Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rappin' research

Oceanic humor on YouTube:


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Divers Flock To Florida To See Goliath Groupers

From a story on WCSH-TV:

JUPITER, FL (NBC) -- As the early morning swells kicked up the Atlantic, something else was stirring up the sand 90 feet below the surface.

Dozens of goliath grouper have congregated off the coast of Jupiter is what has become an annual migration to mate. And one that attracts hundreds of divers.

"I have been all over the world and I have never seen as many goliath grouper in such a healthy population as they are in Florida," said diver Christopher Fernandez.

Researchers have honed in on the rare sight.

Outside of Florida you won't find many places in the world with such a large concentration of 300-pound groupers swimming right up to our cameras, sounding off their defense mechanism by slapping their gill plates together.

This also serves as a form of communication.

"Sometimes when you get close to them the sound pushes the water like a current effect or sonic boom," Fernandez said.

The once almost extinct species has been brought back thanks to conservation and protection, and for good reason.

They are not afraid of anyone, and sadly have paid the price for that.

"Its very easy to swim right up within inches, and some think the law doesn't apply to them and they can spear these fish," explained Captain Paul Benzler of Jupiter Dive Center.

It is illegal to hunt groupers and that's the reason why the state has cracked down on keep these gentle giants coming back year after year.

"It's brining tourists from all over the world...spending money in the U.S. just to see these beautiful animals," Benzler added.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Giant ocean tubes proposed as global warming fix

From a story by Kate Ravilious for National Geographic News:

Imagine an ocean full of giant pipes that pump up cold, nutrient-rich water from deep below, encouraging surface algae to bloom and suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

That's the controversial new vision of James Lovelock, the independent British scientist best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, and Chris Rapley, a space physicist and director of London's Science Museum.

The pair claims that such climate engineering solutions may be the only way to hold global warming at bay given its current progress. (See a global warming interactive.)

"Global warming appears to be an irreversible process, and if we don't do anything then the world will just heat up to a stable, hot state," Lovelock said. "The stakes are now so high that we have to act."

But other experts are skeptical, pointing out that the scheme could release more carbon than it absorbs while putting fragile marine life in danger.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Deep trouble

From an article by Mark Schropeon on

Research has shown that, with paltry few exceptions, the planet's coral reefs have experienced a prolonged, devastating decline in recent decades. But determining which factor, or factors, is most responsible for that decimation has proved vastly more difficult. The result has been an ongoing, often contentious debate between those who believe that local factors such as overfishing and pollution are most to blame, and those who say global climate change is the main culprit. Solving the debate could be critical to determining how best to direct efforts and resources for restoring reefs, but definitive answers remain elusive, as two recent studies illustrate.

To help answer some of these questions, a team of researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography set out in a converted World War II freighter in September 2005 to study reefs in the South Pacific's remote Line Islands. They have since returned to the area twice, most recently this past August.

The reefs they are studying follow a gradient of human influence, beginning with those near Christmas Island, with a population of roughly 10,000 people, and ending some 250 miles away at Kingman Reef, a U.S. protectorate that has never been inhabited and has been the target of very limited fishing. If global influences are the dominant factor in reef decline, the team hypothesized, then isolated Kingman should look as bad as, or worse than, Christmas reefs. But if human influence plays the larger role, then Christmas reefs would be in worse shape than Kingman.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Beach sand may harbor disease-causing E. Coli bacteria

From a story posted on Science Daily:

Science Daily — New evidence implicating beach sand as a reservoir for E. coli -- the bacterium that is used as an indicator that water has been contaminated by fecal material -- has been reported by scientists at the University of Minnesota.

In the report, published in the April 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, Michael J. Sadowsky and colleagues cite several previous studies showing that E. coli and bacteria indicating fecal contamination can accumulate and grow in beach sand. "These results indicate that E. coli originating from several sources may survive and potentially replicate in sand and sediment, possibly increasing fecal counts found on beaches," the report states. The researchers point out that while most E. coli strains are harmless, some strains do cause gastrointestinal diseases in human. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, as well as more serious conditions.

The 2-year study tracked seasonal variations in E. coli in water, sand, and sediment at the Duluth Boat Club Beach in Duluth-Superior Harbor on Lake Superior. It concluded that beach sand and sediment serve as sinks and sources for E. coli from humans and waterfowl that can contribute to beach closures.
Link to the full report.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Use CEA’s beautiful center for your special occasion

The bright, open-air facility opens directly onto the clear blue waters of Akumal Bay and features an astonishing mural for the perfect tropical backdrop for a wedding, anniversary celebration or any other event.

