Mercury rises on 90210 in more ways than one
Posted by Karen Steele on April 30th, 2009
As the young and old residents of television's favorite - and recently revived - zip code 90210 heated up the screen in last night’s episode with their relationship dramas, the topic of mercury poisoning made a surprise appearance. In between complaining about her dad’s dubious antics, her on again off again pseudo boyfriend, and the sudden appearance of her big sis, bad girl Naomi protested to her friend’s mom she was going to get mercury poisoning from all the fish she was feeding her. When an issue finally “makes it” in the world of Hollywood and gets an appearance on one of its hottest television shows you know millions of viewers will be getting the message. Let’s hope we see this serious public health concern continue to make it on the big screen in the future to help spread the word of the risk for mercury toxicity from consuming too much of the wrong seafood.
Victory for sea turtles as the government shuts down the longline fishery!
Posted by Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director on April 30th, 2009
|blog post comments?
Victory! The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
has ordered a 6-month emergency closure of the bottom longline fishery in the
Gulf of Mexico to protect sea turtles from injury and death. Unfortunately, the
scenario leading up to the closure, mirrors the same pattern environmentalists
have faced for the past eight years: action was not taken until after Turtle
Island and other groups filed a lawsuit to prevent the carnage from
Nearly a month ago, environmentalists presented NMFS
with its own data indicating that the fishery was catching loggerhead turtles at
more than eight times the number of sea turtles authorized previously in a 2005
biological opinion and the government was failing to act as it is required under
the Endangered Species Act. When NMFS failed to act, we went to Court. Only
then did NMFS agree to close down the fishery while it tries to solve the
This issue came to a head while the Obama
administration was still putting together its new team at NMFS and its parent
agency the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While the
environmental community has strong hopes that the newly appointed head of NOAA,
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, will chart a new course for ocean protection, the jury is
What we do know is that the powerful seafood and
fishing lobby hasn't gone away, and we will need to continue to be vigilant and
vocal to convince the new administration to create a sustainable ocean
A Victory for Endangered Species!
Posted by Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director on April 29th, 2009
Before the last administration left office, a measure was introduced that was so incredibly unacceptable that I couldn't believe what I was reading. If it had passed, important decisions could have been made regarding projects involving endangered plants and animals WITHOUT the federal agency consulting scientists. Well, thanks to all of you who read my blog of Feb. 15 asking for support of a House Joint Resolution to strike down this ridiculous proposal and contacted your US representatives.
Today, April 29 is a glorious day for the Endangered Species Act and for all of us! Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke are reinstating the consultation provision under the Endangered Species Act.
Their decision requires federal agencies to once again consult with federal
wildlife experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration before taking any action that might affect
threatened or endangered species. The Interior Secretary has until May 10 to reverse rulings that would restrict protection for the polar bears. We know that President Obama approved the changes to strengthen the Endangered Species Act and we need to thank him and your representatives for stopping this last-minute effort to damage the ESA. Now, let's help the Polar bears!
Mother Nature Changes Earth Day in Texas!
Posted by Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director on April 26th, 2009
A series of severe storms in the Houston area on the weekend before Earth Day forced the cancellation of one major Earth Day event, but, thanks to many volunteers, the word about patrolling for sea turtles on the Texas coast reached thousands of people!
With tables at the Houston Zoo, North Harris County College, the Moody Gardens in Galveston and an Astros "Green Game," thousands of bookmarks were distributed and donations collected to replace STRP sea turtle signs washed away by Hurricane Ike. In addition, Deborah Wilson of Houston greeted hundreds of volunteers in Galveston on Sunday, April 26, involved in the Spring Beach Clean-up sponsored by the Texas General Land Office. She had spent Earth Day evening at the Astros game with her family at the STRP table.
Girl Scout Troop 10319 of the Cypress-Tomball area stayed at the Houston Zoo until the severe weather forced them out on April 18. The only event totally washed out was at The Woodlands, a city north of Houston. Thanks are in order for every volunteer who worked or tried to get to a site in spite of the weather! We know that Mother Nature always has the last word. Meanwhile, 20 Kemp's ridley nests have been found at the Padre Island National Seashore and beaches to the south in Texas!
BIG NEWS FROM TEXAS!
