Friday, May 28, 2010

US Coast Guard Admiral Asks James Cameron For Oil Help


7th Coast Guard District

U.S. Coast Guard


News Release

Date: May 28, 2010

Contact: Anna M. Tulane

(305) 797-4444

US Coast Guard Admiral Asks James Cameron For Alien Help With BP Spill

KEY WEST, Fla. - Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen asked Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron (Titanic, The Abyss, Avatar) for help with the ongoing British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico today.

"We're hoping he can ask his alien buddies from that movie The Abyss down there to help us shut down this well," said Admiral Allen in a press conference with Mr.Cameron today.

In 1989 director Cameron featured deep sea aliens who could stop nuclear bombs from exploding and had complete alien powers over water, being able to move ships and equipment with ease at depth.

Capt. Matt DeAngelo, commanding officer of Sector Key West, Florida has been tasked with coordinating with The Abyss Aliens once they arrive, establishing a Unified Abyss Alien Command comprised of members from the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of the Interior.

"We need to use every asset at our disposal, and these aliens seem like the best option we have at the moment after a month of failed efforts and millions of gallons of oil and dispersant floating around out there" DeAngelo said. "We will continue to operate the Unified Abyss Alien Command as long as the aliens want to work with us, from what I have seen they are pretty handy with equipment."

Efforts to contact The Abyss Aliens will start at 11.30 Eastern with the blowing of Conch Shells from vessels stationed in the 30,000 square mile disaster zone.

The public is asked to report the sighting of any Abyss Aliens to the U.S. Coast Guard at 1 (800) 444-8802.

The public is reminded that The Abyss Aliens are shy and delicate comprised of "jelly like" material, which while not dangerous to most people can cause an allergic reaction and should only be touched by trained personnel.

###



The following Underwater Onion brought to you by Shark Diver. Attempting levity in the face of America's Oceanic Chernobyl.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why British Petroleum Will Not Pay

With the apparent mixed success of BP's top kill effort to shut down a runaway well head at 5000' the larger question looming for Gulf coast residents, will British Petroleum pay for this mess?

I say they won't.

Since the start of this oily adventure in hydrocarbon mismanagement over 30 days ago, BP has repeated the legal mantra "we will pay for all legitimate claims."

Translated into English, "we will pay for oiled birds and out of work fishermen."

Trying to make the case for sub surface oil plumes and damage caused by micro droplets of oil and COREXIT to oceanic wildlife in the Gulf, against highly paid and skilled BP lawyers, is a fools bet.

Case in point, an oil spill you probably never heard about in the Ecuadorean Oriente. Since the 1970's hundreds of thousands of gallons of thick black oil has ruined vast swaths of the Amazon which to this day has never been cleaned or paid for by Chevron. Their lawyers, faced with direct and unfailing evidence of eco damage, have kept a stiff legal battle going for decades.

One might argue that Chevron has help from corrupt officials in Ecuador and that US officials will make British Petroleum pay. That remains to be seen, currently the cap for oil damages in the Gulf is at $75 million with stiff resistance from Republicans to any changes.

The Great Hurricane Sweep

And now we will begin the 2010 Hurricane season which for all intents will sweep British Petroleum's oil problems under a category 3-4 storm and dissipate the evidence of leaked oil in a nice clean sweep.

Except this oil and over two million gallons of COREXIT will continue to damage wildlife for years and perhaps decades to comes. A fact that is not in dispute, but try making this case against a lawyer who can blame global warming, outside fisheries pressures, and even faulty and conflicting resource data.

With the help of the aptly named chemical dispersant COREXIT, BP has transformed it's ultimate liability of oiled shorelines and wildlife into a sub surface, and legally amorphous wasteland.

In the end, a seemingly prescient British Petroleum will indeed pay for "all legitimate claims."

Cheers,
Patric Douglas CEO
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
www.sharkdivers.blogspot.com
www.guadalupefund.org
www.sharkfreemarinas.com
415.235.9410

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MEDIA ADVISORY: Bluefin Tuna Larvae Scientists Return from Gulf Loop Current Research Mission

THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI

Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


MEDIA ADVISORY



5/26/2010



Bluefin Tuna Larvae Scientists Return from Gulf Loop Current Research Mission



WHAT: Researchers Jim Franks and Dr. Bruce Comyns with the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Research Laboratory return from a 12-day research expedition to the Gulf of Mexico loop current to collect samples of larvae of the bluefin tuna, one of the ocean’s most threatened fish.


WHEN: Thursday, May 27, 10 a.m.



WHERE: Dockside at berth of RV Tommy Munro, Point Cadet Marina; Biloxi, Miss.


SPECIFICS: Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, researchers traveled to the loop current to collect samples of larvae, which is the most vulnerable life-stage of bluefin tuna. Bluefin tuna spawn in only two places in the western hemisphere — the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Bluefin tuna larvae are in a precarious situation due to the position and magnitude of the oil-affected waters following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico.


Southern Miss President Martha Saunders has assembled an Oil Spill Response Team that is coordinating the university’s response to the incident in the Gulf. Scientists, faculty, staff and students from GCRL, Stennis Space Center, plus the Gulf Park and Hattiesburg campuses are working with federal, state, and private agencies to monitor the spill and, to the extent possible, manage and mitigate its impacts on the Gulf Coast.