Jennifer Smith, Turtle Bay’s Wedding and Event Coordinator, will work with you to plan every detail of your event, be it a small intimate party or a celebration for 150.

The Center also offers a full range of audio-visual equipment and WI-FI to accommodate seminars, workshops and other business meetings.

Contact Jennifer to explore the options for your wedding or event, or Alma for workshops, seminars and meetings.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

U.S. report shows sea turtle declines

From an Associated Press story by Ben Evans:

WASHINGTON (AP) — After encouraging gains in the 1990s, populations of loggerhead sea turtles are now dropping, primarily because of commercial fishing, according to a federal review.

The report stops short of recommending upgrading the federally threatened species to "endangered" status. But scientists and environmentalists say it should serve as a wake-up call about the future of loggerheads, which can grow to more than 300 pounds and are believed to be one of the oldest species.

"We are very concerned," said Mark Dodd, a wildlife biologist for the state of Georgia. In 2006, the state counted the third lowest loggerhead nesting total since daily monitoring began in 1989.

"As a biologist you're always trying to find that point at which we really have to start doing something drastic if we want to maintain loggerhead populations on our beaches."

The state is not there yet, he said, but it has increased protections for the turtle under its own endangered species law.

The Southeast — Florida in particular — is one of the two largest loggerhead nesting areas in the world; eggs are laid and hatched along beaches from Texas to North Carolina. The other major nesting area is in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman.

According to the federal report, U.S. nestings have dropped almost 7 percent annually in the Gulf of Mexico in recent years. Numbers in south Florida are down about 4 percent annually, while populations in the Carolinas and Georgia have dropped about 2 percent per year.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Oceans in Peril: Protecting Marine Biodiversity

From a WorldWatch Institute announcement of the publication of a new book:

Richard Page, Paul Johnston, and David Santillo, experts with the Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, write that more equitable and sustainable management of the oceans as well as stronger protection of marine ecosystems through a well-enforced network of marine reserves are essential to reversing the devastating trends taking their toll on oceans. . .

Overfishing, use of destructive fishing methods, pollution, and commercial aquaculture are all taking a toll on marine biodiversity. In addition, climate change and the related acidification of the oceans is already having an impact on marine ecosystems.

With 76 percent of the world’s fish stocks fully exploited or overexploited, and many species severely depleted, many policymakers and scientists now agree that we must adopt a radical new approach to managing the seas: one that is precautionary in nature and has the protection of the whole marine ecosystem as its primary objective. This “ecosystem approach” is vital if we are to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sea turtles no longer "lost" at sea

From a story on NewsWise:

Newswise — Biologists have found a major clue in a 50-year-old mystery about what happens to green sea turtles after they crawl out of their sandy nests and vanish into the surf, only to reappear several years later relatively close to shore.

In a paper set to appear Wednesday in the online edition of the journal
Biology Letters, three University of Florida sea turtle scientists say they found the clue by analyzing chemical elements ingrained in the turtles’ shells. Their conclusion: The turtles spend their first three to five “lost years” in the open ocean, feeding on jellyfish and other creatures as carnivores. Only after this period do they move closer to shore and switch to a vegetarian diet of sea grass – the period in their lives when they have long been observed and studied.

“This has been a really intriguing and embarrassing problem for sea turtle biologists, because so many green turtle hatchlings enter the ocean, and we haven’t known where they go,” said Karen Bjorndal, a professor of zoology and director of UF’s Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research. “Now, while I can’t go to a map and point at the spot, at least we know their habitats and diets, and that will guide us where to look.”
Green and loggerhead turtles nest on the beaches of Akumal and get protection from the turtle program of Centro Ecológico Akumal. Turtles like the one above feed in Akumal Bay.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Employment, research opportunities

From the coral-list:

The University of Sydney is pleased to announce new scholarships for outstanding PhD students undertaking coral reef research at One Tree Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef. In 2007 two scholarships will be offered due the generous support of G and J Beirne.

The scholarships will support field-intensive coral reef research at One Tree Reef for up to three years. PhD students from any university can apply. The maximum value of each award is $15,000. Award funds, $5,000 per annum, will be used to support expenses associated with travel (up to $2,000 per annum) and research at One Tree Island, including assistant costs. . . .

