Blog Archives

Gumdrop and Pioneer Seamounts – Offshore Seabird Havens

By Samuel Georgian, Marine Biogeographer at Marine Conservation Institute   Gumdrop and Pioneer Seamounts Gumdrop and Pioneer are neighboring seamounts located approximately 45 miles off the coast of California, close to San Francisco. The summit of Pioneer Seamount sits approximately half a mile (2,690 feet) below the surface, while Gumdrop Seamount is even deeper – 3,960 feet down. The seamounts are largely made up of various forms of basalt – a common volcanic rock type that forms when iron-rich lava cools quickly. Unlike many seamounts, which often form at the tumultuous intersection of two or more tectonic plates, they are both examples of intraplate volcanoes. Along with neighboring seamounts including Davidson, Guide, and Rodriguez, these types of volcanoes form within a single tectonic plate due to plumes of extremely hot mantle forcing its way through weaknesses in the Earth’s crust – in this case, likely due to the occurrence of an ancient spreading center.…
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Ocean Conservation Front and Center in Australia with Sydney Coast Hope Spot

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA As you read this, guests are gathering at Bondi Beach on Sydney’s brilliant coast to celebrate the launch of the Sydney Coast Hope Spot. The new Hope Spot is championed by the Ocean Lovers Festival in conjunction with Underwater Earth at an action-packed, 4-day event featuring on-shore live entertainment, art, photography presentations and practical workshops centered around the themes of conservation and sustainability. Starting today, April 11th through April 14th, attendees of the Ocean Lovers Festival will also enjoy a film festival, including a special screening of Mission Blue. “It is a dream come true not just for our festival, but for all our Sydney Ocean Lovers to have the support of Mission Blue to recognize Sydney’s cherished coastline on the international stage with a Hope Spot,” said Festival founder Anita Kolni.…
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Kep Archipelago Hope Spot Declared in Recognition of Protecting Cambodia’s Endangered Marine Ecosystems

KEP ARCHIPELAGO, CAMBODIA, (April 5th, 2019) The islands that make up the Kep Archipelago off the coast of Cambodia are known for their tranquil waters and at one time, some of the most exquisite seagrass meadows in Southeast Asia. The waters of Kep Archipelago act as important feeding grounds and provide migratory routes for numerous threatened species including Irrawaddy dolphins, dugongs, giant clams and Cambodia’s largest concentration of seahorses. Unfortunately, the area has faced considerable damage from illegal fishing and destructive bottom trawling practices that have ruined parts of the seafloor, creating an underwater desert. However, the work of organization Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC), through their research, direct conservation practices and local activism has greatly helped to restore Kep Archipelago’s precious ecosystems and species, including the endangered and iconic Irrawaddy dolphin.…
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Gorda and Mendocino Ridges – California’s Test Cases for Deep-Sea Mining

By: Samuel Georgian, Marine Biogeographer at Marine Conservation Institute.   The Gorda and Mendocino Ridges are a complex series of oceanic ridges just off the coast of northern California and are home to unique deep-sea ecosystems including hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. Unfortunately, these areas may be at risk from future deep-sea mining efforts. It is critical that we enact protection for these diverse habitats before they are irrevocably damaged by commercial activities. Hydrothermal Vents Only discovered in 1977, hydrothermal vents are incredible deep-sea ecosystems that form due to the venting of extremely hot and mineral-rich fluids into the water column. Hydrothermal vents occur when fractures in the seafloor allow seawater and magma to meet, resulting in the venting of extremely hot (750°F and higher) fluids into the water column.…
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Datan Algal Reef in Taiwan is Declared a Hope Spot in Support of Saving a Unique Ecosystem from Industrialization

TAOYUAN, TAIWAN, (March 19, 2019) The northwestern coast of Taiwan holds a mysterious reef that remains a secret from much of the world – including local residents. Hidden in plain sight during the day, this prolific reef comes to life at dusk with thousands of fish, crabs and macroinvertebrates rising to the water’s surface. This particular reef’s one-of-a-kind endemic species population, topography and ecosystem exist nowhere else in the world. Unfortunately, much of this exquisite algal reef has suffered destruction from industrial development and pollution throughout the last 50 years, and the remaining healthy area of the reef is under threat from a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving port project. However, local community-based groups, NGOs and researchers are determined to convince the Taiwanese government to officially protect this unique reef and are working to preserve their cultural and fishing heritage, protect the living environment and develop a sustainable eco-tourism and hospitality industry to sustain the local economy.…
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Spring Into Migration!

