Blog Archives

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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Japan’s First Hope Spot Honors Rare Coral Reefs and Dugong Habitats

(HENOKO-ŌURA, JAPAN) – October 24th, 2019   The coastal waters of Henoko-Ōura in Japan are an understated natural wonder. The tiny islands within these waters mark the northernmost point on Earth for blue coral (Heliopora coerulea) growth, where lucky divers can spot rare creatures including the largest known colony of blue coral in the world. This unique coral hot-spot powers a little-known but richly diverse marine ecosystem which holds more than 5,000 species in its waters including 262 known to be endangered. Several new and previously unrecorded species have been recently found, and scientists believe there could be more yet to be discovered.     It’s on Okinawa that the United States government has maintained military bases since WWII, and now has its sights set on the waters of Henoko-Ōura Bay, also on the island.…
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Investigation for Conservation

By: Sebastian Nicholls, Colombian Ocean Advocate and Mission Blue Volunteer Spanish version below. On deck, there was suddenly a frenzy of work. Pole spears, appendages for taking tissue samples, satellite tags and acoustic tags covered the tables where we had just eaten our breakfast. The scientists on board the Ferox boat–named after one of the species of shark found in the area, the smalltooth sand tiger shark or Odontapsis Ferox–were getting ready to roll.      Mission Blue organized an expedition to Malpelo Island, a Mission Blue Hope Spot, along with partners including the Malpelo Foundation, Conservation International Colombia, and Migramar. One of the goals of the trip was to study sharks and fish that use the area, to improve their conservation. …
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Colombia’s Ocean: a Paradise Worth Protecting

By: Sebastian Nicholls, Colombian Ocean Advocate and Mission Blue Volunteer Spanish version is included below.       e   Colombia is an ocean country– its marine jurisdiction is 40% of its total surface extension. Its ocean area branches out from islands in its possession– Malpelo in the Pacific and San Andres and Providencia in the Caribbean carve out longer branches of marine jurisdiction than it would have without them. Like most countries though, Colombia isn’t doing so well by its ocean. Sustainable Development Goal 14 includes targets for 10% of marine areas protected by 2020 and sustainably managing and protecting marine areas by the same deadline.     Depending on what you measure, Colombia is close to those targets or very far.…
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An Island of Hope for the Ocean’s Future

By: Sebastian Nicholls, Colombian Ocean Advocate and Mission Blue Volunteer Spanish version is included below. “We are in the port of Buenaventura, on the Pacific Coast of Colombia, and we are ready to go to Malpelo,” Sandra Bessudo tells us, as the crew readies the ship to depart. “36 hours and we’ll be there.”      Sandra is the Hope Spot Champion for Malpelo, the island we were getting ready to explore. She led efforts to protect the waters around Malpelo Island, which harbors amazing reef and open-ocean ecosystems chock-full of life. Through her tireless efforts, Malpelo became a Mission Blue Hope Spot in 2016.         Sandra founded the Malpelo and Other Marine Ecosystems Foundation, Mission Blue’s science partner for our expedition to the site, twenty years ago.…
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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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