The Blog Aquatic » endangered species http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 This Week’s Top Tweets: February 2 – 8 http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/08/this-weeks-top-tweets-february-2-8/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/08/this-weeks-top-tweets-february-2-8/#comments Fri, 08 Feb 2013 22:02:48 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4551 This week’s top tweets include a mix of cute videos and important scientific finds–a great combination, if you ask me.

1. We Keep Getting Older, They Stay the Same Size–Or Do They?!

Our most popular tweet of the week was definitely worth talking about. The news that suggests fish do not grow as large or mature as quickly as they used to is troubling at the very least. Some scientists claim that the size restrictions for catching fish is actually inducing this problem by encouraging fish to adapt via earlier maturation. This is a long-term issue that scientists will continue to monitor over time.

2. A Second Chance Story

Our tweet about a leatherback sea turtle who got a second chance thanks to the New England Aquarium was definitely one of those pull-on-your-heartstrings kind of stories. With all the challenges sea turtles face today, the fact that this turtle was successfully rehabilitated is a true miracle–such a rescue and rehabilitate effort has only been pulled off three times!

3. Catch a Great White? Pay a Hefty Price.

South Africa made headlines this week by sentencing a man guilty of catching and landing a great white shark to either a $13,500 fine or twelve months in prison. This was the first time South Africa has convicted someone for violating its legislation that protects great white sharks.

4. The Hungry Hawksbill

This video of a Pacific hawksbill sea turtle chasing one diver’s camera to see if it could be a tasty snack is hard not to love!

5. Another Ocean Icon to be Added to the Endangered Species List?

Another story about great white sharks this week finishes up our top tweets. These notorious ocean dwellers are under consideration for joining the endangered species list in California, which stirred up a bit of controversy between fishermen and the Fish and Game Commission over the possible repercussions from it.

Remember to follow us on Twitter at @OurOcean so that you can get more ocean-related updates as they come out. We’re always open to suggestions, so feel free to drop by and send us a tweet!

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Why The Nassau Grouper Needs Endangered Species Protection http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/13/why-the-nassau-grouper-needs-endangered-species-protection/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/13/why-the-nassau-grouper-needs-endangered-species-protection/#comments Thu, 13 Dec 2012 14:59:22 +0000 Ivy Fredrickson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3862
Nothing exemplifies the challenges of managing reef fish quite like the woeful tale of Nassau grouper. Once an iconic emblem of healthy Caribbean reefs (see Carmen Yeung’s recent post on endangered corals) and a staple of subsistence fisheries, this shallow water grouper is now threatened with extinction throughout most of its natural range.

Despite its large range — and area through the Caribbean and some of North and South America’s Atlantic Ocean — several characteristics of this grouper species make it particularly vulnerable to depletion:

  • These fish grow slowly,
  • don’t reproduce until later in life,
  • appear in shallow waters close to shore and thus human populations, and
  • they are popular at the dinner table.

While these things don’t necessarily condemn a fish to threatened or endangered status, one particular trait of the Nassau grouper does: They reproduce only once per year at the same place, at the same time and they do so by the tens of thousands. Or they did.

Fishermen, islanders and visitors of the Caribbean in the 1960’s and 1970’s tell stories of swarms of spawning Nassau grouper so large and dense they filled your entire underwater view — every year, once per year, at the same time, in the same place.

But the same behavior that makes for one incredible scuba dive also makes for one profitable and easy fishing trip, and one by one the seemingly endless aggregations of spawning Nassau grouper were fished out of Caribbean waters. Those same locations that were filled with fish in the 1960’s now have one or two lonely fish coming back to them on their annual pilgrimage. Even with some protections against fishing, the aggregations have never returned and fishermen and fishery managers alike learned all too late that sometimes you can’t unring the bell.

Here in the United States, the Nassau grouper has been protected from directed fishing effort for years and we still have yet to see a measurable recovery. Maybe we never will. The federal government recently announced it will conduct a review of all the available information on Nassau grouper and determine if listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is warranted. This is a long process that may be able to help bring an iconic population back to health.

ESA listing is – by its very definition – a management and recovery tool of last resort. Ideally, we would like to see Nassau grouper populations managed responsibly and rebuilt to healthy levels so the species doesn’t need to be listed under the ESA. Letting fish populations dip so low that they require this last resort action is bad for all involved: the fish, the fishermen, the tourists and local economies. For the sake of Nassau grouper, let us hope that ESA listing works and that we do not have to contemplate its use for any of our other reef fish species.

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NOAA Moves to Protect Corals http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/07/noaa-moves-to-protect-corals/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/07/noaa-moves-to-protect-corals/#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2012 18:21:12 +0000 Carmen Yeung http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3799

Credit: Mario Chow

Corals are in trouble, but they could soon receive the help they need.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) proposed listing 66 species of reef-building corals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is a step in the right direction for coral conservation. Being added to the Endangered Species list is more than a title upgrade (or downgrade, really). Listing species as endangered would prohibit harming, wounding or killing the species. It also prohibits the extraction of listed species, which includes importing or exporting the corals.

What has made these corals candidates for the list? A number of things: pollution, warming waters, overfishing and ocean acidification threaten the survival of corals. These threats can make corals more susceptible to disease and mortality. Protections like endangered species listing are vital to preserving coral from threats and helping them cope with changing environmental conditions.

Corals are tremendously important economically and environmentally. Corals provide habitat to support fisheries that feed millions of people; create jobs and income for coastal economies through tourism, recreation and fisheries; and protect coastlines from storm damage. One independent study found that coral reefs provided about $483 million in annual net benefit to the U.S. economic from recreation and tourism activities. Marine life, such as fish, crustaceans and sea turtles rely on corals for food, shelter and nursery grounds. Over 25% of fish in the ocean and up to two million marine species use coral reefs as their home. Because of their significance, supporting NOAA’s proposed ESA listing for 66 coral species is incredibly important to their survival and our local economies.

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Groups Seek Safeguards for Vulnerable Fish http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/08/groups-seek-safeguards-for-vulnerable-fish/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/08/groups-seek-safeguards-for-vulnerable-fish/#comments Fri, 08 Jun 2012 20:31:11 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=998

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Two critically imperiled species of fish in the South Atlantic must be protected from overfishing immediately, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ocean Conservancy.

Speckled hind and Warsaw grouper are “extremely vulnerable to overfishing,” according to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), as they grow slowly, can live up to 40 years, and tend to spawn in groups. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies Warsaw grouper and speckled hind as “critically endangered,” and they are listed as “endangered” by the American Fisheries Society. NMFS has listed both as “Species of Concern,” one step short of Endangered Species Act listing.

NMFS’s decided last month to lift protections for these two imperiled fish species,  leaving them at risk by opening up deep waters they had previously protected in the South Atlantic, including the habitats where mature fish aggregate to reproduce. As a result, they are once again being caught unintentionally by fishing boats seeking other species that share the same waters.

“Speckled hind and Warsaw grouper are in trouble right now. The decision to remove protections without having an alternative ready was not only rash, but against the law. It is too risky to leave these fish unprotected, and the law requires that safeguards be in place,” said Chris Dorsett, Ocean Conservancy’s Director of Fish Conservation and Gulf Restoration.

Read our full press statement here.

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