Coral Reef Fact:
The Cushion Sea star (Oreaster reticulatus) can help to prevent itself from starvation during periods of low food availability by reabsorbing its body tissues thus decreasing its size and food needs.
Join Reef Relief today & help protect our marine environment. www.reefrelief.org/act/donate.
By David Goodhue
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose constituency includes the Keys, said this week that she will reintroduce legislation this session aimed at preventing “ the Cuban regime from becoming the oil tycoons of the Caribbean.”
Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami-Dade Republican, is responding to reports that construction of a huge, Chinese-made semi-submersible oil rig is almost complete and will be leaving Singapore by June. The rig, named the Scarabeo 9, will likely begin drilling for oil about 6,500 below the surface of the Straits of Florida by late summer or early fall. It will be positioned about 40 to 50 miles from Key West.
Jorge Piñon, a former energy industry executive and current visiting research fellow at the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, said the transit time for the rig to get here is about 60 to 70 da
This year we highlight 82 coral species waiting for the NMFS to take action
The U.S. Senate unanimously proclaimed May 20, 2011 as “Endangered Species Day”. Endangered Species Day celebrates successes stories of species such as the Bald Eagle that have been saved from extinction though the implementation of the Endangered Species Act. However, Reef Relief would like to bring attention to coral species, locally and worldwide that are threatened with extinction.
Corals worldwide face an uncertain future and many have already been lost. Carbon dioxide pollution is causing longer and more frequent coral bleaching events and ocean acidification. These stressed coral become more sensitive to other threats such a poor water quality and disease.
Elkhorn and Staghorn corals, historically found throughout the Caribbean, became the first corals to receive protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2006. Protection under this act means that many activities such as dredging, and offshore oil development would have stricter regulation in areas where these species are found and requires Federal agencies to ensure that their actions do not harm listed species.
In 2009, the Center for Biodiversity petitioned to list 83 coral species under the Endangered Species Act. The government found that 82 of the species may meet the criteria to be listed but have not taken any action to date. In January of this year, the Center for Biodiversity filed a 60-day notice to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service for failing to take action on these 82 imperiled species. Eight of these species are found in the Florida waters.
Pillar Coral (Dendogyra cylindrus), Mountain Star Coral (Montastraea faveolata), Rough Cactus Coral (Mycetophyllia ferox), Whitestar Sheet Coral (Agaricia lamarcki), Elliptical Star Coral (Dichocoenia stokesii), Lobed Star Coral (Montastraea annularis), and the Large Ivory Coral (Oculina varicosa)
One reason for the nation’s success in protecting species is the passage, 33 years ago, of the federal Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act has successfully prevented the extinction of hundreds of species, including the humpback whale, the Florida panther, and the Hawaiian monk who owe their continued existence to the protections of the Act.
The goal of Endangered Species Day is simple—to educate people about the importance of protecting our rare, threatened, and endangered species and to emphasize the everyday actions that individuals and groups can take to help protect our nation’s biodiversity.
10 Things You Can Do To Help
1. Mind Your Carbon Footprint and Reduce Energy Consumption
Reduce the effects of climate change on the ocean by leaving the car at home when you can and being conscious of your energy use at home and work. A few things you can do to get started today: Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, take the stairs, and bundle up or use a fan to avoid oversetting your thermostat.
2. Make Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices
Global fish populations are rapidly being depleted due to demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthful and sustainable.
3. Use Fewer Plastic Products
Plastics that end up as ocean debris contribute to habitat destruction and entangle and kill tens of thousands of marine animals each year. To limit your impact, carry a reusable water bottle, store food in nondisposable containers, bring your own cloth tote or other reusable bag when shopping, and recycle whenever possible.
4. Help Take Care of the Beach
Whether you enjoy diving, surfing, or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. Explore and appreciate the ocean without interfering with wildlife or removing rocks and coral. Go even further by encouraging others to respect the marine environment or by participating in local beach cleanups.
5. Don’t Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life
Certain products contribute to the harming of fragile coral reefs and marine populations. Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.
6. Be an Ocean-Friendly Pet Owner
Read pet food labels and consider seafood sustainability when choosing a diet for your pet. Never flush cat litter, which can contain pathogens harmful to marine life. Avoid stocking your aquarium with wild-caught saltwater fish, and never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or other bodies of water, a practice that can introduce non-native species harmful to the existing ecosystem.
7. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean
Many institutes and organizations are fighting to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife. If you live near the coast, join up with a local branch or group and get involved in projects close to home.
8. Influence Change in Your Community
Research the ocean policies of public officials before you vote or contact your local representatives to let them know you support marine conservation projects. Consider patronizing restaurants and grocery stores that offer only sustainable seafood, and speak up about your concerns if you spot a threatened species on the menu or at the seafood counter.
