Monday, March 31, 2008

Three Caribbean events in one

The Fourth Caribbean Environmental Forum and Exhibition
Fourteenth Annual Wider Caribbean Waste Management Conference
First Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum (1st CSEF)

“Climate Change, Water and Sanitation: A Shared Responsibility”
June 23 – 27, 2008

Read more at the conference Web site.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

One man's dedication to conservation

Visit Scuba Bob's OceanQuest.TV site to see how a single person can do a great deal for ocean conservation. Scuba Bob's site explains:

Scuba Bob's Ocean Quest is a television show and DVD production project committed to making a real difference by promoting ocean conservation and marine life awareness. Our position is politically neutral and acknowledges that we as humans are the cause and the solution to many global problems involving the ocean.Smart conservation is the solution; humans should use common sense to come up with creative solutions that benefit both humans and our planet.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Non-native lionfish invade Altantic and Caribbean

From a post on The Plankton Forums at

The lionfish invasion of areas in the western Atlantic is becoming better documented. They are commonly seen in areas of the western and central Bahamas. Have they shown up in the southeastern Bahamas and/or Turks and Caicos yet?

Anyway, there is a video of the first lionfish I saw in these waters last summer off Bimini. There are additional images of several more near Fresh Creek, Andros shortly after that time.

You will find it under "Pacific Predator ..." at:
Photo by Chip Baumberger/Marine Photobank


Thursday, March 27, 2008

More on plastic pollution

An island couldn't be much further away from the Caribbean than Midway. Yet, the following from a BBC story by Daivd Shukman about Midway highlights the omnipresence and potential disaster of plastic pollution:

Plastic waste in the oceans poses a potentially devastating long-term toxic threat to the food chain, according to marine scientists.

Studies suggest billions of microscopic plastic fragments drifting underwater are concentrating pollutants like DDT.

Most attention has focused on dangers that visible items of plastic waste pose to seabirds and other wildlife.

But researchers are warning that the risk of hidden contamination could be more serious.

Dr Richard Thompson of the University of Plymouth has investigated how plastic degrades in the water and how tiny marine organisms, such as barnacles and sand-hoppers, respond.

He told the BBC: "We know that plastics in the marine environment will accumulate and concentrate toxic chemicals from the surrounding seawater and you can get concentrations several thousand times greater than in the surrounding water on the surface of the plastic.

"Now there's the potential for those chemicals to be released to those marine organisms if they then eat the plastic."
A member of the BBC crew writes about his experience:

I visit one reef with John Klavitter, one of the experts here, and standing waist-deep in surprisingly cold water, he shows me how to cut the tough plastic of nets and ropes.

It is a horrible job because the fibres snag on the sharp twists of coral. Without boots and gloves we would be cut to ribbons. And despite hacking away for several minutes, it feels like we have hardly started. I look up and wish I hadn¿t noticed another load of netting on a rock next door.

We have severed so much plastic from the coral that the kayak we are loading threatens to capsize.

You need a pretty strong sense of morale to deal with a threat this big. But Midway is such a precious place that, whatever the odds, no one talks of giving up the battle.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Untreated waste water threat to fisheries, tourism - CEHI

An article from the Stabroek News (Georgetown, Guyana):

The Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) warned in a press release on Wednesday [March 26], that coastal waters in the Caribbean are being threatened by the discharge of large volumes of untreated waste water into the marine environment in the region.

The livelihoods of those who depend on fisheries and even tourism and other sectors are at a great risk and there is a negative impact on both human and the coastal and marine ecosystem health.

As a result, the CEHI said, the near-shore waters of many islands in the region are becoming environmental hot spots, where sedimentation and algal growth threaten vital coastlines and coastal resources and in many ways further impacts on the economic growth and social conditions of Caribbean countries.

The CEHI in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through its Regional Coordination Unit for the Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP CAR/ RCU) will be hosting a Waste Water Management Course in Jamaica from today to Friday to address the above mentioned consequences.

