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.

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