Friday, August 31, 2007

'Engine' of the coral reef discovered; farmed algae 'like an alien'

From the Web site of Underwater Times:

Queensland, Australia (Aug 29, 2007 18:19 EST) A team of coral researchers has taken a major stride towards revealing the workings of the mysterious ‘engine’ that drives Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and corals the world over.

The science has critical importance in understanding why coral reefs bleach and die, how they respond to climate change – and how that might affect humanity, they say.

Scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University and the University of Queensland have compiled the world’s first detailed gene expression library for Symbiodinium, the microscopic algae that feed the corals – and so provide the primary energy source for the entire Reef.

“Symbiodinium uses sunlight to convert CO2 into carbohydrates for the corals to feed on. At the same time there’s evidence the corals control its output, suggesting that they are farming their captive plants” Professor David Yellowlees explains.

“But these microscopic algae are quite weird and unlike any other lifeform. They have different photosynthetic machinery from all other light harvesting organisms. They have 100 times more DNA than we do and we have no idea why such a small organism needs so much. They really are like no other living creature we know.

This is echoed by team member Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg who comments it is ‘like no other organism on planet’, jokingly labeling it “like an alien”.

This strange beast not only rules the fate of the world’s coral reefs – it also plays a significant role in soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, turning it into nourishment for the corals and powering calcification. Its decline would not only kill the reefs but accelerate CO2 buildup.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Coastal reefs being destroyed by pollution-fed algae

From a story by John McPhaul distributed by Reuters:

San Jose, Costa Rica - A tropical algae thriving on fertilisers from hotel golf courses and badly treated sewage is killing one of Costa Rica's most important coastal reefs, scientists say.

The green, feather-like algae is spreading along the reefs of Culebra Bay in Costa Rica's north-western Gulf of Papagayo, a popular scuba diving spot and home to a rare species of coral. The algae blocks the sunlight and suffocates the reefs.

A tourism and construction boom along the palm tree-lined beaches is creating nitrogen- and phosphate-rich waste that feeds the algae, known as Caulerpa sertularioides, and Costa Rica is only just becoming aware of the problem.
The Mesoamerican Reef experiences similar negative impacts from contamination.

The photo shows dead coral overgrown with algae.
Photo by Wolcott Henry via Marine Photobank.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New book: Reef

From the Coral Reef Alliance:

DK Publishing has just released a new book, Reef, featuring astounding photos and video from coral reefs around the world captured by Scubazoo.

Coral reefs are often called "the rainforests of the sea" because of the quantity and diversity of life they support, and because they are highly sensitive and threatened ecosystems. Building on the success of DK's Rainforest, this unique pictorial celebration of the world's reefs progresses through an ecological chain that goes from algae, sponges, and mollusks to the thousands of fishes that make their homes there. This vivid collection of photographs, from underwater photography collective Scubazoo, reveals reefs as they've never been seen before.

- Features reefs worldwide, from Southeast Asia to the Red Sea and Hawaii;
- Captions identify plant and animal life and quotes give additional background information.
- Photographic narratives demonstrate how reefs live/die, and how creatures depend on them
- Published in cooperation with the American Museum of Natural History.
Learn more about the book and order here.


Employment: Postdoctoral fellowship in Monaco

I would like to draw your attention to a postdoctoral research fellowship pportunity at the Centre Scientifique de Monaco directed by Prof. Denis Allemand (CSM;

You will join the team of ecophysiology to study photosynthetic processes in Mediterranean symbioses (such as in gorgonians and scleractinian symbiotic corals), the importance of auto-and heterotrophy in such organisms, the role of symbionts in the animal metabolism and the photosynthetic response to environmental changes.

Selection criteria include:
* A PhD in relevant disciplines and experience of scuba diving, preferably qualified to advanced level,
* An excellent publication record for stage of career,
* the knowledge of fluorometry, and
* Capacity to bring fresh approaches to the study of temperate coral and gorgonian ecophysiology that will complement existing areas of strength in the Centre.

The position will be available in January 2008. Appointment will be through January 2009 in the first instance. Applications will be accepted until end of October 2007.

