Thursday, February 28, 2008

Little Cayman reefs show resilience

From an article by James Dimond posted on

Coral reefs around Little Cayman have almost completely recovered from a 2005 ocean warming event that caused the most extreme coral bleaching and mortality ever seen in the wider Caribbean.

Marine scientists at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s Little Cayman Research Center carried out a survey of reefs around Little Cayman in January.

While the bleaching that was recorded in 2005 – the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere – was the worst ever seen in the Cayman Islands, reefs in Little Cayman have come back stronger than most other Caribbean reefs, they say.

According to a report published by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network in January, other reefs in the region have not fared so well. The US Virgin Islands lost over 50 per cent of coral reef cover; Barbados experienced 17 per cent to 20 per cent coral mortality; losses in the French West Indies ranged between 11 per cent and 30 per cent; while sites in the Dominican Republic suffered up to 38 per cent mortality.

“The reefs are regenerating at a high level,” said CCMI President Ms Carrie Manfrino. “This is very good news and illustrates a level of resilience in Cayman that is not common on Caribbean reefs.”

Ms Manfrino said the resilience of Little Cayman’s reefs is probably a reflection of the fact that they are subject to less human induced stresses than reefs in more populated and industrialized areas, and are therefore better able to respond to threats like the 2005 bleaching event.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Bermuda - Research experience for U.S. undergraduates

From the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS):

BIOS is offering Undergraduate Fellowships in Marine Science, Oceanography and Global Climate Change during the Fall semester. . . .

The Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences has received National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) funding to support 8 fellowships for undergraduate student research at BIOS during the 2008 fall* semester (TENTATIVE DATES: arrive on September 3, 2008 - depart on November 26, 2008). Students will design and conduct independent projects under faculty supervision within several research areas:
* Biology, chemistry and physics of the open ocean
* Biology, physiology and biochemistry of reef building corals and reef ecosystems
* Aspects of the molecular biology of marine organisms
* Environmental chemistry of Bermuda's atmosphere and inshore waters
* Effects and consequences of global environmental change . . .
Each successful REU applicant will receive a stipend of approximately $360 per week less the costs of room and board (a special REU rate of $250 per week). Students will reside on the BIOS campus. Travel expenses will be covered by the REU program.
See BIOS Web site for more details.


Friday, February 22, 2008

World Ocean Day, June 8

From the Web site of The Ocean Project:

Created in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro - although not yet officially designated by the United Nations - World Ocean Day is an opportunity each year to celebrate our world ocean and our personal connection to the sea. The Ocean Project, working closely with the World Ocean Network, helps each year to coordinate events and activities with aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations, universities, schools, businesses. Together with the World Ocean Network, we are also working to have the United Nations officially designate World Ocean Day as June 8th each year. Take time to do something good for our ocean: sign the petition today!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Registration begins for the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium

From the International Society for Reef Studies:

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 for registration, information on scientific sessions, and overall details of the meeting.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

REEF offers educator scholarships for Akumal field survey

From the newsletter of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF):

Once again, CEDAM International is offering two scholarships for educators to participate on a REEF Field Survey. For the 2008 survey season, the scholarships will apply to the Gran Bahia Principe Field Survey in Akumal, Mexico. Dates for this trip are May 17-24, 2008. You can visit REEF's Field Survey page to view trip details and also check out the trip flyer. To apply for this scholarship, please visit the CEDAM Web site at then click on the Lloyd Bridges Scholarship tab at the top of the page to see details.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Coral Reef Research Internship - Cayman Islands

From the Central Caribbean Marine Institute:

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) is currently accepting students into our summer Coral Reef Research Internship program. This is a field intensive program for students interested in Tropical Marine Conservation and Ecology. Our classroom is on one of the world's mostspectacular coral reefs surrounding Little Cayman and the Bloody Bay Marine Park. . . .

This program provides a research internship framework that involves marine ecology and conservation principles. With us, you'll explore the community organization of reef organisms and learn about ecologic successions and the major stressors on tropical marine ecosystems. Students prepare for marine conservation research by learning principles of sustainability and essential theories of marine protection and management. Students work in teams to develop an independent field research project to explore the successes and failures of marine protection. The Long-Term Assessment and Monitoring Program (LAMP) at the Little Cayman Research Centre provides a framework for many of our population and habitat field studies. Students will be required to complete a joint research poster that may be published or presented at a national or international conference. . . .

