Posts tagged ‘Marine Life’

Dolphin, turtle deaths eyed for links to oil spill

(Reuters) – Scientists are examining the deaths of at least six dolphins and over 100 sea turtles along the U.S. Gulf Coast in recent weeks to see if they are victims of the giant oil spill in the region, wildlife officials said on Thursday.

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All of the deaths are being looked at as possible casualties of the oil gushing unchecked since April 20 from a ruptured wellhead on the floor of the Gulf off Louisiana because of their proximity in time and space to the spill.

But none of the dolphins or turtles examined showed any obvious visible signs of oil contamination.

Necropsies — the animal equivalent of autopsies — are being performed, and tissue samples analyzed to determine if oil ingestion caused the deaths. The results are expected to take about two weeks.

“So far we have not seen any relationship with the deaths of either the turtles or the dolphins to oil,” Dr. Moby Solangi, head of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, told Reuters TV in Gulfport, Mississippi.

But Solangi added it was only a matter of time before the spilled oil began affecting the dolphin population. “There is no question that the oil is in their habitat,” he said.

Connie Barclay, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said scientists were investigating the deaths of six dolphins and 117 sea turtles along the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida since April 30.

Sources close to the Gulf’s wildlife spill-response teams put the number of dolphin deaths at seven.

Either way, federal wildlife officials said dolphin and turtle mortality seen since the oil rig explosion off Louisiana last month is not unusually high for this time of year.


A few of the deaths were ruled out as spill-related because they occurred before the spill or were animals that were known to have been sick or injured beforehand, the sources said.

Solangi said dolphins were at the top of the aquatic food chain in the ocean and also acted like the “canary in the coal mine” in that their experience and behavior can give advance warning to humans of impending disasters and catastrophes.

Wildlife officials have expressed particular concern for the well-being of sea turtles in the Gulf following the spill because all five species that inhabit the region are endangered, and it is their spring nesting season.

On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, NOAA officials said it was still too early to draw firm conclusions from the latest wildlife casualties in the Gulf.

“We don’t have definitive information for most of the … (animals) that have been found,” said Jane Lubchenco, Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

Impacts on bird life has been relatively light to date, according to wildlife specialists.

“So far, relatively few birds have been brought in with oil on their feathers,” said David Ringer of the National Audubon Society, who put the number at between 12 and 20.

“The birds that have been brought in are birds that catch fish in open waters” and would have come in contact with oil there, he said.


May 14, 2010 at 9:48 AM Leave a comment

Solving Seafood — Sustainability

Julie Packard
Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Posted: February 8, 2010 06:17 PM on

I just returned from the Seafood Choices Alliance Seafood Summit in Paris, a gathering of over 600 business and NGO leaders concerned about the future of seafood. The group was diverse — marine biologists, ecologists, conservation advocates, and business leaders — who make their living catching, producing, buying, and selling seafood. I came away deeply impressed with the progress this far-ranging group is making, and the momentum that’s building for a future with healthy oceans and abundant seafood. At every turn, I witnessed people working to forge solutions to some very complex challenges. There was conflict and disagreement in many areas. But on one thing everyone agreed: our oceans are changing. Wild seafood catch is declining and ecosystems are under siege from overfishing, pollution and global climate change. As we look to the future of seafood, business as usual is not the answer. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program is one part of the solution. We’ve backed our work with a decade of solid science, distributed 32 million consumer pocket guides and a popular iPhone app, and partnered with major seafood buyers — from the two largest food service companies in North America, to major retailers like Target. Together with our colleagues, we’re helping more and more businesses make and implement real commitments to sustainability. Making commitments becomes more complex as we learn about the impacts of seafood harvest and production in a changing ocean. What is “sustainable?” Does it simply mean managing a fishery so we can keep on catching fish? Or does it address our carbon footprint, overall ecosystem health, or impacts on workers and communities in the developing countries where an increasing amount of fishing and aquaculture is based? The need to create a more sustainable global aquaculture enterprise is urgent. Nearly half of all seafood today comes from farmed sources, but it’s not without negative impacts. Aquaculture can make a huge contribution to global food security and the economies of developing nations – if it’s done right. On land, the Green Revolution provided incredible benefits to humanity, but at some serious costs. We have the opportunity — and the imperative — to guide the coming “Blue Revolution” so we don’t repeat past mistakes. Another major point of consensus among business and environmental leaders at the Summit was the urgent need to reform government policies that regulate fisheries. We need better rules to protect fish, ecosystems and the jobs of people who make their livelihoods from the sea. We also need to create more marine protected areas where ocean ecosystems can thrive with minimal human impact. Overall, I was impressed by the level of sophistication of the conversation about the future of seafood. I also was reminded that in the end it’s all about individual action and getting people to care. As executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I used to think that the most challenging aspect of running an aquarium was what occurs on the wet side of the glass: keeping the animals, creating a kelp forest, bringing tunas into an exhibit environment. I’ve come to realize that the most challenging species to manage is not the fish, it’s us — human beings. How do we get people to care about the ocean, and motivate them to do something about its future? Our oceans are in crisis, and it’s vital that we turn the tide — for the sake of marine life, certainly, but because healthy oceans are essential to the future of all life on Earth, including ours. Few people have the future of the oceans at the top of their minds. That’s why it’s so important to enlist the help of people of all backgrounds: consumers and businesspeople, policy-makers and scientists, activists and artists. Some of this will be accomplished by the people I met in Paris. But the responsibility also lies with each of us. Author Michael Pollan made the case when he was on the Oprah show recently: “We all can vote with our forks; we get three votes a day.” By choosing sustainable seafood, and sustainable and organic food from land, we’ll help create a market for food that’s healthy for both the environment and us. Those individual decisions, small and simple though they are, can be our gift to the next generation — those thousands of kids that I see every year at the aquarium, our own kids and grandkids, and the future communities around the world who struggle to build a future for their kids. We have a real chance, right now, to create a future of survival and abundance for all life. Why would we pass that up?

February 9, 2010 at 11:29 AM Leave a comment

Oceans Absorb Less Carbon Dioxide as Marine Systems Change

The oceans are by far the largest carbon sink in the world. Some 93 percent of carbon dioxide is stored in algae, vegetation, and coral under the sea. But oceans are not able to absorb all of the carbon dioxide released from the burning of fossil fuels. In fact, a recent study suggests that the oceans have absorbed a smaller proportion of fossil-fuel emissions, nearly 10 percent less, since 2000.The study, published in the current issue of Nature, is the first to quantify the perceived trend that oceans are becoming less efficient carbon sinks. The study team, led by Columbia University oceanographer Samar Khatiwala, measured the amount of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions pumped into the oceans since 1765.

Industrial carbon dioxide emissions have increased dramatically since the 1950s, and oceans have until recently been able to absorb the greater amounts of emissions. Sometime after 2000, however, the rise in emissions and the oceans’ carbon uptake decoupled. Oceans continue to absorb more carbon, but the pace appears to have slowed.

The reason is based in part on simple chemistry. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide have turned waters more acidic, especially nearer to the poles. While carbon dioxide dissolves more readily in cold, dense seawater, these waters are less capable of sequestering the gas as the ocean becomes more acidic. The study revealed that the Southern Ocean, near Antarctica, absorbs about 40 percent of the carbon in oceans.

Article continues HERE

November 24, 2009 at 10:22 AM Leave a comment

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