Monthly Archives: May 2012

Hope for Comebacks in Conception Island National Park

By Mavis McRae and Kip Evans Ann Luskey with Stingray (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue Sirenuse headed back into open water on Friday night for the 10-hour journey north from Hawksbill Cay to Conception Island.  After a somewhat bouncy night, we awoke to sunshine and gin-clear blue water. The island is home to one of the newer marine protected areas in the region, Conception Island National Park. Covering over 25,000 acres, the park is an important sanctuary for migratory birds, nesting sea birds and green turtles. As it became evident that the weather was going to hold, we loaded our equipment and boarded the tenders, excited to experience the Bahamian reefs in bright sunlight. The first dive took us to the wall, a stunning drop off with colorful corals, sponges and sea fans. …
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy | Leave a comment

Leaders Gather to Support Protection of the Sargasso Sea

By Mera McGrew Bermuda— Key leaders come to Bermuda this week to support what could be the world’s largest no-take marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean. Conversations will focus on the importance of preserving the Sargasso Sea, a 2 million-square-miles gyre, home to a number of endemic and threatened species. The Blue Halo initiative refers to the proposed marine reserve that will encompass much of Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone (E.E.Z.) within the Sargasso Sea. The landmark initiative proposes the creation of a halo-shaped protected area that would extend from the shores of Bermuda out  200-miles in every direction. The Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy Program is currently working with the government of Bermuda, Mission Blue and other non-governmental organizations to ensure the establishment of this landmark protection program.…
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Tropical Storm Beryl Hampers Expedition

Tenders in the Storm (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue By Mavis McRae and Kip Evans After being out of the water yesterday, we were anxious to dip our flippers back into the beautiful blue water, but the weather had other plans for us.  As we examined the ships radar and local weather reports, all we could see for miles were bands of thunderstorms – bright red blotches moving ominously towards our position. Tropical Storm Beryl, which made landfall in Northern Florida and is now moving up the East Coast was forming up over us. By mid-morning, lightning lit up the dark cloudy sky above us, as claps of thunder shook the boat.  It wasn’t long before someone called out that a waterspout was forming and the team did what came naturally – grabbed our cameras and prepared to get wet. …
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamas, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy | 2 Comments

Our Blue Mind

By Mera McGrew What is it about being on a white sandy beach that makes people happy? Why does the sound and smell of the ocean make people feel relaxed? Why is “ocean-view” the most valuable phrase in real estate? This coming weekend, cognitive neuroscientists, conservationists, researchers, artists, and members of the press are gathering on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to explore these questions and the emotional connection between the ocean and humans as part the BLUEMiND2 summit. The summit will explore the relationship between the ocean and the human brain. It will be a scientific exploration as well as a celebration of the emergence of neuroscience as a tool as it relates to the ocean biosphere. “It is only recently, in the past two decades, that neuroscience has really expanded,” said BLUEMiND founder, Dr.…
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WhaleWatch Project Seeks to Prevent Accidental Whale Deaths

By Joseph Castro Earlier this month, a young gray whale became entangled in two sets of commercial crab pot lines off the coast of San Francisco. Luckily for the whale, rescuers were able to free it successfully. Not all stories have a happy ending —fishing nets kill over 300,000 small whales, dolphins and porpoises each year, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Now, a new multi-agency project, dubbed WhaleWatch, hopes to reduce the number of whales accidentally killed by fishing nets and ship strikes by first determining high-risk areas that the marine mammals are likely to visit. “We want to understand where the animals are going and why they are going there,” said WhaleWatch project leader Helen Bailey, a biologist at the University of Maryland.…
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Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Explorations

Sylvia Earle – (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue By Mavis McRae The team’s visit to Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park began with checking in at  Park headquarters where the group met Andrew Kriz, Park Administrator and his team.  In an open discussion on the park deck overlooking the blue Bahamian  waters and golden sand of this protected park, Andrew spoke of the natural beauty of the park and the challenges he and his team face enforcing this no-take marine protected area.  “Our biggest challenge is protecting the beauty and natural resources of the park while at the same time providing an inviting experience for the thousands of visitors we have each year.”  Visitors to the area can find-out more about visiting the park by going to http://www.exumapark.info/. …
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Kenred Dorsett, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy | 1 Comment

UN Secretary-General Calls for Greater Marine Protection

By Mera McGrew On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used the International Day for Biological Diversity to warn a global audience about the fragile state of the world’s ocean and draw attention to the importance of marine biodiversity for the long-term health of the planet. The ocean covers over 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and supports the life of many amazing creatures, some of which are known, but many more that have yet to be discovered, described or catalogued. “Despite its importance, marine biodiversity — the theme of this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity — has not fared well at human hands,” stated UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Ban put an emphasis on the over-exploitation of the world’s fish stocks explaining that more than half of global fisheries are exhausted while another third are depleted.…
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Crimes Against Marine Mammals

By Mera McGrew On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) unveiled a unique exhibit at the Crime Museum in Washington D.C., Crimes Against Marine Mammals. The temporary exhibit, which runs until September 3, details specific violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and offers insight into how law enforcement agents investigate those violations. “Through the artifacts NOAA brought in for their temporary exhibit, visitors of the museum can learn more about what the issues are and how to prevent them,” explained Crime Museum COO, Janine Vaccarello. “Many people are unaware of how prevalent violence against marine mammals is, even here in the United States.” The exhibit was organized as part of the 40th anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which was signed into law in 1972.…
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Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park and Thunderball Cay

By Mavis McRae Dr. Sylvia Earle (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue Created in 1958, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was the first of its kind in the world and is famous for it’s pristine beauty, outstanding anchorages and breathtaking marine environment. Established and maintained by the Bahamas National Trust, it was the first marine fishery reserve to be established in the Caribbean. The  limestone islands of Exuma have been created through a build-up of calcium carbonate from the rise and fall of sea levels, wind and deposits over thousands of years.  The wind and rain that built up the islands over the years have eroded the limestone into pits that surprisingly allow plants to establish roots and thrive. This same erosion has created grottos and caves like Thunderball Grotto, made famous in Hollywood films including ‘Splash’ and ‘Thunderball.’ Eleanor Phillips (c) Kip F.…
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Kenred Dorsett, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy | 1 Comment

My Village, My Lobster

By Mera McGrew Recently recognized as a finalist at the International Wildlife Film Festival, the documentary “My Village, My Lobster” tells the harrowing story of an industry and a community in crisis. “I have always been interested in social issues…it was literally over a lobster dinner in Nicaragua that I was first introduced to this particular issue,” said director, cinematographer and editor Joshua Wolff. That was in 2007. Wolff felt it was a story that needed to be shared with the world. Filmed over the course of four years, the documentary highlights indigenous Miskito lobster divers along Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast. The film gives a voice to those who risk their lives diving for the region’s most lucrative resource, the Caribbean spiny lobster — referred to locally as red gold.…
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