Blog Archives

Antarctica Put to the Acid Test

By Maggie Amsler The great white continent of Antarctica and its encircling frigid Southern Ocean is one of the most remote and pristine regions of the planet and as such lends itself to a natural laboratory.  It is also now one of the planet’s most threatened regions due to climate change.  I recently completed a four-month research expedition investigating the effects of climate change on the marine communities in the local, shallow waters.  Local meaning Palmer Station, a US research facility on Anvers Island off the western Antarctic Peninsula, which served as both home and laboratory.    My team and I were not studying the direct effects of the documented increase in air temperature over Antarctica or increase in the Southern Ocean water temperature, yet was reminded of it daily. …
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Mission Blue Announced as Key Partner for Earth Day 50th Anniversary

Wave of Global Engagement Building for Landmark Earth Day 2020 April 15th, 2020, Washington, DC/Napa, CA Earth Day Network, which coordinates the annual Earth Day, is today delighted to announce that Mission Blue has become a key partner for 2020. Mission Blue, which is igniting public support for a global network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots! – large enough to save and restore the ocean, joins thousands of other groups and entities worldwide dedicated to make stepped-up environmental action a cornerstone in this crucial year. Earth Day 2020 comes 50 years after the first Earth Day which, in 1970, mobilized over 20 million citizens to demand action on the environmental challenges of the time. Today Earth Day is observed in around 190 countries and mobilizes one billion people and close to 100,000 organizations.…
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New Hope Spot in Panama Champions a Push for a Healthier Environment

Featured image by Bocas del Toro Productions   BOCAS DEL TORO ARCHIPELAGO, PANAMA (February 10th, 2020)  Over the last 30 years, Panama’s Bocas del Toro archipelago has gone from an unknown paradise to capturing the hearts of globe-trotting wanderlusters. This small archipelago is home to just 16,000 residents, and in 2012 they hosted 225,000 tourists. Compared to many favorite destinations across the world, this chain of islands is relatively new to the tourism industry – but many locals and conservationists are already feeling the unintended effects of the sharp rise of travelers and accompanying development.     Water conditions surrounding the islands continue to worsen. Sedimentation, eutrophication, hypoxic events and turbidity have impacted the abundance of many coral species and have made conditions difficult for regrowth.…
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Conflict Islands Hope Spot Celebrates Extraordinary Coral Reefs and Local Conservation Work

CONFLICT ISLANDS, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (February 5th, 2020)–    The Conflict Islands atoll is an isolated ring of 21 individual islands surrounded by brilliant blue water in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG). It spans 4.55km2 (1.76sp mi) and 21km (13mi) in area and length. Currently, the Conflict Islands are not under any protection by the PNG Government, although Conservation International conducted an ecological report which revealed something truly spectacular: the reefs hold more than half the world’s coral species– making the Conflict Islands one of the richest natural habitats in the world. Thanks to the atoll’s remote location, its vibrant ecosystem has been left virtually untouched. The islands have an incredible advocate; the organization Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative (CICI) has been hard at work over the last couple of years to keep the atoll’s ecosystem as healthy and stable as possible through their reef conservation projects and shark and sea turtle tagging programs.…
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Spain’s Canary Islands Declared a Hope Spot Amid Global Climate Change Discussion at CoP25

TENERIFE-LA GOMERA, CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN (December 11th, 2019) – (Spanish Translation Appears Below) The brilliant blue waters between the Canary Islands of Tenerife and La Gomera have been called the “Hawaii of Europe” for being one of the finest examples in the world of a thriving pelagic archipelago system. Within the waves lives an extraordinary assemblage of open-ocean species, including the short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), also known as the “cheetahs of the sea”. More than 700,000 visitors travel each year from every corner of the globe to whale and bird watch, SCUBA dive and hike along the islands’ scenic cliffs.     These waters span several preexisting protected areas, or Special Areas of Conservation, such as the SAC Teno-Rasca in Tenerife, and in La Gomera SAC Santiago-Valle Gran Rey and SAC Los Organos.…
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Hope Spot Case Study – Gulf of California

By Paula Swiatkowski Dr. James Ketchum is a shark expert and one of the Hope Spot Champions for the Gulf of California Hope Spot. He co-founded the nonprofit Pelagios Kakunjá, who’s extensive research has contributed to expanding government-designated marine protected areas and other related initiatives.  When Dr. Earle founded Mission Blue in 2009, the Gulf of California was one of the first locations she designated as a Hope Spot. The selection was based on her recognition of its importance to the global ocean due to its ecosystem diversity and extraordinary productivity. MB: What has partnering with Mission Blue on these efforts meant, in terms of achieving goals in the Hope Spot? JK: Partnering with Mission Blue has been critical for the advancement of the marine protected areas (MPAs) here.…
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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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The Great Southern Reef of Australia Honored as New Hope Spot

GREAT SOUTHERN REEF, AUSTRALIA, (December 5th, 2019) – A dive off Australia’s wild southern coast reveals what is perhaps the continent’s best kept secret: the fascinating and intrinsically unique Great Southern Reef (GSR). Fueled by dense kelp forests that drive the productivity and life in the region, the GSR is one of the most pristine and unique temperate reefs in the world.     The Great Southern Reef has been named Mission Blue’s newest Hope Spot in recognition of the reef’s exquisite, raw beauty, immensely rich biodiversity, indigenous values and the important work local stewards in the area have dedicated to research, education and public awareness.     Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue elaborates, “The Great Southern Reef is a fantastic example of how the natural world can thrive when we leave it alone.…
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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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