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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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New Zealand’s Coastal Waters Declared a Hope Spot to Protect the World’s Last Remaining Māui Dolphins

THE NEW ZEALAND COAST, (November 26, 2018) – The sparkling ocean waves that hug New Zealand’s coasts hold spectacles of outstanding natural beauty that can be found both above and below the water. Ranging from subtropical in the north to sub-Antarctic in the south, these rich and complex waters are home to a vast collection of rare marine species, many of which call New Zealand their only home on Earth. Two dolphins in particular have drawn immense international attention for their unique grey, black and white color patterns and delightfully friendly demeanor – the Hector’s and Māui dolphins.  These magnificent dolphins are the only two cetacean species endemic to New Zealand, and scientists have watched their numbers decline sharply over the last several decades; the Hector’s dolphin has faced a decline of more than 70% the original population size reported in the 1970’s with 10,000, and the Māui dolphin has suffered a particularly devastating fate with just 50 individuals remaining.…
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The Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary of Uruguay Declared a Hope Spot in Support of Cetacean Conservation

THE WHALE AND DOLPHIN SANCTUARY, URUGUAY, (October 28th, 2018) – The deep, blue waters off the southeastern coast of Uruguay are a magnificent sight to behold: more than 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises call this area home, and are a wonder to those lucky enough to witness them gliding through the cresting waves, breaching from the water and blowing their holes. The Uruguayan Sanctuary for Whales and Dolphins is a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that hosts thousands of species from cetaceans to seals, sea lions, fish and seabirds, several of which are critically endangered. The Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary of Uruguay has been declared a Hope Spot by international nonprofit Mission Blue in recognition of its value as a safe haven for cetaceans, to establish an enforceable policy to thoroughly manage and protect the sanctuary and to educate the public about the negative effects of “ocean noise” on marine life created by oil drilling, shipping and seismic testing.…
Posted in .Homepage, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Featured, mission blue, sylvia earle, Uncategorized |

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Mission Blue Heads to Palau to Investigate MPA Successes and Challenges

Named as one of National Geographic’s “Last Great Places on Earth”, The Republic of Palau is an isolated archipelago in the Western Pacific that encompasses 340 islands and some of the world’s most remarkably vast biological diversity. Palau is home to more marine life species than most any other area of comparable size on Earth. Three of the world’s major currents collide here, creating a giant mixing zone that drives productivity for thousands of species including vibrant corals, squid, starfish, sea urchins and more than 1,500 species of fish. The continued success of the marine life here is due, in part, to the citizens’ and government’s steadfast dedication to conservation and protection. The Mission Blue team is embarking on an expedition to Palau to highlight the nation’s protected areas, high biodiversity and threats faced by marine life such as illegal fishing.…
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Capurganá and Cabo Tiburón Declared a Hope Spot in Support of Leatherback Sea Turtles

CAPURGANÁ-CABO TIBURÓN, COLOMBIA, (October 9th, 2018) – A dive into the warm, crystalline waters off the coast of Capurganá, Colombia reveals a remarkably prolific scene: lush, richly colored corals resting below you as fish, dolphins and crabs zip by. A peculiarly large creature glides past you adorning a grey, rubbery flesh and pointy flippers. This gentle giant is a leatherback sea turtle, and most visiting divers are a bit star-struck upon spotting them.  These stunning coral reefs between Capurganá and Cabo Tiburón, Colombia have been declared a Hope Spot by international non-profit Mission Blue in recognition of the area’s resilient reef health and deep value as one of the world’s main nesting sites for the IUCN red-listed leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), the endangered Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the vulnerable Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).…
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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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Grand Cayman Port Controversy

In 2016, George Town Harbor was designated by Mission Blue as a Hope Spot. Mission Blue and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) define Hope Spots as “areas in the ocean recognized by scientists for having unique ecological attributes that make them especially deserving of designation as marine protected areas.” These areas that are privileged enough to be recognized have qualities of ecological, biological, aesthetic, or socioeconomic significance. Hope Spots were created to “encourage people to take responsibility and ownership of their environment” and now for the first time, the people of the Cayman Islands could have a direct say in the fate of their marine environment and the fate of George Town Harbor through a referendum. If you live in the Caymans, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) encourages you to take responsibility for your ocean and stand up for what is right with your vote. …
Posted in .Homepage, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Featured, Hope Spot, mission blue, Uncategorized |

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Declaration of Alborán Sea Hope Spot Coincides with Intercontinental Conservation Efforts

ALBORÁN SEA, (September 13th, 2018) – International non-profit Mission Blue has declared the Alborán Sea a Hope Spot, coinciding with the upcoming meeting between IUCN (Intercontinental Union for Conservation of Nature) Center for Mediterranean Cooperation and the Universities of the Alborán Sea to establish a unified system of regulations to protect the waters and species that inhabit it. The area of coastline that lines the Alborán Sea is of high ecological value with an incredible biodiversity of susceptible and endangered species that are currently on the IUCN Red List and protected species of MAPAMA (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment). The Alborán Sea is home to some of the highest biodiversity in the Mediterranean, including sea birds, turtles, seahorses, bottlenose dolphins, sharks and dwarf sperm whales.…
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Beyond Baselines: Exploratory Dives in the Outer Hebrides

By Mae Dorricott Sometimes there comes a point in a dive when you think that you should turn around and go back. There isn’t anything of interest here. But you can’t help but listen to that little voice, “Oh, just one more corner!”. That one more corner led us into a dead end. The rock walls created an underwater cul-de-sac and the kelp bed swayed in the currents below. It was pretty, for sure, but not what we we’re looking for. I turn to my buddy Kirsty, to decide which way we should go next. But as I look round, she’s disappeared. Maybe she headed out already? Before I make a move though, a torch light shines out from a dimly lit corner of the “dead end”.…
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Polar Bears of Svalbard

By Courtney Mattison for Mission Blue For those who have observed polar bears in the wild, the experiences they recall often sound reverential and daring. The world’s largest land predator, polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are larger and more carnivorous than grizzlies and hunt both on land and in the sea. But on Mission Blue’s latest Hope Spot Expedition to the Norwegian Arctic, the bears we observed were more threatened than threatening. “So we just came upon a mother and cub and they are very very skinny,” said Mette Eliseussen, Manager and Expedition Leader for Arctic Voyagers at Basecamp Spitsbergen, as she led the Mission Blue Expedition Team aboard an inflatable boat within a safe distance of two polar bears. Kip Evans, Mission Blue Director of Expeditions and Photography and leader of the expedition, focused his camera lens at the bears and began shooting images.…
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