Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Participation "important for healthy marine parks"

From an article on Coral Reef Studies:

The involvement of locals is a key ingredient in the success of marine parks which protect coral reefs and fish stocks.

The largest-scale study to date of how coastal communities influence successful outcomes in marine reserves has found that human population pressure was a critical factor in whether or not a reserve succeeded in protecting marine resources – but so too was local involvement in research and management.

The team looked at how successful coral reef marine reserves were at conserving fish stocks. They studied 56 marine reserves from 19 different countries throughout Asia, the Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean.

“About ¾ of the marine reserves we studied showed a positive difference in the amount of fish inside compared to outside – so most reserves we studied were working” says Dr Josh Cinner of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University

“However, the differences weren’t always large. The most successful reserves showed really big differences of 14 times the amount of fish inside compared to outside, but that wasn’t always the case.

“What we were most interested in, was understanding what made some reserves more successful than others. One of the best predictors of how 'successful' a marine reserve was, is actually the size of the human communities around the reserve – but interestingly, this varied in different regions.

“In the Indian Ocean, for example, where reserves are government-controlled and moderate in size (around six square kilometres on average), having lots of people nearby had a positive effect. But this could be because marine resources outside the reserve are heavily degraded, accentuating the healthier state of those inside the reserve.

“In the Caribbean, we found the opposite. Large human populations near reserves led to poor performance of the reserve – which may be due to low compliance or poor enforcement in marine parks near population centers,” Dr Cinner said.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Coral loss slowed, reversed by marine protected areas

From a news release issued by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

A new worldwide study shows marine protected areas (MPAs), underwater parks where fishing and other potentially harmful activities are regulated, provide an added bonus – helping coral reef ecosystems ward off and recover from threats to their health.

Researchers also found the protective effects of MPAs generally strengthen over time.

The findings, published in the Feb. 17, 2010, issue of the journal PLoS One, are the first comprehensive global study to gauge the impact of marine protected areas on the health of corals.

Such havens have proved successful in protecting fish, leading to optimism among researchers that they may also indirectly help corals by restoring reef-based food webs. Previous studies also suggested such conservation zones can directly protect reefs from problems such as overfishing, anchor damage and sediment and nutrient runoff pollution from adjacent land.

Marine scientists Elizabeth Selig, Ph.D., and John Bruno, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, analyzed a global database of 8,534 live coral cover surveys conducted between 1969 and 2006.

They compared changes in coral cover in 310 marine protected areas to those in nearby unprotected areas, looking at 4,456 reefs in 83 countries. Coral cover, or the percentage of the ocean floor covered by living coral tissue, is a key measure of the health of coral ecosystems.

“We found that, on average, coral cover in protected areas remained constant, but declined on unprotected reefs,” said Selig, the study’s lead author, who completed the work for her doctoral dissertation at UNC. She is now a researcher with Conservation International.

Bruno, associate professor of marine sciences in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences, said the results also suggest the protective benefits of such areas increase with time. Initially, coral cover continued to decrease after protections were put in place. However, several years later, rates of decline slowed and then stopped.

For example, in the Caribbean, coral cover declined for about 14 years after protection began – possibly due to the time it took for fisheries to rebound – but then stopped falling and began to increase. In the Indo-Pacific, cover kept declining for the first five years after protections were established, then began to improve, eventually reaching growth rates of two percent yearly after two decades.

“Given the time it takes to maximize these benefits, it makes sense to establish more marine protected areas. Authorities also need to strengthen efforts to enforce the rules in existing areas,” Bruno said.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Marine census grows near completion

From an Associated Press article by Randolph Schmid in the Seattle Times:

From pole to pole, surface to frigid depths, researchers have discovered thousands of new ocean creatures in a decade-long effort now nearing completion, and there may still be several times more strange creatures to be found, leaders of the Census of Marine Life reported Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The effort has "given us a much clearer window into marine life," said Shirley Pomponi, executive director of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University in Fort Pierce.

The research, which has involved thousands of scientists from around the world, got under way in 2000 and the final report is scheduled to be released in London on Oct. 4.

Last fall the census reported having added 5,600 new ocean species to those already known. Ron O'Dor, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, said there may be another 100,000 or more to be found. "Add microbes and it could be millions," he said.

One benefit of learning more about ocean life is the chance of finding new medical treatments, Pomponi said.

