Ocean Currents » endangered species act http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:47:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Why We Can’t Let Congress Dismantle the Endangered Species Act http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/20/why-we-cant-let-congress-dismantle-the-endangered-species-act/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/20/why-we-cant-let-congress-dismantle-the-endangered-species-act/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 14:35:03 +0000 George Leonard http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13927

One of my favorite conservation success stories happened in the ocean.

In my home state of California—southern sea otters were hunted to near extinction for their fur coats in the early 1900’s. But miraculously, a small population of fifty animals survived, hidden from hunters on the Big Sur Coast. They were placed on the Endangered Species list in 1977, and this small population has made an unbelievable comeback.

Can you imagine an ocean without sea otters, manatees or coral? Right now, some members of Congress are planning to dismantle the Endangered Species Act, and we simply can’t let this happen.

Please take action now. Hold Congress accountable for the protection of our ocean species.

We owe the presence of species like humpback whales and Steller sea lions to the Endangered Species Act. For almost 45 years, this law has been a vital champion for saving and protecting some of our favorite ocean animals. Out of the 2,270 species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA, about 650 are found only in areas outside of the U.S. and our national waters. Without the ESA, many of these would have gone extinct by now.

Today, the ESA continues to protect endangered sea otters, in addition to a host of other species. And we can’t risk backtracking on these important protections. Please tell Congress to continue the success of the Endangered Species Act and support ocean wildlife.

Thanks to the ESA, our kids will be able to hear a humpback whale call, enjoy a tasty meal of wild Salmon and know that monk seals still swim off the coast of Hawaii.  From safeguarding habitat to ensuring essential protections, here are some species being helped right now:

  • Beluga whale
  • Whaleshark
  • North Atlantic right whale
  • Loggerhead, green and leatherback sea turtles
  • 184 species of fish
  • 22 species of coral

If Congress succeeds in dismantling the Endangered Species Act we could completely lose many of these species in the near future—animals vital to healthy marine food chains and productive ecosystems. That’s why we need you to take action.

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Help is on the Way for the Nassau Grouper http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/04/help-is-on-the-way-for-the-nassau-grouper/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/04/help-is-on-the-way-for-the-nassau-grouper/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:44:06 +0000 Ivy Fredrickson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9146

The Nassau grouper can be found all over the Americas, but it’s facing extinction in nearly all of its habitats.  After years of hard work and outreach, the U.S. government is stepping up to the plate to help this critically important species. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has announced that the Nassau grouper will be protected under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species.

Nassau grouper are large reef dwelling fish, historically found in the Western North Atlantic from Bermuda, Florida, Bahamas, Yucatan Peninsula, and throughout the Caribbean to southern Brazil, including coral reef habitats in the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic coast to North Carolina. However, the species is imperiled due to human exploitation and inadequate regulatory protection. The primary threat to Nassau grouper is overfishing from gill nets, long-lines, bottom trawls, and other fishing activities, both intentionally and as by-catch. Despite a fishing ban in U.S. waters for decades, Nassau grouper are commercially extinct in the U.S.

Federal ESA listing is a tool of last resort. Ideally, species would never get to the low point of needing ESA protection. However, ESA listing will provide tools that can aid this species’ survival and recovery. We commend NMFS for taking action.

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This is a First For Sharks http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/13/this-is-a-first-for-sharks/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/13/this-is-a-first-for-sharks/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:00:09 +0000 George Leonard http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8993

Happy Shark Week! We have some shark news to share with you — help is on the way for scalloped hammerhead sharks! Will you join us in thanking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for helping these sharks by granting them protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Thank NOAA today for protecting endangered scalloped hammerheads.

Scalloped hammerheads are the first sharks ever to receive this protection. They’re extremely vulnerable to shark finning and fishery bycatch throughout much of their range. This is a much-needed boost for this critically important and threatened species. In the last 20 years alone, the number of scalloped hammerheads has fallen by 75 percent. A loss like this has impacts throughout the rest of the ocean’s ecosystem. Sharks play a key role in controlling the abundance of prey they feed on.

Thank NOAA today for protecting endangered scalloped hammerheads.

