Thursday, December 31, 2009

How 14 Days In The Yucatan Made Me Realize The Value of Planet Earth

From a post by Shawna Coronado on her blog Gradening Nude on Chicago Now:

. . . My family and I took the eco-journey of a lifetime in 2009 into the jungles, caves, and ocean of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Above you see me getting ready to zipline across a jungle - note the giant grin - it was a blast! I wrote and posted a blog every day for fourteen days about our journey using greening and eco-nature information as a tool to educate readers about environmental concerns in the world. . . .

Understanding the fact that we impact all of the world, not just our little corner is so important. For example, areas of coral are dying out in the Yucatan from our fertilizer run-off. If the chemicals do not go down into our water aquifer, they are whooshed out through the storm water system. All those chemicals then react with ocean life - ultimately causing green blooms and death where ever the chemicals settle. This is disastrous for coral.

Who taught me that? An amazing man in Akumal, Mexico named Paul Sanchez- Navarro who is the Director of Centro Ecological Akumal (Photo to the right). He explained how nearly one quarter of all marine species are believed to depend on coral at some stage of their development. Many fish live their entire lives on reefs, while others use them as nurseries; if the coral dies out it is assumed the fish will too. The economic impact of losing coral is also significant - in the billions of dollars worldwide.

There were so many questions I wanted answered when I returned from the trip. What will happen if we are unable to provide fish for the world to eat? Will people starve? Without the coral and fish, millions of people will lose their jobs and be unable to support themselves. Without smaller fish which inhabit the coral reefs will all the larger fish die such as tuna and shark - the very same fish we use to feed our nation?

We went to jungles, beaches, caves, and protected eco-parks throughout the Yucatan Peninsula area and experienced some incredible things in nature, but one of the most powerful messages I saw everywhere we went is that you have an impact on planet earth. What we do here in the U.S. directly touches the rest of the world - the water supply issue is just the beginning.

Make a difference for planet earth - start paying attention to the chemicals, fertilizers, and products you use at home that might be making a difference half-way around the world.

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To save the planet, save the seas

From an op ed by Dan Laffoley, the marine vice chairman of the World Commission on Protected Areas at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the principal specialist for marine at Natural England, in the New York Times:

For the many disappointments of the recent climate talks in Copenhagen, there was at least one clear positive outcome, and that was the progress made on a program called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Under this program, key elements of which were agreed on at Copenhagen, developing countries would be compensated for preserving forests, peat soils, swamps and fields that are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming.

This approach, which takes advantage of the power of nature itself, is an economical way to store large amounts of carbon. But the program is limited in that it includes only those carbon sinks found on land. We now need to look for similar opportunities to curb climate change in the oceans.

Few people may realize it, but in addition to producing most of the oxygen we breathe, the ocean absorbs some 25 percent of current annual carbon dioxide emissions. Half the world’s carbon stocks are held in plankton, mangroves, salt marshes and other marine life. So it is at least as important to preserve this ocean life as it is to preserve forests, to secure its role in helping us adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Sea-grass meadows, for example, which flourish in shallow coastal waters, account for 15 percent of the ocean’s total carbon storage, and underwater forests of kelp store huge amounts of carbon, just as forests do on land. The most efficient natural carbon sink of all is not on land, but in the ocean, in the form of Posidonia oceanica, a species of sea grass that forms vast underwater meadows that wave in the currents just as fields of grass on land sway in the wind.

Worldwide, coastal habitats like these are being lost because of human activity.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What makes the Mesoamerican Reef extraordinary

From a description of the work of the WWF in the Mesoamerian

The jewel of the Caribbean Sea, the Mesoamerican Reef is a rich tapestry of fringing reefs, atolls,patch reefs, sea grass pastures and mangrove forests. An ancient natural system dating back 225 million years, it acts as a natural barrier against severe storms for Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, and its presence is vital to the survival of many plants and animals as well
as humans.

As the most important barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef provides shelter for fascinating species, such as the mammoth whale shark and the endangered salt water crocodile. It is also home to one of
the world’s largest populations of manatees.

