Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Underwater museum to attract tourists away from reefs

From an article by Verónica Díaz Favela of IPS/IFEJ on Tierramérica:

MEXICO CITY, Sep 28 (Tierramérica).- Four sculptures in human forms, made of concrete, will be submerged in November in the depths of the Mexican Caribbean. They are the first of 400 figures that will comprise the world's largest underwater museum.

The Subaquatic Sculpture Museum will be situated in the West Coast National Park in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatán Peninsula. The park receives nearly 300,000 visitors each year. The museum's mission is to attract some of those tourists, reducing the pressures on important natural habitat.

The watery museum will become even more attractive when the sculpture area fills with thousands of colorful fish. The concrete of the sculptures is pH neutral, which allows rapid growth of algae and incrustation of marine invertebrates.

"With the underwater museum we ensure a diversion of tourists, which permits us to give a rest to the natural reefs. It's as if it were a restoration process," explained national park director Jaime González to this reporter.

"In becoming healthier, the coral reefs will be more resistant to hurricane damage," he added.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (PCC) has warned that extreme weather phenomena, like hurricanes, will become more intense and frequent as a result of global warming. The panel also predicts higher acidity of ocean waters and consequent bleaching of coral - which can kill it. . . .

In the West Coast National Park of Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancún and Punta Nizuc, the challenge is to draw tourists away from natural habitats without losing the 36 million dollars they bring into the area each year.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coral Reef Alliance celebrates 15th anniversary

The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) celebrated its 15th anniversary with a festive party which highlighted CORAL's work, including projects in Mexico:

CORAL's two current program sites in Mexico are located in the major tourism destinations of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, both of which are well known for offering incredible diving experiences. As increasing popularity and lack of education about sustainable tourism began to take its toll, CORAL chose Playa del Carmen as a pilot workshop location to implement local stakeholder conservation projects now underway. Cozumel had a national marine park but needed assistance in connecting its goals to the community to make it more effective as a protected area for coral reefs. CORAL used its innovative checklist as a means of forging connections and building a vision of cooperation to expand local capacity for conservation. In addition, the CORAL Reef Leadership Network is now active in Mexico, offering an expanded reach for environmental and best practices education in the country.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Intense bleaching along the Mexican Caribbean

A post from NOAA's coral listserve:

An intense bleaching event is also occurring along the Mexican Caribbean
Coast. Our first observations of pale corals was done in May in Akumal reef, with 7% of the colonies showing pale coloration at a depth of 10-15m. By June, 9% of the colonies were bleached-pale in Mahahual Reef at the same depth. By July, 32% of the colonies were bleached-pale in Punta Allen reef.

At present, (August-September) surveys at Puerto Morelos reef show that 41% of the colonies were bleached and 31% of them were completely white. Surveys were done at a depth of 4-8m.

The number of colonies sampled at each site was over 2000. Almost all
scleractinian species showed bleaching signs, as well as some gorgonians, Milleporas and zoanthids.

We will continue monitoring this event and possible disease outbreaks.

Best regards,
MC. Rosa Rodr?guez-Mart?nez
Lab. Sistemas Arrecifales
Unidad Acad?mica de Sistemas Arrecifales
Puerto Morelos, Q. Roo, M?xico
Tel. 52 (998) 87 102 19 xt. 128
Fax. 52 (998) 87 101 38


Friday, September 25, 2009

Elkhorn coral spotted in Key West after years of die-off

From a news release issued by the Key West Vacation Guide and posted on Online PR News:

Finally some good news after almost thirty years of die-offs of the Elkhorn coral population in Key West! After almost 95 percent of the Elkhorn coral was obliterated by hurricanes and disease, we now have evidence that things are looking brighter. One clue is the large specimen spotted just a few miles offshore from Key West.

Online PR News – 23-September-2009 – KEY WEST, FL - In a much-welcomed new direction for the health of coral reefs in Key West and the Florida Keys, there's finally a sign of hope. One lone island of Elkhorn Coral stands proudly anchored to the ocean's floor, just a few miles south of Key West. It's a welcome sign, since this species, (acropora palmata) has been slowly disappearing from Keys waters and the Caribbean in general, for almost thirty years now.