The training will focus on objective-oriented planning; innovative technological and financial approaches; stakeholder involvement, presentation techniques and feasibility reporting and the course targets waste water managers and decision makers, town planners, and representatives from stakeholder and user groups in the fisheries, tourism and public health sectors, along with communities and environmental NGOs.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Best Green Adventures: Eco-Success

From an article by Costas Christ on the Web site of National Geographic:

Thirty years ago ecotourism was just an idea. Now it's going mainstream.
Here are ten places where it's making a difference—one trip at a time. . . .

Belize: Reef Revival
The Mesoamerican Reef, the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, bends an aquamarine elbow at Gladden Spit, 26 miles (42 kilometers) off Placencia, Belize, creating an underwater Serengeti. "I used to anchor in one spot with my father, and in less than half a day we could fill the boat with 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of fish," says Lindsay Garbutt, 47, of Monkey River village. But as commercial fishing depleted the seas nearby, Garbutt and local fishermen formed Friends of Nature to protect the reef and support sustainable fishing ( Gladden is now a marine reserve where critically endangered Nassau grouper and massive schools of snapper continue to spawn. This is also one of the few places on Earth where divers and snorkelers can predictably swim with whale sharks; the elusive giants arrive like clockwork during full moons from April to June.

Do: Cay-hop by kayak among deserted coral islands ($1,380;; dive with whale sharks ($150;
Sleep: Sea Spray Hotel ($50;; Turtle Inn ($335;

Christ also recommends destinations in Brazil, Dubai, Canada, and Kenya. He puts Gabon, Laos, and Ireland on a list of tipping points and places Turks and Caicos and
Greece on a watch list.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Barados sounds coral alert

An Associated Press article running in several newspapers, including the Toronto Sun:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Unusually large waves churned by an Atlantic storm system have littered the beaches of Barbados with broken coral in what could be a sign of damage to reefs across the region, a scientist said yesterday.

The amount of rubble on the island's west coast suggests the coral took a heavy pounding, said Leo Brewster, director of Barbados' Coastal Zone Management Unit, who was organizing dives later this week to survey the damage.

"We think it's going to be pretty extensive," Brewster said. "I think we're going to see it across the Caribbean."

The waves, reaching as high as nine metres, lashed coastlines from Guyana to the Dominican Republic last week as a large low-pressure system idled off the northeastern United States.

At their peak on Thursday morning, a buoy north of the U.S. Virgin Islands recorded swells of 4.5 metres -- the highest since 1991, said Shawn Rossi, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service in San Juan. Reef-building coral provide a habitat for thousands of marine creatures but have been dying off across the Caribbean due to coastal pollution, overfishing and rising sea temperatures.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

What happened to the Caribbean reefs?

From an Agence France-Presse article posted on

Paris - Several hundred years ago, the coral reefs of the Caribbean had up to six times more fish than they have today, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The estimate is made by American scientists poring over the fate of the Caribbean monk seal, a fish-loving mammal driven to extinction in 1952.

Historical records from the 17th and 18th century show there were huge numbers of monk seals, distributed among 13 colonies across the Caribbean.

They were so plentiful that some ships' maps of the West Indies even noted particularly dense locations of seals.

Alas for Monachus tropicalis, colonisation of the West Indies unleashed unbridled hunting, the bounty being seal oil that was used to grease machinery in sugar plantations.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the seals were reduced to a final redoubt of a few atolls - and their worst enemy became natural history museums and private collectors keen for monk seal skeletons.

In one disastrous episode, a 1911 expedition to Mexico by natural-history enthusiasts killed 200 seals, leaving just a handful alive, and driving the depleted population further towards extinction.

In a study published on Wednesday in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, oceanographers Loren McClenachan and Andrew Cooper perform a heroic act of biostatistics in recreating the life and sad demise of the seal.

They calculate that, before the massacre, between 233 000 and 338 000 monk seals lived in the Caribbean. Such a huge population could only survive, of course, provided there was a huge supply of food.

At a rough estimate, each adult seal would eat 245kg of fish per year, and a juvenile seal 50kg, say McClenachan and Cooper.

