Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

May 19, 2011

Return of the Beach Walk

I am (overly) excited to report that with the successful launch of Endeavor on Monday my favorite beach in Florida has finally reopened. Hooray!  And greeting my return were sixteen freshly laid sea turtle nests along with hundreds if not thousands of blooms of beach morning glory, Ipomoea pes-caprae.   (I’m not even a little ashamed to admit I knew that Latin name without looking it up!)

The turtle nests follow a beautiful full moon earlier in the week but were staked out freshly just today.   I was even able to see some of the return tracks of the mother sea turtles in the sand leading back to the water.   Incidentally, each species of turtle has its own special characteristics that make these tracks species-specific.

The only non-beautiful and spectacular part of today were the unrelenting swarms of lovebugs.  They were so thick over the water and the parking lots that they were flying in my mouth while I tried to sip water (!) and there was a dark wrack line of dead washed in lovebugs on the sand!

There was, however, a lovely lack of debris on the beach.  I’m not sure if this is because there were less people over the last month since the park closed for the launch – or if there are other people helping me clean – but it was lovely to only collect one bucket of debris over my five mile walk whereas three or four buckets is more the norm.  I say again my friends – hooray!

May 18, 2011

Even More Lionfish Goodness (Badness?)

If you’ve been reading WaterNotes for any amount of time, you’re well aware of my (somewhat obsessive) love of documentaries. So a documentary on lionfish? Count me in! (These were originally uploaded to ConchSaladTV.)

May 17, 2011

EWG Wants to Clear the Confusion

With so much how-to-go-green (and even from the marine people, how-to-go-blue) advice out there, it’s hard to know where to start. The Environmental Working Group wants to help.  They created a bright, clear, and simple checklist to print out and take around the house to green your kitchen, bathrooms, products, bedrooms, the outdoor areas, and your main lounging spots.

If you’ve been wanting to get into the flow of better living when it comes to toxics, this is a great introduction.  Just don’t forget to followup eventually and learn why that PVC shower curtain isn’t the best idea for your health, how “fragrance” can actually be smoke and mirrors, and why organic produce for some varieties is an absolute must.

How do I stack up against the list?  Well, I’ve still got a lot of work to do.  Particularly when it comes to letting go of personal care products that contain fragrance and other toxics as well as getting the plastic out of my life.  It’s a long process my friends, embrace the battle and know that it will take some time!

May 16, 2011

Lionfish Roundups, Reconsidered

Don’t go taking that title too seriously. The folks who’ve been bringing you the organized lionfish roundups in the Florida Keys are continuing their events, it’s the efficacy of removing non-natives in this manner that’s up for debate.

Fisheries scientists are weighing in on the long term benefits of the targeted fishing and removal of these invasive predators. By inverting the usual fisheries models, researchers were able to ask the question: how much of a dent would targeted fishing have on lionfish populations? Is sport fishing a viable method of control?

Barbour, Frazer, Sherman, and Allen’s paper over at PloS One is a bit discouraging at first glance. Their models suggest that the population would need to be fished at 35 – 65% to result in overfishing. That’s literally thousands more fish than the few hundred the roundups have so far removed. To the tune of 150 – 300 lionfish removed per hectare in the Caribbean. That’s a lot of filets, people!

Worse, given good conditions and recruitment of young fish from breeding, when the group ran a fifty-year simulation of recovery for the species after exploitation it took just six to seven years to reach 90% of its original population size before the fishing began. That means these fish, given the life history data we currently have on them in the Bahamas, are incredibly resilient.

Using targeted fishing as a method for eradicating them from all areas of their new range is likely impossible, and even intense programs for removal at local scales will prove difficult as any let up in pressure might allow them to very quickly rebound. Future marine protected area managers for the Caribbean basin, take note. This will be one management headache you’ll likely deal with your entire careers.

So what’s the good news coming out of this study? Well, the Bahamas and the wider Caribbean certainly could use another food fish. Considering the models, they may be rather perfectly suited to providing consistent sustainable meals to people in the island countries and to wider markets.  If a fishery of some scale can be established – particularly if lionfish can be marketed to the US and to environmentally-conscious types at say.. WholeFoods – it may help economically poor and depressed regions now faltering from the loss of other fisheries currently in decline or under strict regulation.

I don’t know about you, but I can certainly get behind fried lionfish sandwiches in place of mahi mahi.

Of course if we can’t finish the job on these invasives with fishing pressure, maybe we can make more headway if we teach big native predators to eat them.

May 15, 2011

MMC Needs You to Help Pilots

On May 5th several pilot whales stranded in the Florida Keys and  marine mammal conservation groups converged on the Keys to assist the whales.  Two of the healthiest survivors were already released in deep water (pictured above, photo: Andy Newman.) Four are still alive and the Marine Mammal Conservancy is asking for help in the form of donations of cash, time with the whales, or items.

