourist attraction: cleaning, handling the $2 entrance fees, or cooking in a small palm-covered restaurant that they built adjacent to the cenote. For now, the group invests most of the money they earn into maintaining the small park and cenote.
The health of the reefs along the Yucatán depends on clean cenotes, because sewage, chemicals, and other pollutants thrown into cenotes will eventually find its way to the Caribbean.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Hurricane season puzzles experts

From a Reuters' story by Michael Christie posted on the Planet Ark Web site:

MIAMI - Judge the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season by the 13 storms so far, and it looks like a relatively busy year. But look at the number of days a hurricane has swirled in the Atlantic, or use other measures of a storm season's ferocity, and 2007 has been surprisingly benign.

Hurricane experts had predicted the season to be above-average because of warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures, the continuance of a decades-long natural period of increased storm activity, and the development of La Nina weather conditions in the Pacific.

Many tropical waves, often a precursor of a tropical storm, developed in the Atlantic over the busiest weeks of the season between September and early October, and eight named tropical storms formed in September -- matching a record for the month.

But apart from maximum-strength Hurricane Felix, which slammed into Central America on Sept. 4, most were exceedingly brief or weak, meaning September only registered 3.5 days with a hurricane.

One noted hurricane forecasting team at Colorado State University had predicted 20 hurricane days that month.

This year's storms caused relatively little damage and casualties especially compared to the havoc inflicted in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, Wilma pummeled the Mexican resort of Cancun and Florida, and Rita hit the Texas-Louisiana border area.

The main reason for the low number of hurricane days this year has been high vertical wind shear -- the difference in windspeeds at different altitudes -- which tears storms apart while they try to form, hurricane experts said.

Scientists are puzzled. A periodic cooling in sea temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific, known as La Nina, is supposed to reduce shear over the Atlantic.

"It's like everything else with hurricanes; every now and then the scientists just have to scratch their heads," said Jeff Masters, co-founder of the Weather Underground Web site.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The best home page intro on the Web

Ocean Spirits' animated introduction to its Web site has to be one of the best on the Web. I enjoy watching it over and over. Check it out here.

Ocean Spirits is a non-profit conservation organization based in Grenada.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Costa Rica expropriates land to protect turtles

From a story by John McPhaul posted on Reuters' Web site:

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - Costa Rican President Oscar Arias has ordered the expropriation of lucrative beach-front land to protect the endangered leatherback sea turtle, the government said on Thursday.

Arias began expropriation procedures for some 30 hectares (74 acres) of land in northwestern Costa Rica, the most important leatherback sea turtle nesting site on the Pacific Rim, Energy and Environment Minister Roberto Dobles said.

"We are only complying with the law that established Las Baulas (national marine park) in 1995," Dobles told Reuters.

Some of the expropriated land owners, mostly Europeans and U.S. citizens, had resisted the expropriation even though the land was made a national park by law in 1995.

Environmentalists hailed the move to protect the turtles, which have been declining in alarming numbers in recent years.


Friday, October 12, 2007

U.S. to Caribbean: Reduce loans by preserving reefs, forests

From a story by William E. Gibson in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

WASHINGTON - Backed by ocean research groups in Florida, Congress is poised to give developing nations in the Caribbean and elsewhere a chance to pay off some of their debt to the United States by preserving forests and coral reefs.

Every dollar that qualified nations spend to preserve these fragile ecosystems would reduce their debt by a dollar under a bill passed by the House on Tuesday evening and cleared for passage in the Senate.

"This bill is truly a win-win-win situation," Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, told the House. He and co-sponsor Mark Kirk, R-Ill., say it would help friendly nations in the Caribbean, South America and Asia while nurturing the environment.

"By providing incentives for developing nations to conserve their coral resources, we are in effect protecting coastal landscapes and maintaining coastal quality of water of some of the most important coral reef ecosystems in the world," Hastings said.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Training Workshop on Coral Damage Assessment, Restoration and Monitoring

From the Web site of the International Coral Reef Initiative:

Training Workshop on Coral Damage Assessment, Restoration and Monitoring
La Parguera, Puerto Rico
December 4-5, 2007

Background: Cumulative impacts from small boat anchors, recurring recreational boat groundings and larger incidents, such as the April 2006 grounding of the oil tanker Margara near Tallaboa, Puerto Rico, demonstrate the need to prepare for and respond to the physical destruction of coral reefs, sea grasses and associated habitats. In response to this need, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is organizing a training workshop on coral damage assessment, restoration and monitoring for resource managers in the wider Caribbean region. The workshop will be conducted by NOAA specialists responsible for assessing, restoring and monitoring damaged coral, sea grass and mangrove habitats in NOAA's national marine sanctuaries. In addition to building capacity, the workshop organizers hope to promote consistent assessment, restoration and monitoring protocols and technique s to facilitate information and personnel exchanges across jurisdictions during major impact events. . . .

