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Oh Boy, Breaking News: Obama to Establish the World’s Largest Ocean Reserve in the Pacific

05e61df0 86bc 4ffb b36a df87c38f9a66 460x347 Oh Boy, Breaking News: Obama to Establish the Worlds Largest Ocean Reserve in the PacificBack on January 6, 2009, President George W. Bush established the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Incorporating nearly 86,888 miles within its boundaries, the monument covers nearly 50 nautical miles, including several pacific reefs within its reach. No surprise here, but Thursday September 25, 2014, President Barack Obama went about his preferred method and completely went over Congress to expand the monument to nearly 6 times its size – or about 490,000 miles. The above photo shows the size of the original monument, and a visual of what the expansion would look like is featured below. This expansion will ban commercial fishing and deep sea mining within the set borders – including the tiny state of Kiribati around the Pheonix Islands. That specific region will be protected within 158,000 square miles, or roughly the size of the state of California. The seas around four of those islands, Howland and Baker islands, Palmyra atoll and Kingman Reef, are excluded from the expansion due to protests from Hawaii-based tuna fleets and will be open to fishing. So what’s the goal here? Here’s a word from the White House on the matter: 

“Expanding the monument will more fully protect the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.” We have very few places left in the ocean that are still near pristine and it is very important to protect them,” said Enrique Sala, explorer-in-residence for National Geographic. “These marine protected areas are very important for the ocean. The reason why we are going to get more countries to do them is because the whole biosphere, including the fish, need to be able to regenerate,” she said. “If everyone is just fishing, fishing, fishing, there is no space for that to occur.”, explains=Catherine Novelli, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment.

  It’s not clear how the expansion will effect collection of reef species within the aquarium trade – I’d be interested if anyone had further information on that. Read more about the whole plan at The Guardian. Also be sure to check out the official fact sheet on the expansion over at www.whitehouse.gov.
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Reefs In Art: Really Cool Octopus String Art

10444557 10154614896295570 8656920283610156481 n 300x300 Reefs In Art: Really Cool Octopus String ArtSo a friend of mine from High School, Joseph DeBello Gaglio, delighted me the other day by leaving this lovely little gem on my doorstep! A raw oak finish studded with hundreds of steel nails make little sense until Joe works his magic with some navy string to tie it all together – voila! An octopus! If you’re interested in getting one commissioned of your very own, check out his website for many more beautiful examples of his work. He also does some pretty neat hand-painted wooden bow ties. Also a great cause, they’ve partnered with Trees For the Future so that for ever Tie Tree purchased, 10 trees will be planted in the purchasers name. What are you waiting for? Go plant some trees and be a part of a positive change!
Screen Shot 2014 09 25 at 6.07.18 PM 150x150 Reefs In Art: Really Cool Octopus String Art Screen Shot 2014 09 25 at 6.07.23 PM 300x139 Reefs In Art: Really Cool Octopus String Art

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Nearly $1.9 Million Awarded to CSUN Marine Biologists For Ocean Acidification Studies

csunresearch4web 300x200 Nearly $1.9 Million Awarded to CSUN Marine Biologists For Ocean Acidification StudiesFolks over at the National Science Foundation (NSF) have been quite generous with their hefty award of $1,892,911 to California State University Northridge marine biologists Robert Carpenter and Peter Edmunds. The duo has frequently been taking CSUN grads and undergrads to the reefs of French Polynesia to study the effects of ocean acidification on the delicate ecosystem of coral reefs (man, I should’ve skipped culinary school and just gone there). The funds will allow for some really innovative experimentation, providing a decent budget to replicate the natural environment of the corals and study the effects of varying PH levels on the animals, and the negative effects of increasing acidification. The year-long study should give us a glimpse of what our reefs could possibly look like in the next fifty to a hundred years.They also plan to do a few hands on experiments on the actual reefs, focusing mainly on algae and corals and their response to the conditions. All of this will hopefully shed some light and put a damper on skepticism if they’re able to yield some promising and accurate results. I’m pretty excited about this – especially given the awardees of the funds are extremely passionate about the cause. I’ll be following this study and will be sure to keep you updated! Congratulations to Robert Carpenter and Peter Edmunds on this worthy grant.
PeteEdmunds4web 300x162 150x150 Nearly $1.9 Million Awarded to CSUN Marine Biologists For Ocean Acidification Studies BobCarpenter4web 141x300 141x150 Nearly $1.9 Million Awarded to CSUN Marine Biologists For Ocean Acidification Studies

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Yes! Marking My Calendar – Sir David Attenborough Returns to the Great Barrier Reef

Sir David Attenborough 009 300x180 Yes! Marking My Calendar   Sir David Attenborough Returns to the Great Barrier ReefNearly six decades after he originally filmed there, Sir David Attenborough is making a reappearance at the Great Barrier Reef to film a new BBC series set to debut late next year. This is great news for my Attenborough fix – bad news for my notoriously minimal patience level (just being honest here). To be released as three hour-long films, the series, aptly titled “David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef”, will explore the wonder that lies off the coast of Australia. State of the art satellite and macro lens technology will be utilized in exploring the 1,429-mile reef, hopefully giving us even the slightest peek into crevices not usually seen, where we can get a glimpse at some fascinating little creatures. And how does Sir Attenborough feel about the upcoming project?

People say to me, ‘what was the most magical thing you ever saw in your life?’, and I always say without a word of exaggeration ‘the first time I was lucky enough to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. As I entered the water I remember suddenly seeing these amazing multi-coloured species living in communities – just astounding and unforgettable beauty. So I’m very excited to be returning to the reef with all the latest technology and science to see one of the most important places on the planet in a whole new way”.

I’d say he’s maybe as excited as I am about the whole thing. I’m really going to try to be patient as I’m sure this series will be nothing short of incredible, it’s a skill I really need to work on anyway. Not reef related but still definitely work a click – check out this article on Attenborough’s take on our unnerving global population growth and how it sets a bleak outlook for our fauna and flora along with ourselves.
coral 150x150 Yes! Marking My Calendar   Sir David Attenborough Returns to the Great Barrier Reef

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The Girl Who Cried “Shark”

1411341530929 wps 3 Elissa Sursara n 300x300 The Girl Who Cried Shark This story annoys me mainly because it’s reinforcing a false perception of one of my favorite apex predators. Elissa Sursara, an “environmental activist”, claimed to have been attacked by a shark last September.  A small grey shark (how specific). The slightest inspection of the image she posted on her Instagram of the resulting bite would reveal it’s clearly fake. The perfect semi-circular wound is anything but typical for such an injury according to The Best Shark Dive in the World blog. They even included the nifty graphic below that breaks down the actual image. When confronted about her suspected lies – Elissa claims innocence, the Daily Mail clearly misquoted her! 

“I saw a flash of grey in the water and then I felt a bit of pressure on my torso – that’s when I realized I had been bitten,” Sursara said, describing the attack. “I knew it was a shark. As quick as I could I just thrashed, so I was punching what was biting me.”

Um, that’s quite the mouthful of a misquote. You can read more about this accused liar over at Inquisitr. She blabbers on about how sharks are “harmless”. While I wouldn’t go that far – they certainly aren’t the monsters the general public believes them to be.
1411341510097 wps 1 elissasursara n2 months a 150x150 The Girl Who Cried Shark Screen shot 2014 09 22 at 8.14.51 PM 150x150 The Girl Who Cried Shark

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Hexacopter Drone Used For The First Time To Monitor Killer Whales

 The Vancouver Aquarium has been at the forefront of marine conservation since 1956. Having been an aquarist there myself for seven years, I have remained a strong advocate and fan of the great work they do. Most recently, the Vancouver Aquarium worked with American researchers to use a Hexacopter drone, also known as an unmanned aircraft, to monitor whale pods for the first time. Scientists were able to gain a new perspective of the whales from the drone view, allowing them to view the whales at angles not available through boat view or typical underwater cameras. Specifically, the scientists will be able to study the pregnancy of the whales in detail. Normally, a scientist studying a whale from a boat would be unable to track the whales when they dive in the water. Along with offering a different viewpoint to study the whales from, the use of the drones does not impact the whales personal space and is less invasive than traditional manned boats or dives. Scientists plan to continue using the drones for research. MORE

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Your Daily Squee: Pygmy Seahorses Courtesy of the Steinhart Aquarium

 Masters of disguise and no bigger than your thumbnail, the Pigmy Seahorse has got to be one of the cutest little Hippocampus you may ever see. Odd fact: the word “Hippocampus” actually comes from the Ancient Greek word hippos meaning “horse” and kampos which means “sea monster” – which is odd because they don’t look anything like monsters to me! Anyway, the Steinhart Aquarium put together this adorable little video of the minuscule “monsters” they collected from the Philippines for our viewing pleasure. It describes the seahorse’s habitat (they dwell exclusively within a select few coral species), mating behavior, and the woes and challenges of actually housing them successfully. Enjoy informative commentary from Matt Wandell and Richard Ross amongst others, and of course, enjoy the cuteness overload!

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Let’s Get Right Into It – Real Life Palytoxin Tales

So my Social Media Circle was quite generous to me today when I reached out and asked for any personal experience with the deadly Palytoxin we are faced with when dealing with some of our reefs. My take on the  output? People are very confused – mistaking bacterial infections for the neurotoxin. Take note – “streaking” is blood poisoning which is a huge indicator for bacteria. No biggie, we all get misdirected at times, but for your safety as an aquarist it’s still important to recognize the symptoms. Not unlike the flu, nausea, vomiting, chills, fever, the works. Go to a hospital. But let’s take some time to visit your personal stories with the dangerous polyps. Warning: the following images are somewhat graphic. I hope you all take this as a stark reminder to protect yourself when dealing with lethal species. Unfortunately, again in warning, these stories don’t all have happily ever afters… MORE

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