For more information on the Oil Spill Response Team visit http://www.usm.edu/oilspill.




RESEARCH CONTACT: Chris Snyder: 228.365.3386.

www.usm.edu/gcrl

COREXIT and Oil - Video from the front lines

ABC news has excellent underwater coverage from the front lines in the Gulf. When COREXIT and oil do not mix. The EPA and BP are at loggerheads about this toxic dispersant currently banned in the U.K.

See additional Gulf coverage with whale shark researcher Dr.Eric Hoffmayer "Prime Time for Whale Sharks at Ground Zero." This is the chemical soup these animals are likely to be moving through at this time.

Lessons we've learned from tagging sharks

OCEAN CITY -- In 1978, before I went into the charter fishing business full-time, I got involved with tagging sharks by signing up with NOAA's Coop-erative Shark Tagging Program. I still recall the satisfaction of planting the first tag and knowing that the act could provide biologists with data that could somehow help sharks.

Tagging added a new dimension to fishing that I had never known before. Every catch had more significance than just another struggle on the line, because when they swam away with our tag, they would, in a way, still be our fish. If someone caught them 10 days or 10 years later and chose to report the tag, we'd get credit for catching it first and we'd hear from NOAA the details about who recaptured it, where it was taken and how big it had grown.

I don't know what happened to that first shark, but we sure have heard about others. Since we started tagging we've had recaptures off the coast of every state along the East and Gulf Coast, Mexico, Cuba, the North Atlantic, Spain, and the Azores. As our involvement with shark fishing and tagging increased, so did our relationships with various biologists and fishery managers doing shark research, who have occasionally solicited help with various projects or studies.

Over the years we've had requests for catch data, tissue samples, stomach samples, teeth, entire sharks, assistance with hook studies, and the making of documentary and educational films.

Mark Samson is a sport fishing captain and fishing for sharks off the east coast. He is also the developer of the "Shark Block Rig" which has proven to be 90% effective in prohibiting gut hooked sharks.

Complete story.

Apex Predators Investigation NOAA

From NOAA page:

During a research cruise (October 2009), we conducted a double tagging experiment to test tag retention. We tagged 250 blue sharks with one tag on each side of the dorsal fin.

The tag numbers to look out for occur in the range 336800 - 337475. If you happen to catch a shark with one of these tag numbers, please make note of how many tags are in the fish.

The Apex Predators Investigation (API) is located at the Narragansett, RI Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). We are one of three programs in the Population Biology Branch of the Fisheries and Ecosystems Monitoring and Analysis Division. The mission of the API is to conduct life history studies of commercially and recreationally important shark species.



Our research is focused on distribution and migration patterns, age and growth, reproductive biology, and feeding ecology. We conduct fishery independent surveys of large and small coastal sharks in US waters from Florida to Delaware. Biological samples and catch data are collected at recreational fishing tournaments in the Northeast US.


We administer an extensive Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP) in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Mediterranean Sea, utilizing thousands of volunteer anglers.



APP staff manages and coordinates the Cooperative Atlantic States Pupping and Nursery (COASTSPAN) Survey, that uses researchers in major coastal Atlantic states to conduct a comprehensive and standardized investigation of valuable shark nursery areas. Information gathered from our research programs provides baseline biological data for the management of large Atlantic sharks.



For more information.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ocean Futures Society Covers BP Oil Slick - Donate Today

The Gulf oil disaster needs first person coverage and got it this week with a little help from the Ocean Futures Society:

The Ocean Futures Expedition Team discovered this massive oil slick just 24 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The oil stretched as far as the eye could see and down to about 15 to 25 feet deep. Amongst the muck swims a Man o' War and a small fish that swims alongside for protection. The team is encountering many floating globs of rust colored oil; dark black fresh crude; and oily surfaces as they explore the coast.

We need funding to keep our team in Louisiana. Please consider making a donation.

For more information, please visit Ocean Futures Society


Scientists Invite Public on Shark Tagging Eco-Adventure

Non-profit organization Iemanya Oceanica today announced their second shark-tagging research expedition to Baja California, set to take place from July 1st-5th, 2010. The organization is actively seeking up to 20 individuals from the general public to swim with and learn about the conservation of the world's largest fish: the giant whale shark.

The team will be traveling to Bahia de Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez in Baja where whale sharks are known to feed. During the expedition Iemanya Oceanica (pronounced ya-MAHN-ja) in partnership with Mexico's top shark scientist, Dr. Oscar Sosa Nishizaki of CICESE and world-renowned shark scientist, Dr. Rachel T. Graham, will apply satellite tags to two to three whale sharks.

"We are tracking these animals as part of a larger conservation project to improve management of whale sharks in the Gulf of California," explained Iemanya President, Laleh Mohajerani. "The tags tell us about their feeding, breeding and calving habits in the Gulf. At the same time we are able to offer the sharks for adoptions on our Adoptashark.com website, educating the general public about shark conservation and science"

Whale sharks are the largest living fish species on the planet. They can grow to over 40 feet long, weigh up to 15 tons, and live up to 70 years. Although whale sharks have very large mouths, they are harmless and feed solely on microscopic marine plants and animals called plankton.