Enquiries to:
Dr. C. Pag?s or Prof. Denis Allemand

To apply, please forward a CV, email addresses of 3 potential referees, and a 1-2 pages description of research project.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Employment: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Marine Animal Biology

School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science
Reference No. 107947

The School of Biological Sciences is a leading centre for biological research in an organismal, ecological and evolutionary context. It now invites applications for a full time continuing position as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Marine Animal Biology from outstanding candidates working on any marine animal system.

The successful applicant will have a PhD and be expected to develop and maintain an active research programme within the School in the biology of marine animals and to participate in collaborative research within the School, across units in the Faculties of Science and outside the University. The appointee will be expected to
supervise honours and PhD students in the School.

Excellent teaching skills are a requirement of the position, as are an interest in course development and potential for future development.

Duties will include teaching across all undergraduate levels.

This is a solid career opportunity to work with internationally reputed teaching and research group. The appointee will be expected to have an excellent record of research, or exceptional potential, with the ability to communicate effectively with fellow researchers and students.

He/she will be expected to make a significant contribution to the School's research profile; preference may be given to candidates whose research interests and proposed research complement existing areas of research in the School or those in other research centres within the Faculties of Science.

For more information or to apply online, please visit and search by reference number 107947. Specific enquiries about the role can be directed to the Head of the School of Biological Sciences, Professor M.B.
Thompson on (+61 2) 9351 2848 or email:

Alternatively, general enquiries can be directed to Fabrice Noel on (+612) 9036 7295.

Closing: 5 Sept


Dr Maria Byrne
Professor Developmental and Marine Biology
Director One Tree Island Research Station
Anatomy and Histology, F13
University of Sydney
NSW 2006

Ph: 61-2-9351-5166
FAX: 61-2-9351-2813


Monday, August 27, 2007

First impressions prove wrong: Hurricane Dean damages Mesoamerican Reef System

Though initial reports minimized damage to the Mesoamerican Reef System more thorough assessments indicate major damage, especially to Banco Chinchorro.

From a story by Guadalupe Martinez in Novedades:

The Biosphere Reserve Banco Chinchorro was severly affected by Hurricane Dean. The exact damage is not known because diving is still not possible in the area. WWF Mexico will be working with Maria del Carmen García Rivas, the CONANP (National Protected Areas Commission) Reserve director to begin a detailed evaluation.

Amigos de Sian Ka’an began an evaluation of damage to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Gonzalo Merediz, the organization’s director, flew over the reserve and commented on the damage, noting that the Punta Herrero fishermens’ colony basically disappeared. The jungles were severly damaged, from Limones towards the south. The main concern is the damage to the reefs in the region due to the sedimentation of all the sand that was churned up.
Paul Sanchez-Navarro, executive director of Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA), reported: "CEA, with support of the Akumal Dive Shop, is doing a preliminary assessment of the reefs off Akumal. We appreciate the help from the dive shop and will report our findings as soon as possible."


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Turtle nest update from Akumal, Mexico

From the staff of the Turtle Program at Centro Ecológio Akumal:

Turtle season was in full swing when Hurricane Dean hit. As of August 13 we had 74 Loggerhead and 64 Green turtle nests on Akumal’s beaches. In addition, there had been 3,953 Loggerhead and 437 Green turtle hatchlings.

We lost all nests in Akumal, except one in South Akumal. We have six nests that were saved prior to the storm remaining in Styrofoam ice chests, and two of them will be released by August 24, as soon as the waves subside. As we were trying to rescue nests in the days before Dean’s arrival, we were able to help seven nests hatch and all the hatchlings got to sea.

It was difficult to locate some nests as people had moved the markers from their original place. This is why it is so important for visitors and locals to support our work and not create greater obstacles in sea turtle conservation by moving markers, leaving things on the beach at night, or actually disturbing our patrol program with harassment and threats, because of a lack of understanding of how our program operates and why we need to dig to locate some nests and then properly mark them.