For example, a chemical discovered in deep water sponges is now a component of the cream used to treat herpes infections, Pomponi said. Other research is under way on pain killers and cancer treatments based on ocean life.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

How tiny turtle hatchlings make their first steps

From a story on the BBC:

Scientists have uncovered how hatchling loggerhead turtles make their first steps across sand as they travel from their nests towards the sea.

This journey is treacherous: with every step, the tiny creatures face attack, and the unstable surface is notoriously difficult to walk on - especially for an animal with limbs that are adapted for a life at sea.

Now, after studying slow-motion footage, a team of researchers was surprised to find that the turtles do not "swim" through the sand.

Instead, with each step, a solidified block of sand forms behind their paddle-like flippers, allowing them to generate enough force to push forward towards the sea.

The research is published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, and was carried out by Nicole Mazouchova, Nick Gravish, Andrei Savu and Daniel Goldman from the Georgia Institute of Technology, US.

The story also includes video.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Take action during International Year of Biodiversity

2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB), a unique opportunity to increase understanding of the vital role that biodiversity plays in sustaining life on Earth. Declared by the United Nations, IYB now has a multitude of international partners, will host many celebrations and events and provides key information about the importance of biodiversity.

The key message of the IYB is: Humans are part of nature’s rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it. Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on. Human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate. These losses are irreversible, impoverish us all and damage the life support systems we rely on everyday. But we can prevent them. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. Let’s reflect on our achievements to safeguard biodiversity and focus on the urgency of our challenge for the future. Now is the time to act.

WILD is proud to be a partner of IYB and will continue to post news about biodiversity on the blog and in other publications throughout the year, especially the “Species of the Day,” which features a different IUCN red list species each day!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Six-word turtle stories

Leading up to the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Goa, India, subscribers to NOAA's CTURTLE listserve have been writing six-word turtle stories:

I think I'm a turtle geek

Turtle conservation is a social endeavor

Turtle tumors take a toll too

Turtles, Great Ambassadors of Oceans’ Worldwide

Alas no more what Columbus saw

What'd Darwin say about black turtles?

Lean, mean post nesting migration machine

When I Saw Her Crawling There

Little Sea Turtle Workshop evolved: ISTS

Beach development destroys beaches....Goodbye Tortugas

Turtles need bycatch reduction, population recovery

Sea turtles: we know so little

Late nights, mosquitoes; best job ever

Eggs, hatchlings, decades, adult. repeat

Responding to conservation, requires further action

In saving turtles, we save ourselves

Creativity and artistry combine for conservation

What's next, sea turtle haiku competition?

All conservationists love sea turtles worldwide

New lives tumbling to water's edge

Take the time to turtle travel

Thirty symposia and still we study

Ancient, beautiful, serene; are turtles marine

Detritus, seagrass, macroalgae, green turtles, sharks

Freaks and geeks and turtle fanatics

Bags are for humans, not turtles

Que vivan las tortugas marinas! Jodido!!!

Caring for oceans cares for turtles

Progressing beyond turtle research and education

Ancient mariners magically navigating Earth’s oceans

Turtles worldwide, not yet world wearied

And all the turtles were free

Six word sea turtle stories rock

Turtles started when we were projects

They saw dinosaurs come and go

Tracking their future survival through satellite

Sea turtles. Global messengers. Get it!

Tortuguero's success feeds many Caribbean fisherfolk

Global marine turtles outlasting the dinosaurs

Ridleys galore, poaching and drowning avoid

Tortugueros no necesitan huevos de tortuga

The Tippling Turtler hatches many collaborations

Endearing dinosaurs teach lessons in persistence

Reproduce, bycatch, migrate, bycatch, forage, bycatch

Gang interested on sea turtle conservation

Worldwide gang conserving sea turtle species

Owned by none, belong to all

Critically Endangered and highly conservation worthy

Many minds working together solve problems

I do not eat turtle eggs

Turtles or people? People and turtles

Tortugas o Gente? Gente y Tortugas

The sea turtles are my heritage

Las tortugas marinas son mi legado

So many turtles, so litle time

Sea turtles thriving in unpolluted seas

Not Endangered; but still conservation worthy

Flipper kick – a mouthful of sand

I imagine throngs of sea turtles

Mystery millenarian navigators in magnificent oceans

Turtle passion, hopefully and future conservation

Blood sugar magic turtle's madness passion

EP hawksbills gone? Ask El Salvador

Keep walking, with patience and passion

Turtles: members of, not the, ecosystem

Turtles are dead without a TED

Ocean nomads guided by magnetism: Cool

That's a great animal, let's eat

No more left? That's too bad

Pickled Pigs Lips = Tip of Iceberg

Go ahead, eat one, there's plenty

Leatherback turtles belong to the world

Pacific leatherbacks need Baulas National Park

One day, 150 million years ago

I read So Excellent a Fishe

Sea turtles all the way down

Yes, leatherbacks really are in Canada

Working together, sea turtle survival assured!

