The Blog Aquatic » Jim Wintering News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:00:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Tribute to Mothers: A Look at the Ocean’s Great Moms Fri, 10 May 2013 21:25:27 +0000 Jim Wintering


Every year around Mother’s Day I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have both a mother and grandmother who have been there to guide me during the challenging times in life. Recently, this got me thinking that there are probably tons of examples of great mothers in the ocean who are similarly there for their children over the years. So whether you’re a mother yourself or you completely forgot it was that time of year and you need to rush to the store today, take a minute to celebrate Mother’s Day with us and read on to find out more about some awesome ocean mothers:

Manatee mothers show a tremendous dedication to their offspring that starts with nursing within a few hours of giving birth. Their calves are usually weaned within a year, but these mothers typically stick around for up to two years, and are often found right alongside their calves. Mother manatees actively block predators by swimming in between the calf and any potential threat. Furthermore, manatee mothers not only provide their children with nutrition, but also teach them about feeding areas and preferred travel routes.


Some parents are incredibly protective of their children, and a perfect example of that would be walrus mothers. These moms defend and protect their calves intently, and are known to shelter their young from danger under their chest. They also will carry their calves on their backs as they swim through the water. There is even some evidence that walrus mothers may care for orphan calves, showcasing their awesome care-taking abilities.

In the case of of orcas, or killer whales, mothers not only provide for their children in youth, but are there for them well into adulthood. Studies have shown that when a killer whale’s mother is around, it significantly increases the young’s chances of survival. Killer whales can live into their 90s, but females stop reproducing in their 30s or 40s, which similar studies point to as indicating that having an older female around improves the chance of survival for all of her descendants.

Polar bear mothers typically give birth to twin cubs who stay by their mother’s side for more than two years as these mothers protect their children from the fierce elements of the Arctic, while also teaching them valuable survival skills, including how to hunt for food. These great mothers of the North raise the cubs on their own, and are known for aggressively defending their young until they have matured enough to take care of themselves.

If you’re looking for an ocean mother who makes huge sacrifices for her young, an octopus might be your best bet. Octopus mothers lay 50,000-200,000 eggs and take time to group them in the best manner possible. The mother then spends this incubation period doing everything that she can to protect the eggs from predators. She’ll do so at the expense of her own health, being so devoted as to stop hunting for her own food, which often leaves her too weak to even survive after the eggs hatch.


The ocean is full of great mothers capable of reminding us of all of the sacrifices that moms around the world make for their children. With that in mind, we at Ocean Conservancy would like to express our gratitude to all mothers out there, and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day, whether they live in the ocean or back at home in places throughout America and around the globe.

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How the Sequestration is Bad for the Ocean Tue, 05 Mar 2013 19:13:06 +0000 Jim Wintering

In recent years, federal budgetary concerns have loomed over almost every legislative battle in Congress. However, the sequestration that began on March 1st presents a uniquely ominous challenge by imposing drastic, across the board cuts on almost every government program.  With an ongoing debate on how to avoid the full implementation of the sweeping cuts, here are some impacts that such a steep drop in federal funding could have on marine conservation and ocean ecosystems.

The cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in particular could present significant harm to longstanding ocean conservation programs. In an immediate sense, they will force NOAA to furlough, or temporarily put on unpaid leave, up to 2,600 agency employees; amounting to almost 20% of the agency’s workforce. Furthermore, NOAA may need to cut 1,400 existing contractor jobs, while leaving an additional 2,700 positions unfilled.

These workforce reductions would leave NOAA tremendously understaffed to implement items like fishery stock assessments, which are essential to support effective fisheries management and the fishing industry at large. As fishermen throughout the nation rely on the accurate reports of NOAA scientists to avoid overfishing, this isn’t only an issue for marine ecosystems, but is a jobs issue that will negatively impact families nationwide.

Workforce reductions at NOAA would also significantly harm America’s $1 trillion shipping industry that supports 13 million jobs in this country by hindering the agency’s ability to examine real-time information on tide and water levels. The nautical charts that NOAA produces with this information are crucial to prevent ships from grounding, and without them the shipping industry will be put in a highly compromised position.

In addition, NOAA is the lead federal agency for maintaining coastal resilience and mitigating the impacts of storms like the recent Superstorm Sandy.  Without the buffers of sandy beaches and coastal wetlands, storms like Sandy wreak havoc on coastal communities.  Funding cuts at NOAA will decrease the agency’s ability to restore and protect the estuaries, wetlands and ocean ecosystems that contribute to coastal resilience.  As a result, future mega-storms will be more likely to produce devastating effects for coastal communities.

Hurricanes like Sandy will also be harder to prepare for due to cuts to NOAA’s weather satellite program. NOAA’s government satellites play an essential role in weather forecasting. Due to the Sequestration it is expected that the launch of two new geostationary satellites will be delayed by two to three years. According to Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, this will “increase the risk of a gap in satellite coverage and diminish the quality of weather forecasts and warnings.” Such a gap will decrease the accuracy of weather reports that are vital to storm preparedness for coastal communities.

Beyond NOAA, the Interior Department has raised sizeable concerns regarding the Sequester’s impact. The National Park Service (NPS) has already highlighted upwards of 100 national park sites that could be shuttered in response; easily one of the most immediately tangible effects of the outsized budget cuts. Many of the affected parks like Channel Islands in California and Key Biscayne in Florida provide tremendous marine recreational opportunities that will go away if the Sequestration goes fully into effect.

While America may face significant budgetary issues, Congress cannot utilize a “meat cleaver” approach that wantonly subtracts funds from important programs. Ocean conservation, like so many other public issues, deserves to be treated with a thoughtful and measured approach. This is why Congress must step back from the Sequestration’s overly broad agency reductions. We only have one shot to protect the ocean and the people and wildlife it supports, so we’d better make it count.

(Addie Haughey contributed to this post)

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