"The biomass of free fish required to sustained the estimated population of historical monk seals is four to six times greater than the average Caribbean reef, which exceeds that found on the most pristine Caribbean coral reef today and is in the same range of the most pristine reefs" in the remote Pacific, their paper says.

The study gives a crucial pointer about the pace of degradation of Caribbean coral reefs, where the biggest problem has been overfishing.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Leatherbacks gain protection in Costa Rica

From an article by Stefan Lovgren for National Geographic News:

As dawn breaks on Playa Grande, the light reveals shallow sand pits where leatherback sea turtles laid their eggs the night before.

This Costa Rican beach, a 2-mile-long (3.2-kilometer-long) stretch of sand popular with surfers, is guarded around the clock by a small army of biologists and volunteers from the Leatherback Trust, a nonprofit group working to save the world's largest sea turtles from extinction.

That means ensuring that every turtle nest on the beach—which is open to the public for recreation—is kept undisturbed.

"This is the most important nesting beach for leatherbacks in the eastern Pacific," said Gabriela Blanco, who heads the trust's monitoring station.

"If we don't protect the beach, this population is going to disappear."

Declining Numbers

As adults, leatherback turtles can grow as long as six-and-a-half feet (two meters) and weigh up to 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms).

Ranging further than any other reptile, they are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans as well as in the Mediterranean Sea.

Recently a leatherback turtle migrated 12,774 miles (20,558 kilometers) across the Pacific Ocean—the longest recorded migration of any sea vertebrate.

But the animals are highly endangered due to human threats such as poaching, beach development, and harmful fishing practices.

For instance, scientists estimate that less than 5,000 nesting leatherbacks exist in the Pacific Ocean today, a 95 percent drop from 1980.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Sick baby turtles appearing on the beaches of Quintana Roo, Mex

An article by Armando Lorences from the newsletter of Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA):

In recent days there have been reports of hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtle hatchlings appearing on the beaches of Quintana Roo, weak or already dead.

So far the exact causes are unknown. The person in charge of the network of sea turtle stranding in the Riviera Maya, MVZ Ana Negrete, suggests that the turtle hatchlings are suffering from dehydration and weakness. As soon as more information is known it will be announced.

Preliminary results, however, show that plastics have been found in the turtles' stomachs, suggesting they are starving to death. Plastic trash floating in the sea can resemble what the turtles would eat naturally, so they are ingesting the plastic, thinking it's food.
CEA is calling on area residents, businesses, and hotel to assist when they find a baby turtle washed ashore.

More about plastics in the ocean here and here.

See the trash taken from a green turtle's stomach.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life catalogs 1 million species

Going well beyond the range of the Caribbean, the Encylopedia of Life (EOL) began its online edition with exemplar pages for twenty-five species of flora and fauna, ranging from Cafeteria roenbergensis, a single-celled flagellate, to Pinus strobus, the eastern white pine. It includes many ocean species.

The founders of EOL describe their effort as follows:

Welcome to the first release of the Encyclopedia of Life portal. This is the very beginning of our exciting journey to document all species of life on Earth.

Comprehensive, collaborative, ever-growing, and personalized, the Encyclopedia of Life is an ecosystem of websites that makes all key information about all life on Earth accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. Our goals are to:

Create a constantly evolving encyclopedia that lives on the Internet, with contributions from scientists and amateurs alike.

Transform the science of biology, and inspire a new generation of scientists, by aggregating virtually all known data about every living species.

Engage a wide audience of schoolchildren, educators, citizen scientists, academics and those who are just curious about Earth's species.

Increase our collective understanding of life on Earth, and safeguard the richest possible spectrum of biodiversity.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Interactive map shows turtle nesting sites worldwide

The State of the World's Sea Turtles (SWOT) hosts an interactive map of nesting sites for hawksbill, leatherback, and loggerhead turtles on its Web site:

Every data point on this map represents the original work of a data provider and the institution he or she represents. Clicking on individual data points in this map will link to the original data and their sources. All data must be credited to the original source.

