Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Children on Every Continent Help Clean Beaches

Columbia River Scouts
Children on every continent joined the recent effort to clean their beach during International Coastal Cleanup Day.  This is the world's largest volunteer effort to clean our oceans and waterways. 

Ocean trash is dangerous for us.  Ocean trash is also very dangerous for all the creatures that live in 
the sea.

From Ocean Conservancy

School children are seen on the beach on World Coastal Cleanup Day in Mumbai. (Source: Express photo by Vasant Prabhu)

Contra Costa Cleanup

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Unusual" Whale Shark in California Waters

Photo from Pete Thomas Outdoors of whale shark
near Catalina Island.
Imagine finding a 20-25 foot whale shark near Catalina Island, just 26 miles off the Southern California shoreline.  Well, a fishing boat did find one on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. That's unusual.  So unusual that Dr. Christopher Lowe, who runs the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach said that "...whale sharks are very rare in this neck of the woods."

Whale sharks are usually seen in warmer waters, like in Hawaii,  Mexico and the Sea of Cortez--not in California's cooler waters.

But unusual events continue along California's coastal waters.

Scientists who measure water temperatures from satellites, report that the surface of Pacific coast, especially in Southern California, is warmer than usual.  They write that this warming event is "...ongoing and highly unusual" for this neck of the woods (or ocean!).

What does that mean?

For one, you won't have to go to Mexico to see a whale shark! It also means other exotic sea life will likely make their way to California waters instead of the tropical waters where they normally live.

Why is this important?

Each species of sea life prefer certain temperatures of water.  So, that means changes in plankton and California's fish colony.  

So while there may be more tuna in the water, there may also be less salmon (a fish that prefers cooler waters).  

Warmer waters can also change the climate of a cool-water areas.

Stay tuned.  

Meanwhile watch this video by award winning videographer, Becky Kagan Schott, about whale sharks.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Orca Pod Helps Entangled Orca Breathe

Dian is a special orca (killer whale).  She’s a 35-year-old wild orca that lives in New Zealand waters.  On Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, Dian, named for the famous gorilla researcher, Dian Fossey, was found struggling.
Cray/Crab Pot.
Dian was entangled in a rope which was attached to a heavy cray/crab pot resting on the ocean floor. It was too heavy for Dian to constantly lift and reach the surface to breath. This orca was in big trouble from entanglement.
A disentanglement team rushed to rescue the orca and discovered the most amazing thing.  Dian’s pod, including a calf, were lifting her to the surface so that she could breathe! 
Dian entangled with her pod pushing her up for air. Photo from
Orca Research Trust

Dian was rescued and is okay.  She swims free of ropes and cray pots today. 
This story comes from the Orca Research Trust in New Zealand, and Dr. Ingrid Visser, who has studied the orcas in New Zealand since 1992.