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Marine Life & Conservation

Sea Shepherd Announce Operation Reef Defense

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Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has announced the launch of Operation Reef Defense, a global campaign to end the destruction of coral reefs and the many threats they face worldwide.

Coral reefs represent some of the planet’s most biologically diverse ecosystems providing critical habitat to approximately 25 percent of all marine species, but they are disappearing at an alarming rate due to human-induced activities such as pollution, overfishing, reef wildlife trafficking, coastal development and global warming. Thirty percent of the world’s coral reefs have died in the last 50 years, and another 30 percent have suffered severe damage. Of the reefs remaining, it is estimated that 60 percent could face extinction in less than 25 years.

According to Sea Shepherd Hawaii Director & Reef Defense Campaign Leader, Deborah Bassett, “With the oceans of the world under attack from commercial extraction and pollution, our mission remains steadfast to defend marine habitat and wildlife to the fullest extent — from the smallest of reef species to the largest marine mammals and apex predators. Time is running out for these great rain forests under the sea, so we must act now.”

Although Sea Shepherd is best known for its direct action efforts on the high seas, Sea Shepherd remains committed to protecting marine wildlife in all habitats, including the coastal awareness campaign orchestrated for Operation Reef Defense. Sea Shepherd plans to collaborate with Hawaiian dive shops and the surfing community to bring light to the destruction happening beneath the waves. With the campaign currently underway in Hawaii, Sea Shepherd’s global chapters will soon mirror similar programs in their local waters.

Reef degradation is a global crisis. Of the 100 countries with coral reefs, reef degradation is highest in Southeast Asia where nearly 95 percent of the region’s reefs are threatened, mainly due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices. The loss of underwater life and habitat is also ever-present in our own backyard of Hawaii, where the top ten sought-after species of fish for aquariums have decreased by 59 percent over the last 20 years, while the most popular aquarium fish has declined in abundance from 38 to 57 percent. In Jamaica, it is estimated that almost all of the reefs are dead or severely degraded from overfishing and coastal pollution.

Sea Shepherd’s Vice President Robert Wintner, a veteran campaigner against the aquarium trade and its devastating impact to Hawaiian reefs stated, “Sea Shepherd will champion marine habitat and wildlife from the ravages of urban and corporate effluent and the destruction caused by the aquarium trade. Massive reef wildlife dies every year as disposable ornamentation in the vicious cycle of wildlife trafficking for the pet trade. Death generates continuing demand, driving the aquarium trade to strip reefs bare. Over 25 million sea creatures are in the commercial aquarium pipeline at any given moment – and nearly all will die within a year from the point of capture.”

“Sea Shepherd is very much concerned for this wildlife and needs public support to translate these concerns into action. We may lose support from people who keep captive marine wildlife for a hobby, but as Captain Paul Watson has stated — our clients are the creatures of the sea. We hope that all people who are concerned for the oceans will recognize the importance of protecting reef eco-systems worldwide, and that if any of our supporters do keep marine wildlife in an aquarium, they will care for the wildlife they have and refrain from purchasing any more,” Wintner added.

Coral reefs simply cannot support continued unlimited resource usage or unmanaged global trade. Such drastic ongoing decline of healthy reefs will pose serious consequences for animals both on land and in the water and people worldwide.

Marine Life & Conservation

Join us in supporting Dive Project Cornwall Crowdfunder Project

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Do you have a moment to help protect our oceans?

We’re on a mission and have partnered with DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL to help protect our oceans for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL is a unique EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE initiative, reaching over 3,000 schools with their Ocean Education Programme, inspiring the next generation to protect our oceans for everyone to cherish and enjoy.

At the heart of the project is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the EXPERIENCE of a lifetime. They will take the learning from the classroom straight to the shores of Porthkerris on a 6-day, life changing trip where they will learn to scuba dive and be taught the importance of marine conservation. They will become ‘Ocean Influencers’ for the future.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL needs our help.

Can you join us with a gift to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL?

Whether it’s £5 or £50, a gift from you to the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL Crowdfunder Project will help their vision of protecting our oceans through the innovative experience designed for school children.

Will you join us and pledge to support 400 lucky teenagers learn from and EXPERIENCE the ocean like never before and give them an EDUCATION they can use to inspire others, not forgetting the memories that will last a lifetime?

For more information, you can read the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL story HERE.

Help us create the next generation of Ocean Influencers with a donation to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL and ensure our oceans (and planet) are protected for the future.

WWW.CROWDFUNDER.CO.UK/P/DIVE-PROJECT-CORNWALL

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Marine Life & Conservation

Spring jellyfish blooms bring turtles to UK shores

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Marine Conservation Society’s wildlife sightings project asks beachgoers to share their discoveries and contribute to research

The Marine Conservation Society’s long-running wildlife sightings project focuses on two key species which arrive on UK shores: jellyfish and, as a result, turtles. Both species are vital in supporting ocean biodiversity and are indicators of climate change while being at risk from its impacts.

The charity is asking beach and seagoers to share when they spot either of these marine animals to support ongoing research.

During spring and summer, jellyfish arrive in the UK’s warming waters to feed on plankton blooms or, in fact, anything small enough to get caught. To that extent, jellyfish feed not only on plankton, but also the array of eggs and larvae of fish, crustaceans, starfish and molluscs which rely on plankton as a stage of reproduction.

With healthy fish stocks and rich biodiversity, jellyfish quickly become part of an effective food chain. Everything from tuna to turtles will feed on jellyfish of various sizes, so the population is well controlled. Supported by a rich and diverse ocean ecosystem, jellyfish link the microscopic world of plankton to larger marine animals and the ocean around them.

Jellyfish are especially appealing for marine turtles. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species have been spotted in UK seas as a result of jellyfish blooms in spring and summer.

The largest sea turtle, and the most common in UK seas, is the leatherback which has a ‘vulnerable’ conservation status. Reporting sightings of these incredible creatures will support the Marine Conservation Society and others in understanding their movements, potential threats and how to better protect them.

Amy Pilsbury, Citizen Science Project Lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“For more than 17 years, beachgoers across the UK have been contributing to scientific research by sharing their wildlife sightings with us. It’s a key part of our work and plays a vital role in better understanding and protecting our ocean.”

In 2014, with partners from the University of Exeter, the Marine Conservation Society published the first paper from the survey data, confirming key information about UK jellyfish and including the first distribution maps of the surveyed species.

Since the 2014 paper, the wildlife sightings project has recorded notable events such as massive and extensive annual blooms of barrel jellyfish and several summers of Portuguese Man o’ War mass strandings.

The charity continues to run its wildlife sightings project to see what happens to the distribution and frequency of mass jellyfish blooms over time. The data will help to explore any links jellyfish blooms have with big-picture factors such as climate change.

Jellyfish can be spotted year-round in UK seas, but larger blooms are more likely to appear in spring, lasting through until autumn. Jellyfish sighting records from 2021 suggest that compass jellyfish are the most common around UK shores, making up 36% of reported sightings.

Jellyfish species Percentage of sightings reported
Compass jellyfish 36%
Moon jellyfish 17%
Lion’s mane jellyfish 15%
Barrel jellyfish 14%
Blue jellyfish 9%
Portuguese Man o’ War 6%
Mauve stinger 2%
By the wind sailor 1%

For more information on how to identify jellyfish and turtles, and to report a sighting, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

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