Stars shining, eggs safe, heart content

Love and Care, Sea Turtle’s Tear

Endearing dinosaurs teach lessons in persistence

An old present to the future

Sea turtles in the oceans forever

United for sea turtle survival worldwide

Mama leatherback,tropic winters, Acadian summers

Underestimate Frank at your own peril

Zander Srodes for 50th ISTS president

My best memories: Turtles and friends


Monday, February 15, 2010

US agency to review threats to 82 coral species

From an Associated Press article by David McFadden in The Washinton Post:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- U.S. officials said Wednesday they have begun a review to determine if dozens of coral species off Florida, Hawaii and island territories of the Caribbean and Pacific should be listed as "threatened" or "endangered."

Currently, only reef-building staghorn and elkhorn corals are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, the first corals ever to receive such protection based on dramatic declines.

In the federal register Wednesday, the National Marine Fisheries Service said an Oct. 20 petition filed by a U.S. conservation group "presents substantial scientific or commercial information" indicating protection may be warranted for 82 additional species.

Among the list of 82 to be considered for protection is the mountainous star coral, once considered the dominant reef-building coral in the Atlantic. The majority of coral species included in the review belong to either the wider Caribbean or Indo-Pacific regions.


Friday, February 12, 2010

See the Riviera Maya from the air

Locogringo.com has aerial photos of nearly every inch of coast line, including homes, businesses, and resorts, along the Riviera Maya.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Turtle meat price soars

From an article distributted by the Cayman News Service:

(CNS): The new managing director of the Turtle Farm has made his first major decision, which will see the cost of turtle meat triple in price. In a written statement issued on Friday evening, Timothy Adam, who has been in post less than two weeks, said the business now needs to raise the selling price on turtle meat to reflect the true cost of production and maintenance of the Cayman Turtle Farm facilities. From Monday, 8 February, turtle steak will cost CI$27.00 per pound, three times its current price. Recognizing the cultural significance of the meat, the new MD and the board said they were committed to doing what it takes to protect the future of the farm.

According to the statement, the price of the turtle stew will rise from CI$5.40 per pound to CI$16.00 per pound, turtle menavelin will rise from CI$4.00 per pound to CI$12.00 per pound, and the bone from CI$2.00 per pound to CI$6.00.

Calicia Burke, Marketing Manager at the farm, said that farmed turtle meat is one of the rarest forms of food as it is found only in the Cayman Islands and only from the Cayman Turtle Farm. "Our farm avoids the need for any green sea turtles to be taken from the wild by the general public. Our aim is to continue facilitating conservation and preservation of the species through our strategies of commercialization, leading-edge research and technological development of green sea turtle farming,” she said.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whale sharks of Holbox

A description of a stunning video from Kip Evans:

The waters around Isla Holbox off Mexicos Yucatán Peninsula teem with plankton, a feast for giant whale sharks—10-meter giants that gather by the hundreds from June through September. These super-sized but toothless filter feeders are the core of a local tourism industry, but over-development could threaten this delicate balance. Dr. Sylvia Earle narrates. Kip Evans - Producer and Director of Photography

Photo: (c) Wolcott Henry 2005/Marine Photobank


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

CEA sets 2010 objectives

A message from Paul Sanchez-Navarro, executive director of Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA):

CEA continues to work on three main conservation program fronts---marine and coastal protection, sea turtle protection and water quality, in the Akumal region.

This year, our programs are focused on the following objectives:

Marine and Coastal Program:
•Strengthen and improve the Akumal Bays Management Program; improve tour operator participation; increase federal authority participation; expand program actions from Yal Ku to Aventuras Akumal, as designed in the original program
•Continue reef monitoring activities; increase marine research.

