Friday, February 27, 2009

Marine Protected Areas class, Puerto Morelos, June 28-July 8

From Ligia Collado Vides of Florida International University:

Students and practitioners interested in MPAs in the Caribbean region are invited to enroll in an international course to be held at the Academic Unit of Puerto Morelos, from the National University of Mexico, in Quintana Roo, Mexico, from June 28 to July 8, 2009. The course "Marine Protected Areas for the South Florida, Mexican Caribbean, and Mesoamerican Region" will analyze ecological and socioeconomic aspects of MPA design and management, and will be co-led by researchers from the National University of Mexico and Florida International University. Fellowships for MPA course are available for Latin American students.

For more information, e-mail Ligia Collado Vides at


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Look for eco-labeled seafood today!

From the Montery Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Newsletter

Look for eco-labeled seafood today!
"Natural." "Organic." "Eco-friendly."

With all the different environmental claims floating around these days it's hard to know what they really mean and whether they represent truly sustainable options. When it comes to seafood, the bright blue eco-label of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has been an important part of European seafood shoppers' experience for years - and it's growing in recognition here in the United States. Consumers like you can feel confident that this label is the most credible sustainable seafood eco-label in the marketplace today.

This year the MSC, is celebrating its tenth year as the global certification standard for wild-caught seafood. Recently the World Wildlife Fund, which co-founded the MSC, announced it plans to develop a similar Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) for farm-raised seafood. For a wild fishery to become certified as sustainable to the MSC standard, three criteria are reviewed by an objective, third-party auditor. They assess the sustainability of the fish population, the impact of this fishery on the ecosystem and the effectiveness of the fishery's management plan. Only seafood products from certified fisheries can display the MSC eco-label, and these products are fully traceable through the supply chain back to the certified fishery.

To help you find these products, Seafood Watch identifies all fisheries certified to the MSC standard. Look for the blue plus sign ( + ) on our pocket guides, or the blue eco-label with our seafood recommendations on the website.

Here's what you can do:

1. Use to find out if your favorite fish are certified, and then look for the MSC eco-label on seafood products when you eat out or go shopping for seafood. You can find MSC-labeled products -- frozen, canned and fresh -- at many major retail locations. Note: Even if a fishery is not yet MSC-certified, you can rely on Seafood Watch "best choice" options for farmed or wild seafood by using our recommendations. (Our iPhone and mobile applications make this easier than ever!)

2. The more common the Marine Stewardship Council eco-label becomes in the marketplace, the easier it will be for everyone to make sustainable seafood choices. So, please share this information with your friends so they'll know what to look for, too.

3. Ask your favorite restaurant or retailer to offer more MSC-certified seafood. You can direct grocery store and restaurant managers to the MSC website, where they can learn how to find suppliers of certified seafood.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Disabled people can dive; legless girl becomes mermaid

From an older issue of Alert Diver, the magazine of the Divers Alert Network (DAN) featured a story titled “Diving Opens New World for Wounded Vets":

Diving helped Dean Schwartz, a 24-year-old from Keysville, Va., break down multiple barriers. “One of my biggest fears has always been drowning,” Schwartz said. “I figured if I can do this and over come that fear, it’ll give me a new level of freedom. My missing leg doesn’t matter much underwater.”
An article by Matt Calman from The Old Dominion (New Zealand) tells of another way to move in the water:
Nadya Vessey lost her legs as a child but now she swims like a mermaid.

Ms Vessey's mermaid tail was created by Wellington-based film industry wizards Weta Workshop after the Auckland woman wrote to them two years ago asking if they could make her a prosthetic tail. She was astounded when they agreed.

She lost both legs below the knee from a medical condition when she was a child and told Close Up last night her long-held dream had come true. "A prosthetic is a prosthetic, and your body has to be comfortable with it and you have to mentally make it part of yourself," she said.

Ms Vessey told a little boy: "I'm a little mermaid" when he asked what happened to her legs and the idea stuck.

Weta Workshop director Richard Taylor, more used to winning Oscars for visual effects from movies such as Lord of the Rings, was delighted to make it happen.

"She was very patient. We haven't always been able to fulfil some requests. We were engaged in it pretty quickly because it was a challenge."

