Archive for January, 2012
ScienceDaily (Jan. 30, 2012) — Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and Florida International University (FIU) researchers have drafted a plan to best prepare South Florida for an oil spill off the coast of Cuba.
The proximity of intended Cuban oil drilling and production puts the U.S. coastal zone at risk from Florida to the Carolinas and northward. Oil from a spill would quickly enter the Gulf Stream and reach Florida’s shores in hours or days with potentially devastating effects on the densely populated South Florida coastline and its coastal ecosystems. South Florida’s accounts for 3.4 million jobs and 45 percent of the $587 billion contribution to Florida’s GDP generated by coastal and ocean economic activity.
In 1996, as a volunteer certified diver, I went down to the Florida Keys to assist in mapping out the reef at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. I was one of more than 100 volunteer divers for this project. In three weeks we mapped out the entire reef for the state of Florida. This reef was to be preserved as a state park.
I have just learned that the bottom of this reef is currently full of garbage — not being preserved — and I am very perturbed that this could have happened. I find out that people are still hand-feeding dolphins, which is a federal offense, and they are dumping trash, which sinks to the bottom and has settled on the reef.
Garbage being on the bottom of the reef greatly threatens the wildlife that depends on the reef for housing and survival. Dolphins use the reef to hunt for the fish, as do crabs and other varieties. Bonefish, bonita, blue marlin, dolphins and all other species depend on the reef for their existence.I don’t understand why people don’t respect this.
I reside in the mountains of South Carolina, where I am retired. I would appeal to those who live in Monroe County to take up the cause and take care of your underwater wildlife at the John Pennekamp reef.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission does not have the funding and people resources to patrol these waters effectively. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the people residing in Monroe County to organize teams of volunteers to care for the waters in this area. Small teams of volunteers could be organized to start this process.
Perhaps someone reading this is an organizer. It only takes one dog in the pack to lead others. Of course, effective change starts with just one person and grows from there.
If you love your waters — those beautiful clear blue waters that many of us don’t have the access to — you’ll rise up and begin to save the gorgeous Pennekamp reef.
West Union, S.C.
Associated Press. January 30, 20
MIAMI — The U.S. is not ready to handle an oil spill if drilling off the Cuban coast goes awry but can be better prepared with monitoring systems and other basic steps, experts told government officials Monday.
The comments at a congressional subcommittee hearing in the Miami Beach suburb of Sunny Isles come more than a week after a huge oil rig arrived in Cuban waters to begin drilling a deepwater exploratory well.
Similar development is expected off the Bahamas next year, but decades of tense relations between the U.S. and Cuba makes cooperation in protecting the Florida Straits particularly tricky. With memories of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico still fresh, state and federal officials fear even the perception of oil flowing toward Florida beaches could devastate an economy that claims about $57 million from tourism.
Sunday 29 January 2012. Herald Scotland.
By Rob Edwards Environment Editor
Scottish fishing boats are under fire for trawling seas far from home for catches of tuna, shark, swordfish, mackerel and sardines.
The Sunday Herald can reveal that at least five vessels registered in Scotland have been licensed to fish in the Indian Ocean and off the northwest African coast.
Along with boats from elsewhere in Europe, they are facing criticisms that they are plundering foreign seas, damaging local fishing industries and threatening fish stocks.
As fish stocks in European waters have declined, big fishing businesses have increasingly searched further afield for more lucrative and less depleted waters. Scottish fishermen, already in straitened circumstances, are also keen to exploit foreign waters to keep operating.
According to a study for conservation group WWF, one-third of the world’s oceans are heavily fished, 10 times more than in the 1950s.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2012) — Scientists at USC have uncovered evidence that even when hydrothermal sea vents go dormant and their blistering warmth turns to frigid cold, life goes on.
Or rather, it is replaced.
A team led by USC microbiologist Katrina Edwards found that the microbes that thrive on hot fluid methane and sulfur spewed by active hydrothermal vents are supplanted, once the vents go cold, by microbes that feed on the solid iron and sulfur that make up the vents themselves.
