Friday, December 19, 2008

Urban beaver the delight of many

What's the best part of New York City? The beaver of course. And I don't mean Jim Bouton's voyeuristic kind.

Jose the Bronx beaver is back. Ironically, he lives wild in the Bronx zoo, where he cut down his own Christmas tree for a December nibble.

Jose is a success story, beaver were nearly exterminated from the US, after numbering perhaps 60 million at the time of European settlement in the US. After reaching a low near extinction, beaver are making a comeback. He joins the Manhattan falcons as a prominent symbol of nature in the city.

A little bit of wild in New York, brought to you by the riotous, rollicking power of life to make itself manifest.

See the photo? Yup, he's back. Go Jose, live, breathe, and inspire.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jellyfish replacing fish on UK menus?

Not quite yet, but that day is coming unless we end overfishing. So say reputable scientists, although they disagree about whether or not we should say we're "running out of fish."

Why the jellyfish boom?

It's a tired story, scientific advice is ignored as managers try to keep fishing jobs afloat by giving away fish that don't exist, even on paper. It's the Christmas spirit and it's quite nice, but it doesn't work when there's no fish left to give away.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Inhaling fear

You can't scare people away from smoking. That's the conclusion of a study talked up in a New York Times op ed today. So we're wasting a lot of money won in anti-smoking lawsuits, spent on futile scare stories that just happen to be true (smoke and you're gonna die, sucka!).

What does this have to do with fish?

We're using some similar scare stories in efforts to get people to stop eating unsustainable seafood (eat this fish and the ocean will die, sucka!). With a weaker pitch, it must be even less likely to work than the anti-smoking scare story.

Is there a lesson for save-the-fishes people in this story?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

French TV comes to US to find bass

A French film crew came to the US to film a special on striped bass fishing. Interesting to them since their sea bass is hurting. Maybe it's the french look, lacking the stripes, that has their sea bass in trouble? Or maybe it's those misplaced French urges that are getting them in trouble (see photo).

Anyway, here's a story from the NY Times that explains how our bass are doing well, and fishermen are vigilant in trying to keep the fish healthy. There was strong medicine doled out in the 80's and it worked, and (almost) everyone wants to keep the success. Invest in success, build a better future (now we're living in the better future that those 1980's regulations invested in), and watch the support emerge for conservation!! YEE-HAW, ya gotta love it.

Oh yeah, one thing to note. If you're ever in Bridgeport, Conn and wanna catch some stripers, stop by Jimmy O's bait and tackle and talk to Jimmy Orifice. He'll set you straight on getting ahold of the big ones.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

George Bush, environmental hero?

Can this be real? Yes, at least for oceans. President Bush is considering some new Marine Protected Areas, and he's already an ocean conservation champion for his work creating the Marine Protected Area around the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument.

From the Christian Science Monitor article:

At issue: Proposals to protect at least one of two vast reaches of ocean that host some of the most pristine coral-reef and under-sea mountain ecosystems in the Pacific. One candidate, a loose cluster of islands and atolls in the central Pacific called the Line Islands, covers a patch of ocean larger than Mexico. The other, a section of the northern Mariana Islands, is larger than Arizona.

And this isn't the only thing President Bush has done for oceans, his adminstration has actually been fairly good on ending overfishing. Let's give credit where it's due, and hope that soon even more credit is due.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Female dolphins use sponges more than males

If you see a dolphin using a sponge, it's probably female. (The dolphin, not the sponge.) Is this any different than people? How many human households have males as the major sponge users?

Researchers think the sponges are used for finding food, but here's a more obvious idea.

Or, it could be something even more interesting...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Imposter fish

More about the problem of mislabeled fish. I'm not sure I buy the idea that mislabeled fish is "wreaking havoc on ocean conservation."

Either way, it has a lot of good info and a fun picture (right).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Underwater logging

Sounds like a joke, but it's not. Ghana is planning to log trees submerged in a man-made lake in 1964. The trees remain useful underwater because decomposition is slowed underwater.

Canada also has a substantial underwater logging program underway, and efforts will likely show up wherever there is wood underwater. Check out this breathless prose that describes an underwater logging machine:

Triton's Sawfish™ Underwater Harvester represents the first true arrival of viable marine technology in underwater forests. Developed and manufactured by Triton, it is the world's only deep-water logging machine, combining proven elements from timber-harvesting and submarine vehicle technology on an innovative platform.
This is not new, in the US northwest, logs were pulled out of streams to "clean" them, but also because it's an easy way to make a timber quota, haul a few logs out of a stream by a road to top off a year's logging.

There is a risk that mucking about underwater will harm underwater habitat even while it offers the possibility of sparing forests on land.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sea grape surprises scientists

It looks like a grape, lives in the ocean, moves really slowly, and it's actually a huge single-celled organism at 1 inch. It's the Bahamian Gromia.

The sea grape may be one of the slowest-moving creatures on earth. They leave tracks in the deep sea mud where they live, but scientists couldn't see them move. Now the idea is that they move really slowly, like 1 inch per day.

The sea grape may be responsible for fossil tracks made 530 million years ago, roiling the waters of how scientists view ancient life. The tracks were too complex to be made by simple single-celled organisms, or so we thought until we learned about the sea grape.

That's a lot of new thinking for a creature originally called doo-doo balls because they were thought to be some sort of poop.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Peter's excellent deep sea adventure

Blog maven Peter Etnoyer actually did some real work, and he's getting some fanstastic results and real-world respect. So much for the stereotype that bloggers are do-nothings.

Here's his description of the new species he discovered, a new species of deep-sea bamboo coral, a calcareous sea fan called Isidella.

Even more stunning, here's a YouTube video of the actual moment of discovery. Set to music, it's a poignant chronicle of the great passion of discovery, and the clumsy, robotic moves involved in plucking a specimen off the sea bottom and pocketing it for later study.

Monday, December 01, 2008

YES WE CAN save our ocean

Government works, and our ocean says thanks. Today, new federal rules were finalized that enhance protection of our ocean in California's Monterey Bay and elsewhere.

Marine protected areas (MPAS) are places in our ocean where harmful impacts are limited or prohibited, and the new rules expand and strengthen some MPAs. Also completed is a federal compilation and coordination process for existing MPAs. According to biologist Mark Hixon, “just writing down all the bodies of water that are actually MPAs is a huge accomplishment. Once we can look at an MPA map and determine gaps in protection we’ll really start seeing the results.”

image: orca jumping for joy at the news of new ocean protections