Weta costumer Lee Williams, who worked on the suit between film projects with seven other staff, told Close Up she "wanted [Nadya] to be beautiful and sexy".

After seeing Ms Vessey test the tail in Kilbirnie pool then frolic in the harbour, Ms Williams was stoked. "It was absolutely amazing. It's beautiful to watch Nadya swim and to see that dream come true and to be a part of that. I feel quite blessed."

The suit was made mostly of wetsuit fabric and plastic moulds, and was covered in a digitally printed sock. Mermaid-like scales were painted by hand.

Mr Taylor said not only did the tail have to be functional, it was important it looked realistic. "What became apparent was that she actually physically wanted to look like a mermaid."
To learn more visit the Web sites of the Handicapped Scuba Association or Disabled Sports USA and offer to help them become certified diver.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Learning economics by scuba diving in Mexico

From a post on SaveEcoDestinations:

My Google Alerts caught something that made me smile: the story of DePauw economics professor Gary Lemon, who takes his winter term students on diving trips to Cozumel, Tulum, and Chichen Itza every year.

The article mentions that trips to such destinations comprise economics lessons in and of themselves for the students (I don’t buy it). But, whatever the reason, it’s nice to read that his most frequently uttered words during those trips are always the caveat, “If I see you grabbing on to the coral, you better have one heck of a reason.”

Professor Lemon goes out of his way-as he should-to instruct his students on how to be ecologically responsible and make their activities eco-friendly. (No information is given as to where they stay, whether they wear biodegradable sunscreen to keep corals safe, or whether they offset the carbon footprint from their flights and so on in any way, however. And I am curious.)

If these ridiculously lucky students don’t fly home to DePauw in Indiana with an acute understanding of the region’s economic underpinnings, they do return with a (likely newfound) appreciation for the beauty and frailty of the underwater world.

After their experiences going scuba diving, some students have even switched academic specialties, e.g. from physics to marine biology, and as a second semester junior! That’s gotta be considerable work. But hey, the harder the work, the more we know these future marine biologists are working for the good guys and gals. Good job, Prof. Lemon!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Turtle in Akumal Bay

From the forum at LocoGringo. Jan Walkeden, posting as FinsUP, took the exceptional head-on shot of the feeding turtle. Jan has other photos and videos of underwater Akumal Bay on flickr.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Nutrient pollution chokes marine and freshwater ecosystems

From an article posted on Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Feb. 19, 2009) — Protecting drinking water and preventing harmful coastal "dead zones", as well as eutrophication in many lakes, will require reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Because streams and rivers are conduits to the sea, management strategies should be implemented along the land-to-ocean continuum. In most cases, strategies that focus only on one nutrient will fail.

These policy recommendations were put forth by a team of distinguished scientists in the recent issue of Science, published February 20. Led by Dr. Daniel J. Conley, a marine ecologist at the GeoBiosphere Science Centre in Sweden and a Visiting Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, the paper reviews weaknesses in single-nutrient management strategies. In most cases, improving water quality and preserving coastal oceans will require a two-pronged approach.

Plant growth is tied to nitrogen and phosphorus availability. Human activities have greatly increased the abundance of these nutrients, causing the overproduction of aquatic plants and algae. Nitrogen pollution is largely derived from agricultural fertilizers and emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. Phosphorus pollution is tied primarily to wastewater treatment and detergents. Inputs to the landscape make their way to coastal areas through the drainage networks of rivers and streams.

Dr. Gene E. Likens, one of the paper's authors and an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, comments, "Historically, environmental management strategies in freshwater systems have focused on reducing phosphorus pollution. While this has minimized freshwater algal blooms [like this one off the Yucatán Penninsula], it passed a great deal of nitrogen pollution on to coastal ecosystems, driving eutrophication and causing serious and widespread problems in those regions."

These environmental problems include reductions in the oxygen levels of coastal water, which can cause "dead zones" and fish die-offs; the proliferation of undesirable plant growth; reductions in water quality; and the loss of important coastal fish habitat, such as sea grass and kelp beds.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Birds, reptiles, blessings, music and more! Akumal, Feb. 25-26

Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) announced two-full days of
activities for its Fourth Annual Festival:

We're holding our Fourth Annual CEA Festival this month, on the 25th and 26th. Our theme this year is Reuse–Recycle–Restore. CEA is planning events and exhibits related to reducing consumption, recycling waste and working to restore Akumal's ecosystems.

