Monthly Archives: March 2013

Belize – Mesoamerican Reef

In the winter of 2010, the Sealliance team made a 10-day trip to Belize to highlight research being conducted by scientists studying coral reefs, mangrove forest, and sea turtles.  We traveled to Belize City, Ambergris Caye, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, and Turneffe Atoll.  We were on a mission to show the difference between areas under protection and areas outside of protection.  The difference was staggering in some locations. We interviewed scientists, filmed sea turtle research, tagging programs, and documented several coral reefs areas, both in and out of reserves. Home to earth’s second longest barrier reef—the Mesoamerican Reef system—this country of only 300,000 already plays an important role in protecting the blue heart of the planet. While there we aimed to film and research the natural habitats of this unique Central American nation, as well as to meet a number of Belizeans who are working hard to preserve its vital, fragile environment.…
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Cuba

The team’s second expedition took us to the coral reefs of Cuba. In the late fall of 2009, we explored what remains of a priceless ecological resource; largely unspoiled coral reefs that support a wide array of rare plant and animal species. In 2009 our team documented Cuba’s marine life and the biodiversity that thrives on Cuba’s coral reefs in order to aid our partners’ conservation efforts. Cuba is located at the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea; it provides a vital refuge for fish, amphibians, birds, and other creatures that have been forced to flee nearby local habitats. For example, Cuba is the exclusive sanctuary for the Cuban crocodile which once thrived in an area that extended from the Cayman Islands to the Bahamas.…
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Holbox

During July of 2009, the SEA team was on and around the island of Holbox as part of a research expedition to better understand the largest fish on earth. Whale sharks are widely distributed in all tropical and warm temperate seas throughout the world. Their distribution in these warm tropical waters is linked to the high productivity of these areas, i.e. dense concentrations of plankton. One particular island off the coast of Mexico boasts a large population of migratory whale sharks. Isla Holbox (pronounced “hole-bosh”) was a well-kept secret until 6 years ago when whale sharks were discovered right off its coast. Although whale sharks are generally considered solitary animals, they congregate in the waters surrounding Holbox to feed and mate from May through September, earning the island’s designation as the top place in the world to see and swim with these ‘gentle giants’.…
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Gulf of California Expedition

Jacques Cousteau dubbed the Gulf of California, “the world’s aquarium.” The Gulf of California boasts about one-third of the world’s total number of marine mammal species, nearly 900 fish species, of which about 90 are endemic to the area, as well as more than 170 seabird species. While it is known to be one of the most diverse seas on the planet, much of the Gulf of California as we know it today is under threat from a variety of activities ranging from overfishing to coastal development.  In 2009, Dr. Earle named the Gulf of California one of her top “Hope Spot” locations and vowed to help bring attention and support to the region. The Gulf of California is a large body of water that separates the peninsula of Baja California from the Mexican mainland.…
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At 40, CITES turns its attention to sharks

Delegations from 177 countries are convening in Bangkok starting today, marking the 16th gathering of parties to the international conservation agreement known as CITES. This remarkable agreement has offered protection to over 4,500 animal and 30,000 plant species from depletion and extinction for 40 years. At the top of the agenda in 2013 are sharks, of which up to a hundred million are killed each year according to a recent study in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Policy. Given the rapacious shark finning trade, this year's conservation focus on these majestic animals is timely and the ocean community is pushing hard for the delegates to add shark and manta species to the Appendix II of the treaty. This simple action would regulate commercial trade of these species and put a much needed brake on over exploitation.…
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Photo of the Day ~ Time to be kind to sharks

With the focus at this year's CITES convention on sharks and mantas, we thought that Daniel Botelho's touching photo of a close encounter of the best kind between a man and an Oceanic whitetip shark was fitting for our photo of the day.  The window of time when we can save some shark species will only be open for a bit longer. The time to act is now.  Read more in today's feature on CITES by Brett Garling. Photo (c) Daniel Bothelho…
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Photo of the Day ~ Tiger Shark

Alexander Mustard shared this beautiful image of a Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier swimming just under the surface in the Bahamas. Large Tigers can grow to as much as 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in length and weigh more than 1,900 pounds (900 kilograms). They are heavily harvested for their fins, skin, and flesh, and their livers contain high levels of vitamin A, which is processed into vitamin oil. They have extremely low repopulation rates, and therefore may be highly susceptible to fishing pressure. They are listed as near threatened throughout their range. Photo: Alex Mustard Underwater Photography…
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