The place. A large mosaic of ecosystems, the Mesoamerican Reef covers nearly 115 million acres—from the northern end of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and the Caribbean coasts of Belize and Guatemala, to the Bay Islands in northern Honduras. It includes ocean habitats, coastal zones, tropical and cloud forests, and watersheds that drain the Caribbean slope.

The species. The Mesoamerican Reef hosts more than 65 species of stony coral and more than 500 species of fish—including commercially-vital grouper, snapper and spiny lobster. It also provides refuge for sea turtles that feed and nest along the shoreline. Its watershed is home to jaguars, howler monkeys and birds such as the quetzal.

The people. More than two million people live in the coastal communities that span four countries. This population of great cultural and ethnic diversity depends on economic activities linked to coastal and marine resources, such as fishing and tourism. The region is also experiencing rapid population growth and increased exploitation of land and resources.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Reverse climate change

One of serveral posters from WWF. Click on picture to enlarge.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mexico's conch shells yield clues into effects of warming

From an article distributed by Agence France-Presse (AFP):

CANCUN, Mexico, Dec 21 (AFP)- Divers plumb the turquoise depths of ocean waters some 100 kilometers south of this vacation paradise, in search of the distinctive queen conch shell prized by vacationers and souvenir-seekers.
These divers were not searching for a Mexican holiday keepsake however.

They were scientists conducting vital research into the reach of global warming over the centuries in this fragile aquatic ecosystem.

The researchers were attaching electronic probes to about 60 specimen of the queen conch, also known by its marine name Eustrombus gigas, a species of large, edible sea snail native to these waters.

The scientists, who were seeking more information about the impact of climate change off of the Yucatan Peninsula, said the data they are collecting, they said, can provide information yielding information dating back to pre-Columbian times.

"Our findings will not only be relevant for the future of this species, but for mapping the future of global warming" said Dalila Aldana, lead investigator on the project.

The oversized pink conch, which have seen their habitat seriously degraded in the past decade and a half by global warming, are being tagged with computer sensors to monitor their eating and reproductive patterns. . . .

The research aims to identify the temperature variations over time and to determine how these are manifested in the conch shells and how they impact the viability of the mollusks.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sea level rise impacts on the Caribbean region

Frorm the summary of an upcoming report on the impacts of climate change in the Caribbean region:

The Caribbean will be affected more seriously by SLR [sea level rise] than most areas of the world; SLR in the northern Caribbean may exceed the global average by up to 25%. In addition, the impacts of tropical storms and hurricanes on coastal areas, even at present intensity and frequency, will be compounded by SLR. The impacts of SLR will not be uniform among the CARICOM nations, with some projected to experience severe impacts from a 1 metre SLR. In nations where low lying-land is extensive and who are therefore more exposed to the impacts of SLR and storm surge, concerns are of damage to agriculture, industry and infrastructure as well as salt water penetration into the groundwater reservoirs. For nations with a more complex topography and characterized by steep sloped coasts fronted by only a narrow strip of low lying land, the main concerns are landslides, beach erosion and disruption to infrastructure that is concentrated in limited flat land areas. In both cases, damage to mangroves and seagrass beds is of concern, especially since these areas are of importance in coastal protection as well as fishery resources.

In the case of most of the countries, the tourism industry is of particular concern, since it is preferentially located very close to the coastal, often in low-lying areas with highly erodible sandy beaches. These impacts and changes mean that much more needs to be done in terms of coastal protection and in the planning of coastal development.

It terms of protection, the importance of natural inhibitors to erosion, such as beaches and mangroves, needs to be emphasised. In terms of planning, attention needs to be paid to the location of industry, communication and of course housing. In addition, care will need to be taken in the ‘siting’ of tourist developments, which generally occur close to the coastline. In all these matters, the topographic and geologic setting of locations at risk must be taken into account. The most vulnerable CARICOM nations to SLR were found to be: Suriname, Guyana, The Bahamas, and Belize.

The key impacts of a 1 metre rise in SLR can be summarised as follows: over 2,700 km2of Caribbean land area lost and 10% of The Bahamas land area; with the market value of undeveloped land lost across the CARICOM nations being over US $70 billion. Over 100,000 people will be displaced (8% of the population in Suriname, 5% of The Bahamas, 3% of Belize). The cost to rebuild basic housing, roads and services water, electricity) for displaced population approximately US $1.8 billion. The annual GDP losses will be at least US $1.2 billion (over 6% in Suriname, 5% in The Bahamas, 3% in Guyana and Belize) not including hurricane and storm impacts on GDP. At least 16 multimillion dollar tourism resorts lost, with a replacement cost of over US $1.6 billion and the livelihoods of thousands of employees and communities affected. In addition to the impacts of increased temperature on agricultural yield over 1% agricultural land will be lost, with implications for food supply and rural livelihoods Transportation networks will be severely disrupted: 10% of CARICOM island airports will be lost at a cost of over US $715 million; lands surrounding 14 seaports will be inundated (out of a total of 50) at a cost of over US $320 million, the reconstruction cost of lost roads exceeds US $178 million (6% of road network in Guyana, 4% in Suriname, 2% in The Bahamas).

From Wikipedia:
Currently CARICOM has 15 full members:
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas (not part of customs union), Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat (a territory of the United Kingdom), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

Associate members(all British overseas territories):
Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands

There are seven observers:
Aruba, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Venezuela


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Perry Institute for Marine Science announced internships for 2010

LOCATION: Lee Stocking Island, Exuma, Bahamas
DURATION: 6–12 weeks
APPLICATION DEADLINES: Spring: February 1 Summer: April 15 Winter: October 1
OPEN TO: All students pursuing or have recently completed a degree in marine science or biology.

DESCRIPTION: Interns will split their time between direct involvement in support of scientific research and operational support of science. Responsibilities will depend largely on the current projects being conducted during each period. Interns will gain firsthand experience with standard field procedures, experimental design, sampling protocol, environmental monitoring techniques, diving and boating, and perhaps most valuable, personal interaction with some of the world's leading marine scientists.

Open water SCUBA certified
First aid, CPR and oxygen administration certified
Experience operating small vessels (preferred)

TO APPLY: Please visit for application form and detailed internship descriptions and agreement. Send additional questions to

*Number of internships awarded each season will vary and are dependent on research demands and funding availability.
*Internships are non-salaried, however, room and board (shared accommodation) and transportation between LSI and Exuma International Airport (Georgetown, Bahamas) will be provided.


Monday, December 21, 2009

NOAA releases expanded world ocean database

An article from Ocean Advocate, the newsletter of The International SeaKeeper Society:

NOAA has released the World Ocean Database 2009, the largest, most comprehensive collection of scientific information about the oceans with records dating as far back as 1800. The 2009 database, updated from the 2005 edition, is significantly larger providing approximately 9.1 million temperature profiles and 3.5 million salinity reports. The 2009 database also captures 29 categories of scientific information from the oceans, including oxygen levels and chemical tracers, plus information on gases and isotopes that can be used to trace the movement of ocean currents.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Octopus joins elite club of tool-users with coconut sanctuary

Veined octopus using coconut shells as tools. Footage shot by Dr. Julian Finn of Museum Victoria.

From an article by Jeremy Hance on

Highly-intelligent, octopuses have been observed opening containers, navigating mazes, and escaping from cages. Now, researchers have discovered a new intellectual feat for the octopus: tool use. Once the province of humans only, over the last 50 years researchers have discovered that many species—including primates, apes, and birds—employ tools, but the octopus is the first invertebrate.

The veined octopus has been observed spreading its body over an upright halved-coconut shell and walking the bowl with its eight legs rigid across the sea floor. The octopus use the shell—or sometimes two shells—as shelter.

"There is a fundamental difference between picking up a nearby object and putting it over your head as protection versus collecting, arranging, transporting (awkwardly), and assembling portable armor as required," explains Mark Norman of the Museum Victoria in Australia.

Divers spent some 500 hours observing the behavior of twenty octopuses. They watched as some individuals would travel up to 20 meters (awkwardly) carrying stacked coconut shells with them. Researchers say another important fact of the octopuses' unusual behavior was that it was crafting a tool not for food, but for periodic sanctuary.