During their most recent tagging trip in October 2009, the organization tagged three sharks, Selena, Calvin, and Hobbes, and made their tracks available at www.adoptashark.com. Although Selena's tag disconnected prematurely, Calvin's & Hobbes' tags remained in place for 90 days. Hobbes was tracked as he moved from Bahia de Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas before his tag disconnected. The adventurous Calvin was tracked all the way past the shores of Mexico down into Guatamalan waters.

Says Mohajerani, "This has been a really successful community outreach program for Iemanya, and we are excited to meet the new people who will join us and who want to learn first-hand about sharks and ocean conservation."


For photos and more information visit www.AdoptaShark.com.

Winners declared in Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge

The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge wrapped up Sunday at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium with the presentation of a $10,000 grand prize check to team Pole Dancer.

The team's anglers - Wayne Nichols and Zac Gerzeny - won the Challenge by collecting the most points for the types and sizes of the sharks they caught and released Saturday and Sunday during the final round of the Challenge. (The first round took place April 30-May 2 from Burnt Store Marina in Charlotte Harbor.)



Gerzeny, who boosted his team's score by catching his first great hammerhead shark, said "This is my dream, ever since I can remember."



But the real winners in this all-release shark fishing tournament were the sharks, said the organizers, scientists, anglers and conservationists who came together to create a successful event. The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge was designed to be a "next generation" model for shark fishing competitions that supported shark protection while still providing spectators and anglers a thrilling event.



"I love the idea of catch and release," said co-winner Nichols. "There's no sense in hanging up a dead shark if you don't have to. With Mote and Guy Harvey it's a winning combination all around."



Full press release here.

Polluted Math - BP Oil Spill Numbers

When does 5000 barrels of recovered oil per day suddenly become 2000?

In the ongoing and very strange mathematical world of BP's media team. Where oil spill numbers vary depending on the apparent whims of BP's other team in charge of America's Chernobyl, their legal team.

To follow this convoluted story we have been slavishly attached to ongoing BP media coverage from 1115.org and Sarabeth Guthberg who is on top of BP's spin machine.

Are the actual numbers important?

Yes they are. To effectively understand the ecological fall out of this disaster you first need to know how much oil has been spilled. BP, NOAA and the Coast Guard do not seem to share that basic tenet and still insist the flow rate is "officially" 5000 barrels a day.

Although 27 days into the disaster and responding to a wave of pressure NOAA has initiated the National Incident Command's Flow Rate Technical Group.

"The National Incident Command's Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) is designed to support the response and inform the public by providing scientifically validated information about the amount of oil flowing from BP's leaking oil well while ensuring the vital efforts to cap the leak are not impeded."

Live video of the ongoing spill at 5000 feet can be found here.

Read Sarabeths report here and synopsis from Mother Jones.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gary Stokes Mantas in Peril - Conservation Media

Kudos to Gary Stokes from Oceanic Love for a series of conservation videos featuring the oceans.

Our personal favourite of this well edited series is "Mantas in Peril." First person eco crisis reporting often comes back with parts of the story that few in the wider conservation audience are aware of, such as the Asian market for manta and mobula "gill rakers."

Gary and his team expose this dark market trade in animal parts to the world.

Warning: This video series contains graphic images.

Shark Diver Blog - Whale Shark Oil Story

When news of the Gulf oil spill first broke last month my thoughts quickly went to the whale sharks in the region.

I did an online search of previous Gulf whale shark posts we had done here at Underwater Thrills and discovered the runaway oil well was right in the middle of prime feeding and migrating habitat for these animals.

I posted a thought here about migrating whale sharks on April 25th.

For the general public at that time this disaster was happening "out of sight and out of mind." By bringing whale sharks into the story I had hoped to highlight a wider problem for all vulnerable Gulf species affected by this spill.

After realising this disaster was quickly becoming the "mother of all spills" I returned to the Gulf whale shark story on May 14th and did an in depth interview of Dr. Eric Hoffmayer, shark biologist at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. He and his staff were very instrumental in highlighting the immediate problem for whale sharks.

This map and overlay was provided by his lab detailing one species exposure to an estimated 70,000 barrels of oil a day in the region. It was just what was needed to bring an "out of sight out of mind" eco disaster home.

After I posted the story "Prime Time for Whale Sharks at Ground Zero," it received a boost from fellow Blue Bloggers Richard Theiss and Pete Thomas on May 17th.

The major media ran with it locally and then nationally soon after.

May 18th Fox News

May 19th MSNBC

May 19th KATC

May 19th Associated Press

May 19th The Statesman

A Google search for "Biggest fish very vulnerable to spill" will return 1000's re posts of the same story we initially broke back on the 14th of the month.

What's interesting to me as a Blue Blogger covering sharks is the ability of our industry to shape and move a story. One more example of sharks helping people to understand our oceans.

Thanks to both Richard and Pete for the timely Blue Blog boost. I think we had an impact.

Cheers,
Patric Douglas CEO
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
www.sharkdivers.blogspot.com
www.guadalupefund.org
415.235.9410

British Petroleum - Fun Activities For Oil Spill

In case you're sick of 24/7 Oilmegedden coverage coming out of the Gulf, here's some fun BP oil related activities for you to do this week.