The parrotfish Sparisoma viride often grazes live coral from edges undermined by the Caribbean encrusting and excavating sponge Cliona tenuis. To test whether parrotfish biting action has an effect on the dynamics of the sponge–coral interaction, we manipulated access of parrotfishes to the sponge–coral border in two species of massive corals. When parrotfish had access to the border, C. tenuis advanced significantly more slowly into the coral Siderastrea siderea than into the coral Diploria strigosa. When fish bites were prevented, sponge spread into S. siderea was further slowed down but remained the same for D. strigosa. Additionally, a thinner layer of the outer coral skeleton was removed by bioerosion when fish were excluded, a condition more pronounced in D. strigosa than in S. siderea. Thus, the speed of sponge-spread and the extent of bioerosion by parrotfish was coral species-dependent. It is hypothesized that coral skeleton architecture is the main variable associated with such dependency. Cliona tenuis spread is slow when undermining live S. siderea owing to the coral’s compact skeleton. The coral’s smooth and hard surface promotes a wide and shallow parrotfish bite morphology, which allows the sponge to overgrow the denuded area and thus advance slightly faster. On the less compact skeleton of the brain coral, D. strigosa, sponge spread is more rapid. This coral’s rather uneven surface sustains narrower and deeper parrotfish bites which do not facilitate the already fast sponge progress. Parrotfish corallivory thus acts synergistically with C. tenuis to further harm corals whose skeletal architecture slows sponge lateral spread. In addition, C. tenuis also appears to mediate the predator–prey fish–coral interaction by attracting parrotfish biting.
Read the full article: Parrotfish mediation in coral mortality and bioerosion by the encrusting, excavating sponge Cliona tenuis. Juan Carlos Márquez, Sven Zea .23 JAN 2012 DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0485.2011.00506.x
This video podcast highlights 50 years of photographic documentation of coral reefs in the Florida Keys. The photographs show 5 decades of changes that have taken place in both the size and the types of corals that were present at several coral reef sites from the early 1960s to today. The images capture events such as the appearance of coral disease and the die off of coral species like staghorn in the region.
Location: Florida Keys, FL, USA
Date Taken: 12/18/2010
Video Producer/Videographer: Matthew Cimitile (U.S. Geological Survey)
Note: This video has been released into the public domain by the U.S. Geological for use in its entirety. Some videos may contain pieces of copyrighted material. If you wish to use a portion of the video for any purpose, other than for resharing/reposting the video in its entirety, please contact the Video Producer/Videographer listed with this video.
Additional Video Credits:Betsy Boynton (graphics, editing), Ann Tihansky (writing, narration) J. Harold Hudson (Video) Gene Shinn (Photographs, Narration)
ScienceDaily (Jan. 23, 2012) — Lessons from tens of millions of years ago are pointing to new ways to save and protect today’s coral reefs and their myriad of beautiful and many-hued fishes at a time of huge change in the Earth’s systems.
The complex relationship we see today between fishes and corals developed relatively recently in geological terms – and is a major factor in shielding reef species from extinction, says Professor David Bellwood of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 6, 2012) — In March 2010 an outbreak of a disease called acute Montipora White Syndrome (MWS) was discovered affecting coral reefs in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. Follow-up surveys found that the disease left trails of rubble in its wake. It was estimated that over 100 colonies of rice coral (Montipora capitata) died during that initial outbreak. The disease has reappeared and is killing corals in Kaneohe Bay. The current outbreak has already affected 198 colonies and a rapid response team led by Dr. Greta Aeby (HIMB) has been activated to document the outbreak.
Members of the investigative team include scientists from the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), and USGS National Wildlife Health Center. Members of the Eyes of the Reef Network (EOR), a program that trains community members to identify threats to Hawaii’s reefs, are also being asked to report on any signs of disease from other reefs.
Where: Salute! On the Beach,
1000 Atlantic Blvd., Key West
When: Saturday March 31st 6-10pm
Musical Guest: Howard Livingston and Mile Marker 24
Tickets: $15 in advance and $20 at the door
Buy tickets by calling Reef Relief at 305-294-3100 or
visit the Reef Relief Environmental Center at 631 Greene, St., Key West, FL
Tickets on sale now!!! Buy tickets at http://reefrelief.org/