There is some good news though: The turtles are beginning to come ashore again, especially in South Akumal and Aventuras Akumal, so we really need everyone to do their part in helping to protect them. If you are visiting the area and come upon a mother turtle nesting, please stay away from her, let her build her nest and lay the eggs. This takes a long time so please leave her alone. Thanks to everyone who has been supporting, and continues to support, turtle protection activities!

To help our efforts, this would be a really good time to please click here to contribute to our Adopt-a-Turtle Program.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Short term position in Florida

An employment opportunity:

Short-term opening for a Biological Science Technician in the Damage Recovery Program/Division of Resource Management, Biscayne National Park, Homestead FL. Primary duties will include field monitoring of seagrass and coral reef restoration projects. Key details are as follows:

- 30 day duration, and may be extended an additional 30 days (NTE 60 days total)
- GS-06 grade level ($16.19/hour)
- 40 hours/week (Tues-Fri, 10 hours/day)
- Start date in early September
- No health benefits, housing, or moving assistance
- Must have own transportation
- Field-intensive position
- Must be have knowledge of coral reef and seagrass ecosystems and relevant underwater field skills
- Must be a US citizen

Please email a letter of interest and current CV to

Amanda Bourque
Biscayne National Park
9700 SW 328 Street
Homestead, FL 33033
305-230-1144 x3081 phone
305-230-1190 fax


Friday, August 24, 2007

Assessment underway on Hurricane Dean damage

These 46 baby Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) were released two days before Hurricane Dean blew through the Yucatán Peninsula.

Assessing the full extent of damage to turtle nests is difficult. Nest markers were washed away in some cases. In other cases, eggs may have been washed out to sea, leaving not a trace that they ever existed.

However, nature once again shows us her resiliance; now that the waters are calm, mother turtles are once again coming ashore all along the coast. These gentle giants are an inspiration to us, telling us to keep going and that the processes of life continue.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Help shoot reef documentary in India

21 August 2007

A marine biosphere reserve in India is preparing to shoot a documentary film.

I am searching for anyone with ideas or interests in documentary film shooting particularly with reference to marine biosphere reserves or coral reefs.

Dr Joseph Paul Kavalam
Kavalam Puthenpura
42/2491 Power House Road
Cochin 682 018, Kerala, India
Ph: 0091-484-2390918, 0091-9446606031


International Cleanup Day - Underwater

From Project Aware:

Each September, Project AWARE Foundation coordinates the underwater portion of International Cleanup Day in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy, which organizes land cleanups. Together, these nonprofit entities are attempting to curtail debris and conserve aquatic environments worldwide.

“Aquatic debris is a real problem. Two million plastic beverage bottles are used every five minutes and approximately 60,000 plastic bags are used every five seconds in the United States alone,” states Jenny Miller Garmendia, Director, Project AWARE Foundation. “These and other items make their way to our beaches, shorelines and underwater dive sites - contaminating environments and threatening aquatic species.”

But the great news is divers and volunteers are making a difference. “Humans are both the cause of and solution to marine debris issues,” says Garmendia. “It’s so inspiring to see the level of diver involvement on International Cleanup Day – the single largest one-day cleanup event in the world and I’m proud to be amongst the dedicated volunteers.”
Get more information on the Project Aware Web page.

Photo: (c) Wolcott Henry 2005/Marine Photobank


Sunday, August 19, 2007

THE 11th International Coral Reef Symposium

The 11th International Coral Reef Symposium convenes in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA, July 7-11, 2008. Over 2,000 attendees are expected from the international marine science, management, and conservationist communities.

There will be 25 Mini-Symposia topics, representing a wide diversity of coral reef science and management opportunities for attendees. The South Florida venue will provide convenient access for experts and policymakers to visit and study US and other reef systems in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Meso-America.

Every four years the International Coral Reef Symposium convenes as a major scientific conference to provide the latest knowledge about coral reefs worldwide.

Online symposium and field trip registration, abstract submission, and hotel reservations are now open. Please visit ICRS for registration, information on scientific sessions, and overall details of the meeting.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Two employment opportunities

I.M. Systems Group, Inc. has two jobs available:

- A NEPA Regulations Specialist to work at tje NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service in Long Beach, California. This is a full time position with an excellent benefits package including company paid health insurance as well as other benefits;

- A Hypoxia and Harmful Algal Bloom Program Specialist to work at the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR) in Silver Spring, Maryland.