To apply, please send the following to the Director of One Tree Island Research Station, Professor Maria Byrne:

1) A brief 1-2 page research proposal including a section on significance
2) Academic record
3) Curriculum vitae
4) Evidence of enrolment in a postgraduate thesis research program
5) Budget for research up to 3 years.

The deadline for applications is Friday 2 November 2007.

Professor Maria Byrne
Director One Tree Island Research Station
Anatomy and Histology, F13
University of Sydney
NSW 2006, Australia

The Department of Biological Sciences at the Universidad de los Andes(Bogota, Colombia) seeks to fill a position for a full time assistant or associate professor with formal training and research experience in Tropical Parasitology. Applicants must have a Ph.D. degree, preferably with postdoctoral research and teaching experience.

Researchers with experience in the biology and population genetics of parasites, neotropical insect vectors, and entomology are especially encouraged to apply. . . .

Candidates send curriculum vitae, copies of recent publications, a esearch program, and two letters of recommendation by January 15, 2008 to:

Faculty Search Committee
Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas
Universidad de Los Andes
Carrera 1 No. 18A-10
P.O. Box 4976
Bogota, Colombia

***Please note that the original closing date of Sept. 17th, 2007 has been extended until October 1st, 2007.***

There are two program manager (PM) positions available with the State of Hawaii, Dept. of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources.

Although the job advertisement describes a PM position for the Aquatic Resources and Environment Protection Program (401 Program), the applicant pool will ALSO be used as a basis for selecting candidates to interview for a new PM position for the Commercial Fisheries and Resources Enhancement Program (153 Program). Therefore, anyone wishing to apply for one of, or both of, the positions should apply for the currently advertised position. Interviews for the 401 PM will take place first, followed by interviews for the 153 position. Applicants qualified for, and interested in, both positions may be interviewed for each position.

To view the position description and information on how to apply, please go to the URL below, and scroll down the page to "AQUATIC RESOURCES PROGRAM MANAGER." Clicking on this text will link you to the position description:

Brett D. Schumacher
Hawaii Cooperative Fishery Research Unit
Department of Zoology
University of Hawaii at Manoa
2538 McCarthy Mall, Edmondson 152
Honolulu, HI 96822
PH#(808) 956-8350
FAX#(808) 956-4238


Scuba humor and a fun fundraiser

Thanks to ScubaBob for some dive humor:

Q.What Not To Say On A Dive Boat

A. "Can I keep this coral your anchor broke off?"
B. "Buddy? Oh, did I go down with a buddy?"
C. "Can someone lend me a computer, mine keeps flashing 'DECO VIOLATION'?"
D. "Does anyone else smell smoke?"
E. "What do I do with this bucket of vomit?"
F. "Is that your mask under my tank?"
Q. When Do You Need To Practice Better Buoyancy Control?
A. You rely on the silt trail you always stir up to find the shot line at the end of the dive.
B. You insist that you never wear fins because it makes it more difficult to walk on the bottom.
C. The only place you can hover is at the surface.
D. On ascents, your entire body clears the surface of the water.
E. You use 50 bar for breathing and 150 bar for your BC.
F. You are certain you went for one dive, but your computer has logged three.
G. You think being neutral in the water means that you don't fight with your buddy.
Q. How Good Is Your Instructor?
You know more than your instructor when:
A. You have to lend him a weight so he can get under.
B. He keeps calling his scuba cylinder an 'oxygen tank'.
C. He fills out a dive log entry for every pool session.
D. He is a victim in your rescue course, and he isn't playing.
E. His new dive computer is a Palm Pilot.
F. You ask him about nitrox and he says he doesn't watch wrestling.
G. If you get hiccups underwater he tells you to hold your breath.
H. He tells you not to worry about your gauges, "YOU'LL KNOW WHEN YOU'RE OUT OF AIR!!"
I. He tells you to wear gloves so that the coral won't cut you as you drag yourself over the reef.
J. He tells you to use all your air underwater - "waste not - want not".