9. Travel the Ocean Responsibly
Practice responsible activities on the water. Never throw anything overboard, and be aware of marine life in the waters around you. If you’re set on taking a cruise for your next vacation, do some research to find the most eco-friendly option.
10. Educate Yourself about Oceans and Marine Life
All life on Earth is connected to the ocean and its inhabitants. The more you learn about the issues facing this vital system, the more you’ll want to help ensure its health—then share that knowledge to educate and inspire others.
10 Thing You can Do To Help The Ocean from http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/take-action/10-things-you-can-do-to-save-the-ocean/
The Endangered Species Day resolution, passed April 5, was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and cosponsored by Sen. Feinstein and was co-sponsored by Senators Biden (D-DE), Byrd (D-WV) Cantwell (D-WA), Chafee (R-RI), Clinton (D-NY), Crapo (R-ID), Dodd (D-CT), Feingold (D-WI), Levin (D-MI), Lieberman (D-CT), Reed (D-RI), and Snowe (R-ME).
Endangered Species Day was endorsed by a wide array of national organizations including: National Audubon Society , Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, The Humane Society of the United States, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Endangered Species Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity, The Ocean Conservancy, National Association of Biology Teachers, National Science Teachers Association, American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Society for Conservation Biology, The League of Conservation Voters, and Environmental Defense.
For more information on Endangered Species Day, visit www.stopextinction.org/endangeredspeciesday
Learn more about the Center for Biodiversity’s campaign to protect 82 coral species visit: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/coral_conservation/index.html
Photo source/credit: Created by Reef Rescue
Lamarck’s Sheet Coral: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2007/12/aafeature2
Boulder Star Coral: http://ccma.nos.noaa.gov/reef_fish_photos/MONA
Mountainous Star Coral: http://reefguide.org/carib/index26.html
Pillar Coral: http://reefguide.org/carib/pixhtml/pillarcoral4.html
Elliptical Star Coral: http://reefguide.org/carib/pixhtml/ellipticalstarcoral1.html
Rough Cactus Coral: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2007/12/aafeature2
Montastraea franksi: http://www.solutions-site.org/artman/uploads/montastraea_franksi02_diver.jpg
THE EU was under fire last night for seeking a ban on plastic shopping bags to fight pollution.
But angry retailers say any move would hit sales, while doing nothing to save the environment.
Oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks are some of the most amazing creatures in the world’s oceans, but they are disappearing at an alarming rate. These top predators play a critical role in maintaining the balance of life in the sea, and their loss could cause irreversible damage to the oceans. Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year for their fins, valued for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup.
Sharks grow slowly, mature late and produce few offspring over long life spans, making them particularly vulnerable to overexploitation and slow to recover from overfishing.
This is particularly true for oceanic whitetip and hammerhead sharks, which have an even lower ability to recover from decline compared to most shark species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies oceanic whitetips as Critically Endangered and hammerhead sharks as Endangered. Caught primarily for their fins for exports and generally not used for their meat, these lions and tigers of the ocean need special protection now.
The United States has an opportunity to demonstrate global leadership for sharks by permanently protecting these threatened species in our waters. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) governs the management of sharks in U.S. ocean territory, and has supported proposals for global trade restrictions to ensure the future of these sharks. While the world deliberates, the U.S. should act now to permanently protect these species in our waters.
Director, Global Shark Conservation Campaign
Pew Environment Group
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — No longer able to land hundreds of tons of shark fins per year at private docks in Costa Rica, the foreign fleet is now landing its consignment of fins in Nicaragua. Concerned over the situation, Nicaraguan environmental organizations have warned governmental authorities of the situation but have yet to receive any response from the Environmental and Natural Resource Ministry (MARENA), the INTUR Ministry, and the PESCA (Fisheries) vise minister. Read the full article
More new species – including a “straightened-out seahorse” – have been found in New Zealand’s largest scientific expedition exploring the Kermadec Islands.
Scientists say the pipe fish, a white creature with “striking” orange spots, is probably new to science and while only small, represents a significant find. Read the full article
Coral Reef Fact:
Most individual Red Heart/ Cake Sea Urchins form relationship with a small crab, the Heart Urchin Pea Crab(Dissodactylus primitivus). The crab spends its life on the urchin within the protection of its spines.
Join Reef Relief today and help protect our marine environment.
SCIENCE — May 18, 2011 at 12:33 PM EDT
A dead zone — already the size of the state of New Jersey — is growing in the Gulf of Mexico, fueled by nutrient runoff from the swollen Mississippi River.
This year, with floodwaters from the Birds Point levee breach and the Morganza and Bonnet Carret spillways spreading over farmland and other residential areas, the river is collecting tremendous amounts of fertilizer and pesticides. This is contributing to what scientists say may become the largest dead zone ever, and posing a serious threat to already taxed marine life. Read the full article