Posted by Carole H. Allen on
Gulf Office Director
|© Doug Perrine/Seapics.com|
Income Tax Day brought some good news to Texans! The first three Kemp's ridley nests were documented at the Padre Island National Seashore. Last year 195 nests were found on the Texas coast and we can now start to count! Patrols are out all along the coast including the upper Texas coast where Hurricane Ike slammed into the beaches removing sand and dunes. Although much sand has been replaced, it is a different landscape for sea turtles.
The nesting season will be a subject of discussion at numerous Earth Day Events beginning April 18. STRP will have volunteers at tables in four counties and an Astros Baseball team "Green Game." Bookmarks and literature will be distributed at the Houston Zoo, The Woodlands Earth Day, Migration Celebration at the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, Moody Gardens in Galveston, North Harris County College and Minute Maid Park in Houston. It's our biggest year for spreading the word about Kemp's ridley sea turtles and all the sea turtles of the Gulf of Mexico.
Notes from the Field: Sea Turtle and Shark Tagging Expedition
Posted by Todd Steiner on April 1st, 2009
|Todd Steiner, STRP Executive Director, attaches a satellite beacon in the Cocos Islands|
I have just completed an incredible 10-day sea turtle and shark tagging expedition to Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica. Located 550 km off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Cocos Island was declared a Costa Rican National Park in 1978 and was designated a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1997 and is best known for the large number of sharks and other pelagic species found there.
Working with our sister organization PRETOMA in Costa Rica, we succeeded in outfitting two endangered green sea turtles with satellite transmitters and attaching four acoustical tags on hammerhead sharks. This research will increase our knowledge base so that we can best design recovery and management plans for this amazing endangered species.
In a few days, we will have a map up on our web site so all of our members can track the movements of the turtles. Stay tuned. We may be planning another expedition for this fall. If you are an experienced scuba diver and would like to participate as a volunteer research assistant, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know! (The approximate cost is ~$5,000).
Highlighting Sea Turtles and Safe Seafood at Oceans Day 2009
Posted by Karen Steele, Campaign Coordinator, GotMercury.org and Michael Milne, Campaign Coordinator, Sea Turtle Restoration Project on March 30th, 2009
The 2nd annual Oceans Day was held in the California State Capitol last Wednesday. This is a day when environmental groups from across the state converge on California’s legislators in Sacramento to educate and lobby for their support on the many issues that effect California’s beautiful ocean.
The day started with meeting up with our lobby teams at 7.30am to strategize and finalize the plan for the day. Then it was off to meet with the legislators and/or their staff. At least four lobby teams met with over 25 legislators along the course of the day.
A variety of issues were discussed including gathering support for the string of Marine Protected Areas that are being planned and developed along California’s coast, plastics in the ocean, global warming, ocean pollution and our own legislation, AJR 8.
We focused our efforts for STRP on protecting both people and marine animals. Michael lobbied for support on a petition to the federal government to ban swordfish imports from international fisheries that do not meet the same standards for protecting marine mammals as followed by U.S. fisheries. Through the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) it is a law that all imports of fish to the U.S. come from fisheries that adhere to the same standards as outlined in the MMPA. This has not been enforced for over 35 years and we think it is time the government took seriously our environmental laws and standards we have established.
Karen lobbied for greater protection of public health from the risk of toxicity from mercury-in-seafood. We would like to see California implement mandatory warning signs at points-of-sale for all seafood that is known to contain high levels of mercury. In addition we want to see a program implemented that regularly tests seafood for mercury levels – right now this very rarely happens. As a result fish is being sold to the public with exceedingly high levels of mercury – independent testing reported on KTLA Los Angeles just a few weeks ago found all but one sample of swordfish tested was over the FDA action level, and one sample was over 4 times this!
Overall the day was rewarding and a lot of fun. It ended with a great celebration of our oceans with an inspiring talk by Jean-Michael Cousteau, award presentations to recognize ocean heroes, and a spectacular screening of Under the Sea 3D. It was great to see so many people descending on the State Capitol to speak up for our oceans. We’re already looking forward to next year!
Changes at Galveston!
Posted by Carole Allen on
Gulf Office Director
Just a few years ago, Galveston city and county officials didn't think about the nesting season of the Kemp's ridley sea turtle as spring approached the island. But things have changed. For the last two or three years, permission has been given for signs to be put on public beaches advising tourists and residents to call 1-866-TURTLE-5 if a sea turtle, tracks or hatchlings are seen.
