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Leatherback Sea Turtles: New California Emblem?

Leatherback sea turtles connect cultures, seas and continents on their epic trans-ocean migrations. For 100 million years they have populated the world’s oceans. Societies around the planet revere them as symbols of good luck, prosperity and fecundity. Yet, these timeless and unique animals are in danger of extinction. Now, a conservation organization called the Turtle Island Restoration Network hopes to make this iconic animal California’s official state marine reptile in a push to raise awareness about the leatherback’s plight. “People protect what they love,” said Chris Pincetich, a marine biologist at Turtle Island’s Sea Turtle Restoration Project. He said he was surprised to find how few Californians know that leatherbacks occupy waters just off their coast. Elevating them to the status of state marine reptile will draw attention to their presence, Pincetich hopes, and raise interest in protecting them.…
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Reckoning Day for BPA

By Rachel Nuwer The ongoing battle to outlaw Bisphenol-A—a chemical found in products ranging from baby bottles to shower curtains to food cans—comes to a head this week. Since 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council has pushed the Food and Drug Administration to ban BPA in any container that holds or comes in contact with food. When the FDA failed to respond within its allotted 180 days as required by law, the NRDC sued the administration. Now, the FDA is required to respond to the NRDC’s petition no later than March 31. “There is no doubt that BPA is dangerous for human health,” said Daniella Russo, the executive director and co-founder of the non-governmental organization Plastic Pollution Coalition. “The question is, why are we not moving to do something when this is a well known fact?”…
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Toxic Tuna and Contaminated Cod

By Rachel Nuwer Parents face a difficult decision when it comes to serving seafood at the dinner table: does the risk that fish contains toxic contaminants outweigh its nutritional benefits? TheEnvironmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration sometimes provide contradictory information about what quantities of seafood are safe to consume, and the extent of contamination for many populations and species of fish remains unknown. Fish become contaminated in a variety of ways. Mercury, for example, can makes its way into an aquatic ecosystem from power plant runoff,. Rivers feed into the ocean, and so the contaminant finds its way into the marine ecosystem as well. Microbes change the element into methyl mercury, which travels up the food chain and bioconcentrates in larger and larger fish.…
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Racing to Save the Ocean

After 160 years of competition, the battle for the world’s oldest sporting trophy will be fought for in a dramatically different way this time around. The history and the tradition of this great competition—which exceeds even that of the Olympics—remain, but the 34th America’s Cup is a brand new game with a brand new message: saving the ocean. In 2013, San Francisco will welcome the America’s Cup race to her waters.  For the first time ever, stadium-style racing will put over 7 million spectators at the heart of the America’s Cup action. Coverage of the event will allow more people in more places around the world to tune in than ever before. But beyond the appeal of fast boats and extreme sports, the America’s Cup team has vowed to deliver the next race as a model sustainable sporting event.…
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Shifting Baselines: Daniel Pauly’s TED Talk

We asked Daniel Pauly, a fisheries scientist at the University of British Columbia, to expand upon his recently posted TED talk. He delivered the presentation on the 2010 Mission Blue voyage to the Galapagos and spoke about the concept of shifting baselines. Why did you decide to speak about shifting baselines as the topic of your TED talk? Because the other things that I could talk about were covered by the other speakers at the conference. That’s one thing. The other thing is the state of the world’s resources and the ocean fisheries and the reduction of biodiversity. By speaking about shifting baselines I added the dimension that explains why we do not perceive this shift. The conference, then, as a package presented the decline of marine biodiversity and explained it.…
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Discover Coiba, the “Jewel of the Pacific”

Coiba National Park, located off the southwest coast of Panama, is made up of Coiba Island, 38 smaller islands and the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriqui. Coiba Island is the biggest island in Central America and is also the largest uninhabited island in all of Latin America. Protected from the cold winds and effects of El Niño, Coiba hosts exceptional diversity both on the land and in the ocean. The island is a critical part of the Eastern Pacific Seascape, a broad ocean area within the waters of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador. Coiba was declared a World Heritage site in 2005 because of its role as a key ecological link for the transit and survival of surface-dwelling fishes and marine mammals.…
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Adios Coiba, Until We Meet Again

Syliva Earle has been busy down in Coiba this week. Here, an excerpt from her adventures, courteosy the Sylvia Earle Alliance, by Jennifer Austin Foulkes. Stay tuned for more to come! The Minister of Science and Technology (SENACYT), for the country of Panama, Ruben Berrocal joined us to learn more about our underwater observations in Coiba National Park and shared with us his scientific vision and plans for developing a research station on Coiba. He was interested in learning more about the Hannibal bank expedition, and Smithsonian Director Biff Bermingham and Sylvia Earle described the life they’d seen. We also toured Jean Pigozzi’s Liquid Jungle Lab (http://www.liquidjunglelab.com/) and heard about some of the research that has been done by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.…
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Pristine Atoll Shows Hope for World’s Oceans

By Mark Tercek Degraded coral reefs, depleted fish stocks, increasing competition for marine resources and space: the challenges facing our oceans can seem daunting. The world’s oceans are heavily impacted by humans.  Despite being the largest habitat on earth, no ocean is without our presence. We are on our way toward losing up to 70 percent of coral reefs by 2050.  Entire food webs have been upended in our pursuit of big fish. Coastal development and destructive fishing practices have contributed to the loss of 85 percent of oyster reefs globally. We have forgotten what an untouched ocean looks like.   There are, however, a few spots on earth so remote that the oceans teem with life in conditions similar to pre-industrial times.…
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Photographer Brian Skerry: Images to Change the World

Award-winning National Geographic photojournalist Brian Skerry chatted with Mission Blue about his adventures lost under Arctic ice, exploring ship wrecks, and hanging out with 70-ton whales. So why underwater photography? I guess I was drawn to photography because I was a diver first. I had an innate desire to be an ocean explorer. After I became a certified diver, I attended a diving conference where photographers and filmmakers were showing their work. I had this epiphany where I realized I could be an explorer of the ocean, but do it with a camera. I was 17 years old. Before that, I was interested in photos but not passionately; I was more interested in stories and story telling. I was always a very visual person.…
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