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.…
CONFLICT ISLANDS, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (February 5th, 2020)–
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.…
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.…
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.…
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.…
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.…
(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.…
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.…
(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.…
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. …