Tuesday, May 31, 2011

China's largest inland lake dries up as country battles drought

Global warming responsible? Or the many Chinese construction projects altering the weather patterns over the country?

The Telegraph (UK): China's largest inland lake dries up as country battles drought

The volume of water in Poyang lake in Jiangxi province, normally 100 miles-long and 10 miles-wide, is now a tenth of its normal level, according to Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

Fishing boats and house boats have been left stranded on a vast stretch of the lake bed, now a lush grassland.

The drought, which has seen no rainfall for two months, has struck the central Chinese provinces that are known as the country's "home of rice and fish".

Almost half of all the country's rice fields have been affected and four million people do not have access to drinking water.

At Honghu Lake, in Hubei province, fish farmers have seen 80 per cent of their stocks die. "More than 20,000 acres of fish farms have been severely damaged," said Zou Haibin, the local Communist party secretary in Dianhe, to Xinhua.

"I was born in 1967 and have never seen anything like this," added Li Liangjun, a fish farmer in Dianhe. "Even my father has never seen anything like it. It has not rained for nearly three months".

The drought has pushed up vegetable prices in major cities by as much as 30 per cent, and the government has warned that if it continues it may have an effect on this year's rice harvest.

However, the Chinese weather bureau has warned there is no rain in sight and that it expects the drought to continue until early June.

Sea Shepherd renames the fast interceptor Gojira to Brigitte Bardot

[editors note - that isn't Gojira, it's some stupid creation from American movie-makers in the 1990s in a movie that bombed!]

Thisdishisvegetarian.com: Sea Shepherd renames the fast interceptor Gojira to Brigitte Bardot
This year’s successful campaign for Sea Shepherd was greatly aided by their new high speed interceptor boat the Gojira(Godzilla). The Gojira played a major role sending the Japanese whaling fleet back to Japan early and coming nowhere close to their quota of slaughtered whales. Headlines in the Japanese media screamed that the whaling fleet was fleeing from Godzilla.

With all the publicity came legal papers from Godzilla’s lawyers to remove the name from the boat. Sea Shepherd decided against pursuing a legal battle, realizing that the Gojira had already served it’s purpose. That's when Captain Paul Watson reached out to the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. Captain Watson’s idea was to rename the vessel the Brigitte Bardot in recognition of her animal rights actions. In 1977 Captain Watson took Ms. Bardot to the ice off the coast of Labrador where she posed with a baby harp seal. That photo would go on to bring national attention to harp seals and was pivotal in the fight to stop the annual Canadian slaughter.

The Brigitte Bardot was christened by Captain Albert Falco, famed oceanographer of the Cousteau Society, and will now head to Libyan waters to track down bluefin tuna poachers who are taking advantage of the war zone to capture these endangered fish.

The Brigitte Bardot’s newly painted hull can be seen here.

The first episode of this season's Whale Wars is Friday June 3rd at 9:00PM on Animal Planet.

I don't really care for the pirate flag... shouldn't taht skull be a whale's head or something?

Sturgeon's Death Highlights Threat to Ancient Fish

ABCNews: Sturgeon's Death Highlights Threat to Ancient Fish

Alas, poor Harald. Wired up to a satellite transmitter, he had much to teach science about the life of the great sturgeons of the Danube River and Black Sea.

His probable demise is a cautionary tale of the multiplying threats to the great sturgeons, sought since Roman times for the wealth they yield in meat and caviar.

Consider: A living creature from the age of the dinosaurs, a fish that can grow as long as a minibus, lives longer than most men, sniffs its way to its birthplace to spawn and can yield a fortune in caviar.

When in 2009 a team of Romanian and Norwegian researchers attached a satellite transmitter to Harald's 2.9 meter (9½-foot) body, they hoped the data beamed back would show them ways of halting the rapid drop in the sturgeons' numbers. But now the Beluga sturgeon is missing, presumed to be a victim of poachers.

Sturgeon have thrived in the Danube for 200 million years, migrating from feeding grounds in the Black Sea to Germany 2,000 kms (1,200 miles) upstream. Archaeologists have found wooden sturgeon traps in the ruins of Roman fortresses behind the willow trees on the Danube's banks, along with sturgeon bones dated to the 3rd century.

In the 1970s and '80s Romania built giant dams across the Iron Gates gorge, cutting off half the sturgeons' spawning grounds.

A Sturgeon is seen in an aquarium in the... View Full Caption
A Sturgeon is seen in an aquarium in the Danube river port city of Tulcea, Romania on May 17, 2011. The sturgeon thrived in the Danube for 200 million years, migrating from feeding grounds in the Black Sea to Germany some 1,200 miles (2,000 kms) upstream. Archaeologists have found wooden sturgeon traps in the ruins of Roman fortresses behind the willow trees on the Danube's banks, along with bones dated to the 3rd century. Fishermen, unrestrained after the collapse of order in eastern Europe in 1989, caught them in huge numbers as they began their migration, trapping them before they could reproduce. Now, environmentalists are trying to head off the latest threat: a European Union plan to deepen shipping channels that they fear could eliminate the last shallows where the sturgeon deposit their eggs _ dooming the fish to vanish in its last stronghold in Europe.(AP Photo/Nicolae Dumitrache) CloseFishermen, unrestrained after the collapse of order in eastern Europe in 1989, caught them in huge numbers as they began their migration, trapping them before they could reproduce. Pollution from agricultural run-off and expanding cities put them under further pressure, although the construction of water treatment plants in the last decade has lessened the flow of filth.

Now environmentalists are trying to head off the latest threat: a European Union plan to deepen shipping channels in the Danube that they fear could eliminate the last shallows where the sturgeon deposit their eggs, which would doom the fish to vanish in its last stronghold in Europe.

"Right now it's teetering on the edge of extinction," said Andreas Beckmann, director of the Danube-Carpathian program of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, or WWF. "That one project, depending on how it's done, could push it over the edge."

Under the plan, engineers would block partially several side channels of the Danube and divert water to the main fairway, enabling year-round shipping through what are now low-water bottlenecks. Concrete would reinforce the banks of some islands.

European and Romanian officials insist the proposed action would not further endanger the fish in the wild, free-flowing waters of the Lower Danube.

"There will be enough water to ensure migration," said Serban Cucu, a senior Transport Ministry official and Romanian negotiator. Still, construction has been delayed for a year to allow more monitoring of the channels.

"If the data collected shows there is some influence, we will decide together whether to stop the project," said Cucu, interviewed in his Bucharest office.

Sturgeon, which can live a century or more in both salt and fresh water, are genetically wired to reproduce only where they themselves were born. Equipped with four nostrils, each fish sniffs its way to its birthplace, says researcher Radu Suciu.

After the Iron Gates went up, fish west of the two dams effectively were rendered infertile. The reproduction rate was reduced by half, said Suciu, of the Danube Delta National Institute in Tulcea, at the mouth of the Danube Delta.

Even now, 40 years later, older fish congregate at the foot of the dam in spawning season.

This month, conservationists, governments and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization agreed to explore building a fish ladder for the sturgeon to crawl around the Iron Gates dams. But unlike salmon, sturgeon cannot jump and would have to use powerful underside muscles to climb nearly 40 meters (130 feet) through a chain of pools.

In a separate attempt to revive sturgeon stocks, experiments have begun to breed sturgeon in fish farms, safe from poachers who kill them for their roe, which is processed into expensive caviar.

In 1999, Stelic Gerghi, an unemployed aquaculture engineer from the Tulcea area, famously caught a 450 kilogram (990-pound) fish and extracted 82 kilograms (180 pounds) of roe. It earned him enough to finish building his home and buy a new car. He is now serving his third term as mayor of the Vacareni district.

International trade in sturgeon was banned in 2001, and in 2006 Romania outlawed sturgeon fishing, followed by Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova and lately Bulgaria.

"We stopped the clock," says Suciu.

The sturgeon thrived in the Danube for 200 million years, migrating from feeding grounds in the Black Sea to Germany some 1,200 miles (2,000 kms) upstream.

Archaeologists have found wooden sturgeon traps in the ruins of Roman fortresses behind the willow trees on the Danube's banks, along with bones dated to the 3rd century. Fishermen, unrestrained after the collapse of order in eastern Europe in 1989, caught them in huge numbers as they began their migration, trapping them before they could reproduce. Now, environmentalists are trying to head off the latest threat: a European Union plan to deepen shipping channels that they fear could eliminate the last shallows where the sturgeon deposit their eggs _ dooming the fish to vanish in its last stronghold in Europe.

But as Harald's story illustrates, the threats have not disappeared.

Harald, named for the king of Norway because that country sponsors sturgeon research, was 12 years old and weighed 80 kilograms (175 pounds) when he was caught and taken to an experimental farm. There his sperm was harvested to artificially fertilize the eggs of females.

After a month he was tagged with a transmitter and released back into the Danube in May 2009, carrying the hopes of scientists to learn how sturgeons travel and behave.

"He was in very good health, a strong fish," said Suciu.

He made his way downstream to the Danube Delta and into the Black Sea. Abhorring light, he stayed in murky depths of 10 to 50 meters (30-150 feet).

Scientists pieced together his movements from 11,000 messages transmitted over five days after the tag reached the surface six months later.

Harald had foraged for herring, sprats, mackerel and other small fish for several weeks. Then in October he swam north.

