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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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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Coastal Georgia’s New Beacon of Hope

By Pam Longobardi  Something wondrous happened for coastal Georgia – we have been named a new Mission Blue Hope Spot! Piloted by a 3-woman team, Paulita Bennett-Martin, Simona Perry and Angela Hariche, the designation of the Continental Shelf off Georgia’s coast is now in the focused beam of the lighthouse that is Mission Blue. What this means for the deep-water corals, the loggerhead sea turtles, the native and itinerant fish, and the grand and elusive North Atlantic Right Whale that call this coast home is unmeasurable.   As activists and ocean lovers prepare for battle against the onslaught of offshore oil drilling, seismic exploration, plastic ban pre-emption laws, port deepening and unsustainable exploitive fishing, these boots-on-the-ground-and-in-the-state-capital warriors have another arrow in their quiver to weave a network of protection for the creatures of our beloved coast.…
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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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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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