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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Next Steps for Protecting Sea Turtles

Posted On March 27, 2013 by

Last year, my colleague Ivy wrote about a proposed rule by NOAA to make shrimping safer for sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.

As you may know, all sea turtles in U.S. waters are on the Endangered Species List as either threatened or endangered. Since January 2010, NOAA has observed an increase in marine turtle deaths in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Sea turtle deaths can occur for a number of reasons, including disease, exposure to biotoxins or pollutants, ingestion of marine debris, vessel collisions, and fishery interactions. The proposed rule would have required turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on all shrimp trawling vessels, including boats that fish in-shore and in shallower waters than those currently required to use TEDs. These in-shore boats, known in the fishing community as skimmer and butterfly trawlers instead have to comply with “tow-time” restrictions, or limits to how long they can keep their nets submerged under water while fishing. Turtles drown when trapped in the nets too long.

NOAA has since withdrawn this proposed rule for multiple reasons, but primarily because the current design of TEDs did not seem to protect turtles effectively.

How is that possible?

Continue reading »

Ocean Conservancy and Causes: Turning Awareness into Action

Posted On December 27, 2012 by

Credit: NPS.org

“Changing the world is a lot easier when you’ve got the right tools.” That’s the motto of Causes, a web platform that provides free and easy tools for individuals and nonprofitsto spread the word, find support, raise money, and build momentum for their cause and make an impact in the world.

And it’s working. So far, over 170 million people have taken action for over 500,000 unique causes. The Causes community doesn’t just take action–they start movements by asking their friends and family to join them. Every campaign on Causes is automatically integrated with Facebook’s custom open graph, which means that actions are easily shared via Timeline and newsfeed. The ability for supporters to tweet, email, and post a Facebook status update is a click away on every campaign page.

Ocean Conservancy is running a campaign powered by Causes to turn awareness into action in protecting baby sea turtle nesting grounds along the Gulf of Mexico. The peer-to-peer sharing on Causes makes it easy for our own community to get the word out about our work. Our petition to support a nesting ground restoration project received over 20,000 signatures in fewer than two weeks.

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Thank You For Helping Us Protect Sea Turtles and Restore the Gulf of Mexico

Posted On December 24, 2012 by

Credit: NPS.gov

Greetings from the Lone Star State! Amidst the hustle and bustle of last minute Christmas preparations, and visiting with family (and family dogs–there are 4 at my feet as I write!), I feel compelled to take a moment to thank our members and supporters who took time this month to support Ocean Conservancy’s work to ensure that Gulf Restoration moves forward in a way that protects the wildlife, people and places that make the Gulf a national treasure. After exceeding our goal of 30,000 petition signatures to support sea turtle nesting ground restoration, the project has officially been approved for funding.

Restoring the Gulf from not only the oil disaster but also from decades of problems like wetland loss, nutrient pollution and loss of habitat is a huge undertaking, and a complex challenge. In the Gulf Restoration Program, we focus on all of the moving pieces that will hopefully create a coordinated effort for restoration on a scale not often seen. From advocating for the RESTORE Act, to participating in countless public meetings, from testifying in front of Congress, to working with the people who make their living on the water, from advocating for science to support restoration, to pushing for projects that will have a significant impact on the species we love– we do it all, and we do it with all our heart. Even so, it’s easy to get lost in the details, to keep one’s head down and just keep pushing, sometimes not even coming up for air when it’s time to celebrate important victories.

But you have reminded me that there is much to celebrate. Continue reading »

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Restoring the Gulf of Mexico by Pointing Baby Turtles Back to Sea

Posted On October 12, 2012 by

Have you heard that Coast Guard officials recently confirmed an oil slick found in the Gulf of Mexico last week matched oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster? Indeed, while the BP spill may be a distant memory to some, the Gulf still feels the effects today. The Coast Guard has said the oil slick “does not post a threat to the shoreline,” but it will certainly affect the Gulf’s offshore waters, which are just as vital to the region’s overall health.

In my latest Huffington Post piece, I weigh in on the threats this oil continues to pose in the Gulf and discuss the ways Ocean Conservancy continues to work toward marine restoration in this important area. One project helps point baby turtles back to sea:

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Olympians of our Ocean: Check Out This Sea Turtle Marathon

Posted On August 13, 2012 by

Can’t see the video? Try refreshing your browser.

Thirteen competitors from six countries (USA, Costa Rica, Panama, Nevis, Mexico, Guyana). A race of hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles through the ocean. Crowds of spectators cheering for their favorites. The Tour de Turtles 2012 has begun!

Pearl, Shelldon and Lady Marmalade number among the marathoners, each massive creature swimming to raise awareness for a cause near and dear to a sea turtle’s heart, from turtle egg consumption to longline fishing and oil spills. This annual event by the Sea Turtle Conservancy and may partners may not be televised, but you can  meet the turtles, track their migration and root for turtle conservation online.

Most of what we know about sea turtles comes from studies on land. Thanks to satellite tracking and the Tour de Turtles, researchers are finding out a lot more about their life at sea. When it comes to sea turtle conservation, that’s a win worthy of a gold medal.

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TEDed Explains Why Sea Turtles Are Legitimate Miracles

Posted On July 26, 2012 by

I know, I know. We’ve been talking about sea turtles a lot on the blog these days. And it’s not just because they’re awesome and cute and amazing (although they are all of those things).

As this video from TEDed so elegantly explains, sea turtles are under siege from many of the threats Ocean Conservancy works so hard to address every day. Their nesting grounds are threatened by marine debris and habitat loss or degradation, their lives at sea are further threatened by unsustainable fishing practices, floating waste and toxins, including oil spills. According to the video, sea turtles are under such pressure that their survival rate now stands at 1 percent or less between each nesting cycle.

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What We Can Learn From Recent Bulldozing of Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles

Posted On July 20, 2012 by

A tiny leatherback hatchling on its way to the sea. Credit: Daniel Evans, www.conserveturtles.org

There was shocking news last week from Trinidad’s Grande Riviere beach, probably the densest nesting site for endangered leatherback sea turtles on the planet.

A long wet season had diverted a river’s flow, threatening turtle nesting areas as well as a hotel that hosts ecotourists who come to witness nesting season.

Government efforts to bulldoze the river back to its usual path, a move meant to save nesting areas, crushed sea turtle eggs and hatchlings. Early reports ranged to upwards of 20,000 small turtles lost, but revised numbers are much lower. Continue reading »