Sea Turtle Program:
•Strengthen nesting monitoring and protection activities
•Implement juvenile turtle protection measures in Akumal Bay
•Improve awareness-raising information on sea turtles in local hotels
•Carry out 8th Annual Tulúm Sea Turtle Festival in Akumal
•Successfully participate as president of the Regional Sea Turtle Committee

Water Quality Program:
•Carry out connection program in Akumal Pueblo
•Improve tourism sector management of wastewater
•Carry out water quality testing in Akumal
•Review at least 25% of Akumal's artificial wetlands
•Map contaminants in Akumal region
•Obtain funding for lab renovation

Environmental Sustainability Program:
•Formally protect jungle and mangrove land around Akumal
•Ensure adequate ecological zoning of Tulúm municipality
•Increase local hotel participation in CEA Eco-certification and Recycling project

Environmental Education Program:
•Improve classroom activities for Akumal Pueblo, including teacher training
•Implement recycling program for Akumal
•Improve educational materials for visitors

Communications Program:
•Increase conservation program information on Web site
•Publish informative brochures
•Improve information dissemination through all media
•Organize university group visits

We thank everyone for their support in helping us to achieve our goals. We will report on the results of these objectives throughout the year.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Help fund turtle director's trip to international symposium

From the home page of Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA):

In April 2010, the International Sea Turtle Symposium will take place at Goa, India. Our Sea Turtle Program will present information on our conservation efforts to protect Akumal's turtles.

We have registered Armando, our "Turtle Man," to participate but a trip to India costs more than our budget allows. We need you! We raise 1,200USD and we still need about 1,800 USD.

CEA's Sea Turtle Program and Armando have worked for many years for our turtles, and we have a chance to share our experience and results internationally, as well as to learn from so many other programs from around the world.

Want to help? Special donations.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Financial Support Sought for Care of Florida's Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles

From an article on Environmental News Service:

GAINSVILLE, Florida, February 3, 2010 (ENS) - Chilly ocean waters during Florida's recent cold snap posed a survival threat to thousands of endangered sea turtles in Florida waters that persists although the waters have warmed somewhat.

In winter, sea turtles usually swim to Florida for its warm waters and rich food sources, but this January Florida temperatures hit a 20 year low, and the National Weather Service forecasts "below normal temperatures" in February.

Thousands of cold-stunned sea turtles were found floating listlessly in the water or washing up on shore. In the worst cases, turtles become catatonic and cannot even lift their heads out of the water to breathe.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC, conservation groups, rehabilitation facilities and aquariums responded but now are struggling with financial shortfalls.

The FWC, with its partners, worked together to pick up turtles disabled by the cold. If left unaided, most of these turtles would not have survived. Many would have been attacked by predators, hit by boats or simply drowned, the state wildlife agency said.

The sea turtles were taken to staging areas, where biologists assessed their conditions and to triage areas and rehabilitation facilities. Each animal was examined for injuries, measured, weighed and a tissue sample taken. Metal tags with a unique identification numbers were placed on the sea turtles' front flippers. The tags will provide biologists with useful information in the future, including where the turtles travel and their rate of survival. . . .

The world's oldest sea turtle conservation group, Caribbean Conservation Corporation, responded along with other rescue organizations in what is being called the largest turtle rescue effort in history.

"We've never seen anything like this before," said CCC Executive Director David Godfrey. "I can't say enough about the heroic efforts of volunteers, conservation groups and agency staff around Florida who responded swiftly to this crisis. . . ."

CCC is raising emergency funds to help pay for veterinary care and medical supplies to treat hundreds of sea turtles struggling to survive. Some emergency funds are being provided through Florida's Sea Turtle Grants Program, which raises money through the sale of Florida's sea turtle license plate. About $20,000 is available from this source, but Godfrey estimates that four times that much will be needed to adequately care for all the turtles.

For more information on this emergency fund, please visit www.cccturtle.org or call 1-800-678-7853. To see the sea turtle recovery effort in action click here.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Riviera Maya turtle trip, July 25 - August 1, 2010

From a trip announcement from Maya Riviera Vacation:

This trip is designed for families with all ages. It is during the height of Turtle Season when you will see juveniles swimming and feeding in the bay, mothers nesting and babies hatching. In addition to a great vacation it will also be an eco-trip that will benefit Centro Ecologico Akumal.

