Marine Life & Conservation
Sea Turtles – what will it take to save them?
Staci-Lee Sherwood works at Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, Highland Beach Sea Turtle State-wide Morning Survey Program and Sea Turtle Rescue/Research & Ocean Conservation projects (USA)
Sea Turtles have been around about 150 million years and unlike the dinosaurs have managed to survive….so far. Their struggles begin in the nest, which is sometimes filled with trash and fishing line, and so many of the hatchlings are stuck and in need of rescue as newborns. As they crawl to the top of the nest and attempt to make their way to the ocean they are often bombarded with bright artificial lights from the shore that confuse and disorientate, causing them to race toward the light instead of the ocean. In Florida alone thousands of newborn sea turtles die each season because of light disorientation when they are only a few hours old and all of this is human caused and preventable. We are trying to change that.
If they manage to get to the ocean, a host of hungry predators are waiting to snack on them. During their lives they must avoid becoming a meal while at the same staying clear of plastic, chemicals, oil, trash, boats, fishing hooks, fishing nets or killed for their shells and meat, etc. Roughly 86% of all Sea Turtles have plastic in them which is more than any other marine animal. Normally these animals can live as long as humans but their life is a constant 24/7 struggle. As the ocean heats up and becomes more toxic not only are they effected directly but also indirectly as their food supply vanishes due to overfishing and disease. The increased ocean temperature creates a good host environment for bacteria and disease to spread. Then we have the oil spills, which coats them and causes them to die a slow death as they are suffocated by the oil or killed by the chemicals dumped into the ocean after a spill. Either way, Sea Turtles that swim into an oil spill rarely swim out and survive.
Unfortunately for the Sea Turtle they are a migrating species that travel and nest all over the globe. While this migrating can offer better feeding when an old feeding ground becomes depleted it also means more danger. Sea Turtles may have protection here in the U.S. but they don’t have much protection elsewhere in the world where they are still openly hunted for their meat and shell. Once they swim out of protected waters into international waters they become fair game to any fisherman. This problem is also true for other endangered marine animals like Sharks, Whales and Dolphins. Monitoring is abysmal at best and education is done piecemeal. As is the case with so many things, few step back to see the big picture, which is why truly affective conservation methods are few and far between.
Nesting females mature at about age 20 years, leatherbacks a bit sooner, and return to their natal beach to lay their eggs. Coastal development and beach erosion is destroying their habitat which further complicates their survival. These gentle endangered creatures will only continue to survive and share our world if we allow them space to live and nest. As we continue to develop the beaches, dump chemicals into the ocean and deplete the ocean of every fish, the sea turtle’s struggle for survival is questionable.
So what can someone do to help save them from what seems like an endless gauntlet of potential disasters? For starters stop using plastic. One of the biggest problems we are finding in dead post-mortem hatchlings is they have stomachs filled with plastic instead of food. This can also be said for most marine life including shorebirds. Not only is plastic polluting the ocean but the manufacturing of it is incredibly toxic and since it’s a by-product of fossil fuels the demand for plastic keeps us drilling for more oil. In fact more oil is used in the production of plastic than it is refined for gasoline for cars. That’s how serious a problem it is, but anyone can help by switching from plastic bags to reusable ones. Use a stainless steel thermos instead of plastic and never ever litter. Giving up seafood to let the fish population try to recoup from the daily onslaught will really help because commercial fishing kills untold numbers of ‘non target’ species like Sea Turtles. Trawlers, long line hooks and nets that go on for miles have already devastated huge areas of the ocean which is in dire need of a break. Many ocean conservationists have made the choice to drop the plastic and give up seafood for the sake of the ocean, myself included. Beach cleanings are critical and very easy to arrange and in fact anyone can go out and pick up the trash, of which there is always a lot of. Supporting clean sustainable energy like wind and solar and moving away from oil and coal will help curb the acid rain created by coal fired power plants which is warming the ocean and making it very acidic and toxic. (Note on acid rain from Staci-lee – see below)
Just by doing these simple and not so simple things we can turn the tide not only for the Sea Turtle but also for the ocean. If we fail to act now it won’t just be the Sea Turtle we will be losing. For the past 6 years I have been researching and rescuing Sea Turtles so I speak from personal experience in the field and things are even worse than I’ve described. We really are at that tipping point. We hold their future in our hands and unless we get serious about global conservation of the species these living fossils will no longer be living, they will just be fossils….like the dinosaur. For more information about how you can help save Sea Turtles here are a few noteworthy links:
http://seaturtleop.org/broward/ – Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, we rescue disorientated hatchlings and make sure they get into the ocean instead of dying in the road from light pollution.
http://sos-tobago.org/trinbago-turtles/leatherback – Save our Sea Turtles, volunteer program in Tobago working to save one of the biggest Leatherback nesting grounds in the world from poachers.
http://www.conserveturtles.org/ – Sea Turtle Conservancy, working in the U.S. and Costa Rica to save habitat.
http://www.seaturtlesforever.com/ – Sea Turtles Forever, a volunteer program in Costa Rica helping locals switch from poachers to protectors.