Q. Do You Know Your Buddy?
Does your buddy hate you if:
A. He gives you the "wait here" sign and you are still on the boat?
B. He "forgets" to close your dry suit zipper?
C. When you give him the out of air signal, he passes you his snorkel?
D. When you indicate you are low on air, he writes on his slate "I'll get you some" and swims off?
E. You give him the "OK" signal and he gives you the finger?
F. He spits in your mask for you, but you haven't taken it off yet?
Q. Is your buddy experienced if:
A. He asks, "which one of these thingies goes in my mouth"?
B. He offers to carry everyone's gear to the boat?
C. He thinks BC is a comic strip about cavemen?
D. He's upset when you tell him his dive computer doesn't run windows XP
E. He pees in his wetsuit BEFORE he gets in the water?
F. He argues that NITROX was a monster who battles Godzilla?
G. He says "Oh, I just wait 'til I get that "tingling feeling", then I know it's time to surface"?
Also check out ScubaBob's Duck Race, September 30 in at acquarium in downtown Houston "to support Ocean Conservation Organizations and the distribution of 1,000 educational videos to schools and youth organizations around the world."


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aquanauts study Keys reefs; watch live feeds

From an Associated Press story by Adrian Sainz:

KEY LARGO, Fla. — Marine scientists began a nine-day mission in the world's only permanent working undersea laboratory Monday to study changes along a coral reef off the Florida Keys, with plans to broadcast their dives and research activities over the Internet.

Six "aquanauts" will work, sleep and eat at Aquarius Reef Base, located on the ocean floor about nine miles southeast of Key Largo in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The base lets researchers dive for nine hours a day and return to the habitat without standard scuba diving requirements of surfacing and decompressing.

Researchers will study sponge biology and the area's coral reefs, which are fertile marine habitats but face threats that the rest of the world's reefs also encounter — disease, rising ocean temperatures and human factors such as pollution and overfishing.

The team will bring its research to students with undersea classroom sessions and to the public through Internet video. Feeds will come from both inside Aquarius and from divers wearing helmets mounted with cameras and audio equipment. The goal is to generate interest in science and the oceans among young people.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Damage at Majahual keeps cruise lines away

An Associated Press story in The Miami Herald:

Carnival Corp. has no plans to return to the Mexican cruise port at Majahual until at least the spring of 2009 due to extensive damage from Hurricane Dean, the company said Tuesday.

Carnival, the world's largest cruise operator, is modifying itineraries away from the port at Majahual, known as Puerto Costa Maya, through its reservation period, which is open until spring 2009, company spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said Tuesday it is adjusting its itineraries to avoid Costa Maya through April. Royal Caribbean, second to Carnival in the cruise industry, is rerouting six ships that normally would stop at Costa Maya, company spokesman Raul Duany said.

Puerto Costa Maya suffered extensive damage when Dean swept over the Yucatan as a top-scale Category 5 hurricane on Aug. 21, demolishing houses, crumpling steel girders and washing away parts of the concrete dock at the port.

Both Miami-based companies said they hoped to return to Costa Maya, but it would be up to port authorities there to determine when ships can return.

Costa Maya has become a popular destination since it began operating in 2001 to provide tourist access to historic Mayan sites. But it is not considered as critical to the industry as other Caribbean ports such as Cozumel or Grand Cayman.

Costa Maya can accommodate up to three cruise ships at once and is one of only six ports in the western Caribbean to receive over 1 million passengers per year, according to the port's Web site.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Five arresed for smuggling skins of turtles and other protected species

From a story by Eli Stokols on KWGN-TV, DENVER

Five men accused of illegally smuggling the skins of sea turtles and other endangered species from Mexico to the U.S. were arrested Thursday, three of them in Denver. The arrests are the result of a three-year investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its Mexican counterpart, authorities said. Three other suspects, indicted with the others two weeks ago, remain at-large in Mexico.

The suspects face 54 charges for conspiracy, smuggling and money-laundering. They allegedly smuggled roughly 25 separate shipments of wildlife skins and products between Mexico and the U.S. since 2005, when the undercover investigation began. Included in those shipments were more than 700 tanned skins of sea turtle, caiman, python and other protected species.

Sea turtles are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Treaty, of which the U.S. and Mexico are parties along with 170 other countries. Five of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered; a sixth is listed as threatened. All of them are found along Mexico's Pacific coast.

"We're not going to screw around when it comes to protecting illegal species," said Troy Eid, U.S. Attorney for Colorado. "Unfortunately, in some cultures, sea turtles are seen as a sign of virility. But there is absolutely nothing macho about killing an endangered species for greed."


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Want to save the world? Sponsor a shark

From an article by Lewis Smith posted at The Times online:

The world’s first walking shark could be named after a global corporation, in an attempt to raise cash for wildlife conservation.