Julian Finn, also of the Museum of Victoria, explained the behavior: "I could tell that the octopus, busy manipulating coconut shells, was up to something, but I never expected it would pick up the stacked shells and run away. It was an extremely comical sight—I have never laughed so hard underwater


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coral and leatherbacks among climate change "flagship" species

From an article by Christine Dell-Amore on National Geographic News:

Starving koalas and homeless clownfish are among ten species likely to suffer huge losses due to global warming, according to a report released today at the Copenhagen climate change conference by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Although the ten species aren't those most at risk, IUCN selected them because they are well-researched "flagship" species that are being affected by a spectrum of climate change impacts, from melting sea ice to beach erosion.

"The polar bear has become an icon of climate change, and it's doing a fabulous job," report co-author Wendy Foden of IUCN's Species Programme said by phone in Copenhagen.

But "there are other species too [that] help to highlight what climate change is doing."

Sea Turtle Gender Bending
Many of the animals featured in the new report already appear on IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species for other reasons, such as habitat destruction and overharvesting. This makes climate change an "additional and major threat," the report authors say.

For instance, critically endangered leatherback sea turtles are already at risk of becoming entangled in fishing nets or choking on plastic debris in the ocean.

In a warmer world, the sea turtles must also try to nest on beaches severely eroded by extreme storms, which have been linked to rising sea-surface temperatures.

In addition, a hatchling turtle's gender is determined by the average temperature during the egg's development—and hotter sand is spawning a disproportionately high number of females.

Perhaps the most vulnerable species on the new list is the staghorn coral, which has been greatly weakened by bleaching, IUCN's Fodel said.

Bleaching occurs when warmer oceans cause corals to lose their symbiotic algae, leaving the blanched reefs to slowly perish.

At the same time, coral declines mean that another of the report's threatened species, the clownfish, is suffering from lost habitat.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification

From the Natural Resources Defense Council:

ACID TEST, a film produced by NRDC, was made to raise awareness about the largely unknown problem of ocean acidification, which poses a fundamental challenge to life in the seas and the health of the entire planet. Like global warming, ocean acidification stems from the increase of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Leading scientific experts on the problem, many of whom appear in the film and the outtakes . . . believe that it's possible to cut back on global warming pollution, improve the overall health and durability of our oceans, and prevent serious harm to our world, but only if action is taken quickly and decisively.

Watch the film on YouTube.


Monday, December 14, 2009

World Wilderness Conference presentations now online

From The Wild Foundation:

With WILD9, the 9th World Wilderness Congress [held in Mérida, Mex), just a few short weeks in the past, we’ve already started to post video footage from the plenary sessions online! For delegates at WILD9 and those who weren’t able to attend, you can now watch many WILD9 presentations online in both English and Spanish. Over the next several weeks, we’ll continue to role out new video content, and will post a weekly blog with links of each video posted that week.

Here are the videos currently posted:

•President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, WILD9 Opening Ceremony (English and Spanish)
•Dr. Ian Player (English)
•Sylvia Earle, Introducing Dr. Jane Goodall (English and Spanish)
•Dr. Jane Goodall , “Conservation Heroes and Hope for Our World” (English)
•Bittu Sahgal (English and Spanish)
•Mario Molina , “Climate Change: The Current Status, Potential Impacts, and What We Can Do” (English and Spanish)
•Amory Lovins, “Reinventing Fire: The Profitable Transition from Oil and Coal to Efficiency and Renewables” (English and Spanish)
•Hi Excellency Michael Pierre Jon Tijen Fa, Minister of Physical Planning, Land & Forest Management, Suriname, “In Pursuit of a Green Development Strategy” (English and Spanish)
•Trista Patterson, “What Would Nature Do” (English and Spanish)
•Cleansing Ceremony by Mayan Shamans
•Highlights of the Opening Ceremony including the Stamp Cancellation
•Carlos Manuel Rodriquez, “Tierras Silvestres: A Critically Important Protected Area Concept for Latin America” (English)
•Human Elephant Foundation (English)
•Ilarrion Merculieff , “Native Peoples: Facing Climate Change at Home” (English and Spanish)
•50 Years of Wilderness in iMfolozi (English)
•The WILD9 Closing Slide Show


A resource for members of the world ocean community

From the announcement launching a new Web site:

OCEAN and CLIMATE are locked in a continuous dance, the condition of one profoundly affecting the other. This powerful synergy is complicated and constantly adjusting to human interventions. Through this site, you can explore this complexity in its many forms -- the key issues and possible responses -- and express your views through our Ocean-Climate Forum. We invite you to join an interactive global conversation about ocean and climate and to engage in individual and collective efforts to address the challenging situations examined here.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scientists work to protect Cuba's unspoiled reefs

From a story on NPR by Nick Miroff:

Cuba has some the most extensive coral reefs in the hemisphere, but political strains between Washington and Havana largely have kept American scientists away.