We are offering music and information both days, as well as events for fundraising: a Silent Auction and a Gala Dinner. Jurassic Band will be playing at the Gala Dinner on the 26th.

If you would like to donate an item for the Silent Auction or volunteer in any way, please contact Marcy or Alma. Also, please check for updates on this site, contact us at (52) 984-875-9095 or come by our office on the beach in Akumal.

Please see the Gala Invitation. To pay for your Gala Dinner by credit card, please click here.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ReefBase: Bountiful ocean resource

From the Introduction to ReefBase:

Our mission:
To improve sharing and use of data, information, and knowledge in support of research and management of coral reef resources.

Our vision:
To be the first place where scientists, managers, other professionals, as well as the wider public go for relevant data, information, publications, literatures, photos, and maps related to coral reefs.

Your benefits:
Free and easy access to data and information on the location, status, threats, monitoring, and management of coral reef resources in over 100 countries and territories


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cruise lines urged to shrink their footprints

From an article by Jennifer Conlin in The New York Times:

MOVING gently through pristine blue waters, floating past whales and glaciers, fjords and islands, it is easy to see why travelers might think a vacation on a cruise ship is more eco-friendly than jetting through the earth’s atmosphere on a plane.

Not so, according to Climate Care, a United Kingdom-based carbon-offsetting company, whose statistics show that cruise ships emit nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as airplanes. “We now know they are far more polluting per passenger kilometer than planes,” said Justin Francis, co-founder of, a directory of environmentally friendly vacations that partners with Climate Care. “Add to that the fact that many passengers fly to the port of departure before boarding,” he said, “and you have a double carbon whammy.”

According to environmentalists, carbon dioxide emissions are just a drop in the ocean when it comes to eco problems on luxury liners. Most ships run on so-called bunker fuel, the cheapest and dirtiest fuel oil, which not only powers the vessel, but also all the amenities on board: restaurants, swimming pools and nightclubs among them. Royal Caribbean will launch its largest ship yet this year, the Oasis of the Seas with a capacity of 5,400 passengers, and its amenities will include a microclimate-controlled Central Park, with irrigation and drainage systems, as well as trees that will tower more than two and a half decks high.

Then there is the issue of waste. A one-week voyage on a large ship is estimated to produce 210,000 gallons of sewage, a million gallons of gray water (runoff from sinks, baths, showers, laundry and galleys), 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water, 11,550 gallons of sewage sludge and more than 130 gallons of hazardous wastes, according to figures supplied by the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Marcie Keever, director of the Clean Vessels Campaign of Friends of the Earth, said, “These are floating cities that go back and forth through our waters, dumping toxins from their enormous amount of waste.” She added that cruise ships also pollute the coast lines (affecting marine life, beaches and coral reefs), as well as the air (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from their massive engines). Or as Mr. Francis bluntly put it, “The cruise line industry’s record on environmental pollution is generally very poor.”

Still, some positive environmental news is beginning to emerge from these murky waters. Thanks to increased pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as various environmental campaign groups, stricter state and federal regulations are being passed. As of this year, all ships have to burn low-sulfur diesel fuel instead of the cheaper bunker fuel within 24 nautical miles of California’s coast, and there is proposed legislation to prohibit the discharge of raw sewage, gray water and oily bilge water within 12 miles of United States shores. What’s more, a recent E.P.A. report assessing cruise ship discharges in Alaska (where standards are the most stringent), revealed that 60 percent of the ships tested were discharging concentrations of bacteria, chlorine, nutrients, metals and other pollutants — a finding that may move the industry to invest even more heavily in the latest advanced waste-water treatment systems, particularly as the ships that passed the test all had that technology.

“It is definitely possible for them to clean up their act,” said Ms. Keever of Friends of the Earth. “And now that they know about it from the E.P.A. report, they should do something about it. They certainly have the ability to pay for it.”