(Acid Rain) About acid rain and warming the ocean, I was referring to both oil and coal which contribute to the ocean’s problems differently. Acid rain is caused by the release of nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide from coal fired plants which causes the acidification of the ocean which has already happened. Burning fossil fuels and the entire process of drilling and refining oil creates heat in simple terms which warms the atmosphere and stratosphere and raises the core temperature of earth, including that of the ocean which is about 2 degrees warmer. It also releases carbon dioxide which further adds acid to the ocean. Acid rain also destroys forests and there is thinking that with fewer forests (which help shade and cool the earth) that too is causing ocean warming. The release of these chemicals from both coal and oil causes a thinning of the ozone layer and expansion of the 3 existing holes – this allows more UV rays to get through which causes a rise in the core temperature. Finally not only coal and oil but all pollutants we release hover around the earth like a layer of toxins, they don’t evaporate or disappear they just stay in the atmosphere forever which also creates warming. So yes, both coal and oil cause ocean acidification and warming… which is unfortunate since we are addicted to both.
Marine Life & Conservation
Reefs Go Live returns for new season
CCMI brings the ocean directly to classrooms around the world through live-stream lessons from underwater
In 2018, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) launched Reefs Go Live, their innovative, flagship education programme that live-streams directly from underwater on the coral reefs in Little Cayman to students in classrooms around the world in real time. For the 2022 season, the four episodes of Reefs Go Live reached more than 107,000 viewers in 22 countries. CCMI’s Reefs Go Live team hopes to expand their reach with four new episodes and supplemental teaching resources to help integrate the material into classroom lessons.
Science Communications & Development Manager for CCMI, Beth Chafin, is excited to be part of another year of Reefs Go Live:
“Knowing we have an audience that spans the world, our team is energised as we plan and implement our Reefs Go Live season for 2023! We feel that creating a connection to the ocean and sharing the beautiful coral reefs of Little Cayman with others, both locally and abroad, is one of the most important ways to increase support for critical, timely issues such as marine protection and sustainability. At CCMI, we are fortunate to have these stunning reefs at our doorstep; not everyone is so lucky to be this connected to coral reefs, but healthy coral reefs are vitally important to everyone on earth. Bringing the ocean into classrooms and homes through Reefs Go Live allows us to share the work we do at the Little Cayman Research Centre, facilitate real-time interactions between viewers around the world and our experts in the field, and inspire the diverse audience to take positive action for the future of coral reefs.”
The first episode of 2023 will take place on Friday, 31st March at 10 am Cayman time (UTC -5h). The episode, ‘Finding Hope on our Reefs’, will feature what CCMI’s long-term monitoring of Little Cayman’s reefs shows us. The data from the annual surveys reveals important trends in reef health over time that reflect global threats and the benefits of strong local protection. Reefs Go Live hosts will explain why this annual monitoring is important and what the results tell us about the future of our coral reefs that we all depend upon. Viewers of each episode will be able to ask questions of the diver and participate in polls through the online platform to make Reefs Go Live an interactive experience.
Additional episodes for this year will run at 10 am (UTC -5h) on the following dates:
Thursday, 11th May: Adaptation on Coral Reefs
Wednesday, 24th May: Reef Resiliency & Restoration
Thursday, 8th June: World Ocean Day – 25 Years of Coral Reef Research
Registration for Reefs Go Live is free and is only required once to receive access to all episodes: https://donate.reefresearch.org/rgl2023.
Reefs Go Live provides an opportunity for students from all over the world to engage with the stunning ocean environment in its most natural format. As coral reefs around the world face unprecedented pressure, generating increased engagement with these precious ecosystems creates an opportunity to promote marine sustainability in a positive and fun way.
Reefs Go Live utilises streaming technology with underwater video and audio equipment to enable real time broadcasting from Little Cayman’s stunning coral reefs. Little Cayman, a Mission Blue Hope Spot, hosts one of the healthiest reef ecosystems in the Caribbean, which overall remains healthy and shows resiliency to climate change impacts. The broadcasts and education materials draw connections from CCMI’s current research conducted in Little Cayman to the national science curriculum and key ocean literacy principles, making CCMI’s work relevant and accessible to students and viewers of all ages, and emphasizing the relationship that we all have to coral reefs, no matter where we are.
