The Gentleman Biologist of Pier 39

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April 25, 2011: Take a walk out to the end of San Francisco’s Pier 39, and you’ll hear an interesting symphony of barking California sea lions and reactions of delight and amusement from droves of human onlookers. And if you’re lucky, you might also find the “Gentleman Biologist of Pier 39,” Tim Vogel, a volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, who has pursued tech career in Silicon Valley but has never forgotten his Seacamp roots. He spends hours teaching and inspiring visitors about the incredible wildlife of the West Coast and the wonders of science. Also: An update on the penguin rescue effort from Tristan da Cunha by Trevor Glass, Director of the Department of Conservation there.

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A Fragile Empire: National Geographic Examines Threats to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

"A Fragile Empire" can be found in the May 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine on newstands April 26

“A Fragile Empire” can be found in the May 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine on newsstands April 26 (Photo: National Geographic)

Earlier this year, World Resources Institute released its “Reefs at Risk Revisited Report” (featured on The Ocean Doctor Radio Show) which spelled out a rather grim future for coral reefs due to both local and global threats, should we fail to take action. One of the bright spots in its report was Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which has fared better than many other reefs around the world and has in place strong protections and management practices. But even this massive and remote reef system isn’t immune from the impacts affecting coral reefs worldwide. In “A Fragile Empire” National Geographic Magazine (May 2011) writer Jennifer S. Holland explores the various factors that are threatening Australia’s monumental reef. From rising water temperatures, to bleaching, massive flooding and high levels of acidity, the reef is in danger of collapsing and the prospect for recovery is uncertain.

A warming climate is pushing corals against the upper limit of their thermal tolerance, evidenced by mass bleachings like the one in 1997-98. A 60-year decline in ocean phytoplankton — microscopic organisms that form the base of the food chain — may also be playing a role. Recent flooding in Australia washed enormous plumes of sediments and toxins far offshore to the reef tract. And now, thanks to increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the oceans are becoming more and more acidic as more of this atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater. As the oceans become more acid, limiting the ability of organisms, like corals and shellfish, to build their limestone shells and skeletons.

[Read more...]

A Statistically Impossible Plea for Help

 

Vessel "Oliva" breaking apart and spilling oil at Nightingale Island (Photo: D. Guggenheim)

Vessel “Oliva” breaking apart and spilling oil at Nightingale Island (Photo: D. Guggenheim)

EARTH DAY 2011: This isn’t what I had planned to write for Earth Day. But it’s the most important thing I can write today. I write these words with a single, challenging purpose: I need you to care deeply about something. I need you to care about something that wasn’t supposed to be possible. I need you to care so deeply that you choose to help. And to make things even more challenging, what I need you to care about is a place you’ve never heard of and are very unlikely to see in your lifetime, a place that’s such an infinitesimally tiny speck lying quite literally in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, it appears on few maps (and even befuddles Google maps). And unless you’re one of the fewer than 300 people that call Tristan da Cunha home, it will take you at best 5-7 days to get to this airstrip-lacking place even if you dash out the door before finishing this paragraph. Tristan da Cunha is, quite literally, the most remote inhabited island in the world. A sign on the island boasts this factoid, alongside a marker pointing east toward the nearest civilization: 1,511 miles to Cape Town, South Africa. [Read more...]

Penguins Suffer as Antarctic Krill Declines

By Mark Kinver Science and environment reporter, BBC News

The study suggests krill availability affects the population trends of penguins, such as chinstraps

A number of penguin species found in western Antarctica are declining as a result of a fall in the availability of krill, a study has suggested.

Researchers, examining 30 years of data, said chinstrap and Adelie penguin numbers had been falling since 1986.

Warming waters, less sea-ice cover and more whale and seal numbers was cited as reducing the abundance of krill, the main food source for the penguins.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is a shrimp-like creature that reach lengths of about 6cm (2in) and is considered to be one of the most abundant species on the planet, being found in densities of up to 30,000 creatures in a cubic-metre of seawater.

It is also one of the key species in the ecosystems in and around Antarctica, as it is the dominant prey of nearly all vertebrates in the region, including chinstrap and Adelie penguins.

Read the rest of the story at BBC.co.uk…

Note: Newswire stories are provided as a courtesy of OceanDoctor.org. Content of these articles is provided by external sources.

VIDEO: Dramatic Rescue of Freighter Crew by Prince Albert II Expedition Team, Penguin Rescue (CNN)

Dramatic video shot by Kristine Hannon details the rescue of 12 crew members aboard the bulk carrier, “Oliva,” on March 17, 2011, where it grounded the prior day. Within hours of the successful rescue, the ship broke in two and sunk, unleashing a massive oil spill, threatening millions of seabirds including the endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins. [Read more...]

The Great Penguin Rescue

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April 4, 2011: Our guest this week, penguin expert, Dyan deNapoli, “The Penguin Lady,” former Senior Penguin Aquarist at the New England Aquarium, talks about her new book, The Great Penguin Rescue. with important lessons — and hope — for the desperate penguin rescue and rehabilitation efforts underway following the tragic oil spill at Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic. Also: An update on the rescue effort from Tristan da Cunha by Katrine Herian of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes.

Follow The Ocean Doctor on TwitterBecome a Fan on Facebook!

Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below.

Like the show? Learn how to become a sponsor. [Read more...]

VIDEO: Oil Slick Threatens Endangered Penguins (CNN International)

Dr. David E. Guggenheim, the “Ocean Doctor,” is interviewed about the tragic oil spill at Nightingale Island and rescue operations to save the endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins. [Read more...]

Desperate Penguin Rescue Efforts Continue: Nearly 3,000 Penguins Relocated from Nightingale

Tristan da Cunha's community swimming pool converted for penguin rehabilitation

Tristan da Cunha's community swimming pool converted for penguin rehabilitation

During a briefing by The Ocean Foundation to the conservation NGO community in Washington, DC, Katrine Herian, a project officer of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) stationed at Tristan da Cunha, informed us by telephone that the desperate effort to rescue endangered Northern Rockhopper penguins from neighboring Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands (the latter a World Heritage Site) continues, with roughly 2,300 penguins already relocated for rehabilitation on Tristan da Cunha and another 600 birds expected last evening. [Read more...]

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