If you are interested in applying for either, please send your resume to as indicated below in the job description.

Thank you,
IMSG Human Resources


Friday, August 17, 2007

Impacts of watershed change on tropical coastal ecosystems

The call for abstracts is now out for the 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Orlando, Florida, USA:


Ridge-To-Reef: Impacts of Watershed Change on Tropical Coastal Ecosystems is Session 13

2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting
March 2-7, 2008
Orlando, Florida

ASLO, AGU, TOS, and ERF invite the submission of abstracts for oral and poster presentations for the 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting to be held March 2-7, 2008, in Orlando, Florida. In order to have your abstract considered for acceptance, you must submit before the abstract deadline of October 2, 2007. Online submission is highly preferred, nd no Call for Papers will be printed. A PDF version is available on the conference website. Contact the ASLO Business Office at if you cannot access the via the web.

Jon Sharp, Chris Sherwood, and Paul Bissett
Co-organizers, 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting Co-Chairs


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New coloring books for marine education

When school begins this fall, new coloring books will help Akumal-area school children learn about recycling, turtles, and coral reefs.

Mauricio Bautista Vega, CEA's Coordinator of Environmental Education, supervised the production of the three entertaining resources: The History of Garbage (in Spanish, English and French), The Life of Turtles (in the same three languages), and What We Should Know About the Coral Reef (in English and Spanish). Mauricio wrote the first two and Teresa Jimenez wrote the third.

Edith Sosa Bravo, Coordinator of CEA's Water Quality Program, gets credit for the original idea for these coloring books. CEA received funding assistance from the Fundación Ecológia Bahía Principe Tulum A.C., Palladium Hotels and Resorts, Dirección de Medio Ambiente (the environmental office of the Municipality), and Gran Bahia Principe. The effort was part of a teacher training course, the first in a series, to provide ecology materials and training for local teachers. The books will also be used in the kids' clubs of participating hotels.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bay protection progress in Akumal, Mexico

The bay management plan, initiated by Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA), continues with the arrival of additional buoys to mark areas for swimmers, boats, and other activities. Increasing use of the bay, especially by tour operators and boatloads of guests from nearby resorts, threatens people, boats, turtles, coral and the entire ecosystem. Fortunately, several of the properties on the bay—Akumal Beach Resort, Hotel Club Akumal Caribe, Las Casitas, Akumal Dive Shop, Akumal Dive Center, and CEA, as well as local fishing tour operators and the Mexican environmental secretary (SEMARNAT), have reached consensus on the need for a management plan.

In the photo above, CEA Reef Program Director Joel Ortega (facing the camera) and Damon Henry, a CEA volunteer, attach a buoy to a 400-pound concrete mooring to anchor another buoy to mark off areas in the bay.

Click here to read more.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Stop The Harvest Of Endangered Goliath Groupers

From Jean-Michel Cousteau's Field Notes Blog on the Web site of Ocean Futures Society:

The goliath grouper, a species prominently featured in OFS' PBS TV series, Ocean Adventures: America's Underwater Treasures, is in jeopardy and needs the support of the marine community to secure its protection and survival. This long lived, giant, charismatic, non-threatening, marvelous fish is considered critically endangered by the International Conservation Union (IUCN). The species is close to or has already reached ecological extinction in the Caribbean. The 1990 U.S. federal fishing ban on these groupers began a population recovery process, along with the preservation of high-quality mangrove nurseries existing off Southwestern Florida.

Unfortunately, the goliath grouper's success story may be cut short by a motion proposed by some representatives with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service to allow the harvest of 800 goliath groupers for scientific studies to support the stock assessment of this species.

Ocean Futures Society supports maintaining protection for goliath groupers and that there is no need to initiate any killings, even for research. We believe that all the information necessary for doing a stock assessment can be obtained from live fish. In addition, scientific data from live fish would be more reliable.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Two job postings for Project Seahorse, Fisheries Centre, University of B.C.