Finding this beauty of a colony, plus the latest great news released this year that farm-raised Elkhorn coral was spawning and growing, is among the first in good news for the battered coral reefs in this area. Hurricanes and disease, some brought on by humans, have devestated Elkhorn and Staghorn colonies for decades.

Some of the bacteria that has been killing off the Elkhorn coral off Key West is bacteria that's found in the intestines of humans and animals. Until recently, Key West's plans for waste treatment of sewage have consisted of septic fields. That means, waste is simply released underground with hopes that it gets absorbed into the ground before it hits the ocean or Gulf. Not even a septic tank...just a field.

"Key West is working on a more up to date sewer system. Hopefully it's not too late." says Mandy Rothko, head of a citizen's watch group based in Key West. His group keeps a close eye on reef conditions, public utility policies, and of course waste treatment in Key West. "There's been a lot of resistance from locals who don't want to pay for a sewer system, or for hooking up to one once it's built" says Mr. Rothko. "But if they understood what's happening to the coral reef right offshore, they'd be more willing".


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Global warming may dent El Niño's protective shield from Atlantic hurricanes, increase droughts

ScienceDaily (Sep. 24, 2009) — El Niño, the periodic eastern Pacific phenomenon credited with shielding the United States and Caribbean from severe hurricane seasons, may be overshadowed by its brother in the central Pacific due to global warming, according to an article in the September 24 issue of the journal Nature.

"There are two El Niños, or flavors of El Niño," said Ben Kirtman, co-author of the study and professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami's Rosentstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. "In addition to the eastern Pacific El Niño which we know and love, a second El Niño in the central Pacific is on the increase."

El Niño is a recurring warm water current along the equator in the Pacific Ocean that affects weather circulation patterns in the tropics. The eastern El Niño increases wind sheer in the Atlantic that may hamper the development of major hurricanes there. The central Pacific El Niño, near the International Dateline, has been blamed for worsening drought conditions in Australia and India as well as minimizing the effects of its beneficial brother to the east.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

U.S. scientists net giant squid in Gulf of Mexico

From a Reuters article by Jasmin Melvin posted on Morther Nature Network:

U.S. scientists in the Gulf of Mexico unexpectedly netted a 19.5-foot (5.9-meter) giant squid off the coast of Louisiana, the Interior Department said on Monday, showing how little is known about life in the deep waters of the Gulf.

Not since 1954, when a giant squid was found floating dead off the Mississippi Delta, has the rare species been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico.

The squid, weighing in at 103 pounds (46.7 kg), was caught July 30 in a trawl net more than 1,500 feet underwater as it was pulled by a research vessel.

The giant squid, which did not survive the rapid change in water depth when brought to the surface, was preserved and sent to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History for further study.

Scientists aboard -- from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service -- were participating in a pilot study on the diets of sperm whales.

"As the trawl net rose out of the water, I could see that we had something big in there ... really big," Anthony Martinez, a marine mammal scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the chief scientist on the research cruise, said in a statement.

Remnants of giant squid have been found in the stomachs of its predators in the waters of the Gulf, Caribbean and Florida Keys so scientists were aware of their presence in the Gulf.

The squid discovered by the researchers is significant because the species are difficult to catch, leaving much to be learned about them.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hoping for a hurricane? Coral reefs are

From a post by Stephanie Wear on The Nature Conservancy's Cool Green Science blog:

It may surprise you to know that, given the warming trends in the ocean and the fact that El Niño seems to be setting up for this winter, a hurricane is just what coral reefs need to avoid a mass bleaching event.

Don’t get me wrong: Big hurricanes can cause serious damage to coral reefs. But generally, storms are something they have adapted to and as long as they are in good health, will be able to recover from.

But why are hurricanes good for coral reefs?
The combination of still hot water and radiation stress from cloud-free summer days is a deadly duo for corals. But with hurricanes, you get lots and lots of wind, and the ocean gets all stirred up. The clouds come in and darken the sky and cool things off with lots of rainfall. This is just what a reef needs to keep from bleaching when they have been cooking in the sun, getting stressed from the heat.

