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Marine Life & Conservation

Making Climate a Blue Issue

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Intro – Jeff Goodman

Climate change is affecting us all. We feel it in our day to day lives, but it is arguably in the oceans of the world the greatest changes are taking place – and most people don’t even know it’s happening.

The article below is written by David Helvarg, Author & President, Blue Frontier Campaign and is from the BLUE FRONTIER CAMPAIGN web site: http://www.bluefront.org

Thunder snow, super-storms, dust storms, arctic melting and coral bleaching have existed but not as a regular part of our language ‘til fossil fuel fired climate change kicked in. You know you’re in the greenhouse century when the 13 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1998 and last year, 2012, was the hottest in U.S. history, with a major drought, record fire season, sweltering summer and Hurricane Sandy. Of course no single event can be linked to human-enhanced climate disruption, just like no single Tour de France victory by Lance Armstrong can be attributed to his doping, but the trend line is there.

I’ve reported on oil and climate impacts from Antarctica to the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Mexico, Fiji, Australia, Florida, lower Manhattan and offshore California. And in speaking with scientists in all those places I’ve found two common themes: One, the role of the ocean in climate change is not well enough understood but the impacts, like altered ecosystems and the shifting pH called ocean acidification are already occurring. Two, this is the first environmental story where the scientists are more alarmed than the public.

I first learned about global warming interviewing Roger Revelle, the father of modern U.S. oceanography, back in the 1980s. In the 1950s he and Dr. Charles Keeling, measuring atmospheric CO2 from an observatory in Hawaii, discovered industrial carbon dioxide was increasing in the atmosphere and warned of a warming “greenhouse effect.” That became established science at the time and still is.

Yet it was only in the 1990s that climate scientists were able to resolve one of their vexing issues, why the atmosphere wasn’t heating even more rapidly given this build up. The answer was the ocean was absorbing a lot of human-generated CO2, converting it to carbonic acid. The carbonic acid has shifted the pH of the ocean causing surface waters to be 30 percent more acidic than in the early 19th century and possibly up to 150 percent more acidic by the end of this century. That will change the chemical makeup of the ocean to what it was 20 million years ago when it was a less friendly place for shell forming critters like oysters, corals and certain plankton but a fine soup for bacterial mats and jellyfish (both of which are booming today). Warmer, more acidic waters also hold less dissolved oxygen and that is bad news for the entire food web.

Still, there are a couple of ocean conservation groups who talk about ocean acidification (OA) without mentioning climate change because they fear it is too much of a “hot button” issue. This, to me, is like trying to have a discussion about damaged battleships at Pearl Harbor in 1941 without mentioning the Japanese.

Author and activist Bill McKibben and his climate group 350.org take a different approach. They’re mobilizing armies of people, most recently in Washington, D.C. to demand an end to the political stranglehold the fossil fuel industry has over much of our government and a rapid transition to clean energy. Unfortunately the marine conservation community is not bringing a lot of added value to this new populist upsurge.

Yet we are slowly beginning to see some good responses to, for example, climate-linked coastal disasters like Katrina and Sandy, from government, the private sector and the seaweed groups that influence them. One positive sign is New York Governor Cuomo’s call to use $400 million of federal disaster relief to buy back destroyed homes and structures in coastal flood zones from willing sellers, a strategy known as ‘planned retreat.’ The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance has developed a waterfront action agenda for adapting New York City’s shores to the rising seas around it. In Louisiana, the state is committing its federal Restore Act funds from the BP blowout to actually restoring the coastal wetlands that protect New Orleans and other population centers, while the Gulf Restoration Network continues working to promote region-wide restoration of the coastal ecosystems that protect us all. In Washington state, long-time Surfrider member and state senator Kevin Ranker has introduced legislation to address the threat of OA that is already impacting the larval oysters at Taylor Shellfish and other aquaculture companies operating in state waters.

And, as I report in my new book The Golden Shore, California is now emerging as the nation’s leader in planning and adapting for coastal climate impacts. Moreover it’s established its own climate plan including a cap and trade emissions reduction program in response to the federal government’s failure to act. It’s no coincidence that if you go to our Blue Movement Directory you’ll find California has more seaweed groups fighting to protect and restore our public seas than any other state. Ocean action comes in response to citizen engagement. It is a huge challenge for the marine conservation community to understand how these local and state initiatives can be scaled up and made part of a common national and global strategy for our emerging blue movement.

It’s increasingly clear that if we’re to succeed as an ocean and coastal movement than climate will have to become one of our core issues. Even if we address the other cascading marine disasters of industrial overfishing, oil, plastic, chemical and nutrient pollution and loss of habitat, we could still have dying and disrupted seas just from the impacts of climate change alone. The challenge is to respond in time.

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Diving with Frogfish in Costa Rica: A Hidden Gem Underwater

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In the vast and vibrant underwater world of Costa Rica, there’s a peculiar creature that often goes unnoticed but holds a special place in the hearts of divers: the frogfish. This enigmatic and somewhat odd-looking species is a master of camouflage and a marvel of marine life. Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is not just a dive; it’s an adventurous treasure hunt that rewards the patient and observant with unforgettable encounters. Let’s dive into the world of frogfish and discover what makes these creatures so fascinating and where you can find them in Costa Rica.