An article in the March 29 issue of the Houston Chronicle points out further proof that people in high places are concerned with the sea turtles. Last June, workers started to build a ramp to the beach for anyone in a wheelchair. Before it was completed the ramp was torn up by Hurricane Ike. Workers began again to build the ramp for this tourist season. I was very pleased to read that "They also erected fences to protect Kemp's ridley sea turtles from wandering onto the construction site."
Thank you to everyone in Galveston who care about the endangered sea turtles that have returned at last.
From sea turtle beaches to the wet and wild of Tasmania
Posted by Teri Shore, Program Director on March 22nd, 2009
After the sea turtle symposium in Brisbane, I spent a week at Mon Repos -- a famous sea turtle beach near Bundaberg. There I helped Colin Limpus and his team of volunteers monitor and release loggerhead and flatback hatchlings. This is the most important nesting beach for Pacific Loggerheads in the Southern Pacific. While the females were mostly done with nesting, the hatchlings were emerging by the hundreds.
Colin has been marking and tagging hatchlings and female adults since the 1970s. The first hatchling to return as an adult climbed onto the beach in 2003 at 29 years old. Sadly, the population was devastated by prawn trawlers, falling from 3,500 females to about 350 per year. That is beginning to turn around with the requirements for Turtle Excluder Devices in 2000.
After Mon Repos, I traveled to Tasmania for two weeks backpacking in the wet and wild Cradle-Mountain/Lake St. Claire National Park. I completed the Overland Track with two Sierra Club leader friends Steven and Breanna; and then went into the backcountry of the DuCane Range guided by Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth Australia. He knows and can read this land like the back of his own hand.
Instead of sea turtles, it is a land of wombats, wallabies and wonderful ancient landscapes and trees that date back to the supercontinent of Gondwana. But amazningly, leatherback sea turtles have been tracked to the coast of Tasmania, where the water is cold and the winds blow at gale force.
Following this adventure, I took the bus to Hobart where the Sea Shepherd Society's vessel, newly christened the Steve Irwin, was in port after its season combatting Japanese whalers. The ship managed to block or slow whaling for about 5 weeks, with the Japanese fleet going on the attack to try to dissuade the "whale warriors." On return to port, the Australian government raided the Sea Shepherd vessel, though it took no action against the illegal Japanese whaling.
But that didn't stop the crew from offering help in saving the many pilot whales who stranded on an island north of the mainland. Amazing dedication, whether you support the Sea Shepherd tactics or not.
While touring the vessel with crew member Dan of Hobart , I asked what they were doing to minimize the environmental impacts of the shipon the ocean and learned from Engineer Dan that fresh water was being used as ballast (preventing spread of invasive species), that the old engine was running on marine diesel instead of bunker (less air pollution) and that new heads were being installed to "cook" waste matter to kill off bacteria and other contaminants being going overboard.
Speaking of cooking, I discovered that Green activist Nicola from Fremantle, who I met in 2007, is now cooking on board the Steve Irwin and was a crew member during the whaling campaign this year.
I really appreciated meeting the crew and in particular am grateful to Ben, the vessel manager, who arranged for the private tour since I was leaving town before the public tours were happening (and which have drawn thousands of supporters every weekend).
Now I'm in warm and dry Western Australia, taking a few days rest in Fremantle before heading north to view threatened beaches in the Pilbara where Chevron plans to put a major new LNG port smack on top of Australian flatback nesting habitat. Will the economic downturn help turn back the tide of this energy-greedy project?
Eco Barons and Oprah!
Posted by Carole H. Allen on
Gulf Office Director, Sea Turtle Restoration Project
Years ago, Edward Humes, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, called Carole Allen (me) in Houston and asked what I had done and continued to do to save the Kemp's ridley sea turtles from extinction. After a long phone interview, weeks, months and years passed with no further contact. Frankly, I forgot all about it. A few weeks ago, I learned that Mr. Humes has published a book entitled Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers and Millionaires Who Are Saving our Planet. Chapter 13 in the "Lone Wolves" section tells my story in "The Turtle Lady" chapter. (I'm either a dreamer or a schemer but not a millionaire.) Of course, the original turtle lady was the late Ila Loetscher of South Padre Island, Texas, who first endeared sea turtles to the hearts of the nation by appearing on Johnny Carson's television show. She traveled with a small green sea turtle complete with a tiny sombrero and serape and was a very big hit.