This interactive map is the first representation of global hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback nesting data ever developed. Learn about the challenge of gathering data in such an initiative and the significance of this map in this article from SWOT Report, Vol. III.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Coral reef crime scene investigation

From the Web site of the International Coral Reef Action Network:

Regardless of region, most coral reef ecosystems are under various levels of anthropogenic impact. In areas where a management plan is in place with regulations outlined to protect the marine environment, management authorities are often limited in resources to enforce those regulations.

The capacity of resource managers to respond to short-term human impact incidences is often limited in terms of training, time and financial means. Training for field investigators in investigative, forensic and rapid ecological assessment techniques, is required to ensure accurate assessment and data collection, and maximise prosecution, mitigation, or negotiation success.

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) has created a committee on Coral Reef Enforcement and Natural Resource Investigation to facilitate the development of standards and protocols that respond to this need.

ICRAN are working alongside NOAA, the US Department of State and CONANP, to support the ICRI committee in developing a toolkit and training programme for standardised coral reef enforcement and natural resource investigations, which can be adapted for use in any major coral reef region and applied to a wide variety of events.

Regional training workshops will take place based on the tool kit components to train coral reef resource managers and enforcement personnel on its use, and to better coordinate and communicate investigative and enforcement actions and educate the public and decision makers for enhanced resource protection and management capabilities.


Monday, March 17, 2008

"Grief on the reef" features CEA and Paul Sanchez-Navarro

From an article by Charlie Devereux on

A report released in January by the World Conservation Union concluded that hurricanes and rising sea temperatures in 2005 -- the hottest year since records began -- caused large-scale examples coral bleaching, in which corals lose the essential algae that coat their surfaces, devastating more than half of the Caribbean's reefs.

But human activity at ground level is having an equally damaging effect, says Paul Sanchez-Navarro, Director of Centro Ecologico Akumal, an organization that monitors the impact of development on the reefs that thrive off the coast of Mexico's Quintana Roo province. Pollution spilled into the sea by the thousands of hotels on the Mexican Riviera is "stressing" the coral reefs.

"There are a lot of nutrients going into the ground water caused by treated water from the hotels and municipal waste water treatment plants," he explains. "They inject the water into the ground and that makes its way into the aquifer... We've found way too many nutrients -- nitrates and phosphates -- and that comes from human waste, mostly urine."

The result, says Sanchez-Navarro, is increased algae growth that effectively suffocates the coral, impeding its growth.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Caribbean plans tsunami warning system by 2010

From a Reuters' article by Andrew Beatty:

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Caribbean states will set up a joint tsunami warning center before the end of the decade, governments agreed at a meeting in Panama on Thursday.

Supporters want the center to relay information from national geological institutes across the region, providing an early warning system that could help prevent deaths and infrastructure damage in the event of a tsunami.

Peter Koltermann, executive secretary of the United Nations Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, told a meeting of around 30 Caribbean states that the likelihood of a tsunami hitting the region at some point was "probable."

He said a regional warning center could help prevent disasters like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed around 230,000 people.

Koltermann had said during a session on Wednesday that "the situation in the Indian Ocean was similar to the Caribbean. Nobody believed it would happen, but it happened."


Friday, March 14, 2008

Fast-growing corals key to Caribbean Reef – study

From a Rueters' story by Michael Kahn posted on Planet Ark:

LONDON - Two dominant coral species have built a good chunk of the Caribbean reef, and their ability to grow quickly may help the region's coral reefs keep pace with rising sea levels caused by global warming, researchers say.

The endangered staghorn and elkhorn corals grow about 10 times faster than any other in the Caribbean and reproduce in part by breaking into bits for easy ocean spread.

Ken Johnson, who led the study published in the journal Science, said researchers had found that the staghorn and elkhorn coral were not that important until about 1 million years ago, when half the Caribbean coral species went extinct.

Today about 60 coral species remain.

Johnson said one reason they quickly became dominant was they may have been able to keep up with rapid sea level rise by growing quickly, Johnson said.

