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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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Photo of the Day ~ Peacock Mantis Shrimps’ Amazing Eyes

The Mantis Shrimp has eyes that are compound, like those of the dragonfly, although they have a far smaller number of ommatidia (about 10,000 per eye;) however, in the mantis shrimp each ommatidia row has a particular function. For example, some of them are used to detect light, others to detect color, etc. Mantis shrimp have much better color vision than humans (their eyes having 12 types of color receptors, whereas humans have only three,) as well as ultraviolet, infrared and polarized light vision, thus having the most complex eyesight of any animal known. The eyes are located at the end of stalks, and can be moved independently from each other, rotating up to 70 degrees. Interestingly, the visual information is processed by the eyes themselves, not the brain.…
Posted in Multimedia, Photo of the Day |

Photo of the Day ~ Weedy Scorpionfish

Also known as Rhinopias frondosa, this fishy jewel’s cryptic camouflage is an invaluable tool for hunting prey and avoiding becoming prey itself. Both prey and predators mistake the well camouflaged fish for a piece of seaweed! Photo: (c) Jamie Pollack…
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Photo of the Day ~ Harbor Seal off Cortes Bank

Spotted at Cortes Bank near San Diego, California, a harbor seal (Phoco vitulina) swims through an underwater kelp forest. Captured by Kyle McBurnie, the photo is the overall winner of the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s Underwater Photography Contest, which recognizes amateur photography.   …
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Photo of the Day ~ High Five for Sharks

Possibly our favorite shark photo – Eli Martinez receives a stylin’ High Five from a smiling lemon shark named Taxi off the Bahamas. We love it because it shows what many shark/human interactions are really like. That said, sharks are individuals, and you’ll want to exercise reason and caution dealing with any wild animal. To keep things in perspective, you are more likely to be killed by a vending machine than by a shark – and even more shocking, by your family toaster! Photo: Paul Spielvogel  …
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Photo of the Day ~ Great Hammerhead

Up close and personal in the Bahamas with a Great Hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran.) Many theories have been put forward about the function of the hammer – amongst these, the most popular are that it helps the great hammerhead to scan larger areas of the ocean floor for food, and that it maximises the area of the sensory organs (known as the ampullae of Lorenzini) that can detect chemical, physical and thermal changes in the water, as well as electric fields. Photo: (c) Bill Eastwick…
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Humpbacks off Monterey, California

From Mission Blue Director of Expeditions and Photography, Kip Evans, “It’s so rare to have these beautiful flat days off the coast of Monterey. Adding huge Humpback whales….priceless!”…
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Photo of the Week ~ Harbor Seal

A common seal (Phoca vitulina) at the surface in the evening. Harbor seals are also the most widely distributed pinniped. They are found in temperate, subarctic, and arctic coastal areas on both sides of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. Five separate subspecies have been identified, each common to a specific coastal region. Harbor seals are hunted primarily for their skins, oil, and meat. Their tendency to remain in the same area year-round puts them at greater risk for hunting. The Lake Ontario population was exterminated by the early 1800s, and the Greenland, Hokkaido, and Baltic Sea populations are currently under severe threat. In the Gulf of Alaska, populations have declined dramatically during the last 20-30 years. Harbor seals are thought by a few to “compete” with commercial fisheries for food sources and unfortunately this myth results in many harbor seals being killed by humans needlessly.…
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Photo of the Week ~ Walking Shark

Mission Blue partners at Conservation International have played a part in the discovery of a new species of Epaulette Shark, or Walking Shark (Hemiscyllium Halmahera.) Discovered in Halmahera in north eastern Indonesia, this will be the ninth recognized species of walking shark in the world. These are relatively small sharks with the largest only reaching 121 cm (48 in) in adult body length. Instead of swimming, these sharks “walk” along the ocean floor by wriggling their bodies and using their small paddle-like pelvic and pectoral fins to push themselves forward across the ocean floor. It will only swim if being pursued by a predator, and even then, not for long.  The good news is, according to Dr. Mark Erdmann, the local government and emerging dive tourism industry is excited to promote its newly-named endemic species.…
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