The right to name the shark and nine other newly discovered creatures is being opened up to businesses at auction this month. It is the first big sell-off of the right to create a name for creatures new to science, and will be hosted by Prince Albert II of Monaco. Businesses and individuals will be allowed to name the creatures after anyone or anything, even a product.

The names of new species are traditionally chosen by the people who discover them and usually highlight a physical feature of the specimen. An estimated 10 to 15 per cent are named in honour of a family member, a friend or someone whose work deserves recognition, such as Sir David Attenborough who has had an echidna named after him.

The ten species at the auction were discovered by the US-based Conservation International during a survey of Indonesian wildlife. Among them are the first walking shark — which has uniquely arranged pectoral fins for moving on coral reefs — a pipefish and a lionfish. If the suggested starting bids are achieved, the sale will raise more than $1.85 million (£900,000).


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Corals added to red list of threatened species for first time

From an article posted on Science Daily:

A comprehensive study of marine life sponsored by Conservation International (CI) and implemented jointly with the IUCN (World Conservation Union) used data from the Galapagos-based Charles Darwin Research Station and other regional institutions to conclude that three species of corals unique to the Galapagos Islands could soon disappear forever.

The 2007 IUCN Red List designates two of the corals -- Floreana coral (Tubastraea floreana) and Wellington's solitary coral (Rhizopsammia wellingtoni) -- as Critically Endangered, while a third -- Polycyathus isabela -- is listed as Vulnerable. The Red List also includes 74 Galapagos seaweeds, or macro-algae, with 10 of them receiving the most threatened status of Critically Endangered. Prior to 2007, only one algae species had been included on the Red List.


Watersheds and Coral Reefs: Science, Policy and Implementation

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, Florida, USA.

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. Please note that
abstract are due on October 02, 2007. Contact any of the session chairs for additional information on the session.

The session description is as follows:
*076 Watersheds and Coral Reefs: Science, Policy and Implementation*
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.

** Note: This call for abstracts shall not be construed as an offer of
financial support to attend the meeting. **


Felix A. Martinez, Ph.D.
Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research
N/SCI2, SSMC4 Rm. 8326 ph: 301-713-3338 x153
1305 East-West Hwy. fax: 301-713-4044
Silver Spring, MD 20910 email:


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Well-done new site for Acropora identification

Drs. Carden Wallace and Paul Muir launched the first edition of an on-line Acropora identification program and an introductory guide to the Acropora corals.

The address is:

If you have any problems using the site or suggestions, they would appreciate feedback:


Monday, September 10, 2007

From the Divers Alert Network (DAN):

This distinguished award honors an individual with an excellent record of public service in scuba diving who is also a strong advocate of DAN and scuba diving health and safety. The award includes a plaque and a specially engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date dive watch.

DAN is now accepting nominations for the award process for the 2007 DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year. Nominations should include a brief description of the individual's merits and contributions as related to the criteria of the award as stated above. Final deadline for receipt of nominations is Jan. 7, 2008.

Do you know a deserving diver? Send nominations for the award in English to: Scott Norris at; c/o DAN/Rolex Award, Divers Alert Network, 6 West Colony Place, Durham NC 27705.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

What's being done in the Caribbean?

We respectfully invite you to consider submitting an abstract to a special session in the 2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting to be held March 2-7, 2008, in Orlando, Florida, entitled:

135: What is Being Done in the Caribbean? Who, How and Why, Should We Be Partners? 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.

Session Organizers:
Warner Ithier-Guzman, University of South Florida,;
Ashanti J. Pyrtle, University of South Florida,;
Marietta Mayo, University of South Florida,;
Nekesha Williams, University of South Florida,

Session Description: The Caribbean region comprises several unique tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems containing a variety of ecological and geological formations, a wide spectrum of endemic species, volcanoes, and one of the deepest trenches in the world. The presence of coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds and their associated communities, offer a range of recreational and educational opportunities. These ecosystems sensitive to fast changing conditions; offer economic resources that are becoming limited and the intense anthropogenic impact can accelerate environmental changes. There is a need to document and exchange information on current and past efforts to understand the environmental interactions of these important and unique ecosystems within the Caribbean region. Understanding the relationships between terrestrial, coastal and marine environments is a critical step towards efficiently and effectively managing these resources. This session is intended to bring together researchers, institutions, land and coastal managers and decision makers with diverse training conducting research in the Caribbean. The key aims of the session will be to: (1) share experience and expertise, (2) discuss and develop future plans for sustainable development in the Caribbean Region and (3) integrate science knowledge to increase our understanding on Caribbean tropical ecosystems.

