Friday, 29 July 2011

Free the Steve!

photo credit Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The Sea Shepherd's methods might be controversial, but one thing is for sure...They get shit done. Even the Japanese admitted it.

But the Sea Shepherd's flagship the Steve Irwin is in danger of being seized and sold. Right now, the British courts are holding the vessel in Lerwick, Scotland because of a civil lawsuit brought against Sea Shepherd for the release of (allegedly) illegally caught endangered bluefin tuna by Maltese fishing company Fish and Fish Limited. The bond demanded for the release of the ship is a whopping $1,411,692.87.

But you can help! I urge you to donate whatever you can to aid this fearless organisation's flagship and to help get it back out onto the seas in time to save the Faeroese pilot whales and the great whales of the Southern Ocean.

I understand times are tough right now and money is scarce for most. Believe me, I understand...this blog ain't called the UNEMPLOYED Marine Biologist for nothin'. However, I do make a little bit of money here and there, and recently I've been really bummed about the state of everything and I've been trying to figure out what makes me happy and what makes the world a better place. I reached two conclusions: 1.) Doing everything in my power to protect and raise awareness about marine conservation is what makes me happiest, regardless of money. 2.) I would be devastated if the Sea Shepherd lost their flagship vessel and wasn't able to protect our seas in that special kick-ass way they do. Also, I hate my fucking "job", so I gave all that misery-money from my check last week to a better cause: Supporting the direct action and conservation of the people at Sea Shepherd.

Whatever you can spare, I urge you to do the same. I promise you won't regret it!

Click here to read (and watch!) a personal message from Captain Paul Watson.

Monday, 25 July 2011

BP Holds Gulf Spill Assessment ‘Financially Captive’ - Forbes

photo credit Getty Images

Honestly I really don't understand how this is legal, let alone morally sound. Why do we glorify business over everything else? Anyway...

"BP has been able to delay and deny efforts to assess the damage caused by its 2010 oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico because it controls the funding for those efforts, a Louisiana state official told senators today."

Basically, since BP is supplying the money, BP gets to decide what to do with it. Also - and here's the scary part - BP gets to decide when projects like cleanup and restoration are "done" or need "no further action".

BP's To-Do List (or Not-To-Do List...) includes the following: Leaving anchors in the water from oil booms, designating areas effectively "cleaned up", signing off on projects before they begin and delaying reviews and approvals of projects.

Garrett Graves, chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, thinks that control should be stripped from BP and given to the public:

“I think that equation needs to be flipped over. I think the public needs to be in the driver’s seat. By being able to control the checkbook, you can control what’s in these workplaces, how the assessments are conducted [and] the timelines of the assessments.”

Full article here (Forbes)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

European Commission Apologises for Disastrous Fishing Policy - The Telegraph

photo credit Reuters

"Sorry" won't fix it, but at least it's a start...

"The European Commission has apologised for decades of an EU fishing policy so disastrous that the next generation of children may never see fish on their dinner plate."

You know, I've been suggesting that as a possible fate for a long time, and people think I'm being over-dramatic. Well, there you have it, folks. It just might happen. Hate to say I told you so.

Maria Damanaki, the EU's maritime commissioner, admits "We cannot afford business as usual. Maybe 10 years ago, the past, it was easier for us, in the European Commission, in governments, in the sector, to close our eyes. We cannot do that anymore because if we do our children will see fish, not on their plates, but only in pictures."

Worldwide, the average percentage of overfished stocks hangs around 25%. In Europe it's 88%.

Damanaki's new vision is to begin 15-year plans based on scientific advice in 2013. Fishing fleets will be substantially reduced and stocks will be given a chance to recover. Her prediction is that stocks should recover 70% in 10 years, after which catch numbers can be gently increased again.

"The current CFP has failed. It has not given us healthy fish stocks and it has not delivered a sustainable living for our fishing industry. Only genuine fundamental reform of this broken policy can turn around these failures. We need to end the unacceptable practice of throwing dead fish back to the sea. It's a terrible waste of perfectly good food and one of the biggest failings of the [Common Fishing Policy]," said Richard Benyon, British fisheries minister.

I sincerely hope that true, progressive reform is made and the European Commission will decide to protect fish species instead of their wallets.

Full article here (The Telegraph)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Great White Shark Jumps from Sea into Research Boat - The Guardian

Just kidding, this is from "Jaws"

Okay I was just about to go to bed, but I've GOT to say something about this.

A great white shark jumped into a research boat. A GREAT WHITE SHARK JUMPED OUT OF THE WATER AND INTO A RESEARCH BOAT. [Insert "we're gonna need a bigger boat" joke here.]

