Posts tagged ‘heroes’

August 13, 2011

Josh Lucas Joins Oceana

You may remember Josh Lucas as the adorable down-home old flame to Reese Witherspoon’s city-fied character in Sweet Home Alabama, or perhaps from his appearance in A Beautiful Mind.  From now on, I’ll remember him, and score his reputation right up there, with the likes of other actors that have joined forces with wildlife nonprofit groups to further the cause and campaigns on behalf of ocean conservation.  And yes, for the record, that puts him up there with Leonardo DiCaprio, January Jones, Adrian Grenier, Ted Danson, Kate Walsh and plenty of other recent spokespeople to stand by Oceana‘s side.

What about you?  Want to be a Wavemaker?  Oceana makes it incredibly easy, and they won’t overwhelm you with emails either!  Join up.

June 23, 2011

Amber is a Momma!

When I worked with SeaWorld Orlando the fabulous animal care staff were constantly busy with orphaned and injured manatees behind the scenes.  A few that were considered more long-term patients were frequently added to the main exhibit space within the park, a spot where I spent many hours and even one New Years Eve.  (I was even known to sing to them on late nights when there weren’t any guests around.)

In my three years with the aquarium several manatees came and went out of the exhibit space and the hospital back areas, particularly several dozen orphaned calves.  As you might expect, orphaned manatee calves are delicate, require constant care, and they don’t always thrive well enough for eventual release back into the wild.

Amber was quite the exception.  She came in from Blue Springs State Park to SeaWorld Orlando several years ago after her mother and twin sister left her behind at the freshwater spring.  While manatees do occasionally give birth to twins, the females as a rule only care for one offspring.  It’s thought their relatively low-energy diet only allows them to sustain a milk supply for one calf.  Amber was rescued by SeaWorld at 68 pounds and 3.5ft in length.

For several months she was nursed on a replacement milk diet by the staff, then coaxed onto romaine, spinach, and lettuce, and finally received the go-ahead after several years from Florida Fish and Wildlife for release back in February 2009. While Rita, the much older manatee released at the same time didn’t make it, Amber has steadily adapted to her wild environment in central Florida’s lakes and marshes.  She sticks primarily to the Blue Springs area, Lake Woodruff, Lake Dexter, and the outflows of the St. Johns River.  She’s frequently seen socializing with other manatees, including several other SeaWorld-veterans, and at some points she’s also been mating with these other manatees!

In January 2010 we suffered weeks of extremely cold weather in Florida forcing rescues of several manatees and hundreds of sea turtles around the state.  At that time Amber gave birth prematurely to a calf that ultimately did not make it.   Luckily, not too long after she successfully mated again and brought the latest pregnancy all the way to term (about a year).  Amber showed up to Blue Springs State Park last week with a brand new calf, born on June 13th!

I’m very excited about this birth announcement and I know SeaWorld, the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership, and Sea to Shore will all share a certain sense of pride and cautious optimism about this new life.  Keep your fingers crossed that Amber’s natural maternal instincts can kick into full gear and raise this calf.

Oh, and if you happen to be a central Florida native, get in touch with me if you’re interested in volunteering to help watch Amber and her calf in the busy spring.  As an orphan that grew up around people she’s not shy about approaching visitors.. not exactly a good thing!  State park personnel, as well as all the marine conservation groups involved, want to assure that Amber can bond with the baby through the first few critical weeks in a safe and calm environment.



June 23, 2011

Enric Sala & James Cameron, NGS' New Explorers

Enric Sala, diving with a green turtle off Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Sala leads National Geographic's Pristine Seas project, which aims to find, survey and help protect the last healthy and undisturbed places in the ocean. Photo by Octavio Aburto.

The National Geographic Society named two new Explorers-in-Residence today. Enric Sala and James Cameron (yes, that James Cameron!) were appointed to this prestigious group of fifteen leaders and researchers across a range of fields including (my personal hero) Sylvia Earle and oceanography giant Robert Ballard.   NGS hasn’t named a new Explorer-in-Residence since 2005, so this is quite the honor!

We’ve touched on Dr. Enric Sala briefly for his contribution to the Mission Blue Project and World Oceans Day earlier this month with a live talk over at the Smithsonian. But there’s so much more to say about his accomplishments and personal mission. From the press release:

Witnessing the harm people do to the ocean led Enric Sala to dedicate his career to working to restore marine life. Sala is a rare scientist who combines research with effective communication to inspire leaders to protect the ocean. One of his goals is to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide, using scientific expeditions, media, partnerships with local conservation organizations and high-level discussions with country leaders.

Sala fell in love with the sea while growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. After obtaining a Ph.D. in ecology in 1996 from the University of Aix-Marseille, France, he worked in California for 10 years as a professor at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 2006 he moved back to Spain to take the first position on marine conservation ecology at Spain’s National Council for Scientific Research, and in 2008 he became a Fellow at the National Geographic Society, where he leads the Pristine Seas project.

James Cameron, on the other hand, hardly needs an introduction for most Americans. This is the same filmmaker that awed us with Titanic, Avatar, and my-favorite-movie The Abyss.  In addition to becoming recently active in advocating the rights of indigenous people involved in energy resource battlegrounds (somewhat stemming from the Avatar project), he has a dedication and passion for technological advances in dive submersibles and in filmmaking about ocean conservation and exploration through his group Earthship Productions.

[Additionally,] Cameron has investigated and written a marine forensic paper on the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck, organized expeditions to deep hydrothermal vent sites along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise and the Guaymas Basin in the Sea of Cortez, and led seven deep-ocean expeditions with 72 deep submersible dives.  [He] is currently leading a team that is building a unique manned sub capable of diving to the ocean’s greatest depths. Next year he plans to pilot the sub to the ocean’s deepest point in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench, part of a series of dives to the world’s deepest places — the Mariana, Kermadec and Tonga trenches.

Clearly both of these men have contributed greatly to the field.  With this new support from NGS these newly-minted Explorers-in-Residence are even better poised to further push the boundaries of what we know, what we love, and how we choose to protect the salty seas.

June 22, 2011

Midweek: Sylvia Earle, Saturnine Seas, Sunken VWs

A Florida manatee hanging out in the freshwater springs, Photo: Callie Gaines

For your reading pleasure and consideration on this very hot, very muggy, but still very beautiful day in Florida:

Sylvia Earle: If the Sea Is In Trouble, We’re All In Trouble @ The Independent

Sexually Frustrated Dolphins Go On Murderous Rampage @ Grist (a little flippant, but still interesting)

Enceladus, A Moon of Saturn, May Have Ocean Beneath Its Surface @ NYTimes

The VW Bug Artificial Reef @ Advanced Aquarist

A Scientist’s Guide to Influencing Decision Making // A Decision Maker’s Guide to Using Science @ Science to Action

June 8, 2011

Mission Blue: Enric Sala

In case you can’t quite make Sala’s webcast later tonight via the Smithsonian Institute, here’s a great glimpse of his extraordinary work last year on the Mission Blue Voyage. Now really, get outside and do something salty!