Monthly Archives: July 2012

Sonar Technology: From Detecting Submarines to Guiding Marine Management Decisions

By Mera McGrew Originally invented during World War I to detect submarines, today oceanographers and other marine professionals are using sonar technology to advance knowledge of the world’s ocean. Specifically, sonars can help map out crucial marine habitats. But, that is just a start.  In the future, some researchers suggest that information generated through sonar technology could influence how marine habitats are regulated and even managed. Last week, one research group boarded the Nancy Foster, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship on a 10-day cruise, to conduct sonar-based experiments aimed at better understanding fish spawning and fish movement in and around the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s Tortugas Ecological Reserve, located 70-miles west of Key West. The research cruise falls in the middle of a multi-year Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary zoning review that seeks to determine whether the current sanctuary boundaries adequately protect marine habitats and resources.…
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Edie Widder Illuminated

By Michael Keller Dr. Edith Widder is an undersea explorer, innovator and cofounder of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, which translates complex scientific findings into technological solutions. She is a certified scientific research pilot for atmospheric diving systems and has invented instrumentation for submersibles as well as deep-sea observation equipment. A leading specialist in the emission of light from living organisms, called bioluminescence, Dr. Widder applies her research to reverse environmental degradation of the world’s aquatic ecosystems. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in neurobiology, and received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006. Q: Where are you right now and what are you up to? Edith Widder: I’m in the northwest Pacific Ocean off the Ogasawara Islands, Japan, on a hunt for giant squid.…
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Cultivating Coral to Rebuild Reefs

Imagine coral “planted” in rows on the bottom of the seafloor in the same way that tulips are planted in a garden. Think of a coral nursery where coral could be grown and harvested so that it could be transplanted to help rebuild surrounding coral reefs. Last week, NBC’s Kerry Sanders offered viewers an opportunity to do more than just imagine a coral nursery. Sanders took viewers a quarter mile off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and dove down twenty-five feet. Waiting on the seabed was an underwater nursery of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis). Scientists are growing, harvesting and transplanting the coral to help rebuild coral reefs off the coast of Florida and in the Caribbean. The segment aired on June 20, 2012 on NBC’s “Nightly News.” If you missed it on television or forgot to DVR it, watch the segment here.…
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Why are Sea Turtles Miraculous?

Why are sea turtles miraculous? Scott Gass, Veronica Wallenberg and Johan Sonestedt recently teamed up to answer this question in the latest TEDed animated video. The short video explains the journey of a sea turtle and introduces the many pressures that threaten sea turtles today. With increasing fishing pressures, rising problems with marine debris and threatened nesting grounds, the video states that only 2 out of every 800 sea turtle hatchlings make it to breeding age. Today, all eight sea turtle species are either extinct or threatened. Watch the animated video below to see the miraculous journey of sea turtle hatchlings, learn the challenges presented by human interference and gain a new appreciation for these amazing creatures that have been around roughly 150,000,000 years ago!…
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Mission Aquarius: This Time the Message is the Mission

July 25, 2012  by Deb Castellana As Mission Aquarius, a celebration of 50 years under the sea, winds to a close, the Mission Blue team in Florida is filled with hope for the future of Aquarius. Dr. Sylvia Earle, her team of Aquanauts and everyone working to support and highlight the mission pulled together into a cohesive team that has made a clear statement to the world – Aquarius must be saved. With One World One Ocean in the lead, an award winning group of ocean media pros converged on Key Largo, Florida to call attention to the imminent loss of funding for the world’s last remaining undersea laboratory. Utilizing IMAX film, live webcasts from both inside the habitat and from the seafloor, social media and mainstream news networks, teams worked 24/7 to highlight both the past achievements of Aquarius, and it’s possibilities for the future.…
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Nets-to-Electricity: Marine Debris Turned into Usable Energy

Turning marine debris into electricity may have once been an idea of the future, but in Hawai’i, it’s actually reality. Marine debris of all shapes, sizes and materials accumulates in and around the islands of Hawai’i. Much of the debris is made up of abandoned fishing gear including nets, lines, and commercial fishing traps. The debris endangers marine wildlife and even navigation through the surrounding water. In 2002 a NOAA-funded initiative set out to resolve this problem by converting some of the marine debris into electricity. Every year, Nets-to-Energy removes large conglomerations of nets that can each weigh thousands of pounds, from Hawaii’s reefs and shores. After collection, the nets are chopped into small pieces suitable for combustion at an energy from waste facility.…
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Florida’s Sharks: a shifting baseline?

By Samantha Whitcraft, Shark Savers International Photo: Mary O’Malley, Shark Savers Florida is one of those places that like South Africa and Australia, is synonymous with sharks. The good news is that the State of Florida has listed 25 species of elasmobranchs as completely protected from harvest, on their ‘Protected Species’ list. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) defines this protected status as prohibiting the harvest, possession, landing, purchase or sale of these species or any part of them. The complete list includes not only some of the most charismatic species like white sharks and whale sharks but also species that are more rare like sawfish and basking sharks. And in the past three years alone, a united coalition of local conservation organizations, scientists, catch-and-release fishermen and concerned citizens have rallied to add several more species to that list.…
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Seeking to Understand One of the Biggest Beluga Whale Migrations

Every summer a whopping 57,000 beluga whales return to the western reaches of the Hudson Bay in Northern Canada. Once in the Hudson Bay the whales swim to two very specific locations: The estuaries of the Nelson and Churchill rivers. While the migration is recognized as one of the biggest migrations of belugas in the world, what drives them to these two specific estuaries remains a mystery. In an attempt to better understand the strong homing instincts of the beluga whales, their feeding behaviors and the role they play in these estuary ecosystems a new three-year study has been launched. Mission Blue’s partner, the Pew Environment Group has teamed up with Canada’s Manitoba conservation Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the study. …
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Mission Aquarius: This Time the Mission is the Message

By Deb Castellana As Mission Aquarius, a celebration of 50 years under the sea, winds to a close, the Mission Blue team in Florida is filled with hope for the future of Aquarius. Dr. Sylvia Earle, her team of Aquanauts and everyone working to support and highlight the mission pulled together into a cohesive team that has made a clear statement to the world – Aquarius must be saved. Photo: (C) Kip Evans Photography/Mission Blue With One World One Ocean in the lead, a winning group of talented ocean media professionals converged on Key Largo, Florida this week to call attention to the imminent loss of funding for the world’s last remaining undersea laboratory. Utilizing IMAX film, live webcasts from both inside the habitat and from the seabed, social media and mainstream news networks, teams worked 24/7 to highlight both the past achievements of Aquarius, and it’s possibilities for the future.…
Posted in Aquarius Foundation, Brian Lam, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Aquarius, One World One Ocean | Leave a comment

Aquarius Reef Base – In the Heart of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Right now, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Mark Patterson, and the rest of the Mission Aquarius team are joining One World One Ocean to celebrate 50 years of humans inhabiting the seafloor by spending six days doing research and outreach while living in the Aquarius Reef Base laboratory.  Built in 1986 and relocated to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1992, Aquarius has allowed researchers and innovators to understand the decline of coral reefs and develop cancer drugs from sea sponges.…
Posted in Aquarius Reef Base, coral, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Mission Aquarius, NOAA, One World One Ocean | Leave a comment

"With knowing comes caring." - Dr. Sylvia Earle