Course dates: July 12-August 03, 2008

Qualifications: Open to undergraduate and graduate students and to professionals with a strong interest in marine ecology and conservation. SCUBA divers and non-divers are accepted into the program.

Application deadline: March 1, 2008 and continues until the program is full.
Students are encouraged to apply early.

Credit: 4 Credits in Tropical Marine Conservation are provided by Rutgers University, Institute of Marine and Coastal Science.

More information at the CCMI Web site. You will find a link there to the Rutgers Study Abroad Office, where you can apply.

More information conntact:


Monday, February 18, 2008

Treasures in the Sea

From the American Museaum of Natural History:

Treasures in the Sea is a new resource book that provides teachers with scientific information and engaging, hands-on activities that encourage students to discover, cherish, and protect the sea and all of its treasures. Designed especially for educators in The Bahamas, the book complements curriculum guidelines for grades three to six, though many of the activities may be adapted for younger or older students in formal and nonformal settings. Treasures in the Sea introduces marine conservation concepts by focusing on some of The Bahamas’ most important marine species, and helps students understand life cycles, critical habitats, cultural and economic connections, and also the urgency of conservation and management.

At the Treasures of the Sea Web site you can download the publication, link to resources related to the activities, find out about training workshops, and give us your feedback.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Oceans eyed as new energy source

Discussions of ocean-generated electricity doesn't yet seem to include the Caribbean, but other oceans are being eyed around the world, as reported in an Associated Press article by Brian Skoloff on

DANIA BEACH, Fla. - Just 15 miles off Florida's coast, the world's most powerful sustained ocean current - the mighty Gulf Stream - rushes by at nearly 8.5 billion gallons per second. And it never stops.

To scientists, it represents a tantalizing possibility: a new, plentiful and uninterrupted source of clean energy.

Florida Atlantic University researchers say the current could someday be used to drive thousands of underwater turbines, produce as much energy as perhaps 10 nuclear plants and supply one-third of Florida's electricity. A small test turbine is expected to be installed within months.

"We can produce power 24/7," said Frederick Driscoll, director of the university's Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology. Using a $5 million research grant from the state, the university is working to develop the technology in hopes that big energy and engineering companies will eventually build huge underwater arrays of turbines.

From Oregon to Maine, Europe to Australia and beyond, researchers are looking to the sea - currents, tides and waves - for its infinite energy. So far, there are no commercial-scale projects in the U.S. delivering electricity to the grid.

Because the technology is still taking shape, it is too soon to say how much it might cost. But researchers hope to make it as cost-effective as fossil fuels. While the initial investment may be higher, the currents that drive the machinery are free.

There are still many unknowns and risks. One fear is the "Cuisinart effect": The spinning underwater blades could chop up fish and other creatures. . . . .

David White of the Ocean Conservancy said much of the technology is largely untested in the outdoors, so it is too soon to say what the environmental effects might be.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sign petition for U.S. turtle stam

From the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCCTurtle):

Each year, the United States Postal Service receives thousands of suggestions for new postage stamps. This year, CCC is promoting the creation of a sea turtle commemorative stamp book to spread awareness about the status of the six endangered sea turtle species that nest on our beaches or are found in U.S. waters.

Sign the petition here!

Sea turtles have existed for over 100 million years and are found in oceans around the world. They use numerous marine and coastal habitats and help keep coral reefs and sea grass beds healthy. Sea turtle eggs and hatchlings are important not only to marine food webs but also to the beach environment where nests provide food for many species; hatched egg shells too provide nutrients critical to the roots of beach grasses, which in turn hold dunes intact. Until recently, sea turtle populations flourished. In the last several hundred years, however, excessive human exploitation, pollution and accidental capture in fisheries have taken a terrible toll in many areas of the world.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bonaire named most pristine coral reef environment

From an article in by Mike Verikios Travel Daily News:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has designated Bonaire as having “arguably the most pristine coral reef environment in the Caribbean.” Bonaire’s reef will now become the benchmark for which all other coral reefs will be compared, given that research has shown Bonaire as having the highest percentage of coral cover and the lowest percentage of algal cover compared to other Caribbean reefs. Additionally, an official study revealed that Bonaire is inhabited by more species of fish than any other Caribbean island.