For instance, we have installed this live video feed from the well head at 5000 feet. Courtesy of BP and branded with their logo, you can watch the unfolding drama live, and even see unfortunate deep water sharks as they blunder into the plume.

Speaking of Logo's

For a more creative outlet this week, Greenpeace is asking for submissions to help redesign BP's logo, guaranteed fun.

You can submit your design here, and these are a few of the submission to date. We are featuring one of the newer logo's uploaded today.

That's it for now. Not much more to report from the Gulf, another 70,000 barrels streaming into the ocean, another day in the life of America's Chernobyl.

Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge - Media Coverage

Ongoing media coverage of the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge which made history this week in Florida:


Potstickers? Check - Singapore Style Scorpians? What!?

Thanks to Wendy O'Malley, who I have known since my days in St.Thomas, I got introduced recently to Typhoon Restaurant in Santa Monica.

Wendy is a pilot. During her travels she often eats at restaurants on the field (based on or near airstrips) with Typhoon having some of the most unique gastronomic offerings I have ever seen.

I am including the menu for your review.

You'll note the standard offerings in the starters section, from there you mosey on over to the Insects section.

Sure beats sharks fin, bon appetite.

Cheers,
Patric Douglas CEO
www.sharkdiver.com
www.sharkdivers.com
www.sharkdivers.blogspot.com
www.guadalupefund.org
www.islandofthegreatwhiteshark.com
415.235.9410

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge - NBC News

Changing conservation paradigms are never easy. It takes out of the box thinking and those that are willing to lead - putting reputations, careers and personal relationships together to effect lasting conservation change.

The diverse group of thinkers and industry folks behind the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge are members of a unique cadre of conservation game changers. The GHUSC went off without a hitch this weekend to acclaim both within the conservation world and with tournament fishermen up and down the East coast of the USA and beyond.

The goal? Change the way the sport fishing world considers sharks.

One of the reasons why the Shark Free Marinas have been full supporters of this new conservation paradigm along with partners at the Humane Society USA.

Tonight NBC News had full coverage of this event with reporter Kerry Sanders:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, May 21, 2010

Oil Spill in the Gulf - Video of shark in oil

Responding to outside pressure BP, NOAA, and the Coast Guard are now admitting the amount of oil being spilled into the Gulf is far greater than 5000 barrels a day. A task force has now been set up to discover the true extent of the ongoing oil spill.

Scientists, observers and the media have made far ranging estimates from 25-100,000 barrels a day.

BP also set up a 24/7 live video feed one clip featured a deep water shark blundering into the oil plume at a depth of 5000 feet and swimming away with visibly blackened gills:


It’s Shark Season – Catch a Shark with the Nat Geo Channel

The great white shark is the largest predatory fish on earth: reaching more than 20 feet long and weighing as much as 6,000 lbs, with serrated teeth and keen senses that can detect blood in water from three miles away. But now, this fearsome beast has met its match: the crew of the Ocean, a team of world-class anglers and a renowned shark scientist on the “wildest fishing trip of all time.”

Starting Sunday, June 6, 2010, with a special series premiere at 9 p.m. ET/PT followed by a new premiere at it’s regular time 10 p.m. ET/PT,the National Geographic Channel launches its new summer series, Expedition Great White.

Expedition Great White chronicles the savvy, salty and sweat-covered crew as they lift SUV-sized sharks out of the water 160 miles off the coast of Baja Calirfornia with a specially modified hydraulic cradle, then mount a long-lasting tracking tag, take measurements and DNA samples while pumping water into the shark’s mouth to keep it alive, and release it unharmed … in less than 20 minutes.

The goal -- to study the great white in the wild and unravel the mysteries of the great white’s life cycle ? where they are born, how they mate, where they migrate and where they congregate ? to help conserve and protect these endangered animals.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Michael Hanlon Daily Mail U.K - Oil Disaster?

Michael Hanlon, a writer for the Daily Mail in the U.K says the Gulf disaster will, eventually, become a footnote to history, with the oil vanishing and life returning to normal.

He likens those who have expressed deep concern for the month long oil spill as "doom-mongers."

At least that's the gist of what he is saying, using time stamp events from other oil disasters around the world including Cornwalls own disaster in 1967 to make his point.

The oceans of the 1950's-70's were different oceans. The preponderance of data from today's oceans show an unhealthy trend. Many commercial fish stocks, like the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna are at their lowest recorded levels and a rise in ocean acidification is putting extreme pressure on marine life worldwide.

The Atlantic Bluefin spawns in the Gulf at this time of year and these delicate fry, an entire generation of larval tuna which inhabit the same trophic layers as the Gulf oil spill and close to a million gallons of dispersant, are under threat.

Unlike other oil disasters worldwide the Gulf region is one of the most studies regions on the planet and unlike other oil disasters this one is happening at a time where the health of the oceans is better known today than it was the 1950's-70's.

The science of this disaster will be a template for other oil spills in the future. While the future of many species of marine life from Mexico to Cuba remains uncertain.

Tagging Whales - Most Excellent Video

Southern Fried Science blog covers MISHAP in Antarctica and delivers this amazing video. Nice to see cool professionals at work, without the obligatory reality television crew in tow.