Shortly after learning about the book, the Oprah Magazine contacted me and has included a brief story in the April 2009 issue.
Both the book and the article imply that my work for sea turtles concluded years ago which is far from the truth. Vigilance and action for an endangered species never ends. Law enforcement in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be needed to make sure shrimp trawls have turtle excluder devices properly installed and working. The battle goes on to convince the state of Texas to declare a sanctuary in Texas waters to protect nesting Kemp's ridleys at the Padre Island National Seashore. The campaign to convince the US Fish and Wildlife Service to consider the upper Texas coast as critical habitat for the Kemp's ridleys continues along with the need for renourishing of beaches following the damage done by Hurricane Ike. The publicity is great only if it benefits sea turtle conservation.
If Penguins Can Become Hollywood Celebrities, So Can Sea Turtles!
Posted by Mike Milne on March 5th, 2009
As far as I'm concerned, films about sea turtles are a "no brainer." These mysterious ocean voyagers have an amazing story to share with landlubbers and terrestrial species. Learn more about sea turtles, or spend a short time swimming with them, and you'll want to help these ancient creatures overcome the perils of the modern world. You'll want them to survive.
There are documentaries like Last Voyage of the Leatherback and Disney's "Finding Nemo" that included Crush, a Sea Turtle Duuuude! who surfed the ocean's currents, but not one feature length film that has hit the mainstream theaters. Why hasn't a feature length film introduced the masses to sea turtles? I have no clue, I'm speechless, I just don't get it. That, however, may finally be about to change!
Turtle: The Incredible Journey, which tracks the journey
of a loggerhead turtle across the Atlantic Ocean, has scored a wide release in England and may becoming to a theaters in the U.S. next year.
The star of the film is a loggerhead named FeeBee that was released off
the Florida coast in 2008 as part of a project led by one of the
world's leading turtle biologists and the film's key science
consultant, Professor Jeanette Wyneken from the Florida Atlantic
Click here to watch the trailer and then call your local theater to tell them you want to see it on the big screen!
Talkin' Seafood: a simple way YOU can help the ocean
Posted by Mike Milne on February 26th, 2009
For many people, their most tangible connection to the ocean is through their dinner plate. Thankfully, many people have learned that their choices of what to eat are not a trivial connection, but are a critical part of restoring the ocean's health. With that in mind, one of the most common subjects of emails I receive from our members goes something like this...
"I signed the pledge to not eat tuna and shrimp caught by long line fishery. Now please tell me, I live no where near an ocean, how do I know how a tuna or shrimp is caught? (we never see swordfish here) Is there one brand that I should be watching for, good or bad?"
Simple question, right? Is there a simple answer?
Nope! The best way to be sure of how a tuna or shrimp is caught is to do it yourself... Plan B is to ask the market where you buy your fish who they got it from, where it came from, and what fishing methods were used. Chances are your local market gets it from a seafood distributor and the market doesn't actually know. If a market doesn’t know how their fish is caught, avoid it. If your
feeling up to it, tell them you will only buy fish if you know where
and how it was caught. But they might, and if they do, take that information and find it on a seafood guide. Try SeafoodWatch. I would avoid all fish on the yellow and red list and ONLY eat fish listed as green—it’s a good rule of thumb. Also, fish
certified by the Marine Stewardship Council is generally “sustainable.”
A quick word about seafood cards... seafood guides attempt to move seafood lovers in the right direction and they are useful. But to date, no single list incorporates a holistic view that encourages consumers to eat lower on the sea-food chain (for example, small fish and shellfish harvested by acceptable methods), avoid fish with high levels of toxins, and also recognizes that our over-all seafood consumption must be reduced. To solve the challenges facing our oceans, we need to eat LESS seafood, not just different fish.
You can also look for common fish that has been caught using handheld "hook and line” techniques or harpoon. For example, in California we have a fishery for small albacore tuna that uses hook-and-line, a method that is practically free of by-catch. The tuna is small, so it hasn't accumulated dangerous levels of mercury either.