Here’s why: When corals are stressed, they expel the tiny algae cells that live in their tissues, turning the corals white. This bleaching (the appearance of “whitened” coral where there was once-colorful coral) is a symptom of stress in corals and other reef animals with symbiotic algae. These tiny algae are known as zooxanthellae and are present in most healthy reef-building corals. Zooxanthellae provide nutrients and oxygen to the coral through photosynthetic activities, allowing their host to direct more energy toward growth and constructing its calcium carbonate skeleton.

The host coral polyp in return provides zooxanthellae with a protected environment and a constant supply of carbon dioxide needed for photosynthesis. When sea temperatures become too warm (above 28 C), the photosythetic system of the zooxanthellae can not effectively process incoming light. This results in production of “superoxides,” such as hydrogen peroxide, toxic by-products of this process. These toxins contribute to coral stress reactions, which lead to bleaching. In extreme cases of bleaching, corals die.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Ocean Project releases 2010 calendar

For 2010, The Ocean Project teamed up with Smithsonian to produce a special Seas the Day wall calendar. Once again, the calendar features the amazing underwater photography of Wolcott Henry, as well as monthly tips on ways to make a positive contribution to sustaining and safeguarding our ocean.

The 12"x12" images are stunning, and the Seas the Day website mirrors the calendar’s conservation theme (e.g. water conservation, eating healthy and sustainably) each month throughout 2010, providing a ocean tip of the day, more ways to learn and take action related to the monthly theme, as well as information on the amazing animal featured.

Partners of The Ocean Project receive a wholesale discount on Seas the Day calendar orders, which can be shipped immediately. For more info on wholesale, please contact Bill Mott, Director, The Ocean Project at 401.709.4071 or bmott (at)

Individuals can order the 2010 Seas the Day calendar from any of the following sources:

Andrews McMeel (the calendar publisher)


Friday, September 18, 2009

Clean up a beach on the 19th!

Join in the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, on September 19:

In partnership with organizations and individuals across the globe, Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup engages people to remove trash and debris from the world's beaches and waterways, identify the sources of debris, and change the behaviors that cause marine debris in the first place. Join us this September: Sign up for a Cleanup near you and get involved today!

Find a cleanup event along the Mexican Caribbean here and enter an address, like Akumal, Mexico.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cuban scientists to make rare U.S. trip, to visit Florida marine lab

From an article post at

SARASOTA, Florida -- Cuban scientists are crossing geographic and political boundaries to visit the United States as part of an effort to study and protect our shared oceans - and they specifically requested to drop by Mote Marine Laboratory.

Delegates from Cuba's Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, its Institute of Oceanology and the National Aquarium of Cuba will visit Mote on Sept. 18-19 and talk with Mote scientists about current collaborations and new opportunities to work together. This trip, facilitated by the Environmental Defense Fund, is a rare chance for Mote's team to bring Cuban collaborators to their home base in Sarasota, after traveling repeatedly to Cuba to plan and conduct conservation-oriented marine research over the past five years.

Scientists are only beginning - or preparing, in some cases - to investigate in Cuban waters the sharks, fishes, sea turtles, dolphins and other marine species, many of which are migratory and sometimes spend time in Florida waters, too. Conservation efforts depend on knowing which species live around Cuba for part or all of their lives, their population status and what threats they face.

Cuba's waters host healthy coral reefs and other pristine ecosystems, which Cuban officials have worked to conserve in recent years by creating marine protected areas, among other efforts. Cuban scientists have actively sought to work with their counterparts in the U.S., who are eager to apply their resources to conservation in Cuban waters.

But researchers from the two nations can rarely join forces, due to a 47-year trade embargo that severely restricts U.S. travel to Cuba and thwarts most Cubans' efforts to visit the U.S. Despite this hurdle, Mote scientists and others have begun reaching across the water, with legal approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury.

"Marine ecosystems know no national borders, so marine science and conservation require international cooperation," said Mote President and CEO Dr. Kumar Mahadevan. "We're honored to host this esteemed delegation from Cuba, whose teamwork with Mote holds great promise for marine conservation."


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sea turtle refuge in Costa Rica bulldozed by farming company

From an news release issued by Pretoma:

SAN JOSé, Costa Rica -- Agropecuaria Caletas S.A., has continued the destruction of wetlands within the Caletas Ario National Wildlife Refuge, created in 2006 to protect nesting olive ridley and leatherback sea turtles, disregarding the mandates of the Environmental Tribune of the Ministry of Environment.