And if sea levels rise as predicted in the coming centuries, they may have to reprise this role.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Caribbean Sea Camp slated for summer

From an article post on Cayman NetNews:

The Little Cayman Research Centre will be hosting the 9th Annual Caribbean Sea Camp from 15 to 22 August.

Developed by the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI), this program offers high school students the opportunity to learn Caribbean Marine Biology and Conservation at one of the world’s premier education and research facilities.

This year’s activities will be based on the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program and will emphasize the importance of healthy coral reefs. Open to divers and non-divers, students are given the opportunity to discover the wonders of coral reefs first-hand from experts working to conserve the diversity of life inhabiting the ocean’s largest living creature.

Students aged 14 to 18 years are invited to apply for this unique fun and educational opportunity. Merit based scholarships are available to Cayman students who show an interest in helping resolve issues facing the marine realm today. The Programme is also open to international students with the aim of fostering an inter-cultural experience.

Students interested in the programme must complete an application indicating their own personal ideas about why coral reefs are important and obtain a letter of recommendation as to why they should be considered for placement on this program.

For more information on the 2008 Caribbean SeaCamp or for an application, e-mail or visit their website at Applications are being accepted through the months of March and April.

Companies interested in sponsoring a scholarship for a local student can obtain details by emailing


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breath of the ocean links fish feeding, reefs, climate

From an article posted on

ScienceDaily (Mar. 11, 2008) — An ocean odor that affects global climate also gathers reef fish to feed as they "eavesdrop" on events that might lead them to food.

Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is given off by algae and phytoplankton, microscopic one-celled plants that float in the ocean. Release of DMSP usually indicates either that tiny animals in the plankton are feeding on the algae, or that massive growth of algae -- an algal bloom -- has occurred, said Jennifer DeBose, a UC Davis graduate student and now a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.

Once released from the ocean into the atmosphere, derivatives of DMSP promote cloud formation, so clouds reflect more sunlight back into space and cool the Earth.

These sulfur compounds are also known to serve as odor signals to marine organisms and are likely to play an equally important role in marine ecology, said Gabrielle Nevitt, professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis and senior author on the study. The researchers wanted to know if reef fish also respond to these chemicals.

DeBose released plumes of DMSP at low concentrations on reefs off the Caribbean island of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.

"It was pretty impressive," she said. "We would be surrounded by hundreds of fish for up to 60 minutes." The plumes mostly attracted fish known to feed on plankton, such as brown chromis and Creole wrasse, and the researchers noted that these fish were mostly arriving from down-current as if they were following a plume of scent.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sea turtle bibliography database

The Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research hosts an online database of turtle research:

The Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research (ACCSTR) at the University of Florida has developed the "Sea Turtle Online Bibliography." This bibliographic database can be accessed worldwide via the Internet. This online bibliography includes all aspects of sea turtle biology, conservation and management. Citations are from recognized bibliographic sources as well as "grey literature." Unfortunately, at present, we cannot conduct searches for those investigators who cannot access the system.

The Sea Turtle Online Bibliography is one of the bibliographic databases in the LUIS system at the University of Florida. LUIS runs under the NOTIS software marketed by NOTIS Systems, Inc. (Evanston, IL) The software resides on an IBM ES/9000-831 owned and operated by the Northeast Regional Data Center (NERDC) in Gainesville, Florida. The Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA) in Gainesville supports NOTIS for the State University System of Florida. Computer time for searching LUIS is paid for by FCLA. Any telecommunications fees incurred are the responsibility of the user.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Loggerhead turtle may make endangered list

An article by Curtis Morgan in the Miami Herald:

The loggerhead turtle may be elevated to a federally endangered species, in large part because nesting on Florida beaches has dropped by half over the past decade.

In a notice published Wednesday in the Federal Register, the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that officials will review the turtle population and a change in the current threatened status ``may be warranted.''

This review was ordered in response to a petition and data filed in November 2007 by two environmental groups, Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The groups argue the turtle is at increasing risk of extinction from climate change, commercial fishing practices, beach development, pollution and others threats. Federal designation could result in new protections for beach nesting areas, fishing rules or other changes.

