Blog Archives

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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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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Critically Endangered Goliath Groupers, Hope for Sharks and the State of Our Corals

By: Angela Smith, Shark Team One The world spoke and Florida state conservation managers listened regarding the fate of the goliath grouper in Florida waters! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted on April 26 to save the goliath grouper instead of opening up a potentially devasting fish and kill lottery on these iconic fish. Goliath groupers are critically endangered worldwide so the decision to not allow catch and kill was highly important for their continued recovery in Florida. These fish are classic apex predators, large, rare and only a few individuals occur on any given reef, so they are very important to the ecosystem. Goliath groupers do not have federal endangered species protection status yet, so the issue to catch and kill goliaths could come up again, but for the foreseeable future the fate of the goliath grouper is safe and the Coastal Southeast Florida Hope Spot community was a driving force in their protection.…
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New Report Dives Deep Into the Myeik Archipelago

From our partners at Fauna & Flora International The Myeik Archipelago along Myanmar’s southern coastline harbours hidden secrets including coral reefs teeming with life, abundant mangroves and seagrass beds, and unspoiled beaches. It is home to rare and threatened marine species, including hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles and shark species such as scalloped hammerhead and whale sharks, and supports numerous fishing communities. However, this once pristine archipelago has slowly been degraded by a raft of local pressures including overfishing, illegal fishing practices, increased runoff from coastal developments and forest clearing, and population growth. The Myeik Archipelago was nominated as a Mission Blue Hope Spot because of its diversity of species and habitats. Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has recently been named as the Champion of the Myeik Archipelago Hope Spot as a result of our long-standing involvement at the site.…
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Stories From the Ice

By Courtney Mattison for Mission Blue If you’ve never experienced an iceberg before, you might assume that they are silent, bobbing solitarily in the ocean. In reality icebergs can be loud, crackling and popping, crunching and even rolling into one another. When a glacier expands and “calves,” it makes an explosive “bang” as a giant chunk falls off into the water, forming a new iceberg. Ride an inflatable Zodiac among them and the sounds grow, emanating from tiny air bubbles trapped thousands of years ago and then suddenly released into the air around you. Floating ice such as this and sea ice—ice formed directly from frozen seawater—provides platforms for seals and seabirds to rest, sunbathe and catch fish. Polar bears, the Arctic’s top natural predator, rely on sea ice to hunt seals.…
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Declaration of Jæren Coast Hope Spot in Norway Emphasizes Ocean Conservation and Ecotourism Over Oil Extraction

STAVANGER, NORWAY (June 16th, 2018) – While Norway has a leading role in the international oil industry and underwater technology, there are significant gaps in Norwegians’ knowledge of their own coastal marine ecosystems. In an effort to highlight the vibrancy of the local marine environment and as well as the threat that oil extraction presents to ecosystem integrity, Mission Blue has declared a Hope Spot at the Jæren Coast on the southwestern coast of Norway. The Hope Spot is championed locally by the Rachel Carson Prize, an organization dedicated to enhancing the legacy of Rachel Carson, the mother of the modern environmental movement. Dr. Sylvia Earle, the founder of Mission Blue, visited the Jæren Coast last year along with scientists and Norwegian policymakers, in order to bring more awareness to this rich marine ecosystem and also to accept the 2017 Rachel Carson prize.…
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International Attention Turns to the Humboldt Archipelago, Now Declared a Mission Blue Hope Spot

CHANARAL DE ACEITUNO, CHILE (April 3rd, 2018) – The Humboldt Archipelago has been declared a Hope Spot by international non-profit Mission Blue in recognition that the area is one of the most bio-diverse and ecologically important parts of the Chilean coast and the southeast Pacific. The Humboldt Archipelago is the finest example of Humboldt Current kelp forests in the world, and is home to 80% of the world’s endangered Humboldt penguin population, as well as many other sea birds species, sea lions, sea otters, dolphins and orca. It is also a summer feeding ground for endangered blue, fin and humpback whales. The Humboldt Archipelago contains ancestral fishing grounds for local communities and is a growing pole for ecotourism, backed by a community that calls for sustainable development and education.…
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Ideas Abound at Mission Blue’s First Annual Shark Conference in La Paz, 2017

by Madison Adams, Mission Blue In partnership with PEW and Palagios Kakunja, Mission Blue has just concluded its first annual Shark Conference in Baja California Sur. The conference included speakers such as Dr. James Ketchum of Pelagios Kakunjá who works with the shark populations in the Gulf of California to Juan Cuevas who represented shark fisherman in the area. The intention was to begin an open, respectful discussion between scientists, conservationists, tourism operators, fisherman and other stakeholders over the concerns regarding sharks and rays in the Gulf of California. After each day of inspiring speakers, the speakers and guests of the conference were randomly put into focus groups with questions such as, How do we protect sharks in no-take zones, MPA’s, and swim-ways? …
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