Project Seahorse ( is an interdisciplinary and international organisation committed to the conservation and sustainable use of the worlds coastal marine ecosystems. Based at the University of British Columbia (Canada), Project Seahorse works in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (UK) and the John G. Shedd Aquarium (USA). The Project Seahorse Foundation for Marine Conservation (Philippines) is also an integral part of Project Seahorse.

The Research Assistant will support various teaching and research activities of the Project Seahorse Director. She/he will collaborate with the Director and other team members to produce scientific papers and reports. The Research Assistant will also establish long-distance links to collegiate and volunteer groups around the world and respond to general research and conservation queries from colleagues, the media, and the public. She/he will assist in organizing special events hosted by Project Seahorse and coordinate the preparation of newsletters and annual reports. . . .

The Programme Manager is responsible for ensuring that Project Seahorse executes its research and conservation activities professionally, efficiently and effectively. As a member of Project Seahorse leadership team, she/he will participate in strategic planning, policy development, systems development and fundraising planning. The Programme Manager provides guidance for post doctoral fellows, graduate students, research assistants, and research staff in the Philippines. The incumbent will build and foster effective relationships with partners and collaborators, and develop new research partnership opportunities. Additionally, the position oversees financial management, compliance with requirements of UBC, our partner institutions and donors, and ensures that the leadership team has financial information to make decisions. . . .

Please send a cover letter and your curriculum vitae to Ms. Shannon Charney (

Deadline: Monday, September 3rd, 2007 or until post filled.


Marine reserves could save coral reefs

From an article Eureka Alert:

Threatened coral reefs could be given a helping hand by establishing marine reserves, according to a research team led by the University of Exeter. Marine reserves have already proved to be a successful way of protecting marine life against commercial fishing. Now, research published today (15 May 2007) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows for the first time how marine reserves could also help in the recovery of corals, which are already suffering the effects of climate change and over-fishing.

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the research was carried out on The Bahamas' Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. At 442 square km, this is one of the largest and most successful marine reserves in the Caribbean. The team found that the number of young corals doubled in areas in which native fish, such as parrotfish, were protected from being caught. Young corals are needed to replace older corals that have been killed by storms, disease or other problems. The reserve enabled young corals to survive exceptionally well because marauding seaweeds were controlled by grazing from plentiful numbers of parrotfishes living in the reserve.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Poachers slaughter green turtle in West Bay, Cayman Islands

From an article by James Dimond in the Caymian Compass:

Poachers behind the slaughter of a female green turtle that was about to lay her eggs on a West Bay beach face possible prison sentences and hefty fines if caught.

DoE Marine Enforcement Supervisor Mark Orr shows that the back of the turtle and the calipee were all that remained at the site where poachers illegally slaughtered a female nesting turtle.

Department of Environment Marine Enforcement Supervisor Mark Orr found the bloodied shell of the turtle on a beach in the Sand Hole Road area of West Bay Thursday.

He said it appeared the turtle – estimated to weigh more than 350 pounds – was dragged from the beach into nearby trees, where she was butchered.

All useable parts of the turtle, including an estimated 100 eggs, were carried away from the site, leaving only the shell and calipee (bottom shell) behind.

With DoE surveys showing that only a handful of loggerhead and green turtles nest annually in the Cayman Islands, the slaughter represents a severe blow to local breeding stocks.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Good news for Kemp's ridley sea turtles in Texas

From the Web site of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project:

The Kemp's ridley sea turtle, almost extinct in the 80s, is slowly recovering from years of poaching in Mexico prior to 1978 and drowning in shrimp trawls in US waters before the Turtle Excluder Device was required by federal law.

So far this year, 128 Kemp's ridley nests have been confirmed on the Texas coast including (north to south in state): Bolivar Peninsula 1, Galveston Island 6, Surfside Beach 2, Bryan Beach 1, Matagorda Peninsula 4, Matagorda Island 8, Mustang Island 4, North Padre Island 81 including 73 at the Padre Island National Seashore, South Padre Island 18, Boca Chica Beach 3.

