About Me

This blog is primarily geared toward staff at the zoos, aquariums, museums (ZAMs), and other conservation education organizations that are part of our growing global network. We aim to provide you with cutting edge, challenging, and creative information, ideas, and tools to become as effective as possible at communicating about and for conservation with your visitors and the public.

See our ongoing communications research, or join our growing network, at The Ocean Project's website.

May 30, 2008

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick Signs Ocean Resources Bill

Concern over competing ocean uses is growing nationwide, and some states, including California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Florida, and North Carolina, have created ocean authorities or announced plans to better manage state waters.

Massachusetts has gone the furthest in creating a law - and an ambitious timeline to develop a plan for managing ocean resources.

"With this bill, Massachusetts has become a leader in ocean policy in this country," said Leon E. Panetta, former White House chief of staff and the chairman of the Pew Oceans Commission, a national group that has called for federal ocean management reform.

Read Beth Daley's Story in the Boston Globe,

May 29, 2008

Sharks Swim Closer to Extinction

BBC News reports that more than half of the world's ocean-going sharks are at risk of extinction, a new analysis concludes.

Specialists with IUCN (formerly the World Conservation Union) found that 11 species are on the high-risk list, with five more showing signs of decline.

Sharks are particularly affected by over-fishing as they reproduce slowly.

The scientists are calling for global catch limits, an end to the practice of removing fins, and measures to minimise incidental catches (bycatch).

Read the full story from BBC NEWS

Bush Eyes Unprecedented Conservation Program

John Neilsen reports that the Bush administration is considering launching one of the biggest conservation programs in U.S. history.

If implemented, President George W. Bush could, with the stroke of a pen, protect vast stretches of U.S. territorial waters from fishing, oil exploration and other forms of commercial development. The initiative could also create some of the largest marine reserves in the world — far larger than national parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

The White House is thinking about taking "big steps, not small ones," says Jack Sobel, a senior scientist at the Washington-based Ocean Conservancy, an environmental group.

A spokesman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality confirmed that the administration is considering the initiative but declined to discuss details, saying they are still under review.

Read the details at NPR.

May 6, 2008

Hope Comes in Popular Volunteer Movements

More than 50 000 volunteers came out on May 4th to participate in the big clean-up day in Estonia – organized by the civic initiative called Let's Do It! 2008 started by Estonian tech millionaires – founder of Skype, Ahti Heinla and founder of Microlink, Rainer Nõlvak.

More than 3% of Estonian population of 1.3 million were out to clean the forest, roadsides and other public areas from illegal waste. More than 40 waste management companies supported the initiative with necessary containers and garbage transportation vehicles.

Volunteers had mapped over 10 656 garbage dumping sites all over the country by the beginning of April. Yesterday 207 temporary collecting stations were put up to gather the waste collected by the volunteers. From there the garbage is moved into 17 waste management stations. The initiative aims to recycle up to 80% of the collected waste, making it first massive recycling project in Estonia. The usual amount of garbage recycled in Estonia is 10%, so this is eight times more than the average.

This is the biggest civic initiative since the singing revolution in Estonia. In addition to the 50 000 participants on 3rd of May, there
has been a lot of related civic action in recent weeks, influenced by the large media campaign going on all over Estonia during the last month.

6000 tons of illegal waste has already been registered to been collected during the initiative, more specific numbers are yet to come in the following weeks.

See the story in ENN

Whale sightings off Chile raise hope

The Los Angeles Times reports that in recent years, researchers combing remote crannies of Chile's elongated coast have confirmed the presence of two seasonally resident populations of whales, including 100 to 150 humpbacks in the glacier-rimmed Strait of Magellan.

Farther to the north, closer to the seas once frequented by Mocha Dick, they've tracked several hundred blue whales, believed to be Earth's largest animal, at 100 feet long and more than 100 tons -- bigger than any dinosaur. A separate population of blue whales feeds off the central California coast between June and October.

"The likelihood is that they were not completely hunted out, and these are remnant populations," says Bruce Mate, who heads the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and who worked to tag Chilean blue whales and track them via satellite. "It just wasn't commercially viable to hunt till the very last whale."

The bleached bones of butchered whales, sea lions, elephant seals and other ocean mammals still litter some Patagonian beaches like driftwood. Forest and surf have reclaimed whaling stations such as the long-abandoned plant at Eagles' Bay (Bahia de los Aguilas), not far from Cape Froward, the southernmost point on the South American mainland.

Though encouraged, conservationists say it's too early to celebrate the comeback of a creature pursued to the verge of extinction. Oil from sperm and right whales hunted off Chile's coast was once a prized staple, a globalized commodity with parallels to today's petroleum.

Read the complete story.

Warmer waters creating 'underwater deserts'

Lauren Morello, a ClimateWire reporter, reports that rising temperatures are expanding oxygen-starved areas in the world's oceans, a trend that could eventually threaten fisheries and coastal economies, according to new research.

Over the last 50 years, low-oxygen zones in the equatorial Pacific and tropical Atlantic oceans - "underwater deserts" that support little marine life - have grown as water temperatures have risen, finds a study published today in the journal Science.

That could eventually shift habitats and migration patterns for marine life, including tuna, swordfish and other important commercially fished species that cannot survive in low-oxygen zones.

The new study, based on data collected in tropical waters since 1960, confirms predictions from several climate models, said Gregory Johnson, an author of the study and an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

One reason the low-oxygen areas are growing may be the simple fact that as water warms, it loses its ability to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere. But Johnson and his colleagues believe that in this case, the main factor at work is changes in ocean circulation patterns.

The full report entitled Expanding Oxygen-Minimum Zones in the Tropical Oceans is available in volume 320 no. 5876 of Science, pages 655 - 658, by Lothar Stramma, Gregory C. Johnson, Janet Sprintall, and Volker Mohrholz.

DOI: 10.1126/science.1153847

Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation

January 23-26, 2009
Houston, Texas

The Houston Zoo will host the next bi-annual Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation (ZACC) Conference in January 2009. Those who have attended past conferences can attest to the incredible enthusiasm and opportunities for conservation partnerships that such events have produced, and ZACC 2009 will be no exception. Two years ago the conference had close to 250 registrants representing more than two dozen countries, so expect that the upcoming event will set new records.

Each conference presentation is 20 minutes in length, with approximately five minutes allotted for questions and answers afterwards. The conference organizers are looking for presentations that highlight new initiatives and establish opportunities for collaborations between zoos and aquariums, field biologists, governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. The conference promotes the basic premise that each and every one of us has a role to play in the effort to safeguard Earth's threatened biological diversity.

US Ordered to Act on Polar Bear

World BBC reports that a judge has told the US government to decide within weeks whether to list polar bears as an endangered species. The decision was hailed by conservation groups which have been hounding the government on the issue for years.

The federal judge rejected the Bush administration's pleas for a further delay, and ordered it to make and implement its decision by 15 May. A listing could restrict oil and gas exploration in the US Arctic, and lead to curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the full article.