Save Our Seas Shark Conservation

Save Our Seas Foundation has been at the forefront of smart shark conservation messaging.

From their Rethink The Shark campaign (see toaster) to this weeks full page ad in the Times, their brand is one of audience curiosity matched with sharp messaging.

SOS

If you buy a copy of The Times in the UK today you’ll see an interesting ad highlighting the plight of our sharks and in particular the hammerhead shark whose population has declined by 99.99% in the last 200 years. The dramatic decline in shark populations worldwide is linked to the rising demand for shark fin soup in countries like China where it is considered a delicacy.



The Save Our Seas Foundation is working hard to stop the decline of our shark populations which are essential for healthy oceans. This is no easy task and requires a multi-faceted approach. From sponsoring pioneering research into DNA analysis of shark fins, to innovative media and awareness campaigns like our Rethink the Shark campaign, we hope to make a real difference in saving the sharks in our oceans. The advert in the Times depicts a 1970’s style cinema poster advertising the final performance of ‘Hammer’ due to unprecedented demand in China and is the latest in our ongoing struggle to get the dire message out to the general public – our sharks are in serious trouble.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Audio Research Report from the Gulf Loop Current - 5.19.2010

One of the few research vessels operating in the Gulf region right now is the RV Tommy Munro from The University of Southern Mississippi.

Her current position is 250 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico conducting sampling transects of the Loop Current in an attempt to capture specimens of the larval forms of the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. This is one of the critical Gulf species most impacted by oil and dispersant chemicals.

Gulf Coast Research Laboratory GCRL scientists Jim Franks, Dr. Bruce Comyns, and Dick Waller are conducting the research.

“We’re concerned about the potential effects of the oil spill on this highly vulnerable species.”

A May 14 press release provides details.

After a two-day run to reach the Loop Current, an initial audio report was filed today by fisheries biologist Jim Franks. If satellite phone connections permit, audio reports will be filed daily.

Click here to listen.

Key West - 656 Pound Mako Caught

While a few forward thinking industry leaders are developing new shark tournament models in Florida complete with research tagging and tracking, some have yet to understand the basics of catch and release.

Another reason for Shark Free Marinas in Florida and around the world.


Oil Spill Update - NOAA Ignoring Scientists?

At the beginning of the BP oil disaster 25 days ago we were introduced to Sky Truth.

Their estimates of the amount of oil being spilled into the Gulf were far higher than official estimates by NOAA and the Coast Guard which they maintain is 5000 barrels a day.

Since then NPR and other Gulf coast researchers are estimating the flow of oil to be 40-80,000 barrels a day.

So we called Rachel A. Wilhelm, a NOAA public affairs specialist, and asked her to comment on May 10th, 2010. Her response was surprising, "the actual amount of oil being spilled into the Gulf is irrelevant at this time." It was evident NOAA was uninterested in any challenges to the official flow estimates.

Today's headlines seem to mirror our earlier encounters with NOAA:

Florida State scientist: NOAA ignores spill findings

A prominent oceanographer, who was among the first to say official estimates understated the volume of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, charged Tuesday that a federal agency is punishing scientists whose findings disagree with government figures. Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer with Florida State University, who more than two weeks ago said the oil spill was likely five times as large as the 5,000 barrel-a-day estimate from the National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration, said the agency is attacking scientists who challenged government estimates, while itself doing little to glean new information about the spill size.


“The scientific community in the Gulf of Mexico is fairly small ... and we've been very dedicated for a long time and not only is nobody listening to us in this, but it seems like they really want us to shut up,” MacDonald said. “It's very, very punitive and anybody who is doing this is getting attacked by NOAA.”

A NOAA spokesman did not address MacDonald's claims directly, but said that the agency's spill response includes scientists with key federal agencies as well as partners in the scientific community and the private sector.

The stinging criticism comes amid debate about the size of the oil spill emanating from BP's Macondo well about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. An April 20 blowout in a well under 5,000 feet of water triggered the oil spill, destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, and killed 11 workers.

Some independent scientists have made estimates that sharply depart from NOAA's estimate, which equates to 210,000 gallons a day.



Complete story.

Great White Comeback - Stunning Video

The Dorsal Fin Blog broke this absolutely stunning video montage of a white shark in South Africa healing from a propeller strike. At Isla Guadalupe we have seen similar damage to animals from a variety of sources, namely other sharks, and have been equally amazed at the healing process of these animals.

The animal in this video and long term study was undertaken by Alison Towner (co-authors M Smale & O Jewell) To read their paper please visit here. In the process of being published.

This footage was put together by Fasttrax Marine for Dyer Island Conservation Trust ©


Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge - Grand Championship Finale

Five teams will soon cast their lines in the Grand Championship Finale of the Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge, an innovative shark tournament uniting sport fishing, science, business and humane interests as never before.

The event runs from May 21-23 at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota. Aquarium visitors onshore can enjoy educational talks along with video feeds from the heart of the action.

The Challenge is a catch-and-release only competition off the Southwest Florida coast in which fishermen compete by catching sharks and Mote scientists tag the sharks for conservation research purposes to learn more about the animals' travels in the wild.