''If we don't act soon, sea turtles may go the way of the dinosaurs,'' Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a news release.

All five turtles that feed or nest in Florida waters are listed as either threatened or endangered: loggerhead, green, hawksbill, leatherback and Kemp's Ridley. The agencies will accept comment on the proposal until May 5.
Loggerhead turtles also nest on the beaches of Akumal.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Sea cucumber makes hard plastic go soft

From an article by Julie Steenhuysen on ABC News in Science:

A new material inspired by sea cucumbers can change easily from hard and rigid to soft and floppy, US researchers say.

When wet, the material changes from a stiff plastic to a rubber-like state in seconds, and it can change back just as quickly, the researchers report today in the journal Science.

It's a feature they say may make it suited for medical implants.

The material mimics a trick that sea cucumbers perform. The invertebrate sea creatures can quickly change the stiffness of their skin, forming a kind of armour in response to a threat.

"We used the skin of these sea cucumbers as the basis of a new class of artificial material that can change their mechanical properties on command," says Professor Chris Weder, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University.

Weder and colleagues plan to use the material in medical applications, such as pliable brain electrodes used in treatments for people with Parkinson's disease, stroke or spinal cord injuries.

The material could be stiff to make implanting it easier, then become flexible in the water-rich brain to more closely resemble surrounding tissue.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Reef restoration provides passion for diver

From an article on

TAMPA, Florida (CNN) -- After witnessing the rapid devastation of a Cayman Island coral reef where he had been diving since childhood, Todd Barber was moved from horror to action.

He gave up a six-figure salary as a marketing consultant and dedicated his life to restoring the world's ocean reef ecosystems.

"I had been following this reef since I had been 14; it was where my first dive was," recalls Barber. "When that one little tiny reef was lost, that sparked something in me. If we lost one and it took that tens of thousands of years to get here, how fast is this happening?"

Barber had caught a small glimpse of a larger global issue -- the destruction of the world's coral reefs -- and it scared him. According to the Nature Conservancy, if the present rate of destruction continues, 70 percent of the world's coral reefs will be destroyed by the year 2050. Not only are they home to 25 percent of all marine fish species, but the organization states that 500 million people rely on coral reefs for their food and livelihoods.

So Barber and his father, a marine biologist and fellow diver, sat down to devise a solution to "put the reef back." What started as a basic idea to shape concrete around a beach ball led to three years of research, testing and prototyping with the help of friends and college professors. Watch as Barber explains his passion for saving reefs »

"Our goal was to mimic nature, not dictate nature," says Barber. "And that meant that I couldn't come up with an idea; I had to design something that would fit exactly what the reef required."

The result was what Barber calls a "Reef Ball." Made of concrete engineered to last more than 500 years, Reef Balls are circular structures with a hollow center that serve as a base habitat upon which a natural reef can grow. Portable, inexpensive and environmentally friendly, according to Barber, Reef Balls can be built anywhere and are used to mimic and rehabilitate all forms of oceanic reefs, such as mangrove, oyster and coral reefs. They can also help control erosion and stabilize shorelines.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tips to save the seas

From The Ocean Project:

The ocean regulates our planet's atmosphere and weather patterns, and we can help the ocean do its job - and save time, peace of mind, and money – by rethinking how we transport ourselves. In the US, about 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. Taking advantage of all the great ways to use our cars less will help slow global warming – protecting coral reefs and other sensitive ocean habitats and animals.

Three for me:

1. Become a caring commuter! There are many easy ways to use your car less and they come with the sweet rewards of money savings, healthy exercise, and kicking back on the morning commute. Learn more.

2. Slow down but don't be idle. When driving, try to go the speed limit. The fuel efficiency of an average car drops significantly beyond 55 mph (90km/h); driving at 75 mph (120km/h) - rather than 65 mph (105 km/h) - increases gasoline use by 25 percent! Get more fuel efficiency tips.

3. Be a frequent non-flyer. By taking trains or buses and cutting back on flight time, you can help lessen the demand for air travel, a significant but often ignored contributor to climate change pollution. Learn about flight-free travel options.

