Blog Archives

Hope Spot Case Study – New Zealand Coastal Waters Hope Spot

By Paula Swiatkowski Dr. Elisabeth Slooten is the Hope Spot Champion for the New Zealand Coastal Waters Hope Spot and professor at the University of Otago. She was a recipient of the Charles Fleming Award for environmental achievement from the Royal Society of New Zealand and has dedicated much of her work to endangered cetaceans in the waters around New Zealand – specifically Hector’s and Maui dolphins, sperm whales and right whales. MB: How has partnering with Mission Blue helped in achieving your goals for the Hope Spot? ES: Becoming a Mission Blue Hope Spot has directly applied a huge international spotlight on New Zealand, putting pressure on the government to ban gill net trawling to protect the endangered Hector’s and Māui dolphins in our waters.…
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Conservation Efforts Saluted for “Success Story” in Bunaken Marine Park, Indonesia

BUNAKEN MARINE PARK, INDONESIA Established as a National Park in 1991, the Bunaken Marine Park is a flourishing example of how diving communities can bring about change and ensure that their regions continue to thrive. Dr. Hanny Batuna and his wife Ineke, founded Murex Dive Resorts in the 1980s and since then the family has seen many changes. Dr. Batuna, a pioneer scuba diver in North Sulawesi and he played a pivotal part in the establishment of the park and the diving community. He dedicated time and resources to training other local divers and a strong diving community emerged in the region. Today the North Sulawesi Water Sports Association, which is made up of local dive centers and dive resorts, works together to ensure the ongoing success of this marine reserve.…
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The Caspian Sea’s First Hope Spot Highlights Protecting Critically Endangered Sturgeons

(Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan)  The Caspian Sea is the largest inland body of water on Earth and a precious, yet fragile place for approximately 400 endemic species. The sea was once teeming with life and supplied sturgeon (Acipenseridae), trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and salmon (S. ciscaucasicus) for the inland European fisheries in the middle ages. Unfortunately, this region has struggled with a “tragedy of the commons”, with several sturgeon species currently in danger of extinction due to pollution and illegal fishing along the shores of the five countries that surround the sea.     However, Azerbaijan has been making major moves to preserve the health of this unique body of water: in September 2018, the government established the Ghizilagaj National Park, making it the very first marine park in the entire Caspian Sea.…
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Cause for Hope: Kimbe Bay’s Youth Marine Conservation Program Preserves One of the Most Biodiverse Reefs on the Planet

Featured image by Grant Thomas (Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea)  Kimbe Bay’s marine conservation history dates back to 1983 when couple Max and Cecilie Benjamin first opened Walindi Plantation Resort along its shore. The resort quickly established itself as a premier dive spot– the area possesses one of the highest biodiversity in tropical fish and coral in the world. The Benjamins noticed, however, that the state of the world’s reefs had begun to decline. In 1997, they opened Mahonia Na Dari, or ‘Guardians of the Sea’, right next door. Today, Mahonia Na Dari along with James Cook University run the Marine Environment Education Program (MEEP) in which local students of all ages are equipped with the training, tools and knowledge to conserve the Bay’s marine environment for their community and the world.…
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Continental Shelf off Georgia’s Coast Celebrated as New Hope Spot and State’s “Blue Heart”

Continental shelves make up just 8% of the ocean’s geology, yet play an immensely important role in its health: the shallow waters of a continental shelf absorb more sunlight than the rest of the ocean, allowing for a rich and healthy marine ecosystem to thrive. The shelf hugging the state of Georgia including the Blake Plateau is wider than any other area along the Atlantic Coast (more than 80 miles wide), making it a critical engine for ocean productivity in the Western Atlantic. Part of what makes the Georgia continental shelf through the Blake Plateau so special is that these waters are home to endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)– life that local marine conservationists want the rest of the state to recognize and value.…
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Innovative Marine Restoration Front and Center with Pangatalan Island Hope Spot