Reefs Go Live is a free education programme that is made possible by the generosity of The Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. To register for the broadcasts and teaching resources, please visit: https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/education/reefs-go-live/
Marine Life & Conservation
PADI partners with global skincare brand Medik8
PADI®’s global non-profit the AWARE Foundation™ is teaming up with leading sustainability-focused skincare brand Medik8 to save our most critical ecosystem on the planet – the ocean.
As the new corporate sponsor of the PADI AWARE Foundation’s 2023 Community Grant Programme, Medik8 will be supporting four grassroots conservation projects that range from protecting megafauna like turtles and whales from entanglement to fuelling hands-on citizen science initiatives like seagrass restoration.
The PADI AWARE Community Grant Programme is designed to award ocean protection initiatives that are in direct support of the United Nations Decade of Science for Sustainable Development in five distinct categories: coral restoration, developing marine protected areas, eliminating marine debris, reducing the effects of climate change, and protecting species threatened with extinction like sharks and turtles. In 2022 PADI AWARE™ dedicated nearly one-quarter of its public funds to empower local communities to take action for our shared blue planet.
“Last year we launched the Grant Programme to directly support PADI Members and NGOs driving meaningful conservation projects, often who have little or no funding support,” says Danna Moore, PADI AWARE Foundation’s Global Director. “This year, due to the collaboration with Medik8, we can provide more resources directly to local communities that need them most. Medik8 is a like-minded organisation that shares our science-based, sustainability-driven, and community-oriented values – and will be a strong partner committed to helping us create positive ocean change.”
Medik8’s support of the PADI AWARE Community Grants programme is in line with their ethos of making a positive impact through driving sustainability strategies with everything they do – from reducing carbon impact and waste to investing in being an ethical business with direct social investments. Their connection and deep love for the ocean is rooted in Medik8’s founder Elliot Isaacs, who is a PADI Master Scuba Diver™.
“As a brand, we strongly believe that increased social investment will allow us to make a more significant mark on wider society,” says Alexandra Florea, Head of Sustainability at Medik8. “Working with grassroots organisations who understand exactly what is needed on the ground will mean we can generate the greatest impact. We chose PADI as our long-term charitable partner because, like us, they put science at the heart of everything they do to bring about positive results.”
The PADI AWARE Grantee projects Medik8 is sponsoring fuel the impact of local citizen science initiatives driving global change like Kosamare Seagrass Restoration in Greece, a grant recipient from 2022 and now 2023. The other three grantee projects have also been selected and range from marine debris removal to climate change mitigation – and are set to be announced in the coming months.
The PADI AWARE Community Grant programme is open to all PADI Dive Centres around the world, along with locally-based NGOs and charities working on marine conservation issues that operate on a budget below $1 Million USD.
“With incredible partners like Medik8 who are equally committed to creating positive ocean change, a swell of hope for our shared blue planet is becoming stronger with every project we support – further proving that the ripples from local action really do have a global impact for us all,” says Moore.
The next round of proposal submissions is on 4 April 2023, with more information at www.padi.com/aware/grant-funding-criteria.
WIN a c-monsta Wetsuit Hanger!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with c-monsta to give away one of their wetsuit hangers as a prize!...
WIN a Sharkskin Performance 40L Duffle Bag!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Liquid Sports to give away a Sharkskin Performance 40L Duffle Bag as...
Win a Vasili Lights Fish Lantern!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with Vasili Lights to give away one of their beautiful Fish Lanterns! Inspired...
WIN a Beuchat Maxlux S Mask and Spy Snorkel!!!
For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away Maxlux S Mask and Spy Snorkel!...
News1 month ago
Ultimate Raja Ampat – The Last Paradise (Part 3 of 3)
News2 months ago
New book by diver aims to inspire teens to protect sharks and the ocean
News1 week ago
Diving with… Ben Williams and Kay Van Leuven, Sunchaser Scuba, British Virgin Islands
Dive Training Blogs4 weeks ago
Divers making the Oceans more diverse
News1 month ago
Ultimate Raja Ampat – The Last Paradise (Part 1 of 3)
News2 months ago
Take Better Underwater Pictures and Make a Difference
Gear News2 months ago
Mares launch new Sirius dive computer
News2 months ago
Deptherapy to complete mission with groundbreaking IDP