Monday, October 10, 2011

Where's your tuna from?

John West wants you to know where your tuna came from. Enter the can code into their website and see the ocean and boat that caught your tuna.

This is a good start in transparency for tuna. The big tuna companies could have done this a long time ago. They track their tuna to minimize costs in the case of recalls of unsafe tuna.

Now all we need is sustainability information like how it's caught and whether fishing is sustainable. What do you say John West? Will you collaborate with eNGOs on adding sustainability information to your website?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Glowing surf, WTF!?

Strange beauty is common in the ocean, and glowing water is right at the top of my list of eerie yet fantastic ocean sights.

Churned by surf, fish, or boats, glowing ocean waters are the result of microbes that glow when disturbed, in the case of the photo at right, a red tide in California.

Click here for a fun video of surfing bioluminescence.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Japan increases protection of whaling fleet

Stories of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. So say Japan's whale hunters after speculation that they would stop hunting post-tsunami.

Instead, the Japanese whaling fleet will have more protection from anti-whaling protesters this year.

With both sides promising to get tougher, this could be a troubled year for Japan's whaling effort.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

China rejects contaminated US oysters

In a "man bites shark" story, China recently halted the import of contaminated oysters from the US.

That's a turnaround, Chinese regulators stopping a questionable food import from overseas. Maybe we need to take another look at food safety; it's not just health risks caused by bad people from far away.

The oyster problem arose in Washington state in the US because ofoysters contaminated with an annoying bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus. In case you're skeptical, here's the US FDA announcement on the problems with Washington oysters.

Monday, October 03, 2011

How the seahorse got it's shape

Nitrogen pollution disrupts Pacific Ocean

Surging nitrates in Asian waters could dramatically affect marine wildlife. So says science journal Nature in a news piece explaining why we should care about human-caused increases in ocean nitrate levels.

Waste from agriculture and burning of fossil fuels are the suspected cause. This is bad news, and could lead to increasing ocean "dead zones" where oxygen is depleted and many of our favorite ocean animals flee or die.

I always wonder about the demand-side effect on nitrogen that might occur in changed ocean ecosystems based on my experience with rivers. In some streams with healthy ecosystems, increased nitrogen causes increased growth of animals like fish. This happens in a "tightly coupled" ecosystem where fertilizer efficiently moves through plants to herbivores to predators. So the demand side of the system sucks up increased nitrogen supplies.

This effect is so pronounced that it's exploited by people in some places by fertilizing streams with nitrogen to increase the growth of desirable fish.

In our oceans, how much of the excess nitrogen would get cycled into fish biomass if the ecosystems were healthy? Is there a demand-side effect that we neglect to include in our analyses? Does anyone out there know the answer? I've seen tidbits of research that suggest it matters, but never a clear and precise study.