Marietta Mayo
College Of Marine Science
University of South Florida
140 Seventh Ave. South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dive for free (if you help with clean-up) in Xcalak, Mexico, Sept. 14 to 21

From a post on the bulletin board of Bill-in-Tulsa:

Any certified divers who will be in the Xcalak area from Sept 14 to 21 can dive for free—as long as they are willing to pick up trash along the way.

Many people are familiar with Xcalak’s famous trench, La Poza, where hundreds of huge tarpon and other fish are schooling at this time of year. This trench also tends to fill with trash from shore after extremely high tides or severe weather.

XTC Dive Center is going to work with the Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Xcalak (PNAX) staff to identify the areas most in need of clean up. The biologists will issue specific instructions to our divemasters and to our guests as to which types of trash should and should not be removed. An old tire that has been encrusted with coral and is now a habitat for a multitude of tiny sea creatures needs to be left behind, even a beer can that has been on the bottom for a while needs to be gently emptied of any current inhabitants. Our hope is to clean up as much as possible and leave only bubbles! This can be a great learning experience for divers of any level. And it will certainly be a huge benefit to the wonderful reefs in Xcalak.

For more information contact info@xtcdivecenter.


Friday, September 7, 2007

Court: Federal govt must designate “critical habitat” for coral and other species

From a press release issued by the Center for Biological Diversity:

WASHINGTON— In a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity against the National Marine Fisheries Service, the federal government guaranteed Friday it would end its delay in protecting habitat for several marine species at risk of extinction. The Endangered Species Act requires critical habitat designation for species as soon as they are listed under the Act, but in practice such protection rarely occurs without citizen litigation that forces the government to uphold the law.

The settlement of the lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., sets enforceable deadlines for all remaining overdue critical habitat rules for species under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service, the agency charged with implementing the Endangered Species Act for most marine species. The species covered by the settlement are the elkhorn coral, staghorn coral, smalltooth sawfish, and green sturgeon. The corals and sawfish occur in Florida, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, while the green sturgeon lives in California. . . .

Each of the species covered by the settlement is threatened by loss of habitat and should benefit greatly from critical habitat designation.

Elkhorn and staghorn corals, listed as threatened in May 2006, are the first, and to date only, species listed under the Endangered Species Act due to threats from global warming. Formerly the dominant reef-building corals in Florida and the Caribbean, over the past 30 years these corals have suffered an 80- to 98-percent decline throughout their range due to bleaching from abnormally warm water, disease, overfishing and other threats. . . .


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Creepy news about moray eels

From an article by Betsy Mason in the San Jose Mercury:

As if eels weren't already creepy enough, scientists at UC Davis have discovered that some eels have an extra set of jaws deep in their throats that launch forward into their mouths to help pull prey in.

"It looks like a funny pair of forceps with curved sharp teeth," said evolutionary biologist Rita Mehta, lead author of the research, which appears Thursday in Nature.

Mehta and functional morphologist Peter Wainwright captured the odd feeding behavior using high-speed video recordings of eels in lab tanks. Slowed down, the video reveals the jaws coming forward into the mouth and taking hold of a piece of food.

"It was one of those gee-whiz moments when we were absolutely ecstatic," Mehta said. "It was just astounding."

Before the discovery, scientists thought that all aquatic predators swallowed their prey using suction. By dropping the lower jaw and creating a flow of water into their mouths, they draw in the prey. The two species of moray eels studied by Mehta and Wainwright are the first examples of an alternative feeding method.

Other bony fish also catch their prey with their teeth, but they still use suction to swallow it.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Student employment: Biological Science Technician

Biscayne National Park
Closes 21 September 2007

Position Summary:

Biscayne National Park seeks to identify a student to hire as a Biological Science Technician in the Damage Recovery Program, Division of Resource Management. The position will be filled at the GS-07 grade level, and the starting salary is $37,548/yr. The position is full time, 40 hours per week. The park headquarters at Convoy Point is located nine miles east of Homestead, FL and 30 miles south of Miami, FL.

This position is open to U.S. citizens or nationals (resident of American Samoa or Swains Islands), and U.S. citizenship is required for conversion to permanent employment under the Student Career Experience Program.