Suddenly, on Nov. 2, he stopped moving. For three days he stayed on the bottom of the sea, 65 meters (215 feet) down, immobile.

During the night of Nov. 6, sometime after 2 a.m., Harald rose swiftly to the surface and went in a straight line 11 kilometers (7 miles) to Ukraine's Crimean coast. He remained offshore for two days and on land for another two. The transmitter's final messages, plotted with the help of Google Earth, indicated movement along a railway line.

Much of Harald's data was lost during transmission to the satellite, but the scientists had enough information to surmise his fate: he had been snared by a hook or net, then hauled up in the dead of night and taken ashore by rowboat.

"This was really sad. It was a young fish. He came into the Danube to spawn for the first time," said Suciu.

But the scientist was consoled that Harald left offspring that were released into the river. "The sons and daughters of Harald are safe in the Black Sea. He didn't die for nothing," he said.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Researchers to trace the narwhals’ Arctic journey

The Ilulissat Icefjord at Disko Bay in 2007. That's the starting point of a journey that will take a research team along the migratory path of the narwhal, starting in early June.

Nunatsiaqonline.com: Researchers to trace the narwhals’ Arctic journey

Follow the Arctic Endeavour’s trip at http://arcticblog.oceansnorth.org.

A team of researchers plan to go where few have gone before.

On June 3, an eight-member crew led by the Pew Environment Group’s Oceans North Canada will board a converted crab trawler in Greenland’s Disko Bay en route to Nunavut’s Lancaster Sound.

From the deck of the 45-foot Arctic Endeavour, the crew will follow the annual migration of the narwhal, the tusked Arctic whales that have already started to migrate out of their wintering grounds in central Baffin Bay.

“To our knowledge, no boat this size has ever tried to cross the [North Water polynya]) and go into Lancaster Sound this early in the season,” said Chris Debicki, the Nunavut director of Oceans North Canada.

The North Water polynya is the open channel of water between the coasts of Greenland and Nunavut.

Navigating this channel will require “intensive reliance on ice charts” and “good communications,” Debicki told Nunatsiaq News.

The voyage includes two marine biologists and a Pond Inlet hunter who will collect data about Arctic whales and seabirds, local plankton and the salinity of the water.

But its plan to follow the narwhals’ spring migration makes this journey unique. The only other ships that navigate that area at this time of year are icebreakers, which are too large and noisy to observe marine wildlife, Debicki said.

About 85 per cent of the world’s 80,000 narwhals pass through Lancaster Sound in late spring en route to other bays and inlets, Debicki said.

Inuit, who have harvested narwhals for hundreds of years, know that these whales winter in Davis Strait. Everyone awaits their return to the High Arctic in the spring.

But Debicki said there are still gaps in knowledge of narwhals.

“We’re trying to fill in research gaps on some of these species with the view of protecting them from outside risks,” he said, naming climate change, industrial development and increased sea traffic as a few of those risks.

“Our position hasn’t changed that Inuit harvest of sea animals is part of conservation — not a threat to it,” he said. “We would never do anything to undermine that.”

The Arctic Endeavour voyage also hopes to draw attention to Lancaster Sound, an area the group wants to see protected.

In December 2010, the federal government announced proposed boundaries for a national marine conservation area around Lancaster Sound.

Ottawa has also said that the 45,000 square kilometre territory would also be off-limits to seismic testing and oil exploration.

“We’re very much in support of those decisions,” Debicki said. “However, the boundaries only protect a portion of the animals’ habitat.

“We think by filling in the research gaps… we’re in a better position to ensure any development takes into account this critical migration.”

From a nutrition perspective, Debicki said it’s just as critical that Inuit communities can continue harvesting these animals.

Lancaster Sound, at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage, is one of the most biologically rich areas of the Arctic.

Apart from narwhals, thousands of beluga and bowhead whales, seals and seabirds travel through the area every year.

Last month, a report released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Natural Resources Defense Council named Lancaster Sound as one of the richest and most vulnerable places in the Arctic Ocean, alongside the North Water polyna and Disko Bay.

The report called for those and other Arctic regions to be protected.

Follow the Arctic Endeavour’s trip at http://arcticblog.oceansnorth.org.

Study: 'Champagne Reefs' Signal Severe Impacts To Coral Reefs Worldwide

Underwater Times: Study: 'Champagne Reefs' Signal Severe Impacts To Coral Reefs Worldwide

MIAMI, Florida -- A new study from University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science scientists Chris Langdon, Remy Okazaki and Nancy Muehllehner and colleagues from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Max-Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Germany concludes that ocean acidification, along with increased ocean temperatures, will likely severely reduce the diversity and resilience of coral reef ecosystems within this century.

The research team studied three natural volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea to better understand how ocean acidification will impact coral reefs ecosystem diversity. The study details the effects of long-term exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide and low pH on Indo-Pacific coral reefs, a condition that is projected to occur by the end of the century as increased man-made CO2 emissions alter the current pH level of seawater, turning the oceans acidic.

"These 'champagne reefs' are natural analogs of how coral reefs may look in 100 years if ocean acidification conditions continue to get worse," said Langdon, UM Rosenstiel School professor and co-principal investigator of the study.

The study shows shifts in the composition of coral species and reductions in biodiversity and recruitment on the reef as pH declined from 8.1 to 7.8. The team also reports that reef development would cease at a pH below 7.7. The IPCC 4th Assessment Report estimates that by the end of the century, ocean pH will decline from the current level of 8.1 to 7.8, due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

"The seeps are probably the closest we can come to simulating the effect of man-made CO2 emissions on a coral reef," said Langdon. "They allow us to see the end result of the complex interactions between species under acidic ocean conditions."

The reefs detailed in this study have healthy reefs nearby to supply larvae to replenish the reefs. If pH was low throughout the region -- as projected for year 2100 -- then there would not be any healthy reefs to reseed damaged ones, according to Langdon.

The study titled "Losers and winners in coral reefs acclimatized to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations," was published in the June issue of the journal Nature Climate Change. The paper's co-authors include Katharina Fabricius Sven Uthicke, Craig Humphrey, Sam Noonan, Glenn De'ath and Janice Lough from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Martin Glas from Max-Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. The research was funded by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the University of Miami, and the Max-Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology through the Bioacid Project (03F0608C).

Ugly fish to rescue threatened species

France24: Ugly fish to rescue threatened species
AFP - Converts to Italy's Slow Food movement can see past a few poisonous spines and bulging eyes: the scorpion fish and needlefish may be ugly but they are cheap, sustainable and taste fantastic.

"It's time to go back to eating 'poor' fish, the types that your grandma used to eat years ago. Not only are they tasty and cheap, they can save other fish from dying out," fisherman Roberto Moggia said at Italy's Slow Fish event.

Moggia and other small scale fishers threatened by industrial fishing have gathered together for four days in Genoa to give curious consumers hooked on tuna and salmon a taste of the more unusual fish they are missing out on.

Species at high risk of extinction -- from bluefin tuna to swordfish and eel -- are replaced by a large variety of sleek, spikey, flat or bloated fish of differing colours, laid out on display or served up raw, salted or pickled.

"Slow Fish brings people up close with the more unusual types of fish which are slowly making their way back into kitchens by the back door," said 49-year old Moggia, showing off his counter of whiskered and scaly sea creatures.

Visitors to the fair, held on the north Italian city's wind-blown sea front, sampled delicacies from free-range Australian oceanic trout to the Dutch Oosterschelde lobster and alternative sushi rolls, made with sustainable fish.

"We've replaced tuna and salmon with leerfish and horse mackerel, and people really can't taste the difference," said Nicola Fattibeni, a gastronomy student who helped organise the sushi session, complete with on-site Japanese chefs.

"But we're not just trying to save at-risk fish. The idea behind Slow Fish is also to help save another species: the local fisherman," he added.

While small-scale fishermen are often credited with helping protect the marine environment, their numbers are dwindling in the face of profit-seeking trawlers harvesting vast amounts of fish, large numbers of which are often dumped.

"We can probably change the way we eat, but we definitely have to change the way we fish," EU Commissioner for Fisheries Maria Damanaki said at the start of the event, organised by the Slow Food movement for "good, clean and fair food."

Many fish are being caught too early to give them chance to reproduce, but attempts to encourage sustainable fishing have already seen the list of stocks consumers are strongly advised not buy drop from 14 to 11 this year.

Damanaki also told reporters the EU was cracking down on illegal fishing, which disrupts the ecosystem, lowers fish quality and creates unfair competition. They are using a points system like the one used for driving licences.

Fattibeni and his fellow gastronomy students at the sushi stand said the problem with fish like tuna was that their flesh is often full of toxins.

"Salmon, for example, is a fatty fish which absorbs toxins from ship waste and other pollutants, particularly in the Atlantic Ocean and in Asia. Tuna feast on smaller fish full of these toxins and accumulate even more."

Visitors unsure how to tell whether they're buying the right sort of fish or what condition it is in can join in on the fair's 'personal shopper' tours.

"I do try and think about what fish I buy in the supermarket. Everyone should make an effort really. We can't better the world but we can at least not make it worse!" said Livia Polgacini.

Nearby, visitors queued for tasting sessions with international chefs who rustled up 'poor' fish dishes for them to try and offered advice such as how to impress your mother-in-law with little more than a common sardine.

"In my restaurant we don't serve tuna anymore, we use local products and traditional recipes... one of my favourites is a Venetian recipe for stargazer fish from the 1300s," said 44-year old Italian chef Gianluca Cazzin.

