January 28, 2014

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On Sunday morning I had the privilege of joining Dr. Sylvia Earle and director Kip Evans on a scientific aerial survey over Las Baulas National Marine Park and surrounding areas. The Lighthawk team did an amazing job during the flight giving us the opportunity of filming some great aerial footage.

We were looking for sea turtles swimming near the Marine Park, or perhaps their tracks on the sand, left the previous night after they had nested – lonely impressions on the sand showcasing the resilience of these marvelous creatures.


During the afternoon we switched our mode of transportation hoping to find them in the water. Dr. George Shillinger joined us aboard the Boos Adventures boat, providing valuable knowledge on sea turtle behavior.

The winds from the Papagayo jet stream really kick up this time of year so we headed north of the park hoping to find nesting beaches. To our delight we were able to witness an amazing display of breaching mobula rays. Their aerial acrobatics went on for hours.

Soon after we saw the ocean bubbling to life as bait fish swam to the surface trying to escape predators. We jumped into the water straight away hoping to catch the bait ball on film. Schools of jacks and rainbow runners surrounded us darting in every direction fleeing from unseen predators. It was a perfect ending for a long day of work in the field.

By Dr. Erick Ross / MarViva

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  • Catherine Forshall says:

    My daughter posted Sylvia’s 2009 Ted Talk, which I found very moving. I wonder if you are able to tell me in what measurable ways oceans are better and worse than they were then then.
    I’m a marine artist, and right behind the aims of the Mission Blue, supporting the British Marine Conservation society, which is campaigning for no fishing zones.

  • Wallace J. Nichols says:

    Hi Jan. I have the same warm feelings about Sylvia ; )

    Deb asked me to chime in. I leave tomorrow to join my dear colleagues in Mexico to celebrate 16 years of successful work for sea turtles. The project began as a network of fishers, turtle hunters and scientists working together to ensure that sea turtles didn’t go extinct, and has grown each year. In collaboration with our colleagues further south in Michoacan, working on the nesting beaches for the past 30 years, we’ve seen excellent results for both the black sea turtles and people. Conservation at the human+animal level is slow, hard work, requires a lot of time and patience…and humility! In Mexico as in the US, policies and science just aren’t enough to get the job done. Typically, I tell my students that if they want to DO conservation to plan to get fully immersed for at least 10 years before seeing measurable results. Most decide that they’d rather do straight science, which is also very important. Others dive in head first. How this info translates to your questions and concerns, I don’t know.

  • Jan Dicahrry says:

    This is awesome! I met Dr. Sylvia Earle at a Marine Debris Conference in Galveston Texas a couple of years ago. I will never forget her or the impact she has had on me for the ocean and all it’s inhabitants.It changed my life forever….

    The purpose of this email though is quite different. I was wondering,how do you get officials (like Australia) to take on the Native Act that permits the slaughter of thousands of endangered Sea Turtles a year? How does one go about change? I just recently watched a horrid video of a large sea turtle having its fins sliced off alive,and it cut open,again alive and I could not hardly watch much because of the suffering they were causing. It was on facebok page colinwhocares Riddell..The man’s name is Colin Riddell,,in Australia. I would think you would know of this situation already, but I am trying to get some insight from other’s on what can be done to change this unlimited killing of sea turtles,dugongs,etc. ..I hear the turtles aren’t even being used for their intended purposes(as many years ago). I was told this was a delicate subject that no one wants to deal with,so to speak. What can one do to really change this?I respect indigenous people’s right’s, but the world has changed and I don’t see how this can be sustainable..The fact that they have a permit to kill and nothing is monitored is heart breaking,especially when their lives are being taken for all the wrong reasons.Can anyone guide me on this? I do not live in Australia, I live in Texas,but this subject has just gotten into the depths of m soul…

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.
    Have a great day,
    Jan Dicharry

    • Mission Blue Admin says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Jan. So many of us have been inspired to treat our blue planet differently by Dr. Earle – that in itself is inspiring! We at Mission Blue are often disturbed by how humankind treats our fellow earthlings. It is problematical to effect change, both inside foreign countries and our own, but we work everyday to do just that. It is a slow process, but there are many examples of where laws are changing for the better – such as the numerous shark fin bans around the globe. I will ping some of our partners who may be able to answer you specifically, and don’t forget – There is hope!

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