Last April, responding to a lawsuit filed by Pretoma against Agropecuaria Caletas S.A. for draining the wetlands of the Caletas Ario Wildlife Refuge, the Environmental Tribune ordered the farming company to halt all of its activities in and around this sensitive wetland. Last June, the Environmental Tribune ordered the company to pay $21,200 for damages caused therein (Resolución N° 390-09-TAA). The resolution came after officials observed how the company is, by design, draining, burning and thereby sucking the biological diversity out of a 150 hectare wetland that boarders Playa Caletas on the southern Nicoya Peninsula.

Video taken by Pretoma this past weekend shows how the court order and subsequent fines have done nothing to stop the company's relentless efforts to drain and till under the wetland. "As a Costa Rican, it is quite upsetting to see Agropecuaria Caletas S.A.'s total disrespect of our Courts", said Randall Arauz, President of Pretoma. "The foreign owner of Agropecuaria Caletas S.A. has not only ignored the fine, but he is openly challenging the Environmental Tribune's authority, by continuing the destruction of the wetland without any apparent fear of legal reprisals".


Monday, September 14, 2009

Help save Xcacel turtle nesting beach!

Courtsey of Marti Johnston:

Playa Xcacel, here in the Quintana Roo, Riviera Maya, Mexican Caribbean, is an important nesting site for the green and loggerhead turtles. It has a designation as a state protected turtle sanctuary. There is a long and very dubious background that leads to the current moment where land on the northern border of the protected area is in the approval process for development of yet another resort community; a third incarnation of the project now called Punta Carey. They have filed their impact statement to SEMARNAT , Mexico's environmental ministry. It is in violation of various environmental laws and a refute has been filed and is now in the hands of SEMARNAT as well. It is my understanding that by next week 9/18 SEMARNAT is supposed to have a reply.

Xcacel needs your help! has a petition to the head of SEMARNAT Juan Elvire Quesada as well as some good information and background.

Please take a few minutes to look at this link, sign the petition and pass it on. The effects and fall-outs of these type of illegal projects touch the Mesoamerican Reef, mangroves, underground rivers, as well as the endangered turtle is all connected, and is part of the patrimony of us all as global citizens.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Support the Caribbean Challenge

An appeal from The Nature Conservancy:

In May of 2008, The Bahamas’ government, alongside leaders from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines launched the Caribbean Challenge, a region-wide campaign to protect the health of the Caribbean’s lands and waters. Today, eight Caribbean nations have committed to protecting nearly 20 percent of their marine and coastal habitat by 2020.

The Caribbean Challenge will result in a wholesale transformation of countries’ national park systems and will nearly triple the amount of marine and coastal habitat currently under protection, setting aside almost 21 million acres of coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and other important habitat for sea turtles, whales, sharks and other wildlife. The three core components of the Challenge include:

•creating networks of marine protected areas expanding across 21 million acres of territorial coasts and waters

•establishing protected area trust funds to generate permanent, dedicated and sustainable funding sources for the effective management, expansion and scientific monitoring of all parks and protected areas

•developing national level demonstrations projects for climate change adaptation
Modeled on other large-scale conservation financing efforts, including the Micronesia Challenge and the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, the Caribbean Challenge goes far beyond piecemeal, incremental conservation. The campaign to meet the Caribbean Challenge is a campaign to end paper parks in the Caribbean forever.

To support the Challenge, the Conservancy has pledged $20 million in cash and in-kind resources to endow national protected area trusts and provide technical support. . . .

Happily, the Challenge offers an opportunity to profoundly change that projected future of loss into a realized future of abundance. Please join us as we work to fulfill our $20 million pledge to help protect 21 million acres of the Caribbean and all of the plants, animals and people who depend upon those clear waters for survival.