Dressed in his chef's garb, Cazzin explained to guests sampling his fried soft-shell crab and Roman cockle pasta just how important a role restaurants have to play in changing attitudes towards eating sustainable fish.

"Ethically speaking, people cannot go on eating fish like tuna or swordfish. The less sought-after types are great and they also cost less, but it's up to us to come up with the dishes and turn 'poor' fish into 'good' fish," he said.

"We have to preserve species for future generations by giving them the chance to reproduce. No one's going to die of hunger if we don't eat tuna for 10 years," he added.

"I hope that our children will still be able to see them swimming around in 20 years."

The seas are emptying at an alarming rate as overfishing plunders fish stocks to unsustainable levels. The 'Slow Fish' fair in Genoa highlights environmental concerns and hopes to convince consumers to look after the oceans.

up to several hundred times normal levels has been detected on the seabed

The Australian: JAPAN has revealed radiation up to several hundred times normal levels has been detected on the seabed off the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
The science ministry announced highly radioactive materials were detected in a 300km north-south stretch from Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture to Choshi in Chiba Prefecture, the Kyodo news agency reports.

The ministry warned that the contamination could affect the safety of seafood, the report said, without giving figures for the radiation levels detected.

The science ministry said it detected iodine and caesium on the seabed at 12 locations 15km to 50km from the coastline between May 9 and 14.

The news followed an announcement by Greenpeace that marine life it had tested in waters more than 20km off the Fukushima nuclear plant showed radiation above legal limits.

The anti-nuclear group, which conducted the coastal and offshore tests this month, criticised Japanese authorities for their “continued inadequate response to the Fukushima nuclear crisis'' sparked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Greenpeace said it detected seaweed radiation levels 50 times higher than official limits, which it charged raised “serious concerns about continued long-term risks to people and the environment from contaminated seawater''.

It also said that tests, which it said were independently verified by French and Belgian laboratories, showed above-legal levels of radioactive iodine-131 and caesium-137 in several species of fish and shellfish.

In the aftermath of the quake small amounts of radiation from Fukushima spread across Asia, deepening concerns for millions of people in countries which had already imposed bans on Japanese produce from near the nuclear plant.

The governments of China, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam reported that radiation had drifted over their territories, although they emphasised the levels were so low that there was no health risk.

Fukushima prefecture has said that no fishing is going on at the moment in its waters.

Officials from Japan's fisheries agency and several prefectures have been checking marine products at different spots, and the government has prohibited fishermen from catching some species found to have elevated radiation levels.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong announced on Friday it had detected a small amount of radioactive iodine-131 in a sample of grey mullet but it was well below government limits.

The Hong Kong government did not say whether the iodine could be traced to the Fukushima plant.

'Greatest shoal on Earth' runs late

TimesLive (South Africa): 'Greatest shoal on Earth' runs late

DURBAN'S annual sardine run may arrive a little late this year, the Natal Sharks Board said yesterday.

"We expect the sardine run in the next couple of weeks, maybe in the third week of June," the board's CEO, Mike Anderson-Reade, said.

"It seems like they will be late this year."

Anderson-Reade said he would be flying to East London this week to check on the activity of the "greatest shoal on Earth".

"I plan to fly on Tuesday to see where the fish are but only if the weather is good. There's no use going if the wind is howling," he said.

The Natal Sharks Board makes regular flights along the coast to track the progress of the shoals and to let the public know where the sardines are most likely to beach or be netted.

The sardine run, which generally takes place around June and July, has been a popular event in KwaZulu-Natal for many years.

Last year, sardine shoals began arriving on the province's coastline in mid-July. Swimming in the ocean was banned for almost a month. - Sapa

Friday, May 27, 2011

Experts Create First Legal Roadmap To Tackle Local Ocean Acidification Hotspots

UnderwaterTimes.com: Send In The LawyersExperts Create First Legal Roadmap To Tackle Local Ocean Acidification Hotspots
PALO ALTO, California -- Coastal communities hard hit by ocean acidification hotspots have more options than they may realize, says an interdisciplinary team of science and legal experts. In a paper published in the journal Science, experts from Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solutions and colleagues make the case that communities don't need to wait for a global solution to ocean acidification to fix a local problem that is compromising their marine environment. Many localized acidification hotspots can be traced to local contributors of acidity that can be addressed using existing laws, they wrote.

In addition to Stanford University, the team of experts drew from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and Oregon State University.

"Since an acidification hotspot can negatively impact a community, its causes need to be tackled quickly," said Melissa Foley of the Center for Ocean Solutions, a lead author of the paper. "We identified practical steps communities can take today to counter local sources of acidity." The paper, entitled "Mitigating Local Causes of Ocean Acidification with Existing Laws," is the first to lay out how acidification hotspots can be reduced by applying federal and state laws and policies at a local level.

Coastal waters have a pH "budget" that can be pushed beyond its spending limits when local and atmospheric sources of acidity are combined. Many hotspots are driven by local sources of ocean acidification, such as agricultural and residential runoff and soil erosion, not just by atmospheric CO2 being absorbed into the ocean. "The alignment of a localized ecological harm with a local policy solution is rare," said Ryan Kelly of the Center for Ocean Solutions, a lead author.

Ocean acidification reduces the ability of marine creatures to create shells and skeletons, harming everything from commercial oyster beds to coral reefs. Puget Sound, Wash., the Chesapeake Bay and other communities hit by ocean acidification hotspots have seen their livelihoods and lifestyles damaged.

A recent lawsuit against the EPA showed how existing laws could be applied to the problem of ocean acidification. In a memorandum required by the settlement, the EPA emphasized that states should identify waters that are impaired due to declining pH levels and track them over the long term. "Using pH levels as a type of 'master variable' helps judge the cumulative impact of a variety of pollutants that are flushed into the ocean by coastal communities," said Melissa Foley. "This is important to understanding the magnitude of a water quality problem."

Moz satellite transmission for SA bull shark

TimesLive(New Zealand): Moz satellite transmission for SA bull shark
The first satellite transmission from a Bull shark captured and tagged in the Breede River estuary has been made near the island of Bazaruto, off the coast of Mozambique, the SA Shark Conservancy (SASC) said on Thursday.

The large, male Bull shark, which was tagged in March, had journeyed over 2000km (about 36km a day) to reach Mozambique, SASC and the Save Our Seas Foundation said in a joint statement.

"We have now shown this species migrates across international borders, whereby it becomes vulnerable to a multitude of fisheries and environmental pressures," said SASC marine scientist Meaghen McCord.

"This is the first time the ecology and behaviour of Bull sharks has been studied in South Africa and we hope it assists with the development and implementation of management measures for this near-threatened species," she said.

Up until now, it had only been speculated about where the Breede River population of Bull sharks migrated, if at all, said McCord.

There were few studies on African populations of these sharks, other than recordings made by the Natal Sharks Board via its beach netting program along the coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

The Bull shark, known locally as the Zambezi shark, was well-known worldwide for swimming far up rivers and thriving in low-saline water.

There had been sightings of Bull sharks in the Breede River over the years, however some locals disputed their existence and documented evidence had been scarce, McCord said.

The shark was tagged with a pop-up archival transponding (PAT) tag, inserted in the dorsal fin.

The tag released from the shark after a period of time, floated to the water's surface and transmitted data via satellite.

McCord said the tagging of the shark was made possible by a research grant from the Save Our Seas Foundation.

"[It] was very important to establish if the Breede River population was endemic to the area or indeed part of the larger population and, therefore, global gene pool.

"We are slowly beginning to gain insight into how this apex predator utilises river systems," she said.

Estuaries played a critical role in the life-history of the Bull shark and protecting them would play a vital role towards maintaining ecosystem integrity in African waters, McCord said.

Scientist: Gulf Dolphins Impacted By BP Oil Spill

Wetlines: Scientist: Gulf Dolphins Impacted By BP Oil Spill; Dispersants, Oil, Cold 'A Perfect Storm'
ORLANDO, Florida -- The BP oil spill and the dispersants used to clean it up may be contributing to the unusually high number of dolphins dying in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a University of Central Florida scientist.

Since BP's Deepwater Horizon dumped about 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, larger-than-normal numbers of bottlenose dolphin carcasses have washed up on the Gulf coast. According to U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a total of 153 bottlenose dolphin carcasses have washed up on Gulf coasts since January. Of those, 65 were newborn, infants, stillborn or born prematurely.

Those numbers are unusually high, said Professor Graham Worthy, an expert on dolphins who ran Texas' Marine Mammal Stranding Network for a decade.

"I suspect what we might be seeing are several things coming together to form a perfect storm," Worthy said. "The cold was a very unusual circumstance, but one which dolphins can normally survive, but we may also be seeing an indirect effect stemming from the BP oil spill. If oil and the dispersants have disrupted the food chain, this may have prevented the mother dolphins from getting adequate nutrition and building up the insulating blubber they needed to withstand the cold. That type of stress could ultimately have resulted in calves dying."

Worthy is one of 27 Florida scientists studying the impact of the nation's largest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of a $10 million grant from BP. The grant was awarded to the Florida Institute of Oceanography, a coalition of scientists from public universities around the state.