Position Information, Duties, and Requirements:
This position is located in the Damage Recovery Program, responsible for ecological injury assessment, restoration, and monitoring projects related to vessel grounding incidents in the park. The technician will be provide field and office support for the program, to include: ?using GPS and GIS to map and survey coral reef and seagrass resources and analyze spatial data ?preparing draft project plans and reports, conducting literature research, analyzing data, and describing methods and results for restoration and monitoring projects in coral reef and seagrass habitats ?operating and maintaining sampling, photographic, and laboratory equipment ?providing project management assistance for restoration and monitoring projects in coral reef and seagrass habitats, to include contractor oversight, contracts management, environmental permitting, NEPA compliance, purchasing, and financial tracking ?providing supervision and training to interns, students, and volunteers involved in our projects.

The technician will be expected to snorkel, scuba dive, swim, operate boats, use various types of sampling equipment, and periodically travel in support of the Damage Recovery Program activities. The technician will be required to wear the NPS uniform. This is a testing designated position TDP) under the Department of the Interior Drug-free Workplace Program.

Read more here.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tropical Marine Ecology Internship, Bonaire, Spring 2008

CIEE Research Station Bonaire
Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

The CIEE Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation Program in Bonaire is a study abroad program for undergraduate students. The Tropical Marine Ecology Intern at the CIEE Research Station Bonaire will assist in program delivery, academics, research, group dynamics, logistics, dive safety,student transportation, and site security.

Duties include assisting with:
- Preparations for classes and labs as instructed by faculty:
- SCUBA diving in support of 3 CIEE courses:
- Long-term research data collection on coral reefs,
- Undergraduate student education and research projects;
- Record keeping for the dive safety program.

The Minimum Qualifications for this role are: A BA/BS in Biology with an emphasis in Marine Biology/Ecology or Biological Oceanography. Current certifications in First Aid, CPR, DAN Oxygen Rescue, and Advanced Open Water. Scientific Diving Experience (minimum of 50 dives logged) and a comprehensive dive physical are required. Must have drivers license. Demonstrated ability to work as a team member, a commitment to education and research in marine ecology and conservation, and a willingness to work flexible hours and live on site at the research station with a group of up to 12 undergraduate students.

This is an intensive program of study.

Compensation: A small stipend (commensurate with experience), round trip airfare, lodging (private room with bath) and 14 meals per week will be provided to the successful applicant.

Internship dates: 13 Jan - 10 May.

To apply: Send cover letter, CV with 3 references, and one letter of recommendation from a major faculty member from your degree granting institution to

Application deadline: 14 September 2007

Rita BJ Peachey, PhD,
Director, CIEE Research Station Bonaire
Kaya Gob DeBrot 21
Kralendijk, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
+599 786 7394


Monday, September 3, 2007

Mexico arrests 6 caught with more than 52,000 sea turtle eggs

From the International Herald Tribune:

MEXICO CITY: Police arrested six people suspected of trying to illegally sell more than 52,000 sea turtle eggs in southern Mexico, authorities said Saturday.

The five men and one woman were caught Friday transporting the eggs in dozens of plastic bags in the southern town of San Pedro Huamelula, Mexico's Public Security Department said in a news release. The department did not release any further information.

Mexico is a major nesting area for several species of sea turtles, which are endangered and protected by law. Harvesting or selling their eggs is punishable by up to nine years in prison and fines.

Still, officials seize thousands of turtle eggs at markets each year in Mexico, where they are considered a delicacy.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Turtle nest damage update from Akumal

Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) posted a data table to update of the status of turtle nests following Hurricane Dean:

From a report from CEA staffer Alma Boada:

CEA had a lot of responsibilities to get ready before Dean’s arrival. We were working on our Bay Management Program, we were doing great in our Turtle Nesting Season, we were building our new Eco Bathrooms, we were starting a new turtle campaign with Flora Fauna y Cultura, and we had a project to redesign our Information Center. We were working hard and doing our best to continue protecting this beautiful bay. So when we knew about Dean, we had to double our efforts and be prepared. We made teams to protect the office, our equipment, buoys, dorms and turtle nests. Unfortunately of all the nests over 48 days old that we wanted to save, we were just able to save four green turtle nests. The rest of the sticks had been moved by people and we couldn’t find them as quickly as we needed. As a group, we did a very good job and after the tragedy we are working again. We are glad that turtles started nesting two days after Dean. The reef was damaged but apparently not as much as it could have been. We still need to evaluate it, as well as the water quality. As soon as we have the results we will inform you.

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

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP