Monthly Archives: March 2017

Hope for Wildlife on Planet Earth

Have you ever wondered what animals think and feel? Dr. Sylvia Earle reflects on Carl Safina’s famous Ted Talk, “What are animals thinking and feeling?” By: Dr. Sylvia Earle As I sat aboard the 340-foot National Geographic Lindblad Orion exploration vessel steaming through one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, the Coral Triangle, and listened to Carl Safina deliver his mesmerizing talk, “What are animals thinking and feeling?,” I felt a stirring of hope for wildlife on planet Earth. With such incision, Carl confirmed what I have observed through my decades of diving into the blue: fish have personalities! Eels have intelligence! Whales have empathy! Sharks exhibit rationality! These cognitive faculties that some humans insist make us distinct from the animal kingdom are actually shared by many of the creatures living on this blue speck in the universe.…
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Cayman Islands: Coral Nursery Conservation Program

By: Laura Butz The caribbean has already lost 80% of its coral reefs. Grand Cayman Eco Divers in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment and local dive establishments are working together to maintain coral nurseries and aid in conservation, sustainability and restoration of Cayman’s coral reefs. The program develops effective strategies for protecting and restoring damaged areas of coral reef with an emphasis on growing Staghorn coral in nurseries.  Coral fragments are grown on structures referred to as coral trees.  These “trees” are made from PVC and fiberglass rods.  The fragments of coral grow into colonies and after significant growth, they are removed from the tree and planted onto damaged coral reef areas to aid in their recovery.  The fragments are proven to provide a sustainable method in maintaining healthy reefs for the long-run. …
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A Bay Full of Hope

By: Geo Cloete Water is still dripping from my partly undressed wetsuit. With my towel comfortably wrapped around my shoulders, I can feel the heat of the African sun warming me up nicely. It’s a stunningly beautiful winter’s day in Cape Town and although there is a crispness to the air, I feel in no rush to leave. As my mind reflects back to the wonders spotted during two incredible dives, I witness the majestic Hottentot Holland mountain range along the Eastern shore of False Bay. The soft shadows of the afternoon sun render the topography of the mountains beautifully. It won’t be long before the sky starts to turn a gradient of light blues and pinks as the sun dips lower to meet the Atlantic Ocean at sunset.…
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Heartache and Hope for Coral Reefs

In 2012 Liz Cunningham witnessed a dramatic coral bleaching event in the Turks and Caicos Islands in less than one week’s time. That month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) documented record-breaking temperature highs for the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. This excerpt from Cunningham’s award-winning book, Ocean Country, describes what she saw. By: Liz Cunningham  The boat chugged out into the sleek waters of Grace Bay to a site called Boneyard. Oh, I loved that place!  I sat on the upper deck of the boat and remembered the last time we were there, just the week before. It was a series of deep sand channels, densely populated with finger and staghorn coral. The finger coral were shaped like protruding stubby thumbs and the staghorn coral, like the large antlers of a deer.…
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The Sound of Climate Disruption

By: Michael Stocker  It has been known for quite some time that excessive anthropogenic carbon dioxide is modifying ocean chemistry, increasing acidity, and compromising shell growth in calciferous sea life. The effects of this have been confirmed in sea snails, corals, and oysters, but also in marine phytoplankton – the organisms that provide a significant share of the oxygen we breathe. In these alarming times I don’t want to increase our collective stress levels any more, except to say that turning our backs on this additional cost of a fossil-fueled civilization is not a wise survival strategy. But there is an acoustical component of a warming planet that I’d like to explore. In 2008 researchers determined that changes in ocean chemistry also had an effect on sound propagation – with the concern that noise would not be so readily absorbed by a more acidic ocean.…
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How do you Transform a Shark-Finning Camp into a Nursery for Baby Sharks?

We are proud to partner with the Misool Foundation!  By: Jo Marlow In 2005, explorers and visionaries Marit and Andrew Miners were diving in remote Raja Ampat, Indonesia amongst the richest reefs in the world. Their journey took them to a beach where they discovered an active shark-finning camp. Jarred by the tranquility experienced underwater in contrast to the brutal killing taking place at the surface, they made a pact to protect the exceptional ecosystem from poachers.  The Miners had very little applicable experience, no significant financial backing, limited language skills, and more than a few skeptical and vocal nay-sayers. What they had in abundance was energy, blissful naïveté, a passion for nature, and a steadfast belief in the ability of one small group to manifest change.…
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Ghosts of the Ocean

By: Martin Stelfox, Olive Ridley Project  A growing human population combined with an insatiable appetite for seafood has dramatically increased pressure on fishing communities worldwide. To keep up with the demand for seafood products, fishers around the world are replacing nets made with natural fibers like cotton and coconut to cheaper and stronger materials like plastics. While synthetic materials help fishers meet higher demands, they pose many new threats to marine habitats. The FAO estimates that 640,000 tons of fishing gear is abandoned, lost, and discarded in our oceans annually and has been given the term ‘ghost gear’. The majority of ghost hear is composed of plastic which does not biodegrade and has a much longer lifespan. Fishers are the first to feel the brunt of losing their nets since they are costly to replace.…
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21,000 Jobs in Peril: Pipeline Threatens the Saanich Inlet and the Southern Gulf Islands Hope Spot

By: Shilpi Chhotray, Mission Blue Communications Strategist  Did you know the cool waters of Vancouver Island provide some of the greatest diversity of marine life in North America? In fact, underwater explorer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau remarked “it’s the best temperate-water diving in the world and second only to the Red Sea.” Saanich Inlet and the Southern Gulf Islands in particular are rich with ecologically diverse creatures and plants unique from anywhere else in the world. Small rocky outcrops create private sanctuaries for a wide variety of sea birds and marine mammals while kelp forests are filled with schools of fish, colorful anemones and sponges, pods of Orca whales, and the elusive Giant Pacific octopus. It Takes a Village In addition to spectacular endemic marine life, the Island’s small communities including many vibrant First Nations have engendered strong ties to the ocean for generations.…
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"With knowing comes caring." - Dr. Sylvia Earle