A new partnership for marine research is trying to change that at one of Cuba's most remote places, far from people and pollution.

Off of central Cuba's southern coast, hundreds of tiny islands stretch into the Caribbean. They are ringed with narrow beaches and thick stands of red mangrove.

When Christopher Columbus arrived here, he named the area Los Jardines de la Reina — The Queen's Gardens. Five centuries later, there isn't a single town or road or permanent human presence.

The underwater gardens of pristine coral are still here. The Cuban government banned fishing over a 386-square-mile section of the islands in 1997, creating what scientists say is the Caribbean's largest marine reserve.

Only a few hundred divers visit each year. Dropping below the surface into underwater canyons of black coral and giant sea fans, U.S. scientist David Guggenheim of The Ocean Foundation encountered species he had only seen in photographs, like the nearly extinct Nassau grouper.

He looked stunned after he came up from his first dive in the islands and took off his mask.

"It's amazing. It's sort of like 'Jurassic Park.' Scientists are seeing these species they never expected to see in their life, because they're extinct. Well, these fish aren't extinct, but they might as well be for most of us. So I feel very lucky to see them," he says.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Copenhagen climate conference: What you need to know

From an article by Christine Dell'Amore on National Geographic News:

What Is COP15?
"COP15" acronym is short for the 15th Conference of Parties, or countries, to the UNFCC. COP15 is also the fifth meeting of parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding emissions-reduction treaty created in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. The Kyoto agreement aims to reduce global industrial greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over a five-year period—from 2008 to 2012.

The Kyoto climate treaty, which went into force in 2005, was ratified by 185 nations but not the United States.

Because the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, an "ambitious new deal" needs to be worked out this year to provide governments guidance beyond Kyoto, the UNFCC says.

What Are the Copenhagen Climate Conference's Goals?

The UN Framework on Climate Change aims to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to a level that will not create "dangerous" interference with the climate.

Though there is still debate as to what constitutes "dangerous," the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution was 278 parts per million, contrasted with 381 today.

By 2050 the UNFCC hopes to cut atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in half, versus 2000 levels.

The Copenhagen climate conference has four achievable goals, according to the UNFCC:

1. Make clear how much developed countries, such as the U.S., Australia, and Japan, will limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Determine how, and to what degree, developing countries, such as China, India, and Brazil, can limit their emissions without limiting economic growth.

3. Explore options for "stable and predictable financing" from developed countries that can help the developing world reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

4. Identify ways to ensure developing countries are treated as equal partners in decision-making, particularly when it comes to technology and finance.

Possible Outcomes of the Climate Conference?
According to the International Institute for Environment and Development, there could be several outcomes to the Copenhagen climate conference, including the following:

1. No agreement: The meeting could result in a decision to resume talks in 2010.

2. Voluntary agreement: The climate conference could yield nonbinding pact that allows each government to decide its own goals and how to reach them. Opponents to this approach argue that targets need to be internationally binding and enforced. Otherwise, they say, reductions will take too long or not happen at all.

3. Binding agreement: A new legally binding agreement, ratified at the December climate conference, could replace Kyoto when the protocol expires in 2012.


Monday, December 7, 2009

From Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA):

We had a great day painting murals in Akumal Pueblo with the children of the primary and secondary schools to celebrate World Conservation Day. [The slogan roughly says, "If you want to preserve the ecosystems, you shouldn't be throwing trash around."]