The researchers are presenting preliminary findings and giving study updates today, May 25, and Thursday, May 26, at UCF's Fairwinds Alumni Center in Orlando. Worthy will make his presentation at 1:40 p.m. Thursday, May 26. For a list of the other speakers and times, visit www.fio.usf.edu<.a>.

Worthy, whose team has been studying dolphin populations in the Pensacola and Choctawatchee bays for years, has historical data that may be critical to ultimately understanding how the oil spill and clean up efforts may have impacted the dolphins.

The oil spill occurred during the dolphins' breeding season. Worthy is interested in finding out if the young population survived and, if so, how healthy it is. Another question he seeks to answer is whether the fish the dolphins consume have been impacted by the spill.

Worthy is the Hubbs Professor of Marine Mammalogy. He received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the University of Guelph in Canada and then completed post doctoral training at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he studied elephant seals, bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. He spent 11 years as a faculty member in the Department of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston and served as the State Coordinator for the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Study: Marine Mammals Infected With Two Parasites Normally Found In Land Animals

Underwater Times: Study: Marine Mammals Infected With Two Parasites Normally Found In Land Animals
BETHESDA, Maryland -- A study of tissue samples from 161 marine mammals that died between 2004 and 2009 in the Pacific Northwest reveals an association between severe illness and co-infection with two kinds of parasites normally found in land animals. One, Sarcocystis neurona, is a newcomer to the northwest coastal region of North America and is not known to infect people, while the other, Toxoplasma gondii, has been established there for some time and caused a large outbreak of disease in people in 1995.

Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, collaborated with investigators in Washington state and Canada in the research, published online May 24 in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Toxoplasmosis, the illness caused by T. gondii infection, is generally not serious in otherwise healthy people, but the parasites can cause severe or fatal disease in people with compromised immune systems and can also damage the fetuses of pregnant women. The parasites are globally distributed and enter water via infected cat feces.

"Chlorination does not kill T. gondii, but filtration eliminates them from the water supply," noted lead researcher Michael Grigg, Ph.D., of the NIAID Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases. Although S. neurona parasites do not infect people, other closely related species of Sarcocystis parasites do. "The public health message here is that people can easily avoid the parasites by filtering or boiling untreated water. Limiting serious disease in marine mammals, however, will require larger conservation efforts to block these land pathogens from flowing into our coastal waters."

During the six-year study period, more than 5,000 dead marine mammals were reported on the coastal beaches of the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Grigg said. Some deaths ascribed to parasitic encephalitis (brain swelling) were assumed to be caused by T. gondii, he noted, because the parasite can infect most mammals and was well established in the region.

To determine the cause of death of the marine animals, Dr. Grigg collaborated with veterinary pathologist Stephen Raverty, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the University of British Columbia, and marine mammal researchers Dyanna Lambourn, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Jessica Huggins, of Cascadia Research Collective. Specimens were collected and animal autopsies (necropsies) conducted by members of the Northwest and British Columbia Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Necropsies were performed on 151 marine mammals with suspected cases of parasitic encephalitis. The mammals included several kinds of seals and sea lions, Northern sea otters, a Pacific white-sided dolphin, porpoises and three species of whale. An additional 10 animals, all healthy adult California sea lions that were euthanized in the Columbia River to protect fish stocks, were included in the study as controls. Dr. Raverty's group examined brain tissue from 108 animals positive for either S. neurona or T. gondii. They measured the number of parasites in the tissues and combined that with an assessment of the degree of brain inflammation to gauge whether the infection was likely to be the primary, contributing or incidental cause of death.

At NIAID, Dr. Grigg and his team screened 494 brain, heart, lymph node and other tissue samples with a variety of genetic techniques. "Our techniques are unbiased in that we do not directly search for any particular species of parasite," said Dr. Grigg. "Rather, the screens simply reveal evidence of any parasite in the tissue being studied." The team then applied gene amplifying and gene sequencing methods to identify the species and, often, the subtype or lineage of the microbes.

They found parasites in 147 of the 161 animals studied—32 were infected with T. gondii, 37 with S. neurona and 62 with both parasites. The remaining 16 infections were caused by various other parasites, including several that had not been detected before in any kind of animal. Notably, all 10 healthy animals were infected with either one or both of the parasites.

"The presence of T. gondii did not surprise us, but the abundance of S. neurona infections was quite unexpected," said Dr. Grigg. The researchers theorize that S. neurona has been introduced into the Pacific Northwest by opossums, which gradually have been expanding their range northward from California and can shed an infectious form of the parasite in their feces. The ample rainfall in the region provides an easy route for infected feces to enter inland and coastal waterways and then contaminate shellfish and other foods eaten by marine mammals.

"The most remarkable finding of our study was the exacerbating role that S. neurona appears to play in causing more severe disease symptoms in those animals that are also infected with T. gondii," said Dr. Grigg. Among animals for which necropsy had suggested parasitic infection as the primary cause of death, the co-infected animals were more likely to display evidence of severe brain tissue inflammation than those infected by either S. neurona or T. gondii alone. The two parasites are closely related, and other studies had suggested that a mammal's acquired immunity after a first infection with one parasite might protect it from severe illness following infection by the other. However, that was clearly not the case in this study, noted Dr. Grigg. The study results also hinted that animals with lowered immunity, such as pregnant or nursing females or very young animals, were more likely to have worse symptoms when co-infected with both T. gondii and S. neurona.

"Identifying the threads that connect these parasites from wild and domestic land animals to marine mammals helps us to see ways that those threads might be cut," said Dr. Grigg, "by, for example, managing feral cat and opossum populations, reducing run-off from urban areas near the coast, monitoring water quality and controlling erosion to prevent parasites from entering the marine food chain."

Coral reefs twice size of Manila destroyed

The Fisheries Code of 1998, which bans gathering and selling corals, punishes violators with imprisonment from six months to two years and a fine from P2,000 to P20,000.
Too bad these poepe can't go to jail for 30 years and be fined P100,000. That might deter them from this destruction. Six months, even two years, is just a slap on the wrist considering the massive destruction they've caused.

PhilipineDailyInquirer: Coral reefs twice size of Manila destroyed
Poachers decimated an entire “reef complex”—almost twice as big as Manila—off the coast of Cotabato province when they harvested more than 21,000 pieces of black coral and killed 161 endangered turtles and other marine life, officials said Tuesday.

One of the turtles killed was a male aged 80 to 100 years old.

Bureau of Customs officials intercepted the contraband two weeks ago and recovered 134 bundles, or 21,169 pieces, of “sea fan” black corals and 15 bundles, or 196 kilograms, of “sea whip” black corals.

“The Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea off Cotabato are supposed to be unexplored reef areas but with this collection, we can see that they have also been disturbed,” said Ludivina Labe, a senior marine biologist of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

“It’s like a forest that has been cut down,” Labe said. “One reef complex was decimated.”

Labe spoke with reporters during the turnover of the seized black corals, dead sea turtles and 7,300 pieces of sea shells to officials of BFAR and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources at the port of Manila.

2 container vans
Customs Police Director Nestorio Gualberto said wildlife trader Exequiel Navarro, consignee of the contraband, appeared at his office on Tuesday and indicated that he was prepared to identify the financier of the project and the people who harvested the corals.

Gualberto said the contraband was concealed in two container vans and declared as rubber.

Only two or three colonies of black corals—each represented by a piece of black coral—are found in one hectare of sea bed, Labe explained.

With 21,169 black coral pieces recovered, this could mean that the area harvested could be as big as 7,000 hectares, or an area almost twice the size of the city of Manila.

“These web-like colonial organisms are not lush or bushy. They’re found on reef walls or reef slopes. One piece is equal to one colony,” Labe said.

“One piece of black coral is not just one organism. There are thousands of other organisms who live there,” she added.

P35-M contraband
Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the DENR-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, said one of the turtles killed measured 40 inches and was aged “80 to 100 years old.”

“There were also small ones who were only juveniles or just 4 years old,” Lim said.

“This is saddening because we have reduced this illegal trade and now we catch something as big as this,” she added.

Environment officials said some of the contraband could be given to marine biology schools while the black coral, although already dead, could be returned later to the sea.

Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said the seized goods had a market value of “at least P35 million.”

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that the “economic cost over a 25-year period of destroying one kilometer of coral reef is somewhere” between $137,000 and $1,200,000.

“It took 25 years or even more for these corals to grow like this. They grow only one centimeter a month,” Labe said.

Exotic jewelry
The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora has banned the harvesting of black coral but the practice continues.

“(The illicit trade) is being fueled by the demand of the multibillion-dollar marine ornamental industry for exotic decorative species and the increasing popularity of coral-accented jewelry and fashion accessories,” Alvarez said.

“While the Bureau of Customs does not have the means to serve as a first line of defense against the so-called plunderers of the marine ecosystem, we are determined to play the role of a deterrent by making it unprofitable for illegal wildlife traders to move their prohibited cargoes through our air and sea ports,” he said.

“Nobody should profit from the rape of the ocean,” Alvarez added.

The Fisheries Code of 1998, which bans gathering and selling corals, punishes violators with imprisonment from six months to two years and a fine from P2,000 to P20,000.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Feds aim to save Hawaiian monk seal

WinonaDailyNews: Feds aim to save Hawaiian monk seal
Federal biologists scouring for ways to spare the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal from extinction are embracing a desperate if unorthodox strategy: They want to pluck seal pups from the small, pristine island atolls where they're born and move them closer to Honolulu and other highly populated areas.