To collect further benchmarking data, NOAA initiated an Ocean Explorer signature exploration titled “Bonaire 2008: Exploring Coral Reef Sustainability with New Technologies,” which took place January 7-30, 2008. The exploration was conducted by a team of researchers and scientists from the College of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the University of Delaware and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography are leading the expedition with the help from STINAPA, the organization that oversees the Bonaire National Marine Park, where the expedition is taking place.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Support CEA festival and auctions

CEA's Online Auction Now Open for Bids!
Preview a few of the items!

Save the Sea Festival
Feb. 20-21, 2008
Akumal, Mexico
A celebration of ocean conservation and support for
Centro Ecológico Akumal

The online auction ends February 22 at 5:00 p.m. CST.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Summer employment in Georgia turtle program

From the the CTURTLE listserve (CTURTLE@LISTS.UFL.EDU):

START DATE: May 1, 2008 (negotiable)

END DATE: October 1, 2008

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Application received by February 20, 2008 STARTING SALARY: $7.04/HR, housing provided


These are hourly, seasonal positions (40 hours/week) in the unclassified service of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

The positions will be located on Ossabaw and Sapelo Islands. Housing is provided. Responsibilities, qualifications and other pertinent information are as follows:

Responsibilities: The successful applicants will work under the supervision of the state’s Sea Turtle Program Coordinator and will be responsible for the daily monitoring of sea turtle nesting on Ossabaw and Sapelo Islands. Activities will include locating and marking all sea turtle nests, relocating threatened nests, assessing hatching success, assisting in the lethal removal of nest predators, and monitoring for stranded turtles. Other duties will include maintenance of vehicles, 4-wheelers, and other assigned equipment. Work may be performed at night, during weekends, or in very difficult field conditions.

Minimum Qualifications:


Candidates must have some knowledge of general biology and biological data collection techniques; and, experience with computer databases.

Completion of at least one high school level course of at least one-year duration in biology.

Preferred Qualifications:


Preference will be given to applicants who possess a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university in wildlife biology, ecology, zoology or related field.

Application Submission: A resume (with references) must be submitted no later than 20 February, 2008. Resumes should be submitted to: Mark Dodd, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA 31520-8687 . The Wildlife
Resources Division is an equal opportunity employer.

For more information please contact:

Mark Dodd
Georgia Sea Turtle Program Coordinator
(912) 280-6892


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

IYOR video highlights

The homepage for the International Year of the Reef includes video highlights of the IYOR symposium in Washington, D.C., on January 24:

The home page explains:

The purpose of the January 25th symposium is to celebrate IYOR through a showcase of IYOR activities taking place around the world, and to allow ICRI participants to meet, share, brainstorm and coordinate regarding their IYOR plans. The symposium will be open not only to ICRI Members, but other interested parties within the coral reef and marine community (e.g., ICRI participating organizations, the D.C.-based marine community, the press, etc).


Monday, February 4, 2008

World wetlands day

From the Web site of Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA):

February 2 was World Wetlands Day, marking the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Mexico is a member of Ramsar and, with over 5 million hectares of wetlands decreed Ramsar sites, is the country with the greatest number of hectares in the Ramsar Convention. However, each year many conservation organizations and environmentalists in Mexico struggle to get Congress to continue to legally protect these ecosystems.

Mangroves are very important wetlands on the Mexican Caribbean and are constantly being destroyed in order to build large hotel developments. About 75% of fish caught commercially spend some time in the mangroves or are dependent on food chains that can be traced back to these coastal forests. Without the mangroves, the shrimp and fish that support many of the tropical coastal communities of the world could not exist. In addition to being an important habitat for fish and wildlife, mangroves absorb sediments that could cloud the water and cause the coral reefs to die. They have also been shown to absorb pollution such as heavy metals, thus preventing their introduction into the marine ecosystem. Mangroves help reduce the impact of storms and the forces of erosion.

Tourism investors in Quintana Roo constantly pressure Congress to change our current wildlife law to allow for mangrove destruction. Much confusion is created, with suggestions that mangroves can be moved or re-created in other places. This will not work; we must do all we can to protect coastal mangroves. We talk quite often of sustainable development, but seldom understand the challenge of protecting such a valuable ecosystem while building hotels and subdivisions.

To find out more about mangroves and the Ramsar Convention, please click here.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Report reveals 'alarming' rate of mangrove habitat loss

Mangrove roots dip into the sea at Sian
Ka'an Preserve just south of Akumal.