Friday, December 4, 2009

Dominican Republic protects 31 areas to conserve coral

From a news release posted by The Nature Conservancy:

Dominican Republic, Caribbean — On the heels of a recent declaration expanding and establishing new land and sea parks in The Bahamas, The Nature Conservancy applauds a recent Presidential decree in the Dominican Republic, which will add 31 new protected areas into its national protected areas system. The new protected areas encompass a total of 1,321,024 hectares—just over 3.2 million acres—of terrestrial and marine habitat.

The decree acknowledged the need to reinforce the Dominican Republic’s existing National System of Protected Areas, particularly in near shore marine diversity. Of the new protected areas, 217,455 hectares—approximately 537,343 acres - is terrestrial habitat. The remaining 1,103,569 hectares—approximately 2.7 million acres—spans marine environments.

During the announcement, Jaime David Fernández Mirabal, Secretary of State for Environment and Natural Resources in the Dominican Republic, thanked The Nature Conservancy for conducting the biological gap analysis that served as the scientific basis for the decision on at least 22 of the 31 new protected areas. . . .

Because less than 7 percent of the islands and waters here are protected and managed to ensure their future survival, the coral reefs, beaches, rivers, mountains, forests and fisheries that are the foundation of all life in the Caribbean are increasingly at risk.

The Caribbean Challenge, which represents the largest coordinated, multi-national conservation campaign in the region, is no small undertaking. The Nature Conservancy has pledged $20 million in private funding to help leverage another $20 million in public financial commitments. The goal of the Challenge is to permanently establish a network of 20 million acres of marine parks across the territorial waters of at least 10 countries, and also to ensure that once established, the protected areas also receive sufficient, permanent funding through sustainable financing tools.

The Dominican Republic was one of the first nations to reach its goal of protecting 20 percent of its marine habitat when it declared the country’s largest Marine Protected Area with the National Whale Sanctuary.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Coral reef troubles indicate broader ecological problems

From a commentary by Jeff Wise on Mongabay:

Today, many of our planet's natural areas are seriously threatened by human incursion, overexploitation and global warming: Less than a fifth of the world's original forest cover remains in unfragmented tracts, while just one-third of coastal mangroves survive to protect coastlines from storms and erosion. But none of these are declining as rapidly as coral reefs. By revealing what could be in store for other natural systems, reefs resemble the proverbial canary in a coal mine.

Jacques Cousteau first brought the wonders of these underwater marine vistas to millions around the globe, just over 50 years ago. In award-winning documentaries like "Silent World," he captured in living Technicolor the awesome beauty of the Earth's oldest and largest living structures.

Providing a safe harbor where more than a quarter of all marine life can feed, spawn and raise their young, reefs' ecological diversity rivals that of the world's lushest rainforests. Unlike the forests, however, the relative remoteness of many reefs seemed to promise a small degree of protection for these fragile ecosystems.

What a difference 50 years makes.

The combination of destructive fishing practices and marine pollution hits reefs hard. A 2006 U.N. report found that close to one-third of corals are already destroyed or damaged, a figure that could double by 2030. And as reefs are extremely sensitive to changes in both the temperature and acidity of seawater, climate change will only make this situation worse.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NOAA shows turtle protection prosecution

From the narrative of a video on NOAA Today:

The U.S. Government has charged NOAA with enforcing the laws and treaties related to the conservation and protection of marine resources. The Office of Law Enforcement investigates crimes, and the Marine Forensic Lab provides scientific evidence to support their cases. Together they bring Marine Criminals to justice. Here are their stories.

January 2007. Investigators in Puerto Rico were tipped off that an organized ring of poachers was selling turtle meat on the black market. All seven species of marine turtles are protected under an international treaty.

February 24, 2007. Officers observed a suspicious vessel. On board they found a slaughtered green sea turtle, a spear gun, knives, and blood. This evidence was shipped to the Marine Forensics Lab in Charleston, South Carolina. Scientists extracted DNA from subsamples of the evidence. From this analysis, scientists conclusively identified traces of at least three individuals: one Green Sea Turtle and two Hawksbill Turtles.

This evidence was used to convict the turtle poachers on charges of illegally fishing and selling the meat and eggs of an endangered species.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ID guide for Cancun-area fish

A three-page printable PDF fish ID guide is posted on Here's one of the pages.

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