Oceans At Risk

Below is a sobering story of a yachtsman who, in a recent voyage from Australia to Japan, observed some disturbing telltale067467-200-ocean-pollution signs in the oceans.  While fish were scarce, human debris littering the ocean was apparently plentiful.

An Australian sailor has described parts of the Pacific Ocean as “dead” because of severe overfishing, with his vessel having to repeatedly swerve debris for thousands of kilometres on a journey from Australia to Japan.

Ivan MacFadyen told of his horror at the severe lack of marine life and copious amounts of rubbish witnessed on a yacht race between Melbourne and Osaka. He recently returned from the trip, which he previously completed 10 years ago.

“In 2003, I caught a fish every day,” he told Guardian Australia. “Ten years later to the day, sailing almost exactly the same course, I caught nothing. It started to strike me the closer we got to Japan that the ocean was dead. Continue reading

Advertisements

Frogs are Green – or at Least the Living Ones

Just like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, where canaries served as human sentinels in subterranean conditions, amphibians today are viewed by many as serving thatcropped-FrogsRG_header-2013 same role for the terranean landscape.  Because amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders, are sensitive to habitat loss and environmental pollution, they have become the biological sentinels of the environmentContinue reading

Good News for Pacific Northwest Salmon

chinookVery encouraging news for the Pacific Northwest salmon fishery.  Due to recent conservation efforts to restore beleaguered chinook populations, this year the Fall run is breaking records not seen since 1938 when the Bonneville Lock and Dam was constructed.  la-na-chinook-salmon-20130924-gMaria Ganga reports from the LA Times.

The tiny fish-counting station, with its window onto the Columbia River, was darkened so the migrating salmon would not be spooked. And it was silent — until the shimmering bodies began to flicker by.   Then the room erupted with loud clicks, as Janet Dalen’s fingers flew across her stumpy keyboard. Tallying the darting specimens, she chanted and chortled, her voice a cross between fish whisperer and aquatic auctioneer. Her body swayed from left to right. Her tightly curled bangs never moved.”Come on, come on, come on,” Dalen urged, as she recorded chinook and steelhead, sockeye and coho. “Treat the fish counter nice. Keep going, sweetheart. That’s a good girl.… Pretty boy! Salute to the king! He’s a dandy. Beautiful, beautiful. Lotta fun. Just can’t beat it. An amazing year.” Continue reading

Human Carrying Capacity – Fanciful Fiction or Deadly Reality

One of the first courses I took in college toward my degree in wildlife management was a Isle Royal Moosepopulation dynamics class.  And one of the first readings was the classic story of the boom-bust population cycles of the moose and wolf of Isle Royale Michigan, where, prior to the wolf as a keystone predator, the island’s moose herd would overpopulate and overgraze, resulting in starvation and mass die-offs.  When the wolves were eventually introduced the belief was that the keystone predator would help stabilize the moose population.  But the history of Isle Royale moose and wolf populations have been wildly unpredictable, affected not only by availability of food, but by disease, tick outbreaks, wolf0422severe winters, and immigrant wolves.  Every five years has brought unpredictable fluctuations in both populations, and every five years has been different from all other five-year periods.  Even in the 1980s when my classmates and I were closely following this study, it was believed that the populations would reach equilibrium.  But that never happened.  Continue reading

Africa’s Black Rhino Driven to Extinction

Very sad news to learn of the confirmed extinction of Africa’s western black rhino.  The blackrhinoblack market for rhino horn, which fetches upward of $1,400 an ounce for medicinal witch-doctory in countries like Vietnam, where demand is at its highest, was a death sentence for this species.  According to CNN reports,

Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network. Continue reading