Monday, February 16, 2009

US EPA to study in Caribbean Sea around Puerto Rico

From an article by María Miranda Sierra posted on Caribbean Net News:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico: During the next few weeks, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will study water, reefs and marine habitats in the Caribbean Sea around Puerto Rico as the agency conducts a series of studies aimed at protecting a number of marine areas around the island.

Efforts kicked off on Friday, and EPA’s ocean survey vessel, the OSV BOLD, will conduct a series of scientific studies aimed at protecting and improving the Caribbean environment in and around the San Juan Bay Estuary, Jobos Bay, La Parguera and other marine areas around the Commonwealth.

The ship was also open to the public when it docked in San Juan on February 12 and will once again be open to the public when it docks in Mayaguez on February 19. On February 23, the OSV BOLD will sail to the US Virgin Islands, where its crew will study coral reefs for three weeks.

“The waters around Puerto Rico are some of the most ecologically-significant in the world, so protecting their health is a priority for EPA,” EPA Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou said in a written statement. “The state-of-the-art OSV BOLD represents EPA’s commitment to scientific research at the highest level, and allows our scientists to collect valuable data that supports the conservation efforts of our partners in the region.”


Friday, February 13, 2009

Lionfish growing like kudzu on state’s coast

Though the story by Leon Stafford focuses on the coast of Georgia lionfish have invaded the Caribbean with the same appetite. For those not familiar with kudzu, the invasive vine overgrows and chokes out any other plant in its path. The story comes from the Atlanta Journal Consistution:

You might call them the kudzu of the sea.

The Georgia Aquarium plans to open in April a 1,000-gallon exhibit on lionfish, colorful tropical fish with showy fins and venomous spines that are invading the state’s coast like an out-of-control weed.

Because lionfish, which are native to the South Pacific, have no natural predators in Georgia waters, their population is exploding, researchers said. And their presence is having a negative impact on native species, including small grouper, crustaceans and anything else lionfish can swallow whole.

“It’s a beautiful fish, but in this case it’s in the wrong place,” said Bruce Carlson, chief science officer for the aquarium. “It’s in Georgia and it doesn’t belong here.”

The aquarium will put more than 40 lionfish in the tank in an attempt to educate visitors about invasive species and discourage the practice of dumping unwanted fish in oceans and streams. The fish will be about 5 inches to 9 inches long.

Several fish are being held in quarantine until construction of the exhibit is complete.

“It’s so irresponsible,” Carlson said of ditching unwanted pets in areas in which they are not native, including snakes, lizards and other animals. “Once these things are loose in the environment, you can’t bring them back again. And they just wreak havoc.”


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Long-term recovery of reefs from bleaching requires local action to increase resilience

From a news release issued by the Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science:

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. — In the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Professor Dr. Peter Glynn, and 2008 Pew Fellow for Marine Conservation and Assistant Professor Dr. Andrew Baker, assess more than 25 years of data on reef ecosystems recovery from climate change-related episodes of coral bleaching. Coral bleaching – in which corals expel their symbiotic algal partners and turn pale or white – is one of the most visible impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. Typically caused by higher-than-normal ocean temperatures, it can lead to widespread death of corals and is a major contributor to the rapid decline of coral reef ecosystems worldwide.

The paper, co-authored by Dr. Bernhard Riegl, associate director of the National Coral Reef Institute, represents the first comprehensive review of long-term global patterns in reef recovery following bleaching events. Bringing together the results of dozens of bleaching studies, the article reports that bleaching episodes set the stage for diverse secondary impacts on reef health, including coral disease, the breakdown of reef framework, and the loss of critical habitat for reef fishes and other important marine animals. “Bleaching has resulted in catastrophic loss of coral cover in some locations, and has changed the coral community structure in many others,” said Glynn. “These dramatic fluctuations have critical impacts on the maintenance of biodiversity in the marine tropics, which is essential to the survival of many tropical and sub-tropical economies.”

However, the paper also shows that, while bleaching episodes have resulted in dramatic loss of coral cover in certain locations, reefs vary dramatically in their ability to bounce back from these disturbances. It also evaluates factors explaining why some species of coral recover better than others, as well as why some reef regions are recovering while others are not.