Ports and shipping threaten sea turtle beaches
Posted by Teri Shore, Program Director on February 18th, 2009
About 25 sea turtle symposium delegates gathered to share concerns about the growing number of port expansions and increased shipping traffic in sea turtle habitat around the world at a ports and shipping discussion hosted by Sea Turtle Restoration Project at the international symposium in Brisbane, Australia.
Among the most troubling projects are located on the East Coast of India in Orissa and in Northwest Australia. A large industrial port at Dhamra in Orissa is just one of 30 new ports planned for the coastline where olive ridleys nest im mass arribadas. While most of the controversy to date has focused on Dhamra where environmental review has been sidelined in favor of corporate profits, sea turtle biologists and activists from the region explain that there are many more coming down the pike that could spell bad news for the future of the sea turtles. The lighting, dredging, noise and disturbance of the port construction project alone could disrupt life cycles.
In northwest Western Australia, Chevron plans to build a new LNG processing plant and vessel terminal smack on top of rare Australian flatback habitat (see photo of flatback.). While Chevron is making some attempt to study these sea turtles, it's clear that the company plans to build no matter what. Right now flatbacks nest on Barrow Island where Chevron has been operating about 50 oil rigs in the middle of the island. Crude oil is pumped through a pipeline 4 miles off shore to tankers. The sea turtles seem to be surviving despite the development, though no studies have ever been done to see if the industrial facility has caused any problems.
The new project would add a huge processing plant for natural gas found offshore in the Gorgon Gas fields. The gas would then be pumped offshore to waiting ships. It will be a huge project that is very likely to disperse the flatback population, but again, no long-term studies have been done to see what the problems might be.
Worse, the entire coast of Western Australia is threated by plans for 50 new industrial port and mining projects that could forever remove sea turtle habitat as well as destroy other marine life, ancient land species and Aborignal sacred sites.
During the discussion, people pointed out other areas where ports and shipping intersect with sea turtles. In Malaysia, a LNG port is located right next to a sea turtle nesting beach. When hatchlings leave the nest, they tend to veer down the beach towards the flares of the gas plant smokestacks or the ship lighting instead of to the sea. They won't live long if they use energy going the wrong direction.
In California, leatherback sea turtles were found congregating in shipping lanes outside the Golden Gate near San Francisco; and in San Diego increased cruise ship traffic could be a problem for sea turtles using the coastal waters there.
All agreed that the sea turtle community needed to assess the impacts to sea turtles from ports and shipping and develop guidelines based on research and existing science to develop international guidelines to prevent harm. Each location will need specific analysis, but a general framework is needed to address lighting, dregding, noise, disturbance, ship dumping, ship speeds in sea turtle habitat, destruction of nesting habitat, invasive species from ballast water, chemicals from hull fouling, and many other operational impacts.
As a first step, we will set up a listserv to share information and plan to conduct a session or sessions at the next ISTS in India next year. I look forward to moving this issue forward and engaging the sea turtle community in this international effort.
Aboriginal dancers and Queensland environmental minister join Australian sea turtle expert Colin Limpus in opening 29th international symposium
Posted by Teri Shore on February 16th, 2009
Sea turtle biologists, advocates, beach monitors, and experts from around the world were officially welcomed tonight along the banks of the Brisbane River to the 29th International Symposium on Sea Turtle Conservation and Biology. Traditional landowners from a local dance troupe clacked sticks and pounded their feet down in ancient moves while a didgeridoo player sounded a circular drone. Several hundred people watched from the Piazza, a large concrete amphitheatre in the humid night air. STRP's Western Pacific campaigner Wences Magun arrived last night, so he joined me at the uplifting outdoor celebration of the sea turtles.
For many of us, this was not the beginning of the symposium, but the third day of presentations, talks, meetings and greeting with sea turtles at the center all the while. We started on Saturday with Pacific Island people explaining new sea turtle protection efforts on remote tropical islands where in some places indigenous communities still use sea turtle eggs and meat. The message I heard was that the success of any conservation effort where turtles are a means of survival must include the people who live near the beaches. Long gone are the days where top-down efforts are seen as a viable path. The leaders in the Pacific Island sea turtle conservation community have produced a plan of action to protect sea turtles across national boundaries beginning with projects to count nests and sea turtles and monitor beaches -- often for the first time.