Scientists say this counterintuitive step is needed to help save a species that's declining at a rate of 4 percent annually. But it is already proving to be controversial, and even unpopular among fishermen who don't want hungry seals eating their bait and accidentally getting caught in their nets and lines.

The National Marine Fisheries Service plans to formally propose the "translocation" of the seals in July, The Associated Press has learned. It wants to bring a few recently weaned female pups to the main Hawaiian Islands each year, keep them here until they're three years old, and then send them back to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

"We're desperate. That's the bottom line. We're watching this species just crash right in front of our eyes. This is really one of the few things that we think has a chance of making a difference," said Jeff Walters, the agency's Hawaiian monk seal recovery coordinator.

The Hawaiian monk seal population at one point likely totaled about 15,000, and the animals have lived all along the archipelago. Today the population numbers some 1,100, and could disappear entirely in the next 50 to 100 years. About 900 to 950 live in a marine preserve among dozens of small atolls northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands. The rest are in the main islands where the state's 1.4 million people live and millions of tourists visit every year.

The 1,200-mile long marine preserve _ called the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument _ would seem like an ideal place for seals to thrive. It has the healthiest and least disturbed coral reefs in U.S. waters. Fishing isn't allowed, and the only people given permission to enter are generally those doing research, working at the National Wildlife Refuge at Midway, or those performing Hawaiian cultural rites.

Instead, only one in five pups born in the monument lives to adulthood. In contrast, their cousins born in the main Hawaiian Islands have a greater than 80 percent chance of surviving. Scientists who study the seals blame the disparity on the large numbers of sharks and ulua fish, or jack, that compete with the monk seals for food in the northwest.

The bulky, grey and white animals eat by shoving their heads under rocks, flipping them over and gobbling octopus, eels or whatever else may be hiding underneath.

They can generally do this undisturbed in the main islands. But in the monument, crowds of ulua follow monk seals and steal whatever food the seals find. Mature seals dodge the stalking ulua by diving deep. The pups, though, aren't strong enough.

"These juvenile seals are just too little and too slow," said Walters. "They just get hammered."

Predatory sharks are compounding their plight.

A small group of Galagapos sharks at the French Frigate Shoals atoll developed a habit in the 1990s of sliding into extreme shallow water and taking a bite out of seal pups basking along the beach.

Charles Littnan, the lead scientist for the federal government's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, said this behavior has never been observed in any other shark population, and only a few sharks at this particular atoll do it. They tend to tear off a flipper, or rip a chunk out of the seal's side, rather than eating the entire animal. The seals usually die of shock. Only 15 percent of the seals born at the atoll live to adulthood.

Scientists aren't sure why the northwest's seals are struggling so mightily, given that they've lived in the Hawaiian Islands for at least 3 million years.

But the likely reason is that the shark and ulua populations grew artificially large during the 20th century by feeding on scraps from now-closed military outposts and bycatch tossed off the back of lobster boats that once fished in the area.

"Now those sharks and jacks are hungry and there's no more gravy train," Walters said. "Instead of following the lobster boats around, they follow the monk seals around."

Walters hopes the translocation program would allow the species to hold on until the shark and ulua populations in the northwest naturally come down.

The fisheries service has already heard complaints about the proposal, though.

"The seals are already hauling fish traps, breaking them open, getting into people's nets," said Roy Morioka, a retired telecommunications executive and recreational fisherman. "You bring more critters down, the incidences will increase."

Morioka, 67, is worried fishermen will inadvertently injure or kill the seals, and this could lead to restrictions on fishing because of the animal's endangered status.

Neil Kanemoto, 41, predicted the seals would have run-ins with fishermen, as well as surfers, paddlers, and tourists.

"If a monk seal is hooked, accidentally, then now the fishermen are vilified. So we're bad guys just for doing stuff that we've been doing for years and years and years," said the lifelong recreational fisherman.

The fisheries service says it would move just a few seals a year and it would halt the program if it isn't working. Officials also vow to work on conditioning the seals to avoid boats and people.

"Many of the factors that have brought them to this point are linked back to us. So it's our responsibility, where we can, to fix what we've caused," Littnan said.

Turtle’s surgery, return to the wild ‘uplifting’

MauiNews.com: Turtle’s surgery, return to the wild ‘uplifting’
Nearly a week after having an 8-pound tumor removed from his face, a green sea turtle nicknamed "Hearty" was returned to his home at Makena Landing on Thursday evening.

"It was very uplifting," said marine turtle researcher George Balazs, who participated in the release and the surgery on the turtle.

As researchers and volunteers, including the group Ocean Defenders Hawai'i, eased the turtle into hip-deep water, the adult male apparently was pleased to be back in the wild.

"The turtle took off like a rocket ship," said Balazs, leader of the Marine Turtle Research program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center.

Balazs said Friday that what made this release special was that this was the second turtle in his program since the mid-'80s that researchers could really help by removing a massive tumor and set it up for hopefully a healthy future.

He said that a lot of times not too much can be done for the tumor-plagued turtles his program receives, as the turtles might be too far gone to help.

Balazs said that in Hearty's case a lot of signs pointed to a possible positive outcome.

For one, the tumor had minimal invasion in the turtle's mouth, and the single massive tumor on his face had a relatively narrow stalk attachment, which was removable with the possibility of a good outcome.

In addition, Hearty's body was not severely emaciated and he had a fully functioning left eye under a lobe of the tumor.

On May 12, Hearty, who was initially nicknamed "Heartbreak" by divers who had been spotting him in the water near Makena Landing, was transported by Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary staff to be airlifted by Aloha Air Cargo to Oahu.

Hearty, whose shell is about a yard long, was taken from the water by people working for ocean-related businesses and nonprofit organizations, sanctuary officials and by folks from the Marine Option Program at the University of Hawaii Maui College.

The turtle then underwent surgery on May 13 by contract veterinarian Robert Morris, who has years of experience in treating sea turtles.

Balazs said that the surgery went well and the tumor came off "quite relatively easy surgically."

There was some bleeding, which the veterinarian was eventually able to stop.

A few days after surgery, the turtle was transferred from Balazs' office in Honolulu and taken to a seawater tank for rehabilitation at Kewalo Small Boat Harbor.

Balazs said he usually doesn't give names to the turtles that he helps, but while he watched the turtle swim around the seawater tank, he decided to call him Hearty.

He said that the turtle had the strength to be a survivor.

Hearty recovered well enough to be released back into the wild quicker than experts predicted, Balazs said.

The turtle has a microchip in each of its hind flippers for tracking purposes. Hearty was transported by air back to Maui to be released.

When Balazs and his staff first treated Hearty, he weighed 147 pounds. When they returned him to the ocean he was eight pounds lighter - having lost the weight of the massive tumor.

Although Hearty was not stranded, people may report stranded sea turtles. In the Kihei area (Maalaea to Makena), call pager 872-5190; in all other Maui areas, call pager 893-3172 first or try 893-3050.

Sick pilot whale 'helped by caring pod' before death

Metro.co.uk: Sick pilot whale 'helped by caring pod' before death
A sick whale was supported by members of its pod before it succumbed to an infection and died off the Scottish coast, marine experts have said.

The stricken female pilot whale was spotted with a group of about 60 others before the illness caused it to become stranded in shallow water.

Its body was recovered from Loch Carnan, South Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides.

A preliminary post-mortem examination on the whale by Dr Andrew Brownlow of the Scottish Agricultural College found potential evidence of an infection in the animal’s melon, a fatty organ found in the forehead.

It also showed external injuries to the whale were not enough to cause its death. Further tests indicate the creature was coming to the end of its lactation period after motherhood and rescuers said they hoped the mammal’s young calf would have been fully weaned.

Dave Jarvis, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: ‘It appears that what has been witnessed is a group of these extremely social creatures accompanying an ill individual and that the infection may have caused this animal to strand. Despite an extensive search, there have been no sightings of the remainder of the pod.’

Pilot whales were almost stranded in the same sea loch last October. Less than a week later, 33 whales believed to be the same group were found dead on a beach in Co Donegal, Ireland.

The species prefer deep water but come inshore to feed on squid, their main food. Last week a stranded pilot whale died in the Sullom Voe inlet, Shetland.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Booklist: For Spacious Skies, by Scott Carpenter

Ever heard of the Sealab project?

No, I thought not.

In the 1960s, the US attempted to explore both space and the oceans for a short time. But spae exploration was always more "sexy" than underwater exploration, and when the money crunch came, it was Sealab that went by the wayside.

Scott Carpenter was both a Mercury astronaut and a Sealab aquanaut. His book deals mostly with his space adventures, but there's a bit about Sealab as well.

For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut, by Scott Carpenter and Kris Stoever
HarcourtBooks, 2002
332 pages plus notes, acknowledgments, and index. 16 pages of b&w photos

Library: B Carpe, M
On May 24, 1962, the tiny spacecraft Aurora 7 carried Scott Carpenter into space, American history, and a lifetime of controversy.

For Spacious Skies offers this Mercury astronaut's never-before-told account of life at NASA. He takes us through the mysteries of the selection process, to the desert for survival training, into the simulator, and onto the contour couch. He describes in stunning detail the flight that made him the second American to orbit the Earth.

During the early years of the space program, each mission helped determine NASA's research progress, the efficiency of its design, and its place in the race to the moon.