I truly hope you’ll join us in thanking NOAA for protecting scalloped hammerheads. This is a great first step in the road to their recovery and to having a healthier ocean.

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Is There a New Species of Whale in the Gulf of Mexico? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/04/05/is-there-a-new-species-of-whale-in-the-gulf-of-mexico/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/04/05/is-there-a-new-species-of-whale-in-the-gulf-of-mexico/#comments Fri, 05 Apr 2013 20:17:51 +0000 Alexis Baldera http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5346

The tan color on this map shows the range of sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico. The colored areas show the chance of sperm whales utilizing this habitat, with red being the highest.

Not quite a new species, but the population of sperm whales in the Gulf is distinctly different from their relatives. So different that last week, in response to a petition from WildEarth Guardians, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that it will be taking a closer look at sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico in order to determine if they should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Sperm whales across the world are already listed as an endangered species, but this new designation will recognize the Gulf population as a distinct group and protect and monitor it separately from the global population.

There are characteristics of sperm whales in the Gulf that may be sufficient to classify them as a distinct group. Gulf sperm whales do not leave the Gulf and are generally smaller and use  different vocalizations (probably learned culturally) than other sperm whales. Gulf sperm whales also face Gulf-specific threats such as oil and gas development, high levels of shipping traffic and noise, potential effects from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and water quality degradation near the mouth of the Mississippi River. As shown on the map above, the area southeast of the Mississippi River Delta is important for sperm whales. The outflow of nutrients from the river, upwelling along the continental slope and eddies from Gulf currents create unique ecological conditions that make this a productive area where sperm whales go to find food and potentially mates.

We do not know whether the population of sperm whales in the Gulf is growing or declining, or how many human-caused deaths of sperm whales happen in the Gulf. In order to improve our understanding of this amazing species, which is so dependent on the Gulf, we need more long-term research and monitoring. One way to gather information about sperm whales, and other marine mammals, is through tagging and tracking of the animals. Using satellite-linked tags and radio transmitters attached to animals can provide information on habitat use, foraging behavior, distribution and exposure to hydrocarbons. Ocean Conservancy is working to enhance marine mammal tracking and tagging research in the Gulf. We are proposing that some restoration funding from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill be allocated to tracking and tagging research for marine animals in the Gulf to increase our understanding of these animals and their threats.

Tagging and tracking wildlife over time will put scientists in a much stronger position to learn whether or where changes are happening in the Gulf, and to make sure we are on the right course to recovering from the nation’s largest offshore environmental crisis.

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Tips for Watching Wildlife: Keeping the “Wild” in the Experience http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/21/tips-for-watching-wildlife-keeping-the-wild-in-the-experience/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/21/tips-for-watching-wildlife-keeping-the-wild-in-the-experience/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2012 18:57:04 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=938

Remember, wildlife like this Nazca booby will be watching you, too! Credit: Glory L. Moore

One of my happiest family memories comes from a trip when my son was six years old. We arrived at a popular bay on the big island of Hawaii known for its plentiful green sea turtles. I’ll never forget the look on his small face when he popped up out of the water, pulled his mask off, and said in astonishment, “Mom! A turtle just swam along right next to me!”

Being a conscientious little dude, he got a bit worried, because signs on the beach warned visitors to keep their distance from the sea turtles, listed as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

We tried our best, but several glided right up to peer at us when we hovered motionless in the water. We’ll always cherish the rare thrill of being so close to wild things in the ocean. But did we do the right thing?

When you’re viewing wildlife – and wildlife is viewing you – following specific guidelines will ensure that you have a terrific experience. It’s about using good sense to protect yourself as well as the animals and the habitat they call home.

For example:

  • Learn a little about the specific species you expect to encounter before you go, including time of day when they are most active.
  • Check out rules and laws about how close is too close, and instead of chasing wildlife, move parallel keeping a reasonable distance.
  • Never touch babies—that sea lion pup on the beach may not be an orphan, its mamma could just be out fishing. (Concerned? Let wildlife authorities know.)

For a detailed handbook on viewing wildlife (available in Spanish), visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Sanctuaries Program’s page on ocean etiquette.

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