The Western Pacific leatherback sea turtle was center stage on the second day. The critically endangered sea turtle is declining through its range. In the Southeast Asian region, protections and information about the declines are only now beginning to emerge. Sea turtle scientists are viewing the totality of the leatherback populations scattered from Australia to Indonesia and east through the Pacific Islands as one "meta-population" that migrates south, west and north. Perhaps as many as 4,000 to 5,000 adult females are breeding in this region, but even that is hardly a safe and sound population, particularly when you realize that Atlantic leatherback populations number in the tens of thousands.
The hope is that new protections at the beaches will slow the march toward extinction -- though for some fisheries agencies it seems the primary goal is to protect more sea turtles so that more may be sacrificed in longline fisheries for swordfish and tuna.. At STRP we are working for the long-term survival of the Pacific leatherback and an unemcumbered ocean where they can swim free forever.
I'll write more soon on the fascinating Australian flatback sea turtle and collaborative efforts in the tropical north to keep them thriving in the face of industrial port projeccts, predation from non-native animals, beach erosion and hunting by subsistence communities.California based-Chevron wants to build a major new LNG processing plant and port smack on significant flatback beaches in Northwest Australia's Pilbara region. Yes, people do . . .
Today, STRP co-hosted a lunchtime disucssion on ports, shipping and sea turtles attended by about 25 people concerned about industrial developments along nesting beaches and in foraging habitat from Australia to India to Malaysia to California and Florida. More on that later, too!
Support HJR 18 to keep the Endangered Species Act strong!
Posted by Carole Allen, Gulf Office Director on February 15th, 2009
One of the most disturbing changes that the former administration tried to make as they left office would damage the Endangered Species Act severely. This last minute law would enable federal agencies to make decisions on building highways, dams and other major projects that might drive plants and animals toward extinction without ever getting the advice of expert scientists with National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This terrible change can be prevented by supporting House Joint Resolution 18, legislation introduced by the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee Nick Rahall. Please give thought to contacting your representative and asking him or her to support HJR 18. It just makes sense.
Brisbane Australia - Center of the Sea Turtle World for a week
Posted by Teri Shore , Program Director on February 11th, 2009
I've arrived in Brisbane and am getting ready for the International Sea Turtle Symposium that begins on Saturday, Feb. 14. Sea Turtle Restoration Project is organizing an informal discussion about the threats to sea turtles from ports and shipping on Monday. And on Wednesday, STRP campaigner Wences Magun from Papua New Guinea will present a summary of his recent work along the North Coast in Madang Province with communities to protect beaches and waters for leatherback sea turtles. We will also be busy forwarding a resolution to establish a marine protected area for Pacific Leatherbacks along the coast of Costa Rica. Wence and I have also been invited by Friends of the Earth Australia in Brisbane to give a talk about sea turtle protection and threats on Wednesday night.
Brisbane is situated on the East Coast of Australia in Queensland on the Brisbane River that curves like a rainbow serpent to the Pacific Ocean. This area has been spared the flooding to the north and the tragic fires far to the south in Victoria outside of Melbourne.
Being from California, the wrath of wildfires is well-known to me. But the extent of the damage and death toll is still shocking. The disaster in Victoria hit closer to home when I realized that I stayed for several days in one of the towns that was wiped out on Black Saturday: Marysville. Just before leaving Australia in November 2007, I stayed in a lovely caravan park in Marysville, a few hours northeast of Melbourne. On recommendation of my friend and colleague Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth, I hiked in the Cathedral Range north of town, looking for koalas. I never saw one, but spent hours climbing through eucalytpus forest and over rocky sections high above the green farms below. This morning on television, animal rescue workers were shown bandaging the burnt leg of a koala that somehow escaped the blaze.
Tonight Australians will come together via television in a special broadcast featuring Australian stars including Nicole Kidman to raise funds for the families who have lost their homes and loved ones in the fires. My heart goes out to the people of Australia - my second home.
Plastic: another enemy to the Leatherback Sea Turtle
Posted by on
Leatherbacks, which feed primarily on jellyfish, are known to mistake plastic bags for food. Now a recent study has shown just how deadly plastic may be for the critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle. Autopsy records of 408 leatherback turtles, spanning 123 years
(1885–2007), found plastic in the
GI tract 34% of the time! Sometimes, the ingested plastic even blocked the gut, likely resulting in death of the turtle. Notice the large increase in plastic found in leatherbacks since the 1960s.