Three for the sea:

Hybrid up! If you're in the market for a new car, then hybrid up and enjoy the convenience of a car while lightening your carbon load - hybrids can drive 40 to 70 miles on one gallon of gasoline, much farther than a conventional vehicle. Learn more.

You've traveled less, now offset the rest! By following the steps above you've lost most of your on-the-go CO2 baggage, and it's even easier to loose the rest with carbon offsets! Learn how.

More power to the green commuter! You can make it easier for others around you to join in your quest to become a green commuter by supporting walkable communities, good public transport, carpooling, careless days, and green commuter incentives. Learn how.


High tech maps aid Puerto Rican coral reefs

From an Associated Press article posted on the Web site of the International Herald Tribune:

ABOARD THE NANCY FOSTER: Whirring over a sun-streaked patch of tropical sea floor, a submersible equipped with cameras is helping scientists map the struggling coral reefs off this U.S. Caribbean territory, a step toward preserving them.

The small machine, tethered to a 187-foot (57-meter) survey ship, was remotely steered over coral hills, sending a fisheye view back to scientists who hope the images will help them learn how to restore the weakened reefs.

The video and multi-beam sonar imagery taken this week provided the most exact charts ever of coral contours and sea floors in the area.

"It's neat getting the images because some of these spots are where Captain Cook's ships were once dropping lead lines to get an idea of what was down there," said researcher Mike Stecher, referring to the centuries-old practice of lowering weighted lines to map depth.

Scientists and observers in a control room on the Nancy Foster, a boat operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, oohed and aahed as grouper and squirrel fish darted behind coral or sponges before the lens of the submersible.

The maps generated by the expedition along Puerto Rico's coast will help gauge the health of dwindling coral habitats, some of which have been "bleached" and killed by climate change, according to the mission's chief investigator, Tim Battista.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Belize's world famous coral reefs and rainforests at risk

From an article posted on

Belize's world famous coral reefs and tropical forests are increasingly vulnerable to environmental problems which could impact its tourism-dependent economy, argues a Belizean ecologist writing in the inaugural issue of the open access e-journal Tropical Conservation Science.

Dr Colin A. Young of Galen University in Belize, says that ecosystems in Belize face a number of rising threats, including high deforestation rates (at 2.3 percent the deforestation rate is twice that of Central America), improper solid waste management, rapid coastal development, increasing poverty, weak institutional and legal frameworks, climate change, and the recent discovery of sweet crude oil. He says that without improving management of protected areas, improving local participation in conservation, and stimulating interest in science among Belizean students, "the environment that has been the mainstay of the Belizean economy will be severely impacted."

Young makes several recommendations for addressing negative environmental trends in Belize, including increasing funding for conservation-oriented research; adopting a stronger national protected areas policy; encouraging national and international NGOs to pool their research expertise and financial resources to facilitate the establishment of new conservation areas and strategies; implementing a "conservation" tax on oil production; promoting conservation-driven livelihoods for local communities; and developing an ecosystem services payment system.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Artificial flippers for geen turtle?

From an Associated Press story by Michelle Roberts on MSNBC:

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas - When tourists found a 5-inch green sea turtle bloody and missing three of her flippers, the people who run a hospital for the endangered animals here gave her little chance of survival.

But the turtle persevered, thanks to injections of antibiotics and a forced diet of squid. Somehow, she swam with just one flipper, even though she can only move in counterclockwise circles and has to push her now 10-pound body off the bottom with her head to breathe.

"The wounds have healed very nicely. The problem is she doesn't swim very well," said Jeff George, curator at the nonprofit Sea Turtle Inc., a 31-year-old turtle conservation facility that treats and returns injured sea turtles to the wild.

Now, her caregivers hope to make her what's believed to be the first sea turtle fitted with a prosthetic flipper.

Three-flipper turtles can return to the sea and two-flipper turtles can survive in captivity. But those left with only one after predator attacks or run-ins with boat propellers are usually killed.

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