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Monday, June 27, 2011

Bubble net fever reaches a new pitch

A cool new study on bubble netting, the remarkable hunting behaviour of certain groups of humpback whales, was brought to my attention this weekend by the Marine Detective. The paper (click here for abstract) by NOAA's David Wiley describes the behaviour in detail, and breaks it down into two different classes: 'upward spiral' and the previously uncharacterized 'double loop' (no, this doesn't involve the whales doing back-flips under water).

Anyway, it makes for a very interesting description of a truly fascinating behaviour (and I'm fast running out of adjectives).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

B.C.'s corals need more protection, not more words

Not many people know about deep-sea corals. This is partly because they are in the deep sea, which is hard to visit while still remaining alive, and it's also partly because corals don't participate in televised dancing or weight-loss competitions, which if we're honest with ourselves is what you have to do to get noticed these days.

If you want that kind of information, you have to invade their privacy and film them yourself.

So, call deep-sea corals old-fashioned. They won't care. After all, it's pretty common for deep-sea coral colonies to be hundreds of years old, and the real old-timers - the black corals - can have birthday cakes with over two thousand candles on them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is increasingly complex management really the path to sustainability?

I was in a meeting recently. The subject: different approaches to ensuring that sediment kicked up by bottom fisheries doesn't harm the sponge reefs.

Someone said: we need to know exactly how much sediment the sponge reefs can withstand. We need more research on this, and then we can manage the fisheries so that that threshold amount of sedimentation isn't crossed.

Something in my mind gave way. I thought, Really? Really really?

Sure, such an approach may be great for managing impacts on the sponge reefs. There's no doubt that devoting substantial effort to gathering good scientific data, and developing sound management options from the data, is very effective when it comes to solving specific problems - in the oceans, and elsewhere.

But what is the net effect when we take this approach repeatedly, in countless different situations across the globe? What's the net effect when our default approach to problem-solving is to increase the data requirements, the management steps, the technological innovations, the sheer number of things that are necessary for our systems to function?

In short, are we truly developing a more sustainable human community when our preferred problem-solving approach is to increase the complexity of our enterprises? 

Well, no. I would argue that we're not. Not if you're looking at the long term.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Mass Extinction and Coral Cams

It was bad enough that I rolled out of bed this morning to discover that it was Monday, but now we're talking about mass extinction. What gives?!?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Case of the Missing Marine Protection – Part 2: The Facts of the Case

This is a continuation of Part 1 of The Case of the Missing Marine Protection. Click here for Part 3.

It was a quiet morning in the small coastal fishing town. The sun crept over up over the horizon, under cover of the clouds, like it had been out on the town all night and only just noticed the time. The stillness was broken only by the cry of seagulls and rumble and clanking of the ferry docking. I finished my twelfth cup of coffee of the night and stared groggily at the brown envelope bearing my name (Inspector C. Storm), the contents of which were now spilled across my desk like a purse-full of herring on the deck of a seiner.

The tinny melody of the radio echoed in my head, as I tried to piece together the facts of the case. Fact 1: there were 11 different types of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the BC coast, ranging from recreational areas to ecological reserves. Fact 2: many of these areas were intended to be completely closed to harvesting of marine life, including fish. Fact 3: protected areas closed to fishing in many other parts of the world helped fish stocks to recover and produced more and larger fish. Finally, fact 4, which I had scribbled on a scrap of paper in coloured pencil:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trolling vs. trawling

Trolling. Trawling. Two very different ways of fishing, and yet they sound so, so similar.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Living Oceans' GIS team takes first place in international competition

One of Living Oceans' greatest strengths is our GIS team, aka Karin Bodtker and Carrie Robb. Everybody in the organization knows this, and anyone who works with us knows this as well.

And now, the world knows it: Karin and Carrie have taken first place in the science category of the Society for Conservation GIS/ESRI/SCB International Mapping Contest!

Here's the victorious entry, which won out over some very worthy entries from around the world:

Download this map as a PDF or JPEG here

So congratulations, Karin and Carrie - this is just small amount of the recognition that you deserve!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

And the "Way I Sea It" contest winner is...

Here it is… the moment you’ve all been waiting for, The Way I Sea It contest winner announcement… drum roll please… And the winner is…

Jodi Stark from British Columbia!

Congratulations, Jodi!

Jodi has won a Whales and Totems sailing trip of a lifetime with Maple Leaf Adventures. She’ll be sharing her experiences, as well as plenty of photos and videos, right here on this blog in September. Be sure to tune in again!

Here it is, the winning story:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Case of the Missing Marine Protection – Part 1: A Dark and Rainy Day

This is Part 1 of a three-part series. The Case of the Missing Marine Protection continues in Part 2 and Part 3.

The rain was pounding on the window hard enough to suggest that someone inside was late on paying their debt. But the only one in the office that cold, dark afternoon was me, Inspector C. Storm. That's the name on the door, anyway, but of course, it depends who's asking.

I turned up the scratchy radio to drown out the rain and turned my attention back to the contents of the thick brown envelope which a shadowy figure had stuffed through the slot in my door earlier that day. Inside were several maps, a salt-stained copy of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Commercial Fisheries Closures, and the following note:

Between the Harvest film

The following is a guest post from Scott Drucker, Director of the “Between the Harvest” team. This film documents the legal but controversial harvest of sea turtle eggs in Ostional, Costa Rica. The harvest itself is part of a larger conservation strategy by the Costa Rican Government intended to reduce poaching of the turtles and their eggs.

Between the Harvest” is the story of Ostional, a small coastal town that relies on a legal harvest of olive ridley sea turtle eggs. This short documentary delves into this controversial practice by viewing it through the eyes of these two fragile species. The aim of the film is to create a discussion about conservation and the legality of such a project, and to expose the threats that exist to the olive ridley sea turtle.