Plastic bags may kill tens of thousands of whales, seals,
turtles and other marine animals a year.
What can YOU do about it? Get your city to phase out the use of plastic bags! San Francisco already did it. Los Angeles banned plastic bags by July 1, 2010.
Check out this informative video by "J" Nichols, to see just how similar plastic bags and jellyfish actually look. His blog rocks too.
Track Leatherbacks Across the Ocean with Google Earth!
Posted by Mike Milne on
Starting today, users of Google Earth 5 can follow the migration of the Pacific leatherback sea turtle across the ocean, tracking their movements over time in an interactive, 3-D ocean world! A number of researchers at Tagging of Pacific Predators, led by Stanford University's Barbara Block, (one of our Great Turtle Race partners) worked with Google to share the data. Once users find a leatherback, they can even "swim along" from a leatherback's "eye view.” The tracking data--which can be viewed under the "animal tracking" Ocean layer also includes, tuna, sharks, whales, seals, and other marine life.
For a hint on where to find leatherbacks this time of year, try the South Pacific Gyre. What's that? Well... you might learn something in the process!
Click here to sample its power!
Tuna Labeling for Mercury Hinges on Judge's Opinion
Posted by Teri Shore, Program Director on January 28th, 2009
Whether mothers and children will be warned about the harm from
mercury in canned tuna will be decided not based on threats to health
or the latest science. Instead, it will hinge on whether a panel of
judges believe the tuna industry's claims that the potent neurotoxin is
"naturally occurring" and therefore not needing a label under
California's Proposition 65 chemical "right to know" law.
a court hearing yesterday in San Francsico, the California Attorney
General's office argued that even if only 5 percent of the
methylmercury in fish was NOT naturally occuring, it is toxic enough to
warrant a warning because it is known to cause cancer and reproductive
harm. See the Associated Press story at sfgate.com.
No one except the tuna canners dispute that tuna and other fish contain
methlymercury or that it's potentially harmful to pregnant women,
unborn babies, children and anyone who eats too much of it. Even the
federal government under the Bush Adminstration issued warnings against mercury-laden fish.(Though the FDA staffers who remain are still hoping to repeal the advisory.)
also clear the mercury pollution from coal-burning power plants around
the world deposit tons of mercury into the atmosphere, which is
deposited in the ocean and converted to toxic methylmercury by
bacteria. The toxin then is eaten by marine organisms, fish and
eventually accumulates in the tissue of large fish. Some of the mercury
also occurs naturally in the ocean, scientists believe.
Because the tuna industry doesn't put the mercury in the fish, nor can
they take it out, the lobbyists argue that it is naturally occurring
and expempt from Proposition 65 warnings. In fact, they want mothers,
children and everyone to EAT MORE toxic fish to make sure profits don't
lag. We sure hope that the judges don't agree. In fact, federal statute
has already determined that methylmercury in fish is caused by human
activity is not solely naturally occurring. We'll know in
the next 90 days whether people will get the information they need to
decide whether or not to buy tuna for their families.
The scandal of mercury-tainted fish exposed by doctor on Yale website
Posted by Teri Shore, Program Director on January 26th, 2009
Last week more than 60 people packed a classroom in Tiburon, California, to hear author Dr. Jane Hightower reveal the findings in her book Diagnosis Mercury. The book explains why mercury-tainted fish still makes its way to our dinner plates. Today, Yale University published her appeal to the Obama administration to reverse decades of obsolete science and seafood industry interference and set safe standards to protect women, children and sushi lovers from mercury poisoning from fish.
Dr. Hightower is a dynamic speaker and truth-seeker who came to this issue through her patients. She never intended to be the one to expose that our mercury-safe standards are based on a mercury poisioning in Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in power. Now that the U. S. FDA is trying to push through a last-minute Bush adminstration effort to weaken these standards, her story is more important and timely than ever.
Not only is mercury-laden tuna, swordfish and sushi bad for your health, the fishing methods used to capture these fish are wiping out endangered sea turtles, birds and whales and devasting the ocean.