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