With your help, the Caribbean Challenge can make an immediate and material difference to the future of the plants, animals and people of the Caribbean. Please join us. Your contribution matters.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Q&A: The world needs a Marshall Plan for climate change

From an interview and article by IPS U.N. Bureau Chief Thalif Deen:

Last year, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown unveiled the 'Roadmap to Copenhagen', including a proposal for 100 billion dollars to be raised annually to finance mitigation and adaptation measures, especially in the world's poorest nations facing droughts, floods, deforestation, sea-level rise and pollution.

But that proposed funding, mostly by Western donors, still falls far short of the targets set by the United Nations.

"Billions in public financing will be required," warns Ban, "There must be new money, not just re-packaged official development assistance (ODA)."

"If we can bail out banks," he argues, "certainly we can find the funds to protect millions, if not billions of people and their means of survival."

In an interview with IPS U.N. Bureau Chief Thalif Deen, Richard Kozul-Wright, chief of the Development Strategy and Policy Analysis Unit at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, says finance issues are an integral part of the climate change debate. "I think the summit can have a very positive impact. The secretary general has insisted on the need for vision, urgency and leadership on the climate issue and has been working very hard to provide these," he said.

He said the summit will be an opportunity for member states, and particularly the leading players, to show their support for his efforts and to move the discussion forward as the clock ticks down on reaching a deal in Copenhagen, including a new global treaty on greenhouse gas emissions.

Excerpts from the interview follow.

IPS: Against the backdrop of the present global financial crisis, what are the chances of increased funding from rich nations?

RICHARD KOZUL-WRIGHT: Strictly speaking, chance should not have anything to do with it as advanced country governments have (at previous climate change meetings in Kyoto and Bali) signed up to meeting the additional financing costs incurred by developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Moreover, developed countries - including now the United States and Australia - have accepted the scientific evidence that anthropomorphic activity lies behind the already dangerous rise in global temperatures, and that if developing countries follow their example, then the consequences will be dire for everyone.

That activity has been located - predominantly - in rich countries. Indeed, the high carbon growth path adopted by these countries lies behind both the climate challenges and the massive income gaps that currently characterise the global economic landscape. The good news is that their success also means that these countries have the resources to tackle climate change both in their own country and developing countries.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

CEA tackles turtle refuge and water quality

An update about the activities of Centro Ecológico Akumal:

Throughout 2009, Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) has been working to improve the use and management of Akumal's marine and coastal ecosystems. We are successfully operating the Akumal Bays Management Plan (POBAk), a locally defined and operated program that seeks to organize the myriad marine tourism activities carried out in the clear blue waters of Akumal. Local boats are now regulated and comply with tourism laws, and land- and sea-based snorkel tour operators work within a schedule which limits the numbers of tourists per group per day. Federal authorities such as the Port Captain and Ministry of the Environment support and participate in this program. Akumal now has a management tool with which to protect the sea turtles feeding in Akumal Bay, and the coral species struggling to continue their job of building reef in the area.

One of our main goals is to create a Sea Turtle Refuge, converting this management experience into a legal instrument which will help us protect Akumal's wondrous sea turtles for years to come. We will expand our sea turtle protection and marine conservation efforts beyond beach management and patrols during nesting season to include the hawksbills, greens and loggerheads found in our coastal waters.

In addition, CEA has been working with the federal, state and municipal water authorities and local businesses to improve wastewater management in the region, with the goal of making sure that all the fresh water making its way to the sea is free of pollutants. This is an ongoing process, involving creating a new water treatment infrastructure in Akumal, Chemuyil and Tulum, as well as building local awareness and capacity for water management. We have to make sure that our incredible marine biodiversity has a healthy habitat in which to grow.

Our conservation work is integrated into environmental education projects in the local schools, communication activities with tourists, visiting groups and local businesses, and sustainable environmental policy objectives with municipal, state and federal governments.

CEA could not carry out any of its work without the support of so many actors, from all the local restaurants and hotels, visitors from so many countries, foundations and agencies, to other environmental organizations in Mexico. We are thankful to everyone for their participation.

We hope you enjoy our new Web site, and we invite you to rediscover CEA, learn about our work and join us in protecting this incredible biodiversity—wildlife and water in Akumal.