The items they need:

  • Waterproof stopwatches (and/or waterproof watches)
  • One gallon pitchers (not jugs)
  • Large plastic bins
  • Plastic storage unit with 2 inch drawers
  • Plastic hanging file bins
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen (waterproof and non-oil based)
  • Green and red chem lights (glow sticks)
  • Batteries of all sizes
  • Cooked food for volunteers
  • Bleach
  • 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • Scotch brite green scrub pads
  • Duct tape
  • At least 14” long zip ties
  • Pens/pencils
  • Scissors
  • 3-Hole Punch
  • Masking Tape
  • Plastic Clipboards

Special Note to the Pro’s: You will be under 72-hour quarantine after exposure to the whales and should not visit other marine mammal facilities until quarantine has lapsed.

If you are able to donate anything at all please call (305) 451 – 4774 or visit their website and remember that with most of the staff out assisting the whales the phone may ring quite a bit without an answer. Be patient.

May 12, 2011

Silly Mammals

Admit it, you’re just as charmed as I was when I first watched this clip. Ah to be a little Galapagos sea lion, and make toys out of everything around you.

May 11, 2011

That's Funny, There's Snow in the Aquarium..

O. vulgaris hatchlings hatching from Richard Ross on Vimeo.

Or maybe it’s just hundreds of little octopus hatching out of their crowded condominium-like egg casing homes. I’ve never seen video before of hatchlings on their first outing.

You can read more of Richard Ross’s work with O. vulgaris and see incredible photos of the little tykes over at Advanced Aquarist‘s blog. Enjoy!

May 10, 2011

Shuttle Launch Blues

Are they ever going to get that rocket off the pad?!  I admit it: I’m exasperated by this interminable wait for the latest shuttle to launch out of the Cape.  I know there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance because of the high profile political connections to shuttle crew members.  I know people are excited and interested because there are so few launches left.  But for goodness sakes, can it just leave the realm of gravity and let me get back to my wilderness adventures already?!

I know, I know.  I’m acting perhaps strangely candid and even, ahem, selfish.  Yet there is a reason I want the launch attempts to end.  Every scheduled takeoff brings with it thousands of tourists from around the southeast and Florida.  And with them comes an avalanche of trash.  As they park on the road sides and on the beaches of the lagoon (illegally I might mention) they suck down sodas and munch on potato chips and gleefully tune into the radio station countdown.  

Ten.. nine.. eight.. seven.. six.. oh wait, nevermind.  Scrub the launch! Time to leave! Let’s beat the traffic! No, no, there’s no time to find a trash can! Just CHUCK IT!

I’m not above sodas and I do like my crunchy salty snacks, but I’m so weary of picking up bucket after bucket of discards from Kodak moments that never were.  Why won’t people just pick up their trash??  The wind-blown and current-moved trash flowing into the lagoon and our oceans I can almost understand.  But to simply drop your cigarette butt directly onto the mangrove seedlings and crush them while you stamp it out just.. hurts a part of my soul. And the thrown nearly-full 44oz soda in a plastic cup complete with plastic straw and plastic lid that lands in the water? I have no words.

Why must we share our planet with humans who are surrounded by beautiful subtropical landscapes that beg to be safeguarded and conserved and yet manage to ignore all of its treasures and charms?  I know it’s just a big smelly dark expanse of water to some. But there are still manatees and dolphins and sea turtles in them thar’ hilly waves.. and I intend to start making a bigger fuss at these launch watches about the trash people leave behind in the wake of their Priuses and Escalades alike.

Where to start?  Perhaps the local paper.  There’s a few days left before the next launch attempt.  What do you think, does an Op-Ed on marine debris have a chance at changing some minds?

Let’s end this (slight) tirade on a positive and say: YES!

UPDATE: The New York Times has a short slideshow on Titusville and the affected space community centered here. I’m annoyed they called the Indian River Lagoon the Indian River “Estuary”, but at least it wasn’t just left as a “river”. Can’t have it all.

May 6, 2011

Ah, Heaven

Sometimes you just need to change your perspective – a bit off the ground at times – in order to find some peace in this chaotic debris-strewn world.

May 4, 2011

The Incident At Tower 37

Back in November the TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch project brought a fabulous short animated HD film to my attention: The Incident At Tower 37.  Because the film still had festivals to appear in, there were no full length videos available at the time that I could share with you.. but time marches on and the collaborators have made their very clever creation available for anyone to see.

This is what inspiration – and the future of conservation – is all about my friends.  No words, just the power of images and music and a very simple but very powerful underlying message.  What we do, effects the world around us.  I can’t wait to share it with students.