The study finds that reefs in the Indian Ocean are recovering relatively well from a single devastating bleaching event in 1998. In contrast, western Atlantic (Caribbean) reefs have generally failed to recover from multiple smaller bleaching events and a diverse set of chronic additional stressors such as diseases, overfishing and nutrient pollution. No clear trends were found in the eastern Pacific, the central-southern-western Pacific or the Arabian Gulf, where some reefs are recovering and others are not.

“These findings illustrate how coral reefs, under the right conditions, can demonstrate resilience and recover from bleaching, even when it initially appears catastrophic”, said Baker. “What prevents them from doing so is the lethal prescription of combined, additional stressors that prevent them from recovering in-between recurrent bleaching events. If we can remove or reduce these stressors we might give reefs a fighting chance of surviving climate change”.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Other blogs on ocean conservation

The Marine Photo Bank Bulletin from SeaWeb recommends these blogs:

WaterNotes is focused on the conservation issues present in coastal ecosystems, especially as it relates to the habitats and wildlife found in Florida. You may also notice undercurrents relating to diving, nature photography and anecdotes of green living.

Chai's Marine Life Blog catalogs the underwater discoveries of a student and all-around underwater enthusiast. Practically the moment Tsun-Thai Chai got an underwater camera, a new blog was born.

Rapture of the Deep, with a zest for the poetic, dives in and out of scuba stories while highlighting beautiful photographs and film clips of the underwater world. In addition to the beauty of this blog, it has an undeniable element of conservation worth noting.

RTSea Blog aims to protect and conserve the ocean by educating and motivating the public to action. By disseminating information and images of marine ecosystems and their inhabitants, this blog illuminates the challenges facing our ocean and the ways we can fight against marine decline.

Steve's Scuba Site showcases a well-balanced mixture of scuba-diving stories, ocean conservation announcements and updates, and educational tidbits. You will find many links that will guide you to even more ocean information around the Web.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sea turtle nesting sites to be preserved on St. Kitts

From an article by VonDez Phipps on SKNVibes:

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – AS plans for Christophe Harbour continue to blossom into fruition, management has announced its intentions of marrying the ongoing development with ecotourism to ensure that the development at the South-east Peninsula is both functional and natural.

In a February 9 media update on the progress of the development, Chief Operating Officer LeGrand Elebash reassured the nation of his company’s commitments to encourage eco-friendly development in the area. He indicated that the company has partnered with the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) as it regards the safety of marine life particularly the turtle population.

“Our master plan has been created with environment sustainability in mind. The setbacks for buildings and structures on the beachfront lots are far greater than what would be required by law so that if the property line of a given plot runs along the dune line, we don’t allow any built structure whatsoever within 50 feet of that line. And then from 50-75 feet, only landscaping and low structures are permissible there and certainly no two-storey structures would be anywhere close to the dune line. This would help keep the sidelines clean and the beach looking natural and also prevent light pollution from creating problems for turtle nesting activities.

“We have not yet formalized our plans [to strengthen the relationship with the SKSTMN] but one step we have taken is that Dr. Stewart [Director of SKSTMN] has helped us to train the staff so that they can recognize the signs of turtle nesting sites and therefore become part of the turtle monitoring. We look forward to a long working relationship with the turtle monitoring network.”


Monday, February 9, 2009

Marine ecologist: "I'm telling horror stories"

From an interview on Tierramérica with Professor Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, a marine ecophysiologist working at the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Stephen Leahy, IPS correspondent, conducted the interview:

TIERRAMÉRICA: -- Are Mexico's coral reefs properly protected?

ROBERTO IGLESIAS-PRIETO: -- There are several protected areas, but most of these allow multiple uses such as recreation and fishing. Unfortunately there has been no real commitment or investment by the federal government in reef protection and management. Reefs like the Mesoamerican provide services worth billions of dollars such as attracting tourists, providing hurricane protection, preventing shoreline erosion.

The beachfront in Cancún (southeastern Mexico) is incredibly valuable. The tourists are mostly going to the beaches not the forests, yet the forests are the focus of the country's conservation policies.

-- How are you trying to change this?

-- I appear before the federal and state governments and try to convince them to invest in reef protection and management. Right now a small fee that tourists pay is about all that is available. Unfortunately, governments do not see coral reef conservation as a priority, but I am trying to change that by showing the economic benefits of reefs. It's not enough to be an ecologist, you have to be an economist and a political scientist.