PANGATALAN ISLAND, PHILIPPINES, (September 19th, 2019) – In 1992, French business developer Fred Tardieu and his wife packed up their belongings and departed from their home, careers and ease of familiarity to pursue what they thought would be a well-earned retirement. Little did they know at the time, their unassuming plunge into adventure would lead them to become trailblazing marine conservationists in the Philippines. Driven by their love for the ocean and eagerness for bettering the world, in 2011 they purchased Pangatalan Island in Palawan and founded Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation, where they work alongside conservation partners and local community members to restore the island’s unique ecosystems that have been damaged from unsustainable practices. Alongside their partners, in 2017, they established a 45-hectare marine protected area (MPA) surrounding the island – with another MPA double its size currently in the works.…
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Mauritius Recognized as New Hope Spot in Support of Unifying Local Marine Conservation Community

(BLACK RIVER DISTRICT, MAURITIUS) The island of Mauritius is a paradise to behold: palm trees and fringing reefs almost completely line the coasts, with waterfalls and white sand beaches defining the rich, dynamic landscape of the small volcanic island. The island’s west side, the Black River District, is known for its exquisite dive spots where a plunge beneath the waves will acquaint you with creatures like octopuses, dolphins, rays and turtles. However, much like the rest of the world, Mauritius experiences threats from pollution (like phosphates that inhibit coral growth and pesticides that kill the animals) and the effects of a changing climate.     In its battle to fight these threats, the country faces unique obstacles including poaching, overfishing, a general disregard of the laws in combination with under-enforcement of the marine protected areas and impending plans for certain projects that will mean disaster for the marine ecosystem.…
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Diving at Guanahacabibes Hope Spot!

By: Asher Warren Hi, I’m Asher Warren and I’m 10 years old. This summer I got PADI dive certified at Mermet Springs, a quarry in Southern Illinois. My instructor and everyone there were so encouraging, kind and helpful. The PADI eLearning portion was easy and fun – especially the diagrams in the review videos. Of the five eLearning sections, my favorite was section one because it talked about the effects of increasing and decreasing air volumes. The pool skills were very exciting because I got to put on the gear and breathe underwater. I had a big fear of equalizing, which is pushing air into your ears and sinuses. My mom helped me work through that and before I knew it, we were going down to the bottom of the pool.…
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Stop the Tribugá Gulf Sea Port: Latest Hope Spot in Colombia Celebrates Wondrous Biodiversity and Need for Official Protection

Tribugá Gulf, COLOMBIA (August 29th, 2019) –  The Tribugá Gulf, or Golfo de Tribugá, is located on the Pacific coast of Colombia in the western side of the “Chocó” province touching the municipality of Nuquí. This region is perhaps the most biodiverse in the world, and chosen by magnificent animals like hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to breed and raise their young. The “Ensenada de Utría” National Park is found inside the gulf, with its lush rainforests providing enriching ecotourism opportunities for those who visit. However, this beautiful pocket of the world is facing a threat to its natural wonders: the Colombian government is looking to build a Seaport in the Tribugá Gulf, right next to the existing National Park within it, threatening to end the local sustainable ecotourism that supports many people of the Chocó Province- not mentioning the countless marine and land species.…
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Newly Declared Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot Shines Spotlight on Community-Wide Conservation– and Dr. Earle’s Beloved Hometown

FLORIDA GULF COAST, UNITED STATES (August 23rd, 2019) –  The Florida Gulf Coast Hope Spot hugs the state’s west side, spanning from Apalachicola Bay in the north to Ten Thousand Island in the south. The coast is famous for its immense beauty, rich biodiversity and booming local industries that sustain hundreds of thousands of people, and has become a cornerstone for sustainability. Conservationists, local business owners and members of the general public alike have built a culture upon preserving the integrity of the coast’s natural state– and a determination to protect the area’s marine life from threats created by human interference.  The home city of this Hope Spot, Dunedin, is especially near and dear to Mission Blue’s heart– this town is where Dr.…
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