Articles Posted in the Conservation category

Whale warriors head back to shore

February 9, 2009
Posted in Conservation


After some high drama in the Southern Ocean, the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling vessel Steve Irwin and her crew yesterday withdrew from the Japanese whaling fleet and started the return trip to Australia after attempting to obstruct the fleet’s operations for more than a month and save the lives of many whales, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society reports on its website.

Confrontations between the Steve Irwin and the whaling fleet have resulted in numerous close calls and two collisions, says the Sea Shepherd society. The most recent on Friday drew international media attention, when Tokyo accused the crew of the protest ship of violence when it collided with a harpoon ship Yushin Maru 2 in an attempt to block the transfer of a dead whale up the slipway of the abattoir ship Nisshin Maru.

The protesters said that the whaling fleet had used long-range acoustical devices (LRADs) and high-powered water cannons against them, as well as throwing golf balls and chunks of metal. The Japanese claimed that the protesters had hurled bottles of acid at their ship. But the Sea Shepherd said that it was in fact rotten butter.

Japan officially stopped whaling under a 1986 global moratorium, but because of a loophole it is able to hunt whales for research purposes.

Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research describes the Sea Shepherd Society as a “self-righteous terrorist group” and has accused it of illegal harassment and terrorism against the ICR’s research.

Captain Paul Watson said in a statement announcing the end of this year’s Sea Shepherd campaign: “I have always said that we would do everything we can short of hurting people to end illegal whaling in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.”

“We have done everything we could with the resources available to us this year. We have shut down their illegal operations for over a month in total. We have cost them money and we have saved the lives of a good many whales. And although we are willing to take the risks required, even to our own lives, I am not prepared to do to the Japanese whalers what they do to the whales and the escalating violence by the whalers will result in some serious injuries and possibly fatalities if this confrontation continues to escalate.”

Japan’s whaling fleet is in Antarctic waters for an annual hunt aimed at catching about 900 whales, Reuters reports.

The Steve Irwin started off in hot pursuit on December 18, following the fleet for more than 3,000km until January 7. It then relocated the fleet on February 1 and since then the whalers had been able to kill only five of the ocean mammals, the Sea Shepherd Society said. “Normally during this period they would be taking 8 to 10 whales per day.”

Captain Watson said that he has been operating at a disadvantage against three harpoon boats that are superior in speed and manoeuvrability to the Steve Irwin. He says he intends to return next year with a ship that is as fast as they are.

“We will never stop intervening against their illegal whaling operations and we will never stop harassing them, blockading them and costing them money. I intend to be their on-going nightmare every year until they stop their horrific and unlawful slaughter of the great whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” he said.

Sea Shepherd says it has over 1,000 hours of video footage taken during this campaign which will be used in a series on Animal Planet called Whale Wars. “People can watch and judge for themselves,” the society says on its website.

For an interesting interview with Paul Watson see Mother Jones.

Coral species in hot water

July 11, 2008
Posted in Conservation

A third of the world’s reef-building coral species may be in danger of extinction, reports ScienceExpress. A new comprehensive study of reef-building species suggests that they are surprisingly fragile and sensitive to changes in their environment — such as nutrient overloads caused by agricultural runoff, invasive species, and ocean acidification — the report says.

Most affected are species growing in the Caribbean Sea and in the “Coral Triangle” of the western Pacific, which spans parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, says the report. It adds that the researchers estimate that as recently as a decade ago less than 5% of the affected species would have been considered threatened or near-threatened. Read the full report on ScienceExpress

Picture credit: NOAA

Penguin spotting on Robben Island

July 2, 2008
Posted in Conservation

Much like no two zebras have the same stripe pattern, scientists working on Cape Town’s Robben Island believe that African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) have a pattern of black spots on their chests that is unique to each penguin – a useful way of identifying individuals.

Monitoring a population of 20,000 or so penguins is something of a challenge, though. Using conventional tagging techniques, only a small percentage of the population can be captured, tagged and monitored. But thanks to the penguin’s spots, scientists working on the Penguin Recognition Project have developed a far less intrusive monitoring system. Read more

More bad news about the oceans

February 23, 2008
Posted in Green News

Fishery hotspots from

The millions of people who rely on fishing to make a living could be in for a hard time thanks to climate change because scientists expect it to have a serious impact on the oceans’ already dwindling fish stocks.

A UN Environment Programme report released this week, entitled In Deep Water, maps the impact of pollution, overharvesting and alien infestation on the world’s fisheries and then adds climate change to the mix – and the findings make depressing reading.

The worst-affected 10 to 15 percent of the oceans are also home to the world’s most important fishing grounds, the report found. And up to 80 per cent of the world’s primary fish catch species are already exploited beyond or close to their harvesting capacity.
Read more

Map shows damage people have done to the oceans

February 17, 2008
Posted in Green News

A new map showing the state of the planet’s oceans should set alarm bells ringing all over the world. It shows that human activity has left almost no part of any of the oceans untouched and ecosystems have been severely compromised in more than 40 percent of the world’s waters.

Hundreds of experts created the map, which was published in the February 15 issue of Science by combining data on 17 different human impacts to oceans, including fishing, coastal development, fertilizer runoff and pollution from shipping traffic.

Areas of concern are reportedly coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests in estuaries, seamounts, rocky reefs and continental shelves.

The North Sea, South and East China Seas, Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Bering Sea, the Eastern Coast of North America and much of the western Pacific are the most affected by human influence, according to a report in Science Daily. Southern Africa’s oceans appear to show only limited impacts.

Via :: Science Daily