When Aurora 7 began to malfunction, everyone at hand frantically tried to detect the cause. What was ultimately found to be a glitch in Aurora 7's pitch horizon scanner forced the astronaut to overshoot his expected landing site by 250 miles and later brought the intentions made during the flight under intense scrutiny.

Scott Carpenter, with his daughter, Kris Stoever, clears up all lingering questions about his flight while telling the history of an amazing frontier family and the strength of the American pioneer spirit.

Table of Contents
Part 1: Earth
1. Buddy
2. A Frozen Sea
3. The Unpleasantness
4. Pocketknives, Pens, and Other Edge Tools
Part 2: Sky
5. I am now an Naval Aviation Cadet
6. A Navy Wife?
7. Love, War and Quonset Huts
Part 3: The Stars
8. For Spacious Skies
9. You are Hereby Ordered
10. One Hundred Chimps
11. The Fibrillating Heart
12. Delta Becomes Aurora
13. Commander Carpenter and his Flying Machine!
14. The Color of Fire

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Reefs Found In The Great Barrier Reef 'Twilight' Zone

Underwater Times: New Reefs Found In The Great Barrier Reef 'Twilight' Zone

TOWNSVILLE, Queensland -- An international research team led by researchers from James Cook University using a high-tech underwater robot have discovered diverse coral reef communities living in the unexplored deep waters along the Great Barrier Reef shelf-edge.

Tom Bridge, a PhD Candidate in JCU's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said the findings were a first for this depth of the Reef.

"These reefs occur in an area known as the mesophotic zone, or 'twilight zone' because of the lower light levels found there. They have been virtually unexplored because the reefs occur well below the depths accessible to most scuba divers," Mr Bridge said.

The last few years have seen an increasing interest in deep water reefs around the world, however this was the first investigation of such habitats on the Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Bridge said the study used a recently developed robot, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), to investigate reef and seabed communities up to 150 metres deep along a 500 km length of the Great Barrier Reef.

Together with an international team of scientists, including University of Sydney scientist Dr Jody Webster and Dr Robin Beaman of JCU Cairns, Mr Bridge examined three sites offshore from Cairns, Townsville and Mackay.

Mr Bridge said the sites, which were located on the edge of the continental shelf, outside the outermost mapped reefs, all contained diverse coral communities comprised of a unique combination of corals.

"Some corals were members of species commonly encountered on shallow-water reefs, while others represented types rarely seen by scuba divers," Mr Bridge said.

"Bathymetric maps of the GBR shelf-edge suggest that these deep reef habitats may be widespread in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, however the vast majority of them are currently unexplored.

"Understanding more about the ecology of these habitats is important due to their unique biodiversity, but also because they may provide important refuges for coral reef species from climate change impacts such as coral bleaching. There is growing evidence that some deeper reefs are buffered from these sorts of disturbances. Therefore, it is important to know more about them and to use that knowledge to better protect the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef."

Mr Bridge said the AUV, which records a variety of data, was operated by the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney.

Mr Bridge said the vehicle took stereo-images of the sea floor in the first instance. "These images overlap so they can be stitched together into a 'mesh', to form a 3D image of the seafloor".

"We then used these 3D images to obtain accurate estimates of the rugosity, or topographic complexity, and slope of the substrate, which we used to explain the distribution of the reef communities.

"The AUV also collected a variety of other environmental data including multibeam swath bathymetry, conductivity-temperature-depth, turbidity and chlorophyll."

The team's paper was published in the latest edition of the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Bonefish Spawning Locale Discovered

Underwater Times: Bonefish Spawning Locale Discovered
AMHERST, Massachusetts -- Though bonefish are one of the most sought-after tropical sport fish in the world, drawing thousands of anglers to Caribbean waters every season, until recently the only information scientists had about their spawning habits were anecdotes and fish tales.

Now, University of Massachusetts Amherst researcher Andy Danylchuk and colleagues from several other institutions know far more about bonefish spawning habits after using ultrasonic transmitters to tag and track bonefish movements off Eleuthera in the Bahamas. Their results appear in an early online issue of the journal Marine Biology. Results should help focus habitat conservation efforts.

It has been estimated that 30 percent of anglers who visit the Bahamas to cast for bonefish come from New England.

What Danylchuk and colleagues found by tagging these popular sport fish is that bonefish gather in schools of over 1,000 at pre-spawning aggregation sites for a few days twice a month from October to May, primarily around the new and full moon. At dusk, these large schools begin to move offshore to the edge of deep abyssal waters, over 1,000 feet deep, very unlike the shallow flats were anglers normally encounter them. There, as night falls, the fish spawn under cover of darkness.

"This is the first time movement patterns of bonefish to deep water have been formally described," says Danylchuk, an expert on coastal fish stocks, the impact of angling and how to protect ecosystems. Although surprising, this movement to spawn in deeper water makes some sense, he adds. "One possible benefit of bonefish migrating to offshore locations to spawn is that it increases the dispersal of their fertilized eggs, especially with the high tides that happen with the new and full moons."

Danylchuk and colleagues tagged 30 bonefish over two years, 60 in all, following them along with a few individuals previously tagged, from 2007 to 2009. Another first for this research team was observing behaviors such as porpoising, that is groups of fish leaping part-way out of the water as they travel along, they believe are likely associated with bonefish courtship. Danylchuk was amazed to see these usually bottom-hugging fish breaking the surface as they moved away from their nearshore aggregation sites.

"This new understanding of bonefish movement and spawning aggregations has significant implications for their conservation," he says, because it establishes that pre-spawning aggregation sites identified in this study were located in transition areas between shallow coastal habitats and deep oceanic waters, the very same places that humans find desirable for marinas and tourism development.

"Knowing that bonefish are not residents of shallow flats alone means that pre-spawning aggregation sites and deeper reef habitats also need to be protected to ensure sustainable bonefish populations," he says.

Danylchuk is familiar to many as a result of several appearances on the ESPN2 network series, "Pirates of the Flats." This research was supported by the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, the Patagonia World Trout Initiative, the Cape Eleuthera Institute and a number of private donors.

B.C. trawler snares section of costly undersea observatory

Vancouver Sun: B.C. trawler snares section of costly undersea observatory

VANCOUVER — A wayward fishing trawler has knocked out a key section of the $100-million Neptune Canada observatory on the sea floor off Vancouver Island.

The trawler was dragging its giant net across the sea floor — in an area where the fishers are not supposed to go — and hit one of Neptune's platforms, loaded with costly titanium instruments that monitor everything from earthquakes to tsunamis.

Repairing the system could cost anywhere from $700,000 to $1.7 million, said Chris Barnes, director of Neptune Canada, who describes the hit as a "major blow" for the observatory and its elaborate array of sensors, rovers and instruments.

The instruments on the "pod," which have been on the sea floor since 2009 and were designed to last 25 years, suddenly went dead just after 1 a.m. on Feb. 18.

It was unclear what happened at first. But the super-sensitive devices, which relay data to Neptune headquarters over the Internet in real time, collected plenty of incriminating evidence just before they died.

A seismometer, meant to monitor earthquakes, caught the vibrations caused by the trawler as it bore down on the pod — and the exact moment it hit. Engineering data shows when other instruments and cables were hit and suddenly stopped working.

"We can actually detect how the instruments got disconnected, the precise time and the precise sequence of events," Barnes said in an interview on Thursday.

He said the data shows which direction the trawler was moving, and even includes acoustic images of the giant fishing net coming down from the surface.

While the trawler has not yet been identified, the "internal investigation" into the observatory's "first fisher hit" continues, said Barnes. He said there could be "legal implications," but declined to elaborate.

The fishing industry and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans were consulted when Neptune was designed and built to try to avoid problems on B.C.'s increasingly busy sea floor, where trawlers are allowed to drag giant nets across the seabed down to depths of more than 1,300 metres, said Barnes.

Neptune's cables, which stretch 800 kilometres across the seabed were strengthened and buried a metre under the sea floor in waters where fishing occurs. "We've spent a lot of money in this observatory trying to protect against impacts by fishers or ship anchors," said Barnes.

He said the fishing industry was also provided with detailed navigational information and asked to steer clear of Neptune's equipment. The pod hit in February is about 100 kilometres offshore and under 400 metres of water in a location known as the Barkley Upper Slope.

The "pod" of instruments measured about 2.5 metres by 1.5 metres. It extended about two metres above the sea floor, and connects to other equipment nearby.

It is not yet clear what has become of the instruments, which may have been picked up in the net as bycatch. "We've been trying to find out if any ships in the area reported finding or picking up any nice bright, shiny instruments," said Barnes.

Most of them are made of titanium to stop corrosion, he said, and "are quite expensive, highly specialized instruments that are not of use to anyone else"

He said investigators have also been contacting processing plants in case some of the instruments "were dumped into the bowels of the boat" and then emptied out with the fish.

They have had no luck yet and Barnes said the instruments may still be on sea floor. A remotely operated vehicle will be sent down to have a look in July, said Barnes, noting that it will cost $60,000 a day for ship time alone.

He said the best-case scenario is that the instruments are still on the sea floor, and can be reconnected to the pod platform. The worst, at $1.7 million, is that the instruments will have to be replaced.

"It's pure speculation at this time," said Barnes. "What we know is that we essentially lost connection and we know it's a fishing vessel that damaged the system."

