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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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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 »

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Building a Mosaic of Restoration Projects for the Gulf

Posted On July 19, 2012 by

sea turtle mosaic

Credit: luxomedia flickr stream

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster harmed communities from Texas to Florida and damaged the Gulf ecosystem from the ocean floor to the surface across a vast swath of waters and shoreline. Restoring these damaged resources will require a comprehensive, Gulf-wide restoration plan that covers coastal environments, blue-water resources and Gulf communities.

Because wildlife like birds, fish and marine mammals move throughout the ecosystem making use of coastal, nearshore and offshore environments, effective restoration requires a holistic approach. For example, restoration efforts for oyster reefs or barrier islands in Texas should complement the work done in Alabama or in Florida so that the full suite of species and habitats can recover.

The state and federal officials responsible for creating such a plan, the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees, are making decisions about how to spend the balance of the $1 billion committed by BP for early restoration. The decisions they make about early restoration and about the longer-term restoration program to follow have the potential to pay enormous dividends to the Gulf for generations.

To help the Trustees build an effective plan, a coalition of nonprofit groups, including Ocean Conservancy, has created a portfolio of 39 projects that reflect an integrated and Gulf-wide approach to restoration. Continue reading »

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Encouraging Surprises Mark Turtle Nesting Time in the Gulf of Mexico

Posted On July 6, 2012 by

Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling by Jacey Biery

There is nothing more satisfying than when wonderful surprises turn up in unexpected places — like a $5 bill left in your blue jeans, or loggerhead sea turtles in Mississippi. Wait, what?

Yep. After an absence of 20 some odd years, two loggerhead sea turtle nests on Mississippi’s coast have scientists scratching their heads over what Institute for Marine Mammal Studies executive director Dr. Moby Solangi is calling a “very important and significant phenomena.”

Experts are not sure why these turtles chose to nest on the Mississippi coast this year. Whether due to a loss of ideal habitat in other areas, or competition for prime nesting space, this year is an usual one for sea turtles in the Gulf. Continue reading »

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The UnDead Zone

Posted On June 22, 2012 by

credit: cpboingo's flickr stream

Like a zombie, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico just won’t seem to really die. Estimates for the size of this year’s dead zone, an area of water so deprived of oxygen that it can’t support life, were just released by LUMCON (Louisiana University Marine Consortium) and the University of Michigan.

LUMCON estimates the size of the 2012 dead zone at 6,123 square miles, while the more conservative estimate projects an area of 1,197 square miles. While these estimates differ as much as the best way to kill a zombie does, what is really important is that there is a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading »