Ocean Doctor

Sep 03

Too Much Love for the Fish Everyone Hates

[caption id=”attachment_4036” align=”alignleft” width=”300”] The much-maligned, misunderstood and now treasured “trash fish,” the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthius). Photo: © Boris Pamikov[/caption] It was a sadly typical meeting of the Board of Collier County (Florida) Commissioners in the late nineties. As the meeting droned on, I tuned it out and fell into deep concentration, obsessively rewriting now long-forgotten remarks I would deliver to the Commission about conservation in Southwest

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Aug 01

Alone in the Dark with a Pen Light

[caption id=”attachment_613” align=”alignright” width=”300”] Trawl scar on bottom, DeepWorker 7 in background[/caption] Yesterday (Thursday) morning, Michelle Ridgway and I descended in the twin subs for our expedition’s penultimate dive on Pribilof Canyon.Michelle’s lights shone as tiny pinpoints in the distant green as the light from above slowly vanished and the cold darkness of Pribilof Canyon enveloped us.I had a rare moment amid the descent’s harried series of checks and radio

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Jul 24

Where Mercury in Fish Comes From and What Regulators are Doing About it

[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”320”] Image by Nick Humphries via Flickr[/caption] Mercury in fish? Much of it comes from the sky. Coal-fired power plants emit tons of the toxic heavy metal into the atmosphere where it travels hundreds of miles before depositing on the surface of lakes, rivers and the oceans, where it is ingested and gradually works its way up to the top of the food chain where it becomes highly-concentrated in the flesh of the ocean’s predators, such as sharks,

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Jul 23

Deep Reflection: Alone in the Dark at 1,300 Feet Below

I am inside a tiny, 1-person submarine beneath the Bering Sea, hundreds of miles offshore from the Alaskan coast. There are 1,300 feet of water between me and the surface. I’m here as part of a Greenpeace-led expedition to shed new light on the unexplored depths here. It’s freezing cold, completely dark, and forbidding — and it’s utterly beautiful. I’ve seen deep sea corals at nearly 2,000 feet, defiantly wearing their brilliant pink colors across a

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Dolphin Deaths in Gulf of Mexico - “Perfect Storm” of BP Oil Spill and Cold Water

[caption id=”attachment_3779” align=”alignleft” width=”300”] A C-130 Applies Dispersants During the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (USCG Photo)[/caption] In a study published in PLos ONE, investigators studied a large die-off of dolphins in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. During the first four months of 2011, 186 bottlenose dolphins, 86 of which were very young perinatal calves, washed ashore from Louisiana to western Florida. For perinatal dolphins, this stranding rate was nearly 6 times

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Jul 21

Fertilizing the Oceans with Iron Sinks Carbon, But is it a Good Idea?

[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”320”] “The Eddy and the Plankton” A massive plankton bloom observed from space. (Image: NASA Earth Observatory via Flickr)[/caption] It’s a controversial idea that has been around for decades. Stimulate the growth of phytoplankton (plant plankton) in remote reaches of the oceans by fertilizing the oceans with iron. Previous studies concluded that such an approach would not be effective. However, the recent analysis of a 2004 ocean fertilization

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Jul 16

Judge Approves $880 Million Everglades Restoration

[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”320”] The Everglades (Photo: slack12 via Flickr)[/caption] The Environmental News Network (ENN) reports that a federal judge has approved an $880 million plan to restore the Everglades, a decision that could result in the settlement of numerous lawsuits spanning 25 years. In addition, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Kissimmee, Florida to announce an infusino of an additional $80 million from the federal government to support farmers and

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Jul 11

Rapid Rise of Ocean Acidity Surprises Scientists

[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”320”] The speed with which acid levels have risen in the oceans has “caught scientists off-guard.” (Image by B Tal via Flickr)[/caption] The Christian Science Monitor reports that the speed with which acid levels have risen in the oceans has “caught scientists off-guard.” Ocean acidification was recently described by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Jane Lubchenco as climate change’s “equally evil twin,”

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Jul 07

China to Ban Shark Fin Soup at Official Banquets

[caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”320”] Shark fins drying on a sidewalk. (Image by cloneofsnake via Flickr)[/caption] CNN reports that China is planning to ban shark fin soup from official banquets. Shark fin soup is widely served in restaurants in Chinese communities worldwide and traditionally served at weddings. …the [Chinese] Government Office Administration of the State Council said the ban could take up to three years to implement and would help cut the cost of

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Jul 05

Hot Time at the Beach a Threat to Sea Turtles

[caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”320”] Leatherback Sea Turtle in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Image by USFWS/Southeast via Flickr)[/caption] Already the most critically endangered of all sea turtle species thanks to poaching and fishing impacts, new research led by Dr. Vincent Saba, a research fishery biologist with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Fisheries Science Center, suggests that climate change could impede leatherback sea turtles’ ability to recover. The

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