"It is very frustrating, to say the least," said Barnes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Alaska's subsistence whaling catch below average

AlaskaDispatch: Alaska's subsistence whaling catch below average

Towering pressure ridges off the coast of Barrow have reduced access to open-water leads where subsistence whaling happens, leaving crews far below their usual catch at this time, an official with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission said.

In a normal year, the community's whalers would have used up about three-quarters of their annual quota, which sits at 22 this year, said Johnny Aiken, the commission's executive director

But instead of using up 16 or 17 strikes, whalers have used only six strikes.

Of that, they've lost two bowhead whales. They have landed only four.

"It's really late in the season and we haven't struck many year," said Aiken. "This has been an extremely difficult year for the whalers up here, especially in Barrow."

The community of 4,200 sits beside the Arctic Ocean.

Strong west winds really "messed up the ice," slamming together massive ice sheets to form pressure ridges comprised of frozen blocks of sea-ice. Even the beaches are full of the ridges and that's not normal, Aiken said.

"Some of the crews even had to chop trail for about a month to get to the lead, so the strike ratio is very low because of that," he said.

Now with the snow melting access by snowmachine is limited, creating another obstacle, Aiken said.

"A lot of the crews have already pulled up, because the trails are really rough now," he said.

Some will keep trying this spring, he said. Many are looking ahead to Part II of whaling in Barrow this year, when the whales migrate back past the community.

"We'll try to catch more in the fall," he said.

Farm Runoff in Mississippi River Floodwater Fuels Dead Zone in Gulf

PBSNews: Farm Runoff in Mississippi River Floodwater Fuels Dead Zone in Gulf
A dead zone -- already the size of the state of New Jersey -- is growing in the Gulf of Mexico, fueled by nutrient runoff from the swollen Mississippi River.

This year, with floodwaters from the Birds Point levee breach and the Morganza and Bonnet Carret spillways spreading over farmland and other residential areas, the river is collecting tremendous amounts of fertilizer and pesticides. This is contributing to what scientists say may become the largest dead zone ever, and posing a serious threat to already taxed marine life.

During the rainy season, fertilizer, animal waste, sewage and car exhaust wash into the Mississippi and the Atchafalaya rivers, flow south and empty into the mouth of the Gulf.

Nitrogen and phosphorous from farm runoff and animal waste are especially toxic to ocean life. They act as natural fertilizers, feeding harmful algae and causing it to bloom wildly. As bacteria consume these blooms, they suck oxygen from the water, depleting the ocean's oxygen reserves. Scientists call this oxygen depletion hypoxia.

"We're expecting probably the largest-ever amount of hypoxia," said Nancy Rabalais, a marine scientist and executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. "That's the the prediction based on the amount of nitrogen coming down the river."

A surge of fresh water creates a layering effect in the seawater, which compounds the problem. The freshwater sits above the heavier saltwater, acting as a cap that prevents oxygen from reaching the deeper water levels.

"The bottom layer of the ocean gets so low in oxygen that sea life has to swim away and vacate the area, and if they can't get away, they suffocate," said Matt Rota, science and water policy director for the Gulf Restoration Network.

Flooding could cause further injury to fisheries in the northern Gulf of Mexico, already reeling from last year's oil spill, Rabalais said. Dead zones alter the habitat for crab, shrimp, fish and lobster, often forcing them to shallow areas. This includes catchable seafood, like shrimp and snapper, which are vital to the area's fisheries.

"A lot of the Louisiana shrimp fisheries use smaller vessels," Rabalais said. "With the price of fuel and the distance they have to go, they might opt not to go offshore."

Possibly the largest source of nutrients comes from farms in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and southwest Minnesota, where drainage tiles -- plastic pipes that crisscross underground - - drain the once-wet soil, making it arable, and dry enough for corn and soybean crops. But these pipes also flush nitrogen fertilizer into tributaries, which lead to rivers and eventually the Gulf.

In fact, research shows that the most heavily tile-drained areas of North America also contribute the largest source of nitrates to the Gulf of Mexico, which add to the dead zone, according to Mark David, a professor of biogeochemistry from the University of Illinois.

David is researching options for reducing nitrate levels. They include valves and beds of woodchips inside the tiles, as well as restoring wetlands, which filter pollution naturally.

It's not the farmers' fault, David said, but there's little incentive for farmers to reduce their nitrate output. "There's a fundamental problem in the whole system if we really want to reduce nitrate and phosphorous loss from the system. Everything's been voluntary up to this point, and that hasn't gotten us anywhere."

Indonesia denies allegations of dolphin, whale hunting

Channel 6 News, Jakarta: Indonesia denies allegations of dolphin, whale hunting
JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) -- Indonesia on Wednesday denied accusations that whales and dolphins were being hunted down in Indonesian waters, the Jakarta Globe reported.

Environment officials released a statement in response to a video and photos posted online by US-based nongovernmental organization Earth Island Institute alleging there was evidence of the killing of whales and dolphins in Indonesia. The country bans the hunting of dolphins and whales as they are protected.

"It is not true. How could that be? I have never heard of dolphins being hunted before," Agus Apun Budhiman, director of fish resources at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said at a press conference.

"Local people consider them [dolphins] as man's best friends, so they would not go after them, let alone eat or use their meat as bait," he added. 

The video posted on the NGO's website showed an interview with a local fisherman describing how dolphins are captured using home-made bombs.

"They use dynamite placed in beer bottles and throw them at dolphins. After dolphins got too weak, they captured them and tied their tails. They use them as baits for sharks as they needed [shark's] fins that could be worth Rp 1 million [$117] for one kilogram," the fisherman said in the interview.

The site also posted a picture of people surrounding a killer whale on shore in Lamalera, a village known for its tradition of whaling. Femke den Haas, founder of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network, the local partner of Earth Island Institute, acknowledged the whaling that had long been practiced in Lamalera.

"However, the capture of dolphins and orcas with the use of motorboats has nothing to do with tradition," Femke said.

She added that the photos and the video did not indict just Lamalera since "Indonesia is fast losing its shark population and dolphins are getting killed in the process too."

"If it's the traditional way of hunting whales for local consumption, we can’t have any objection. But the villagers started to use motorboats since 10 years ago and now so many dolphins are being captured and this is not part of tradition anymore," Femke added.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

“The aquarium of the world” at risk

National Geographic Daily News: “The aquarium of the world” at risk
The best marine conservation success story in Mexico is Cabo Pulmo, a small no-take marine reserve in the Gulf of California. As reported in the May issue of National Geographic Magazine (in Spanish), 15 years ago Cabo Pulmo was no different from any other reef in the Gulf of California: most fish were small, and the large groupers and manta rays that populated the stories of the old timers seemed just a dream. But in 1995 the reefs and surrounding waters were protected, and people stopped fishing there. In these 15 years, the Cabo Pulmo reefs have experienced the most extraordinary recovery ever reported by marine science.

Now Cabo Pulmo harbors large groupers and snappers, sharks, manta rays, marlin, tuna, and five of the world’s seven endangered species of sea turtles. While the rest of the Gulf of California remained depleted (or got worse), the biomass of fish in Cabo Pulmo increased by more than 3 tonnes per hectare – an unparalleled recovery. Only a handful of uninhabited, unfished coral reefs in the Pacific have so many fish. When fish came back, divers came in to see what the Gulf of California was like before human exploitation – which Jacques Cousteau once called “the aquarium of the world.” Now fishermen have improved their catches around the limits of the marine reserve, because the now abundant fish spill over and help replenish adjacent fishing grounds. Because of all that, the local community can live off their natural capital by keeping fish alive in the water, and enjoy a standard of living much superior to most other coastal areas in Mexico.

However, Cabo Pulmo is now under serious threat. In March, Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources approved a proposal to develop a mega-resort called “Cabo Cort├ęs.” This development would include 15 large hotels with over 30,000 hotel rooms, three to five golf courses, a 490-slip marina, desalination and water treatment plants, a private jet strip, and other infrastructure, adjacent to and directly north of Cabo Pulmo. Scientists and conservationists believe that the influx of mass tourism and population growth will put unsustainable pressure on the protected reefs – through changes in water quality, turbidity, pollution, fertilizers and chemicals used on the golf courses, and illegal fishing. According to experts in the region, the environmental impact assessment provided by the developers does not fulfill rigorous scientific requirements.

Cabo Pulmo is the jewel of the Gulf of California, and one of the few ocean stories Mexico can be proud of. It is an ecological and economic success, and it has fostered social progress in the community. It is a bright spot to be repeated elsewhere in Mexico. The Mexican government should reconsider its decision to allow building that mega-resort. Mexico already has many mega-developments (many of which have become economic and environmental disasters), but how many Cabo Pulmos do they have?

Acidification and the Battle Between Coral and Seaweed

Smithsonian: Suprising Science: Acidification and the Battle Between Coral and Seaweed

As we pump more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the ocean absorbs some of it. And as CO2 dissolves, it makes the oceans’ water more and more acidic. This acidification creates plenty of potential problems for life in the oceans, but corals might have it the worst. If the ocean becomes too acidic they won’t be able to create their calcified skeletons; the chemical reaction they rely on slows down under lower pH levels . But scientists in Australia say that the situation is more dire than expected. In their study, published in Ecology Letters, they show that higher CO2 levels may be give seaweed an advantage in a competition with coral.

Corals compete with seaweeds for space on the reef. When corals are healthy, the coral–seaweed competition reaches a balance. But if the corals aren’t doing so well because of something like eutrophication, then seaweed can take over.