By: Rachel Krasna It’s almost spring! The season for growth, life and new journeys. People everywhere are starting to plan vacations to enjoy their spring break- presumably somewhere warm. During this season of vacation and celebrating, you might encounter some species starting their own journeys, or migrations! Let’s take a look at some common marine species and their vacation plans: Sharks Every year in March, dozens of shark species begin migrating to the southeastern shorelines. Among them are black tips and spinner sharks, who are escaping frigid waters found in the north. 2018’s migration had researchers nervous with numbers severely decreasing, but this year’s population numbers look promising. The black tip sharks normally appear in Florida’s waterways around mid-January and stay in the area for a few months.…
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The Widening Gyre: A Plastic Activist’s Story

By: Stiv Wilson, Campaigns Director, The Story of Stuff Project, Executive Producer and Creator, The Story of Plastic Follow Stiv on Twitter & Instagram: @agentstiv It started on a beach in Oregon, after a surf. Here, you can see no human-made objects on land. But amidst this natural wonderland that is Pacific Northwest beaches, there was something out of place. Something not quite right. I had never really been an environmentalist exactly; I was more geared towards the arts and writing. And that’s why it hit. Plastic: this material so universal we hardly even notice that it surrounds every part of our lives. But here, on a beach against a primaeval wood and boundless ocean, plastic was out of place. It was the aesthetic incongruity to the natural order that hit me– and it was a gut punch.…
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All Hands on Deck: Protecting Biodiversity in Palau

On a single dive day in Palau, lucky divers can witness an impressive range of ocean wildlife like manta rays, sea turtles, humphead parrotfish, humphead wrasse, dugong and saltwater crocodiles to list a few. And then, of course, there are myriad colorful fish, small and large, flickering across the technicolor canvases that are the coral reefs. As the Expedition Team dried off after a dive near German Channel, Dr. Sylvia Earle was asked what was her favorite creature seen on the dive. “Humans are my favorite sea creature,” she responded with a wink. And it’s true: we are as much dependent on the sea as the dolphins and diatoms. Without the sea, there is no life. No blue, no green. No ocean, no us.…
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How the Donggang Fish Market Reflects the Current State of the World’s Big Fish

By Sharon Kwok, Mission Blue Board Member It was 3:00 am and business was in full swing in Hua Qiao seafood wholesale market, located in Donggang Township, nestled along the western coastline of the Taiwan Strait. Although the South of Taiwan is a common Hong Kong tourists’ destination, most don’t venture to Hua Qiao and when they do, it’s usually not during wholesale trading hours. They also generally stay where the restaurants are. I instead, drove through the gate to the wholesale area and was assaulted by the sounds of organised chaos filling the brine and blood scented air. Built on a strip of land resembling a finger pointing southwest, the trade area allows Tuna Long-liner fishing boats to easily unload and boasts a substantial parking area sandwiched by massive buildings dealing in every form of seafood you can imagine.…
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Spitsbergen Beneath the Surface

By Courtney Mattison for Mission Blue Imagine rolling backwards off an inflatable boat into icy Arctic waters… on purpose. Enveloped in protective gear, you stay mostly dry as the cold sinks into your body and you descend into the frigid depths below. “The first thing that hits you is just the shock of the cold,” says Dr. Helena Reinardy, Associate Professor of Ecotoxicology at The University Centre Svalbard (UNIS) and member of the Longyearbyen Dive Club. She continues, “You think, I’ve got to get out right now!… But then you very quickly get used to it.” Beneath the waves, you find yourself immersed in planktonic life, including some surprisingly large zooplankton—pulsing golden green jellies the size of marbles, skittering shrimplike amphipods and graceful sea angels (Clione limacina).…
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