From a story by Jessica Aldred in the Guardian Unlimited:

Mangrove ecosystems should be better protected, the UN's food agency has warned as it published new figures showing that 20% of the world's mangrove area has been destroyed since 1980

A study by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that the environmental and economic damages caused by the "alarming" loss of mangroves in many countries should be urgently addressed.

Countries must engage in more effective conservation and sustainable management of the world's mangroves and other wetland ecosystems, it warned, ahead of World Wetlands day tomorrow.

The world has lost around 3.6m hectares (20%) of mangroves since 1980, the report showed.

The total mangrove area has declined from 18.8m ha (46.4m acres) in 1980 to 15.2m ha (37.5m acres) in 2005. However the report did show that there has been a slowdown in the rate of mangrove loss: from some 187,000 ha destroyed annually in the 1980s to 102,000 ha a year between 2000 and 2005. This reflected an increased awareness of the value of mangrove ecosystems, the report said.

Mangroves are salt-tolerant evergreen forests that are found along coastlines, lagoons, rivers or deltas in 124 tropical and subtropical countries and areas around the world, providing protection against erosion, cyclones and wind.

Around 50% of the world's total mangrove area is found in Indonesia, Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and Mexico.

Their important ecosystems provide wood, food, fodder, medicine and honey for humans, and habitats for many animals like crocodiles and snakes, tigers, deer, otters, dolphins and birds. A wide range of fish and shellfish also depend on mangroves as the swamps help to filter sediment and pollution from water upstream and stop it disturbing the delicate balance of ecosystems like coral reefs.

The main causes of the destruction of mangrove swampland include population pressure, conversion for shrimp and fish farming, agriculture, infrastructure and tourism, as well as pollution and natural disasters, the FAO said.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sandy Beaches “At the Brink”

An article from the newsletter of SeaWeb:

Sandy beaches dominate the world’s open coastlines; as prime sites for human recreation, they underpin many coastal economies. However, point out the authors of a recent study in the journal Diversity and Distributions, “beaches are not just piles of sand, they support a range of under-appreciated biodiversity.” A single beach can harbor several hundred species of invertebrates, for example. Beaches also provide ecological services, such as filtering large volumes of seawater, recycling nutrients, supporting coastal fisheries and providing critical habitats for endangered species such as sea turtles and birds.

However, observe Thomas A. Schlacher of Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast and colleagues: “These unique ecosystems are facing escalating anthropogenic pressures, chiefly from rapacious coastal development, direct human uses—mainly associated with recreation—and rising sea levels. Beaches are increasingly becoming trapped in a ‘coastal squeeze’ between burgeoning human populations from the land and the effects of global climate change from the sea.”

Schlacher and colleagues argue that the limits of scientific understanding of how sandy beaches respond to the plethora of human threats are “emerging as crucial impediments for the conservation of these threatened systems.” They propose a number of broad research areas that they contend are critical to address those limits of scientific understanding. They conclude by arguing that innovative and interdisciplinary approaches, as well as public outreach, will be required for the conservation of sandy beaches worldwide.

Source: Schlacher, T.A., et al. 2007. Sandy beaches at the brink. Diversity and Distributions 13 (5): 556-560. DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2007.00363.x

Contact: Thomas A. Schlacher, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. E-mail:


Friday, February 1, 2008

Cayman Islands gets ICON station

An article from the newsletter of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI):

The first steps toward the installation of the new Integrated Coral Observing Network (ICON) station will be completed in early April. Step one is to utilize an underwater hydraulic drill bore sixteen holes necessary to attach the pylon. The Cayman Islands Department of Environment will provide critical support by bringing their vessel "Sea Keeper" to Little Cayman to drill. Dr. Jim Hendee and Jules Craynock (NOAA), CCMI Director of Research, Dr. Carrie Manfrino and Little Cayman Research Station Manager, Jon Clamp will provide oversight for the work.

CCMI has partnered with NOAA by jointly investing over $250,000 in an ICON (Integrated Ocean Observing Network) monitoring system in the Cayman Islands to measure the effects of climate change on the ocean and to work to find solutions to coral reef stress. This research project provides information for reef managers that will aid in preserving coral reefs. Little Cayman was selected as a site because of the presence of the new Little Cayman Research Centre and because it represents an excellent reference site for relatively intact coral reefs.
CCMI maintains a blog to report on updates. The blog includes several links to more information about ICON.

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

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