-- Your own research is on how corals use light; can you explain?

-- Corals are fantastic light traps. They are far more efficient at using light energy from the sun than plants on land. Corals harvest light and spread it internally to supply their symbionts (algae) with light energy. The symbionts are what give corals their incredible colors and transform light into nutrients for the corals live on.

-- Corals in the Caribbean region have been dying or bleaching in recent years. Why?

-- Corals are very sensitive to environment changes. Climate change is warming the surface water of oceans. Raising water temperatures around corals by only 1.5 C degrees higher than the average summer temperature and that's it. Corals bleach (turn white) because they lose their symbionts and they will die without them.

-- What do you mean when you say corals are "the marine canaries in the coal-mine"?

-- Corals are clear evidence of the impact of climate change. If we don't take action and we lose them (corals) we will be fighting for our survival. We have to keep insisting and telling people that.

-- Doesn't Mexico wants to expand its exports of oil -- the very fossil fuel that's killing corals?

-- We're a developing country, we want to burn more oil, export it to make money so we can develop and live a happy life. And yet there is this nightmare where those emissions will, in a few decades, mean we will lose the “beautiful monsters” -- the corals and the amazing creatures that live in the reefs.

-- With things as they are, what are your thoughts about the future?

-- I have witnessed the destruction of entire coral ecosystems in my life. And the future does not look that bright. When I talk to school children I feel like I am telling them a horror story about what is happening to coral reefs and the challenges of climate change. I tell them they have to fight. They can change this by reducing their ecological footprint and demanding a green agenda from politicians.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Google Earth opens ocean floors and aids turtle tracking

From the Coral Reef Alliance:

In an attempt to raise awareness about the planet’s endangered ocean ecosystems and to connect everday Internet users with the scientific community, Google has launched its "Oceans in Google Earth" feature.

Nearly four years after Google gave us the ability to zoom in to view streets, and later explore the galaxies in the sky, the latest version of the software allows users to dive deep beneath the unchartered landscape of the world's oceans.

Google Ocean includes twenty different layers of information contributed by ocean explorers, researchers, and scientists. Among the new tools: the ability to track satellite-tagged animals, view shipwrecks, hunt for whales, and learn more about marine protected areas (MPAs) worldwide.

The MPA tool indicates sensitive areas of the world’s oceans and includes the project sites in which CORAL works. When you click on an MPA icon, a variety of information pops up, from descriptive text and photos to videos and local information.

There are roughly 4,500 areas throughout the world's oceans that have been designated as marine protected areas. Not all of them are listed on Google Ocean; however, the tool provides a visual and electronic means of connecting casual and ardent marine conservationists the world over.
Download Google Earth.

SEATURTLE.ORG says it's wildlife tracking tool allows researchers to open satellite tracks in Google Earth with the click of a button. By incorporating the sea floor in to Google Earth, Google has provided an exciting new way for researchers to visualize their wildlife tracking data.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Most Mesoamerican reefs are in poor to fair condition

From a summary of the Report Card of the Mesoamerican Reef, published by Healthy Reefs Healthy People:

This first Report Card (2008) shows the overall picture of a reef in danger, in need of immediate protection. A few decades ago the Mesoamerican reef was considered to be in better condition than most other reefs of the Caribbean —but this distinction is now uncertain. Many of the reef health indicators (particularly for fish abundances) are now in worse condition than the Caribbean average and threats like coastal development and tourism are rapidly accelerating.
View WANTED: HEALTHY REEFS (~8mins) on Youtube in (English) or in Spanish.

Click on the image below to enlarge it and read the conclusions of the report card:


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How does CEA's turtle work fit with larger effort?

From a monthly Q&A feature with Paul Sánchez-Navarro, CEA executive director, published on Sac-be:

Where does the information collected from the turtles go? Is it used just in Mexico or does it get sent to the Carribean Conservation Corporation and/or Sea Turtle Survival League? Maybe all of these groups use the info? Just wondering how CEA's work fits in with the larger sea turtle picture.

The data collected from all the turtle programs in Mexico, from each "turtle camp" goes through regional committees to the Wildlife Agency of the Ministry of the Environment. The data is then kept there. It would be good to be able to get national data out to everyone, but this would require some work by someone, perhaps doing a thesis on the subject.