In this new study, the researchers studied the coral-seaweed battle in miniature, setting up bits of each (Acropora intermedia, the most common hard coral in the Great Barrier Reef, and Lobophora papenfussii, an abundant reef seaweed) in tanks in the lab. Each tank had one of four CO2 levels in the air above it, resulting in four different pH levels: 300 parts per million (equivalent to pre-industrial CO2 and pH levels), 400 ppm (present-day), 560 ppm (mid-21st-century estimate) and 1140 ppm (late-21st-century estimate).

When there was no seaweed, the corals survived. But with its competitor present, the corals declined under each scenario. However, the decline was worse under higher CO2 levels, to the point where under the late-21st-century scenario, there was no living coral left after a mere three weeks.

“Our results suggest that coral (Acropora) reefs may become increasingly susceptible to seaweed proliferation under ocean acidification,” the researchers write. This area of research is still in the early stages and this experiment was a simplification of the coral–seaweed dynamic (there were only two species tested, for example, and plant-eating fish were left out of the equation), but it may provide even more reason to worry about the future of the coral reefs.

Heavy penalties set vs owners of cargo ship that destroyed corals

BusinesMirror: Heavy penalties set vs owners of cargo ship that destroyed corals

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) wants the owners of MV Double Prosperity, which inflicted severe damage on Bakud Reef in Kaimba, Sarangani, on May 8, to pay dearly for its recklessness.

Aside from the cost of the damaged coral area, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje wants the total value of marine products that have been lost because of the accident computed and charged against the owners of the ship.

“We estimate that the immediate damage cost in Bakud Reef could run up to P42 million. But charging this amount to Double Prosperity is like giving a slap on the wrist of the ship’s owners, because invaluable marine products were lost as a consequence of the accident,” Paje said in a press statement.

He ordered the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, headed by Director Mundita Lim, to recommend in Wednesday’s meeting of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape to consider in the computation of penalty to be imposed on the erring ship the value of lost marine life that would remain nonexistent for at least 20 years, the minimum period needed before the corals can regain their former condition.

Paje said P42 million is “too small” a compensation, considering the damage caused by MV Double Prosperity, because it does not take into consideration the lost marine life that could have spawned in the corals, that could ultimately benefited Saranggani residents, especially the fishermen and the allied enterprises dependent on the area’s teeming fishing industry.

The 225-meter Panama-registered cargo vessel, loaded with 65,900 metric tons of coal, was heading for India from Australia when it plowed through a portion of Bakud Reef, which is within the 215,950-hectare Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS), a protected area under Presidential Proclamation 756.

A hectare of coral reef has an annual average value of $130,000 in terms of services to humans, according to a research posted on the Science Daily web site.

The SBPS’s PAMB has yet to issue an official damage assessment.

Paje hopes that the penalty it will impose against the owners of the erring ship would reflect his recommendation.

The SBPS-PAMB that is co-chaired by Sarangani Gov. Miguel Dominguez and DENR-Region 12 Executive Director Alfredo Pascual is set to convene on May 18 to assess the damage.

Japan pressures Republic of Palau to break conservation deal with Sea Shepherd

Examiner.com National: Japan pressures Republic of Palau to break conservation deal with Sea Shepherd

An agreement reached between the Republic of Palau and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been broken today due to interference reported by Sea Shepherd from the government of Japan, placing services to "protect the sharks, turtles, rays, and other marine life of this one-of-a-kind archipelago" in serious jeopardy.

According to Sea Shepherd "The Japanese government has promised to provide Palau with a patrol vessel and financial support as an alternative to Sea Shepherd’s involvement.

"Sea Shepherd is optimistic that Japan’s offer to protect the sanctuary is sincere and not merely a ploy to negate Sea Shepherd’s intervention against poachers" they explain "whose unlawful catch in large majority ends up in the Japanese fish market."

Relations between the Japanese government and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have been strained for many years over questionable whaling practices carried out by Japanese ships and the mass slaughter each year of dolphins in Japanese harbors that Sea Shepherd has attempted to bring to an end.

"Sea Shepherd welcomes the news that Japan will step up and assist Palau to enforce the laws that protect the marine sanctuary of the Republic of Palau" says Sea Shepherd "and provide the ships and support that will make this possible.

"Sea Shepherd will of course closely follow the progress of this marine protection campaign. Should support from Japan fail to materialize, then Sea Shepherd will be happy to again offer to support Palau in this important mission."

The fact that Sea Shepherd is "applauding" the agreement between Japan and Palau only goes to show that Sea Shepherd has not been swayed by what many are seeing as a back handed deal that will allow Japan to continue to poach off the shores of Palau.

"Shark protection remains a major focus for Sea Shepherd" explains Sea Shepherd "and they are already in discussion with several other Pacific islands that are keen to work with them to defend their marine environments.

"The Bob Barker" continues Sea Shepherd "is currently in drydock undergoing repairs and maintenance, she will be ready in time to cover the Southern Ocean if the Japanese whalers return this year, but if they do not, then she will patrol the Pacific in defense of sharks."

And should Japan be spotted out in the waters continuing their poaching of whales and other marine life, the Sea Shepherd is very clear about this.

"There is no shortage of poachers in the South Pacific and thus, no shortage of illegal fishing operations for Sea Shepherd to intervene against."

Fishermen receive apology, almost $650,000 in returned fines from feds

Boston.com: Fishermen receive apology, almost $650,000 in returned fines from feds
Acknowledging that some federal fish police “overstepped the bounds of propriety and fairness”, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is returning almost $650,000 in fines to 11 fishermen or businesses, the majority in the Northeast.

The unusual move – and apology - comes after years of accusations by fishermen of excessive fines and intimidation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s office of Law Enforcement. Locke had appointed a special investigator last year to investigate 30 cases that a federal Inspector General’s office report said appeared problematic.

“I expect our entire law enforcement program to uphold high standards and maintain the public’s trust,’’ Locke said today in a telephone press conference. The special investigator, Charles Swartwood III found 13 instances in the 30 of poor conduct or other problems. “Enforcement has to be fair, uniform and consistent,” Locke said.

The 11 fishermen and businesses – many of them from Massachusetts – were in a meeting with NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco this afternoon and unable to be reached immediately.

But a findings report showed that Swartwood found several instances of fishermen being excessively fined or threatened to be fined more if they did not settle cases. In one instance, Swartwood found that the Gloucester Seafood Display Auction – where fishermen catches are sold was the subject “of selective enforcement by NOAA.” He also found agents entered the auction house without a warrant.

In others he found that law enforcement agent put unfair pressure on a witness who was going to testify on another fisherman’s behalf, inappropriately fined a fisherman too much for a first offense among other issues.

Booklist: Leadership and Crisis, by Bobby Jindal

This is more a biography of Bobby Jindal, doubtless trying to test the waters of interest for him to run as President some time in the future... but along with his biography it also deals what was going on during the Deepwater HOrizon crisis from his point of view.

As deep water drilling for oil, as well as near-shore drilling, continues, we need to know more and more aobut what our governments, and oil companies, are doing to protect the oceans.

So check out this book from that standpoint.

Leadership and Crisis, by Bobby Jindal, with Peter Schweizer and Curt Anderson
Regnery Publishing, 2010
283 pages plus AAcknowledgments, Notes, Index, 8 pages of color photos
Library: 976.3064 JIN

Bobby Jindal has been tested as few politicians have. And from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to Hurricane Katrina, he's shown an astounding ability to beat the odds (and beat the bureaucrats) to get thing done.

Then again, Jindal is not your typical politician. The son of Indian immigrants, a Christian convert from Hinduism, and a Rhodes Scholar, Jindal presided over Louisiana's healthcare system at age 24, headed the University of Louisiana system at 27, became a US Congressman at 33, and was elected governor of Louisiana at 36.

Throughout his meteoric career, Jindal has dealt with some of the worst crises of our times, from natural disasters in his home state to out-of-control spending in Washington, DC. His secret: the common sense solutions that bureaucrats (and politicians) ignore in favor of government-as-usual.

In Leadership and Crisis, Jindal reveals:
-How the Obama administration spent too much time worrying about public perception and not enough time actually fighting the oil
-How the federal government actually impeded Louisiana's efforts to stem the flood of oil
-Why the bureaucratic incompetence during Hurricane Katrina was even worse than you know
-How Bobby Jindal took on Louisiana's infamous culture of corruption
-His own journey from Hinduism to Christianity, from student at Oxford to Governor of Louisiana, from policy wonk to instant midwife when he had to deliver his third child himself.

Filled with behind-the-scenes stories from the oil-slicked beaches of Louisiana to the corridors of power in the US capitol, Leadership and Crisis offers an insider's view into one of the worst environmental disasters our nation hassuffered-and into one of the most unique success stories in American politics.

Table of Contents
1. Disaster in the Gulf
2. Who Dat?
3. Yellow Pages
4. To Educate a Child
5. First-Time Candidate
6. Cesspool or Hot Tub?
7. In the Eye of the Sorm
8. Converts and Immigrants
9. The Most Boring Governor in Louisiana's History
10. Do We REally Want to Be Like Europe?
11. Real Change for Healthcare
12. Propelling America Forward
13. Of Life and Logic
14. Saving Medicaire
15. Freedom isn't Free
16. It's the Culture, Stupid
Conclusion: Now what?