The Challenge is designed to be a "next generation" model for shark fishing competitions, supporting shark protection while providing the excitement that spectators and anglers have come to expect.

Nine teams competed in a qualifying round out of Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda. Their catches included an 8-foot, 2-inch bull shark, which Mote scientists tagged with a satellite transmitter to monitor its movements in real time.

To attend the Grand Championship Finale, please RSVP to Hayley Rutger, Public Relations Specialist, at 941-374-0081 or hrutger@mote.org.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gulf Oil in Marathon, Florida?

Scott Grey from Blue Iguana Charters found this disturbing post yesterday.

A small oil slick off the coast of Marathon Keys, Florida has been found and photographed. Officials now say tar balls found in Florida last week are not from the Gulf oil disaster.

These are the same officials who also say oil leaking from a BP well head is coming out a a rate of 5000 barrels a day, a figure hotly disputed by researchers, NPR and conservation groups.

The images and oil find was posted by Jeremy Foell at Spearboard.com.

The US Coast Guard says oil is "nearing" the Loop Current but has not yet arrived.

BP and Friends Sirring Righteous Anger

British Petroleum's CEO and media friends are stirring righteous anger around the world by downplaying the 10 million square mile Gulf oil spill.

Using phrases like "very modest," and "minor event" we have provided a sample of recent interviews all but guaranteed to stir some righteous anger:

BP's CEO "Very, very modest spill."



Fox News Brit Hume "Where's the oil?"

SharkDiver an Original Series

From What We Do Media SharkDiver production:

A chance discovery of a Great White Shark aggregation site in a remote corner of the planet is the start of an epic journey across the globe as a marine biologist prepares for the ultimate challenge of being the first human to encounter these truly wild carnivores.

Shark diving is a highly commercialized business. In an industry that spans the globe, operations make millions as office workers and soccer moms spend big bucks to be thrown into shark-infested waters. The more dangerous the shark the higher the adrenalin, a rush so great that shark disciples travel the globe in search of the ultimate fix. As competition builds the demand for new locations increases. Discovery of virgin territory is the eco-warriors' cue to descend in ever increasing crowds, while opponents of the industry question the ethics of exploiting animals at danger of extinction, for personal satisfaction.

Take a journey through an adventurers eyes as he seeks the untamed wild and tracks down the only people who can help him on his quest, the SharkDivers. What starts as a goal for personal satisfaction becomes a pilgrimage of understanding as we encounter the predator inside us all.

Director: Mark Tipple
Producer: Luke Tipple
Genre: Action, Adventure, Scripted Reality, Docu-Drama
Screenplay: wga
Writers: Mark Tipple, Luke Tipple
Status: Pilot completed, April 2010

Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge - Video

The Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge represents a radical change in shark tournament modelling.

Combining shark research and best shark fishing practices the ultimate goal for this tournament is to promote "change from within" the sport caught shark fishing industry.

A recently tagged female bull shark (perhaps gravid) is now making tournament shark fishing history in Florida waters as she reports her position to Mote Marine Labs and waiting researchers.

Video of this tagging was released today, more coverage from the Paxton Blog and Dorsal Fin Blog:

Oil in Loop Current - Legally Amorphous Plumes

Oil has entered the Loop Current arriving in Key West Florida today.

Regional park mangers and government officials are not saying if this is BP oil. Sky Truth posted a satellite image yesterday showing the 10,000 square mile slick being "pulled by" the Loop Current.

For BP legal teams up and down the Gulf the environmental equation is simple.

BP will be forced to pay out damages for "surface strike oil only," and is currently engaged in an unprecedented oil dispersant campaign using COREXIT. Surface oil accounts for 30% of the estimated oil now in the Gulf. BP is shooting COREXIT into the oil plume at a depth of 5000 feet causing the oil to disperse into a giant, sub surface, and legally amorphous plume.

One of these sub surface plumes is estimated to be 30 miles long, 10 miles wide, and 1000 ft thick. This undersea oil could eventually become 100-500 miles in diameter. The environmental impact of these plumes is not known and might never be known except for anecdotal evidence of reef die offs and missing stocks of game fish in the region.

For lawyers skilled in arts of "definitive proof" undersea oil plumes equals money in the bank for oil giant BP. Meanwhile, another 850,00 gallons of COREXIT is being sprayed this week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sky Truth Raises Alarm - Oil in Loop Current?

The 10,000 square mile oil slick that NOAA, BP, and the media are underestimating and under reporting looks to be in the Gulf Loop Current as reported by Sky Truth today (see image).

Major media coverage of this ongoing eco disaster has pegged leaking oil at a paltry 5000 barrels a day. Sky Truth was one of the first non governmental organizations to estimate the oil flow at 26,500 barrels a day.

Last week NPR estimated the oil flow at a stunning 70,000 barrels a day.

As of this morning Sky Truth was the only source to suggest that leaking oil and 700,000 gallons of COREXIT, a toxic dispersant, is now in the Loop Current headed towards Florida and the East coast of the USA.

Update: Loop Current coverage from LA Times Blog.

More coverage at Deep Sea News.

Rare Basking shark netted by fishermen off Baja California

Peter Thomas has the scoop on a rare Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) caught by gill netters off the coast of Baja last week.

