Kaitilin Gaffney at the Museum of Art and History during the 2012 International Coastal Cleanup in Santa Cruz, California.
Here at Ocean Conservancy, our teams work hard to ensure protection of marine wildlife because that’s what we believe in doing – but being recognized for our successes is always a wonderful thing. In just-announced news, Blue Frontier Campaign has officially deemed our former Pacific Program Director Kaitilin Gaffney a “Hero of the Sea” for her accomplishments in helping establish California’s marine protected area network. Along with Karen Garrison, co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s oceans program, Kaitilin will be honored at a May, 2013 ceremony at the Carnegie Institutionin Washington D.C.
Kaitilin and Karen’s dedication to ensuring implementation of California’s Marine Life Protection Act, originally passed in 1999, resulted in 16 percent of the state’s waters – and the vast varieties of ocean wildlife within them – being protected for now and future generations. The process was never easy, but their dedication to it never wavered. John Laird, California Secretary for Natural Resources said of the pair, “They were incredibly successful in persuading others to their view because they listened to people’s concerns, and worked with them to find solutions that worked for all…their contribution to our blue ocean and to the communities that depend upon it is monumental.” Continue reading »
Hearing that a dispersant is just as harmful as oil to corals is a hard pill to swallow, especially when it’s used to cleanup a whopping 200 million gallons of oil. To make matters worse, some types of coral were not able to survive in laboratory tests with the smallest amount of the dispersant Corexit 9500–.86 parts per million. Continue reading »
It’s been a busy year so far, and we’re only finishing the first full week of 2013. To start off the new year, here are the top five tweets that attracted the most attention in the Twittersphere over the last week:
1. Trapped killer whales freed by shifting ice
BREAKING: Multiple reports say the 12 killer whales trapped in sea ice in Quebec have been freed by shifting ice: ocean.ly/UPKPtR
A group of killer whales surrounded by ice off the coast of Canada were deemed to have a grim future, but an unexpected shift in wind current moved the ice in a way that allowed them to escape. This surprise happy ending garnered the most attention of our ocean followers this week. This tweet also took away the most favorites.
Seattle–one of my favorite cities. I first came here in 2006 and fell in love with Puget Sound, the strong smell of coffee and the surprisingly steep downtown streets that make my morning runs more challenging than I’m used to, given the gentle slopes of DC.
Today I’ve just attended an event at the beautiful Seattle Aquarium to hear Washington Governor Christine Gregoire announce the first ever state response to ocean acidification — a little-known threat that hit the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry like an invisible ton of bricks back in 2007 and now has top billing in Washington and across the country today.
Ocean acidification is what happens when significant amounts of carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the ocean. A chemical reaction is occurring in our oceans right now as our carbon emissions increase. Because of the amount of carbon pollution being absorbed by the ocean, its pH is lowered, turning it more acidic. The ocean is 25% more acidic than it was before the Industrial Revolution.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) issued an interim permit that authorizes Shell Oil to begin initial drilling operations in the Chukchi Sea — part of the Arctic Ocean northwest of Alaska. The decision does not allow Shell to drill into known oil or gas-bearing layers. Even so, it is a significant step in the wrong direction.
BSEE Director James Watson claimed that today’s permit decision is consistent with the agency’s commitment to use the “highest safety, environmental protection and emergency response standards.”
It sure doesn’t seem that way.
If BSEE were serious about holding Shell to the highest standards, the agency would insist that no drilling take place until all of Shell’s oil spill response tools are on site and ready to respond in the event of an emergency. Instead, BSEE’s decision will allow Shell to drill roughly 1,400 feet below the ocean floor without an oil spill response barge and containment system on site.
Shell’s oil spill response barge and containment system remain in Bellingham, WA, far from the Arctic. The barge is still undergoing renovations required before the Coast Guard can certify the vessel for use in the Arctic. The containment system has not received final certification, either. When and if the Coast Guard certifies the barge and containment system, it will take roughly two weeks to get them from Bellingham to Shell’s drilling site in the Chukchi. Two weeks would be an agonizingly long time to wait if something went wrong during the initial phases of Shell’s operations. Continue reading »