What's included:
Accommodations at either Hotel Akumal Caribe or at Casa Romero's Complex.
Turtle Talk by Centro Ecologico Akumal
Turtle Walk by CEA
Eco-Beach Walk by CEA
Snorkeling Tour of Akumal Bay by CEA
Entrance into Yal Ku Lagoon
Sunset Sail
Admission to Xcaret
Entrance to Xel Ha
Picnic at Xcacel
Welcome Dinner at Lolha
Ground Transportation
Spa Credit for Adults


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Responding to climate change -- training for trainers, June 21-25

From an announcement on Reef Resilience:

We are pleased to announce that the Nature Conservancy, in partnership with NOAA, and with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will offer a workshop for Trainers from throughout Florida and the Caribbean to learn about building resilience into reef management and the tools available for addressing the impacts of climate change. The meeting will bring together managers/trainers from throughout Florida and the Caribbean to learn and share ideas that will lead to more effective long‐term coral reef management. The workshop is designed to provide an atmosphere of exchange and creative problem solving so that participants leave with a specific training plan for their locale. Resources recently developed through major international collaborations will be highlighted and distributed to participants (e.g., Resilience Toolkit, Reef Managers Guide to Bleaching, etc.) The workshop will be facilitated by regional and global experts in coral reef management.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quiet hurricane seasons run counter to computer predictions

From an article in The New York Times by Evan Lehmann of Climate Wire:

Recent computer models predicting that more hurricanes will strike U.S. shorelines have vastly overestimated the financial losses suffered by insurance companies, according to a new analysis.

The simulations, called "near-term models" because they predict storm strikes over five years, were launched in 2006 after two vicious seasons of landfall hurricanes, including Katrina, crushed homes and businesses along much of the Gulf Coast and Florida. The models emphasize rising storm risk caused by warmer ocean water.

Now, with only one year left in those first forecasts, the models issued by three different firms have so far overshot the level of damage by tens of billions of dollars. A string of relatively benign hurricane seasons began just as the models were introduced.

Storms caused $13.3 billion in damages between 2006 and 2009, far below even conservative expectations. Near-term models predicted much deeper devastation, ranging from $48.8 billion to $54.6 billion during that same period.

"Four years into the five year projection period, the near term models have not performed well as predictive tools. Hurricane activity changes markedly from year to year, and the active hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 have not proven to be harbingers of a continuing trend for 2006 through 2009," says a report by Karen Clark & Co., a risk management firm operated by an early architect of catastrophe models.

Near-term models are something of an experiment. Unlike traditional models, they don't use a century's worth of hurricane data related to frequency, landfall and wind speed. Instead, modelers input information from the warmest -- and most dangerous -- periods of the past. That's when hurricanes tend to strike with a fist.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Rage and the economics of the environment

From an interview of British economist Tim Jackson by Stephen Leahy posted on Tierramerica.info:

"The continued pursuit of growth endangers the ecosystems on which we depend for long-term survival," says the British economist, ferocious critic of the Copenhagen Accord on climate change.

TORONTO, Canada, Jan 25 (Tierramérica).- "Rage is sometimes the appropriate response" to the failure of the world's leaders to craft a new climate treaty in Copenhagen, says British economist Tim Jackson.

The Copenhagen Accord, the outcome of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, not only revealed global environmental governance as a fiction, but also demonstrated a continuing blind adherence to the mantra of economic growth, says Jackson

Professor of sustainable development and director of the Research Group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment at Surrey University in Britain, Jackson is also a British government advisor and economics commissioner for the Sustainable Development Commission.

Jackson is also a professional playwright with numerous radio-writing credits for the BBC, based in London.

Tierramérica's Stephen Leahy spoke with Jackson by phone about his new, controversial book "Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet", the Copenhagen Accord and prospects for a real climate treaty, continuing a conversation they began last month in Copenhagen.

TIERRAMÉRICA: Your book "Prosperity without Growth" argues that economic growth in developed countries is making people less happy and destroying the Earth itself.

TIM JACKSON: It's clear the continued pursuit of growth endangers the ecosystems on which we depend for long-term survival.

There is also ample evidence that increasing material wealth in developed countries is not making people any happier, but just the opposite in some countries. Beyond a certain level of income, there is no correlation of greater income with greater happiness.

Want to post?
Ed Blume, a volunteer for Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA), moderates the blog. Anyone wishing to post can contact Ed at ed@ceakumal.org.

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