The Mystique of Frogfish

Frogfish belong to the family Antennariidae, a group of marine fish known for their incredible ability to blend into their surroundings. They can be found in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink, red, green, black, and white, and they often have unique spots and textures that mimic the coral and sponges around them. This camouflage isn’t just for show; it’s a critical survival tactic that helps them ambush prey and avoid predators.

One of the most remarkable features of the frogfish is its modified dorsal fin, which has evolved into a luring appendage called an esca. The frogfish uses this esca to mimic prey, such as small fish or crustaceans, enticing unsuspecting victims close enough to be engulfed by its surprisingly large mouth in a fraction of a second. This method of hunting is a fascinating spectacle that few divers forget once witnessed.

Where to Find Frogfish in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is dotted with dive sites that offer the chance to encounter these intriguing creatures. Bat Islands (Islas Murciélagos), Catalina Islands (Islas Catalinas), and the area around the Gulf of Papagayo are renowned for their rich marine life, including frogfish. These sites vary in depth and conditions, catering to both novice and experienced divers.

The key to spotting frogfish is to dive with a knowledgeable guide who can point out these master camouflagers hiding in plain sight. They’re often found perched on rocky outcroppings, nestled within coral, or even hiding among debris, perfectly mimicking their surroundings.

frogfish

Diving Tips for Spotting Frogfish

Go Slow: The secret to spotting frogfish is to move slowly and scan carefully. Their camouflage is so effective that they can be right in front of you without being noticed.

Look for Details: Pay attention to the small details. A slightly different texture or an out-of-place color can be the clue you need.

Dive with Local Experts: Local dive guides have an eagle eye for spotting wildlife, including frogfish. Their expertise can significantly increase your chances of an encounter.

Practice Buoyancy Control: Good buoyancy control is essential not just for safety and coral preservation but also for getting a closer look without disturbing these delicate creatures.

Be Patient: Patience is key. Frogfish aren’t known for their speed, and sometimes staying in one spot and observing can yield the best sightings.

Conservation and Respect

While the excitement of spotting a frogfish can be thrilling, it’s crucial to approach all marine life with respect and care. Maintain a safe distance, resist the urge to touch or provoke, and take only photos, leaving behind nothing but bubbles. Remember, the health of the reef and its inhabitants ensures future divers can enjoy these incredible encounters as much as you do.

Join the Adventure

Diving with frogfish in Costa Rica is just one of the many underwater adventures that await in this biodiverse paradise. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or taking your first plunge, the waters here offer an unparalleled experience filled with wonders at every turn. Beyond the thrill of the hunt for frogfish, you’ll be treated to a world teeming with incredible marine life, majestic rays, playful dolphins, and so much more.

So, gear up, dive in, and let the mysteries of Costa Rica’s underwater realm unfold before your eyes. With every dive, you’re not just exploring the ocean; you’re embarking on an adventure that highlights the beauty, complexity, and fragility of our marine ecosystems. And who knows? Your next dive might just be the one where you come face-to-face with the elusive and captivating frogfish. Join us at Rocket Frog Divers for the dive of a lifetime, where the marvels of the ocean are waiting to be discovered.

About the Author: Jonathan Rowe

Are you looking to make a splash online? As a seasoned diver and digital marketer, I specialize in crafting bespoke websites and innovative marketing strategies for dive shops worldwide. With my expertise, your business will not only be seen but also remembered.

From deep-sea to digital depths, I navigate the complex waters of web development and online marketing, ensuring your dive shop stands out in the vast ocean of the internet. Contact Scuba Dive Marketing for more information.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Save the Manatee Club launches brand new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, Florida

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Save the Manatee® Club has launched a brand-new set of underwater and above-water webcams at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, FL. These new cameras add to our existing cameras at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, in Homosassa, Florida, which are viewed by millions of people worldwide. The cameras are a collaboration between Save the Manatee Club, Explore.org, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who made the new live streaming collaboration possible via support of their interpretative program.

The above-water camera is a stationary pan/tilt/zoom camera that will show manatees and other wildlife from above water, while the new underwater camera provides the viewer with a brand new, exciting 180-degree viewing experience. Viewers can move the cameras around, trying to spot various fish and manatees.

The Silver River, which originates at Silver Springs, provides important habitat for manatees and many other species of wildlife. Over recent years, more manatees have been seen utilizing the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers. “The webcams provide a wonderful entertainment and educational tool to the general public, but they also help us with the manatee research,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “We have learned so much through observing manatees on our existing webcams, and the new cameras at Silver Spring can add to the existing manatee photo-ID research conducted in this area, as well as highlighting Silver Springs and the Silver River as an important natural habitat for manatees.”

The webcams are streaming live during the daytime, with highlights playing at night, and can be viewed on Explore.org and on Save the Manatee Club’s website at ManaTV.org.

Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

Photo: www.avalon.red

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