CEA is going to publish all it's yearly information on its site.
Paul Sánchez-Navarro Russell


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Puerto Morelos wants sustainable development; send a message to Pres. Calderon

From the Coral-List listserve of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

Puerto Morelos Needs Your Help
Sustainable Development Proposal
Jan. 28th 2009

PUERTO MORELOS needs your help. We, the community, are asking for your support locally, nationally and internationally to stop an unreasonable development plan that has been proposed for our small town.

We understand the need for progress and development, however; the plan that was hurriedly approved without proper studies on January 22, 2009 at the Cabilido in Cancun by the regidores, wants to grow our community from the current population of less than 10,000 residents to over 150,000 people. The plan is to build 50,000 worker homes for over 150,000 people in an area that is a designated flood zone. During the hurricane and rainy season (September has an average rain fall of 230mm) these new homes will block the natural water holes that lead to the underground rivers. This will cause thousands of homes to flood. The new plan also has no mention of any infrastructure. No electricity, no water, no sewage, no schools, no churches, etc. It is a plan for real estate developers and land owners to make money fast.

We are extremely worried about the future of Puerto Morelos.

We, the community of Puerto Morelos, want a new development plan, a change, a fresh beginning. We want to be leaders in creating a community that embraces sustainable development along with tourism. We want to work together with developers, land owners, and the town to achieve this vision.

The people of Puerto Morelos have spent the last two years working with the government Urban Development group, IMPLAN creating a sustainable development plan for the town. We are also extremely fortunate to have UNAM (National University of Mexico, studies of marine biology) right here in Puerto Morelos. Several expert scientists, without cost, have helped us with studies on our area and eco systems. In coordination with these experts, our community has developed a plan that will not only respect our eco systems and community but generate money for real estate developers and land owners. Our goal is to become an eco friendly community and tourist area that will bring people to Puerto Morelos who are seeking this kind of vacation environment. One example of such a sustainable tourist hotel is the Hotel Mayakoba that has been built south of our town. It is a magnificently planned hotel respecting the surrounding eco systems.

We want our plan to be recognized by the government and incorporated into the future development of this area. Our plan for development is sustainability, a plan that will be of great benefit to our eco systems and our community. We do not want Puerto Morelos to become another Cancun or Playa del Carmen. We want Puerto Morelos to be a beautiful, restful town respectful of its natural surroundings.

We are asking for your opinion. If you live here, own properties or vacation here, we would like to hear from you.

1) Do you want PUERTO MORELOS to become another Playa del Carmen or Cancun? *
If so why?
If not, why not?

2) Will you continue to come back here?

3) What do you think people are now looking for when they go on vacation?

4) What is your opinion of the many all inclusive resorts that are being
built on the coast?

5) Do the all inclusive hotels benefit PUERTO MORELOS?

6) Will a Cruise ship port for PUERTO MORELOS benefit our community?

Please send your opinion and comments in English or Spanish to:

President of Mexico
Lic Felipe Calderon

Governor of Quintana Roo
Lic, Felix Arturo Gonzales Cantos

Presidente Municipal de Benito Juarez
Ing. Gregorio Sanchez

Directo de Turismo
C. Felix Enrique Zarate Nunez

Please send a copy of your letter to so that we can track
the response. Gracias!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

CEA's Fourth Annual Festival and Gala Event

February 25 & 26 in Akumal, in and around the CEA Center.

Reuse, Recycle, Restore

There will be evironmental products, games, workshops, tours, a silent auction and more. The Woopets Life Size Puppets will be performing. Their acts not only entertain but also address a variety of environmental issues and they are sure to inspire those of all ages.

This year's Gala will feature Jurassic Band, an incredible '70s rock cover band

What can you do? CEA needs your participation in the Festival, so please plan to attend and tell your friends. CEA is also accepting donations for their Silent Auction, as well as other donations and sponsors. CEA is also looking for volunteers to help before and during the Festival. If you would like to volunteer, sponsor an event, or donate to a great cause and help make the Festival a great success, please contact Marcy Essy at r phone 984-875-9116, Aventuras Akumal.

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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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