The 128 is the most Kemp's ridley nests that have been confirmed on the Texas coast since record keeping began in the 1980's. Many area records have also been broken.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ecologists lash Ecuador for legalising shark-fin sales

From an article in the South African Mail & Guardian online:

Hundreds of sharks have been slaughtered daily off the coast of Ecuador since a ban on the sale of fins was lifted last week, prompting warnings of ecological disaster.

Fishing boats have returned to shore laden with fins of dozens of species, including several that are threatened with extinction, which are vital to maintaining biodiversity, according to critics.

The spectacle of fins piled up on piers has triggered a political row, pitting the government and fishermen against the rest of the country. Most of the fins are exported to Asia, where they end up in soup bowls.

"It is a big mistake. More than 400 sharks are being caught every day -- that damages the whole [food] chain," said Esperanza Martínez, of the advocacy group Ecological Action. Others say up to 1 000 are being caught.

Shark fishing remains illegal but President Rafael Correa legalised the sale of fins of sharks caught accidentally, saying the revenue would help impoverished fishermen to feed their families. However, with no clear way to determine whether a shark was caught accidentally or intentionally, the fishermen appear to regard the move as a green light to kill as many as they want in Ecuador's Pacific waters.
Photo by Jessica King, Marine Photobank


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pregnant whale shark tracked in the wild

From a story by Mark Davis in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

She was in Mexico, but abruptly headed east toward Florida. She vanished for a while, but surfaced again this June, back in Mexico — pregnant, and alone.

But she's no modern-day gypsy following highways to the next party. This female traveler is a whale shark, part of a population that scientists think may be the largest collection of the world's largest fish.

Scientists from the Mote Marine Laboratory and the Georgia Aquarium tagged her with a satellite tracking device in 2005 and charted her movements across the Gulf of Mexico to the Florida Straits. This year, she was back offshore at Holbox, Mexico, noticeably rounder than nearly a year earlier when the Rhincodon typus turned tail from the Yucatan Peninsula.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Why we can’t support shark week on Discovery

From the blog of

To the Discovery Network:

Members of our internet shark discussion forum, SHARK-L, have been asked by your marketing representatives to help promote your famous Shark Week sequence. This letter, signed by list members and friends, is our formal response to the request from your grassroots agency, New Media Strategies, for our support of the programming.

How can we support Discovery Channel when we are fighting for shark conservation, and its biggest obstacle is the monster image given to sharks by the media, including Shark Week programs? Further, some of us who have been directly involved in the production of your documentaries feel disgusted at the way that our interviews were censored and our words twisted around.
Photo: (c) Wolcott Henry 2005/Marine Photobank


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Gaia Girls, Way of Water!

Each month in 2007, The Ocean Project highlights a book focused on our blue planet or environmental sustainability. Books for all age groups will be covered, non-fiction and fiction, prose and poetry. Here's one selection for juvenile and young adult readers:

Gaia Girls Way of Water
by Lee Welles

"What would you do if you could hear the Earth asking for help? In the Gaia Girls book series that is what happens to four girls, each from a different region of the world. They are approached by Gaia, the living organism of the Earth. Each is endowed with powers over one of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. They must learn to use their powers to help Gaia survive the effects of modern humanity." – Lee Welles

What would you do if you could talk to mother earth and help solve pressing environmental issues? Gaia Girls can. Gaia Girls, Way of Water is the second book in a series of four adventure novels by Lee Welles. Each book a girl from a different part of the world is chosen to become a Gaia Girl, and is given the gift of understanding the earth on a new, deeper, and much more intense level.

In Gaia Girls, Way of Water ten year old Miho loses her parents at sea. Alone in the world, she is forced to live with her uncle in Japan. As Miho is mourning the loss of her parents she also struggles with her Japanese American identity. She immediately goes to the ocean, the only familiar thing to her in a new land. It is here that she meets Gaia and starts her magical adventures in the sea.