The last recorded Basking shark in Mexico was in 2003 creating quite a stir within the shark research community.

We contacted Dr. Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki of the Laboratorio de Ecología Pesquera
Departamento de Oceanografía Biológica CICESE and he confirmed, "technicians are taking measurements and details of this animal."

Peter Thomas Blog

Now comes word of a giant basking shark killed, presumably, in the same manner just north of Ensenada off Rosarito Beach. The gruesome photo is courtesy of Cesar Rivera, who shared what little information he had with 976-TUNA. Rivera estimated the basking shark to measure 26 feet, making it a full-sized adult.

Basking sharks, which are filter-feeding plankton-eaters, were once hunted globally for their fins, oil, meat and vitamin-rich livers, and they're classified as either vulnerable or endangered, depending on the region.


Complete coverage here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

NMFS Commercial Shark Cull Hawaii

Ocean Associates Inc. is seeking two candidates who will provide professional support services to the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center to conduct fieldwork in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

This year NMFS will be undertaking efforts to remove predatory Galapagos sharks at Hawaiian monk seal pupping sites at French Frigate Shoals. Assistants will capture sharks using a variety of techniques, mitigate monk seal mortality, collect biological samples and produce written documents in support of monk seal research efforts.

The contractor shall:

• Participate in planning shark fishing activities at French Frigate Shoals.
• Undergo training to become certified in NOAA Small Boat operations.
• Participate in monk seal field camp activities at French Frigate Shoals for all or
part of the period between June 10 and Aug 18. Duties include assist in field
camp preparations, daily maintenance and operation of field camp along with the
return, repair, and clean-up of field equipment and supplies at the end of camp
• Monitor and document Galapagos shark activity near monk seal pupping sites
• Be responsible for targeted fishing and lethal removal of up to 20 Galapagos
sharks
• Ensure removal activities comply with Native Hawaiian cultural guidelines as
dictated by a Hawaiian Cultural Practitioner
• Independently conduct small boat operations in a shallow dynamic reef
environment
• Be responsible for ensuring all fishing and boating activities are conducted safely
and follow established standard operating procedures
• Be required to camp periodically on small remote islets
• Accomplish duties while striving to minimize the impact of presence and
activities on wildlife including seals, turtles, birds, as well as non-target sharks
and fish
• Assist the Hawaiian monk seal team with research efforts if required
• Will adhere to all rules, regulations and permit requirements applicable to this
project in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
• Document fishing activities and complete reports summarizing those activities

Place of Performance: The Contractor will work remotely at French Frigate Shoals, on
the NOAA Research Vessel Oscar Elton Sette and at NMFS Facilities in Honolulu.
Deployment in the NWHI will be from approximately 6/10/2010 – 8/23/2010

Period of Performance: 5/24/2010 – 8/30/2010

Minimum experience or background requirements

• High School Diploma or equivalent.
• One to three (1-3) years of shark fishing or shark research experience with proven
ability to capture and handle large sharks utilizing hand lines, drum lines and long
line bottom sets.
• Prior experience shark fishing in Hawaiian waters with ability to identify nearshore
shark species. Experience working in sensitive wildlife areas.
• Ability to construct, deploy and maintain fishing gear.
• Good communication and team skills.
• Good data collection skills with ability to perform basic data entry.
• Ability to swim.
• Ability to work in remote locations for extended periods of time.
• Must be able to work long hours in the sun.
• Must be able to obtain medical clearance for embarking/working on NOAA
research vessels or other appropriate vessels which includes providing proof of
required immunizations and/or obtaining the necessary immunizations as required
by NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations.
• Must meet the US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration security requirements for working in a federal facility that
includes being fingerprinted and having a federal background check performed.
• Must be able to pass pre-deployment training requirements including field
medical training before being deployed to remote islands.

If you are interested in being considered for this position, please email your resume to
Jobs@OceanAssoc.com

Please use “5010 FFS shark” as the subject line.

Review of applications will begin May 6, 2010 and continue until the position is filled.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill - Prime Time for Whale Sharks at Ground Zero

We spent some time with Dr. Eric Hoffmayer, shark biologist at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and Dr. Joe Griffitt, aquatic toxicologist to discuss the current oil situation in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Hoffmayer has tracked close to 300 whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in the Gulf since 2002. He is the preeminent whale shark biologist of the region and has concerns for the seasonal migration of these animals, some of which have come from as far away as the Caribbean.

As many as one third of his tracked animals are estimated to be at "ground zero" the very place upwards to 70,000 barrels of oil are pouring into the Gulf and 500,000 gallons of COREXIT, a toxic dispersant, is being sprayed.

This map is an overlay of where the Gulf whale sharks most likely are and where the oil slick and dispersant is now.

"Most people have no idea we have whale sharks in the Gulf; it has been a terrific success story, we have just realized there are more animals out there then we originally thought, said Dr.Hoffmeyer, "Because the public is unaware of that, the issue of this oil spill and these animals is just not on the front burner. This is critical whale shark habitat."

"We're hoping that these whale sharks might sense the oil and move out of the area, we have seen other species of sharks closer to shore under a sheen of oil, but until we get out there and tag a few sharks we just do not know what's happening, or even if they are moving."