Paul Sánchez-Navarro Russell


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Torpedo speed over the Yucatán

From an article by Jon Kohl on

While it’s usually Yucatan’s lush, green jungles and pristine beaches that draw visitors’ eyes, beneath their feet, rivers, including the world’s longest underground river, flow through immense caverns. Thousands of years of rainwater percolation have carved these tunnels throughout the Mexican peninsula’s base material, ancient limestone coral reefs.

Not only have these underground waters sustained classic Mayan cities like Tulum and Chichen Itza, but they supply freshwater both to inhabitants and to more than 10 million annual visitors. They also receive their wastewaters. “These cave systems are so extensive and so interconnected that if there is a point of pollution in one area, then it can quickly get distributed to a very, very wide area,” British cave diver Stephen Bogaerts said in National Geographic.

Although Bogaerts has squeezed and scooted through miles of underground channels, his technique is slow motion compared to what Amigos de Sian Ka’an, a conservation group based in Cancun, is now attempting to do.

“This is quite spectacular—this is a very sophisticated study,” beams Gonzalo Merediz-Alonso, director. Amigos has joined with the Austrian Geological Service to adapt oil exploration technology to map underground aquifers. To do this, a Mexican Navy helicopter dangles a torpedo-like electromagnetic sensor as it flies in beelines back and forth across the peninsula, drawing a colorized map of subterranean waters.

“We can see how pollutants flow underground. We want to understand the hydrological system and to generate public policies to orient urban development in Tulum, for example. We certainly cannot establish a landfill on top of an underground water source,” Gonzalo explains.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Climate targets 'will kill coral'

From a story by Richard Black on the BBC:

Current climate targets are not enough to save the world's coral reefs - and policymakers urgently need to consider the economic benefits they bring.

Those are two of the conclusions from a UN-backed project aiming to quantify the financial costs of damaging nature.

Studies suggest that reefs are worth more than $100bn (£60bn) annually, but are already being damaged by rising temperatures and more acidic oceans.

The study puts the cost of forest loss each year at $2-5 trillion.

Looking ahead to December's UN climate conference in Copenhagen, study leader Pavan Sukhdev said it was vital that policymakers realised that safeguarding the natural world was a cost-effective way of protecting societies against the impacts of rising greenhouse gas levels.

Green roots
The current UN climate negotiations contain measures for protecting forests as carbon stores - an initiative called Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).

Its roots lie in the calculation that forest loss accounts for about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, and that combating it is probably the cheapest way of reducing emissions overall.

But protecting societies against climate impacts (climate adaptation) will also be a key component of any Copenhagen deal, because it is the single biggest priority for many developing nations.

The TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) analysis emphasises that forests, coral reefs and many other ecosystems can be the cheapest "adaptation tools" as well.

"We feel this isn't really at the top of politicians' minds at the moment," he told BBC News.

Read a recipe for saving coral reefs by Dr Rod Salm is director of The Nature Conservancy's Tropical Marine Conservation Program in the Asia-Pacific region.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Satellite-tracked sea loggerhead attacked by shark, rescured

From an article on

MARATHON, Florida Keys -- A loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) bearing a satellite tracking tag from Mote Marine Laboratory
was rescued on Sunday, Aug. 23, and brought to the Florida Keys for treatment of serious shark bites.

The 200-pound adult female turtle with a 3-foot-long carapace, nicknamed "Wham," was found by staff at Dry Tortugas National Park, an island cluster west of Key West, and transported to Key West by Fastcat Ferry and then on to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon.

According to Ryan Butts, administrator at The Turtle Hospital, Wham lost 6 inches of her left flipper and her entire right front flipper to a shark bite. "A boat wouldn't have been able to take out the distal end of both flippers," he said. Still, the turtle may return to the wild, he said. "Provided she responds to treatment, she should be fine to be released." Wham is receiving care for her wounds and antibiotics for possible infections.

Wham is The Turtle Hospital's first patient to come in bearing a satellite tag - a cell-phone-sized device that Mote scientists use to track sea turtles in real time. When the turtles come to the surface to breathe, the tag transmits data to a satellite, which then sends it back to scientists. Mote has been satellite tracking turtles since 2005 to identify critical habitats for sea turtles and focus on threats they face while swimming hundreds of miles between feeding and breeding areas. Sea turtles are federally protected in U.S. waters and loggerhead sea turtles are considered threatened.

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