I'm sure we've all witnessed the awesomeness that is to be seen when a great white jumps out of the waters off Seal Island, South Africa during Shark Week (which is fast-approaching!). Sharks in this area swim up quickly from beneath their prey - fat tasty seals - and launch themselves out of the water in spectacular displays of pure power.

"Dorien Schröder [team leader at Oceans Research] recounted how she pulled her colleague to safety before the shark, weighing about 500kg (half a ton) landed on top of the bait and fuel containers. At first half of its body was outside the boat but in a panic the shark thrashed its way further on to the vessel, cutting the fuel lines and damaging equipment before becoming trapped between the containers and the stern. The crew found safety at the bow of the boat."

What happened next? Schröder was kind enough to keep water flowing over the shark's gills to keep it alive. Another boat was sent out to try to remove the shark from the research vessel, but was unable to. The vessel had to be towed back to port WITH THE SHARK STILL ON BOARD. Then a crane lifted it off and back into the water. Then the shark freaked out and beached. Then the people tried to direct the shark out of the harbour to the sea, but the shark wasn't getting it. Finally the shark was literally dragged out of the harbour by a rescue vessel and swam away.

And I thought I had a bad day.

Full article here (The Guardian)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Saving Valentina

Please take a moment to enjoy this amazing video circulating on the net of Michael Fishbach's (co-founder of The Great Whale Conservancy) story of his close encounter and subsequent rescue of a young entangled humpback whale. Great work!!

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Metro Loves the Ocean

The Metro is my favourite free paper here in London. It's quick and concise, it's got a little bit of everything and it's got lots of colour photos. I greatly enjoy reading it on my breaks and on the Tube when I can't be bothered to actually look at the people around me. Much to my delight, there were TWO ocean-related stories within its pages this past week. Let's have a look:

Photographer Helps Promote WWF's Blue Mile Conservation Project

photo credit The Metro via Jurgen Freund

Jurgen Freund is using his work showcasing beautiful marine species and scenery to help promote the WWF's Blue Mile project and fund conservation efforts worldwide.

"As part of Blue Mile, the WWF is urging people to take part in a sponsored event – covering a mile in or by water. Fundraisers can swim, paddle, kayak, or stroll beside a river, lake or beach."

The London event will be held at Stoke Newington West Reservoir on 4 September. Click to the article for more info!

Jaws Dropping: It's Sun, Sea and Sharks

photo credit The Metro

Shark decline has come up a number of times in this blog. It's real and it's happening now. The culprit? Overfishing, primarily for shark fin soup - a wasteful "delicacy" among Asian countries. Demian Chapman is a marine biologist working in Belize to document the positive effect protected marine areas have on shark populations, and the negative effects brought on by the removal of sharks in marine ecosystems. Boating, snorkeling and hanging out with sharks in Glover's Reef sounds too good to be a job, but important work is going on here.

"The main thing we’ve learned about taking out big predators is you can almost never predict the effect but there always is one and it’s always negative."

Want to get involved? Click through for information on how you could be volunteering to help sharks in beautiful Belize!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Paula the Octopus to predict Women's World Cup - The Telegraph

There's a new cephalopod on the block, and her name is Paula.

I'm sure we all remember the famed psychic octopus of Germany - Paul - from last year's World Cup. Sadly, he's dead. Sorry. But fear not, a new lady-pus will be predicting the outcome of the Women's World Cup for your betting pleasure.

Paula, whose gender is actually unknown, is one of eight psychic octopi in training across Germany's Sea Life aquariums. She boldly predicted Canada to win the first match against Germany, much to the upset of her people. When Paul did the same last year and picked Spain to win over Germany, he was threatened with being turned to calamari snacks for unhappy fans. Alas, he was right, and Spain offered to send bodyguards to protect the psychic cephalopod.

Paula's off to a rocky start, as her prediction was close but not correct. Maybe she's just nervous? Better luck next time miss.

Full article here (The Telegraph)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Dolphin Deaths: BP Oil Spill may have had Indirect Role, Researcher says -

photo credit Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Gulfport, MS

I know I've mentioned the dramatic increase in dolphin deaths in the Gulf before - particularly young ones. Evidence is building to suggest the BP spill is playing a role.

Both oil and chemical dispersants could have upset the food web enough to prevent pregnant mothers from building up enough blubber to carry healthy young and insulate them from the cold.

"Worthy says 153 bottlenose dolphins have washed up on Gulf coasts since January, including 65 newborn, infants, stillborn or those born prematurely."

Full article here (