Dr.Hoffmeyer confirmed "This is the peak season for whale sharks in the Gulf: May through September."

Meanwhile, we asked Dr.Griffitt to comment on COREXIT a dispersant being widely used by BP and it's effects. "This stuff is designed to break up the oil into micro dropletts, the concern is where it goes from there through the water column. Smaller oil particles get taken up through the food chain very quickly. The fact is we're in uncharted territory, no one knows what these amounts of dispersed oil and COREXIT will do to bio accumulation."

"No one is talking about pelagic species right now in the media," said Dr.Hoffmeyer "or what this shower of smaller oil particles and dispersant might be doing to the wildlife - it will have a tremendous impact."

Dr.Hoffmeyer plans to have his team attempt to tag and track whale sharks this season. "We are linked with people doing aerial surveys right now and they report whale shark activity to us."

Dr.Griffitt pointed out "These smaller globules of oil will spend a lot of time in the ocean and once it mixes with dispersant this combo can be more toxic than the original substances, more study is needed."

Dr.Hoffmeyer is currently seeking funding from all sources to get an expanded tagging and tracking program in place for 2010. Those seeking to help can contact him directly at:

Dr.Eric Hoffmayer PhD
Gulf Coast research Laboratory
228.872.4257
Eric.Hoffmayer@usm.edu

His website will be updating whale shark activity as it comes in and as the 2010 migratory paths are known. We will keep you updated.

White Sharks and Advertising - Wowza

Over at the Southern Fried Science blog David has an ongoing discussion about the new Nicorette commercial featuring a white shark attacking a smoker.

Here's some of Davids analysis:

"Perhaps I am overreacting to what was clearly supposed to be a joke and not a documentary about shark behavior. However, as I’ve stated many times, shark conservation requires that people care about sharks. As people realize that sharks are ecologically important and threatened, sharks will be better protected. Perpetuating false stereotypes about sharks as mindless killing machines who exist only to attack people who go in (or near) the water detracts from this goal."

We covered a similar video a few weeks back on MTV Europe.

Oilmegeddon - New Spill Estimates vs Admiral in Charge

NPR has announced the latest oil spill numbers at a stunning 70,000 barrels a day. That's almost one Exxon Valdez tanker spill every four days. Using the latest satellite imagery and input from scientists, NPR says this is a full blown disaster.

Then we have this guy, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen who says this spill is not a "monolithic spill," and after 23 days it has "the potential" to be catastrophic.

The burning question in the Gulf right now, what is the truth behind this oil spill?"

Deep Sea News - Homerun Video "Coffee Warning"

Thanks to Deep Sea News I sprayed coffee all over the place this morning with their latest/greatest video find. Asking the question on everyone's mind, "Can you really trust a Killer Whale?"

I always knew there was something not right about them.

Video Warning - Place all hot beverages at least 10 centimeters from facial areas and computer equipment:

Shark Fin Opponent Awarded - Speaks With Obama

Pretoma’s president and founder Randall Arauz of Costa Rica is the newest recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

Awarded to grassroots environmental efforts in six geographical areas around the world, "The Goldman" is one of the environmental movements top honors. Winners of this prize are often introduced to a wide variety of political and financial "movers and shakers."

In this case Randall Arauz met with and spoke about shark finning with President Obama.

Randall Arauz

“When I started Pretoma over 14 years ago, I had no idea WE were going to go so far! And I say “we”, because over the years a team of dedicated conservationists has performed the most diverse of tasks to fulfill our mission, which is to protect, and restore, endangered marine wildlife.

Sadly, shark finning is far from over. Global shark population declines are estimated at 90%, mostly due to shark finning. Governments are drafting “Shark Action Plans” in an effort to reverse the negative trend on shark populations. But NOTHING has been done YET, to actually curtail shark mortality.



More than 100 foreign longline shark finning vessels still operate illegally in private docks of Costa Rica. Recently, investigative journalists have exposed drug trafficking and indentured servitude alongside shark finning at these private docks, whose operators take advantage of lax customs enforcement."



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Underwater Video Boot Camp: better videos and beautiful sharks

From the RTSea Blog today:

If you or any of your friends have been tinkering with underwater video - either as a hobby or with hopes of becoming a serious filmmaker, here's an opportunity to learn some skills while at the same time getting a chance to behold one of the most magnificent of ocean predators.

In association with Shark Diver, I will be holding an Underwater Video Boot Camp aboard the MV Horizon as we make our way to Isla Guadalupe, Baja to cage dive with great white sharks.

These amazing sharks migrate to Isla Guadalupe during the fall months and we will be there during the height of the season (Sept. 27th - Oct. 1st); so you can expect plenty of frisky male and large female sharks.

The Underwater Video Boot Camp is a comprehensive look at underwater documentary filmmaking, designed to not only help make your videos technically better but to also deliver powerful and dramatic messages to best suit your medium of interest: television, online, and more. In fact, much of what you'll learn is just as applicable above the waterline as below.

In addition, Boot Camp members will be eligible for a "mini-film festival" by submitting a 5-minute video of their trip. The videos will be judged by a panel of independent UW videographers and the winner will receive a FREE trip to Isla Guadalupe in 2011.