Gaia Girls Way of Water is an educational adventure story for juveniles/ young adults. It’s engaging and a great way to introduce young adults to environmental threats through an energetic, emotional, and exciting story. As a child Welles dreamed of talking to animals, and in fact tried on many occasions. Gaia Girls taps into the innocent love for nature that children possess, but also introduces the harsh realities and hardships the environment endures at the hands of humans.

The book is printed on recycled paper by Chelsea Green Publishing and comes accompanied with a page on The Ocean Project and a glossary of 60 Japanese words. You will be surprised how many of these words you pick up just from reading Gaia Girls, Way of Water! Once you’re finished reading feel free to comment on the Gaia Girls blog. Enjoy!


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Workshop studies coral decline

Though sexual coral reproduction seems terribly esoteric, the SECORE (SExual COral REproduction) Project examines the importance of understanding reproduction in workshops currently being held in Puerto Rico:

In the last few years field populations of Elkhorn coral (Acropora plamata, pictured above) have declined over 90%. The reason why this reef-building coral is going down is not completely understood. Scientists have observed that the Elkhorn coral is still actively spawning in the Caribbean, but recruitment of newly-settled larvae has been hardly observed in nature. The participants of the SECORE workshop will use coral recruits to establish a living stock collection of the Elkhorn coral in their facilities. The captive corals can be used for multiple purposes, such as scientific research and public outreach with respect to conservation issues of coral reefs.
The projects hosts a Web site and blog for the workshops.

Photo: (c) Wolcott Henry 2005/Marine Photobank


Watersheds and Coral Reefs

From Felix Martinez:

The University of Hawaii Kewalo Marine Laboratory and NOAA's Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research are hosting the special topic session
"Watersheds and Coral Reefs: Science, Policy and Implementation" (#076) at next year's 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Orlando.

We encourage submission of abstracts focusing on integrated approaches to coral reef ecosystem management that incorporate the biophysical with the social sciences to address coral reef management from a watershed perspective. Abstract are due on
October 02, 2007. The session description is as follows:

Watersheds and Coral Reefs: Science, Policy and Implementation
Robert Richmond, Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii at Manoa,
Felix Martinez, NOAA,
Michael Dowgiallo, NOAA,

Coral reefs worldwide are being degraded by human-induced disturbances, resulting in ecological, economic and cultural losses. Runoff and sedimentation are among the greatest threats to coastal reefs surrounding high islands and adjacent to continental landmasses. Scientific data exist that identify key stressors, synergisms, and outcomes at the coral reef ecosystem, community and population levels. These data demonstrate that marine protected areas alone are insufficient for coral reef protection and that integrated watershed management practices in upland areas are also needed. Gaps in the effectiveness of environmental policy, legislation and regulatory enforcement have resulted in the continued degradation of U.S reefs. Several Pacific Islands, with intact resource stewardship and
traditional leadership systems, have been able to apply research findings to coral reef management policies relatively quickly. Case histories in Micronesia and elsewhere provide insight on how biophysical data can be applied to manage human behaviors responsible for coral reef destruction, through the social sciences.

Please note that this solicitation for abstracts does not constitute an offer for financial assistance to attend the meeting. For more information on this session and questions on the suitability of an abstract contact Dr. Bob Richmond or Dr. Felix Martinez.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Group tracks two new Nevis hawksbills

From an article posted on the Web site of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC):

CCC researchers traveled to Nevis, an island in the Caribbean, from July 28-30 to attach satellite transmitters on two endangered hawksbill sea turtles as part of a unique public-private partnership between CCC, the Nevis Turtle Group and the Four Seasons Resort Nevis. These turtles are now available for adoption and can be tracked here!

CCC researchers joined volunteers from the Nevis Turtle Group and the Four Seasons on Nevis to look for nesting hawksbill turtles. Hawksbills are considered "critically endangered," yet they continue to nest in large numbers in Nevis. The two hawsksbill turtles were, "Calypso" and "Ginger". Each turtle received a satellite transmitter that was harmelessly attached to the carapace. These tranmitters permit scientists to track their movements at sea. The research data collected will aide in efforts to conserve this species in the Caribbean by learning where they travel when away from nesting beaches.
The CCC has a page showing the movements of the turtles.

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