To apply: For more information, please contact Joe Schittone, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (, 301-713-7265). To apply to the workshop, please submit a one-page summary of your qualifications and responsibilities and describe how the workshop will enhance your coral reef management responsibilities.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Second annual freaky fish contest

Oceana seeks entries for its annual freaky fish contest:

This Halloween, we’d like to pay homage to this ghoulishly delightful day by celebrating the creepy, crawly critters of the deep – the ones that are too bizarre to live on land.

Last year, we crowned the blobfish the Freakiest Fish of 2006. This year’s winner is up to YOU.

Tell us why your fish is freaky using the form posted here, and our freaky experts will narrow down the contenders. Get your friends to vote for your fish starting October 10, and the winner will be announced this Halloween.

If your fish wins, you’ll be entered into a special Halloween raffle.
Read more about the blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) on Wikipedia.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Locals left behind by Mexico beach boom

From an article by Sara Miller Llana in the The Christian Science Monitor:

Playa del Carmen, Mexico - Rosalio Mezo dips his feet in the Caribbean Sea and points from one end of Xpu-Ha Bay to the next. There used to be nothing along this inlet, he says, save a few fishermen's homes and the jungle.

Now a 200-room hotel stands to his right; a 700-room resort to his left. In fact, along this stretch of shore south of Cancún called the Mayan Riviera, developers are devouring land in a boom that has made this region, by many accounts, the fastest-growing in Latin America.

Once a swath of small fishing communities made up of simple, palm-covered homes like that of Mr. Mezo, this coastline has become the trendy new vacation spot as Cancún has morphed into a concrete jungle of high-rise hotels. Now the number of hotel rooms along this strip on the Yucatán Peninsula's eastern coast has surpassed that of Cancún.

Critics say the transformation is threatening fragile ecosystems (such as the region's mangrove forests), exceeding the capacity of the current infrastructure, and forever changing the area's tranquil way of life. Tourism and local officials say they are planning responsibly and providing an alternative to Mexicans who might otherwise head to the US in search of employment.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Buckets of baby turtles rescued

From a report on

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Daytona Beach, Fla. -- Buckets filled with hundreds of baby turtles were rescued over the weekend after they were unable to make it out to the sea because of rough waters off the coast of Central Florida.

Officials with the Marine Science Center said the green sea turtles and loggerhead sea turtles were at risk because a tropical system located off the coast.

"The turtles started arriving about a week ago," said Michelle Bauer, sea turtle rehab specialist. "We've received more than 600 this weekend. Mostly green sea turtles and loggerheads are coming in. We've had two Kemps Ridley turtles come in as well."

The Volusia County Marine Science Center cares for injured sea turtles, freshwater and terrestrial turtles, injured sea birds and nonreleasable hawks and owls, wood storks, pelicans, and seagulls.

"Most have arrived in relatively good shape," said Bauer. "Unfortunately, we lost some hatchlings. Some were just too far gone to be saved and some arrived dead. We've seen turtles ranging from hatchling to about 2 months old. . . ."


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Puerto Rico preserves beach from development

From an Associated Press story on MSNBC:

LUQUILLO, Puerto Rico - Against the backdrop of a pristine coastline, Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila signed an order Thursday to preserve a white-sand beach fringed with tropical forest where proposals for hotel resorts sparked widespread protests.

The 3,240 acres of public and private land, including a gently sloping beach used as a nesting area by endangered leatherback sea turtles, will become a nature reserve with the possibility for small-scale ecotourism ventures.

"We recognize the ecological and ecotourism value of the area," Acevedo said.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Nominate an "unsung hero" of reef research or conservation

From: Jim Hendee
Subject: [Coral-List] "Unsung Heroes" of Coral Reef Research and/or Conservation
To: Coral-List Subscribers

I would like to put together a Web presence for the "unsung heroes" of coral reef research and/or conservation, in time for the International Year of the Reef in 2008. Ideally, the various nominees...

1) ...represent a person or group that you feel has contributed significantly to preserving coral reef ecology, but who has not received much recognition (whether or not they feel they deserve or want it).
2) ...all together would represent coral reef areas that are both remote, as well as heavily visited, in all three oceans.
3) ...don't mind sharing pictures of themselves as well as their endeavors!

If you have such people or groups in mind, please send me a paragraph describing why you think they are an unsung hero, what their accomplishments are, and a photo or two, or links to such photos. If you can have such a person or group include a note stating to the effect that they don't mind sharing their picture(s), that would certainly be helpful. When you send these materials, please include "unsung hero" in the subject heading so I can keep it better organized.

Want to post?
Ed Blume, a volunteer for Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA), moderates the blog. Anyone wishing to post can contact Ed at

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