The Worst Thing I Ever Saw Underwater (and Why it Matters This Week)

An enormous scar on the bottom of the Bering Sea's Pribolof Canyon at 1,000 feet left by a trawl net leaves a path of destruction miles long, having ripped corals, sponges and everything else in its path from the bottom. (Photo: David E. Guggenheim)

An enormous scar on the bottom of the Bering Sea’s Pribolof Canyon at 1,000 feet left by a trawl net leaves a path of destruction miles long, having ripped corals, sponges and everything else in its path from the bottom. (Photo: D. Guggenheim)

On Friday, August 3rd, 2007, I landed the Deepworker submersible at 1,052 feet in the second largest underwater canyon in the world, Pribilof Canyon in Alaska’s Bering Sea. In the distance, I saw the lights of the other submersible, piloted by Michelle Ridgway.

As we both sat on the bottom conducting life support checks and communicating with the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza above, I peered through the dome and saw something strange. I reported that I had landed on what appeared to be some sort of geologic stratification — unusual layers and grooves of sediment in parallel lines across my path. What in the world was this? We hadn’t seen anything like it. [Read more…]

Action Alert: Grand Canyons of the Bering Sea

 

Action Alert - Ocean Doctor

Time Remaining to Take Action:


Protect the Bering Sea’s Grand Canyons

Background

In 2007, Greenpeace launched a groundbreaking expedition to explore the two largest underwater canyons in the world, in the heart of the Bering Sea. It was the first time manned submersibles ever entered these canyons and human eyes gazed directly upon their treasures. Ocean Doctor president, Dr. David E. Guggenheim served as a sub pilot and scientific consultant during the 2007 expedition. The expedition revealed an extraordinary tapestry of life thousands of feet below the surface, including beautiful, brightly-colored deepwater corals, sponges, anemones, octopus and fish and resulted the discovery of new species and species ranges. [Read more…]

A Blue Whale Tells Us Why She’s Not Saved…Yet

 

It was a battle cry in the ’60s and ’70s and the earliest Earth Days: “Save the Whales” bumper stickers reflected a burgeoning green movement and deep concern about the decimation of the world’s whale populations. But decades later, do the whales still need saving?

Antarctic fur sea pups play in front of the abandoned Stromness whaling station on South Georgia Island

Antarctic fur sea pups play in front of the abandoned Stromness whaling station on South Georgia Island

For 50 years there has been an international moratorium on whaling. Two years ago, in South Georgia Island in the subantarctic I saw the remains of the Stromness whaling station — where Ernest Shackleton famously first reentered civilization and found rescue for his crew after his ship was lost in the Antarctic. Today, Antarctic fur seal pups frolic among the wreckage. What you can’t see are the immense mountains of whale bones still lying at the bottom of the inlets and bays around South Georgia. It’s a terrible legacy that we should be happy about leaving behind. [Read more…]

World Penguin Day 2013



World Penguin Day 2013 [Read more…]

Open-Ocean Aquaculture Would Harm the Gulf of Mexico

Statement of Recirculating Farms Coalition Executive Director, Marianne Cufone

Recirculating Farms CoalitionNew Orleans, LA, February 8, 2013 – Today, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council – the body that advises the National Marine Fisheries Service on fish and fishing in the Gulf – voted to push forward regulations that would permit industrial fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico. The Council did so in violation of a number of procedural laws, as well as in direct conflict with the members’ oath of office to conserve and manage the marine resources of the Gulf of Mexico for the benefit of the nation. Open water fish farming is well documented to be highly problematic for both people and our planet. [Read more…]

Action Alert: Stop Offshore Factory Fish Farming in the Gulf of Mexico

 

Action Alert
Stop Offshore Factory Fish Farming in the Gulf of Mexico

 

 

Background

The Gulf of Mexico has been battered by hurricanes, covered in oil and then sprayed above and below with chemicals in an effort to mask the terrible effects of the spill. Now, the Gulf faces another serious threat that can harm the rest of our ocean waters, marine wildlife and people too. [Read more…]

Action Alert: Protect Alaska’s Waters from Cruise Ship Dumping

Action Alert
Please Take 5 Minutes to Protect Alaska’s Waters from Cruise Ship Dumping

Background

Cruise ships are floating cities that produce and discharge large volumes of sewage and other harmful wastes.  In 2006, Alaska voters passed a statewide ballot initiative requiring cruise ships to reduce their pollution dumping in Alaskan waters (i.e., from the shoreline out to 3 miles).  In response, cruise ship lobbyists pushed through legislation in 2009 to establish an industry-dominated “Science Panel,” which immediately set out gathering information to weaken the 2006 citizen initiative (industry lobbyists excluded the most knowledgeable public interest voice in Alaska from the panel because they did not want any opposition to their pollution rollback plans). [Read more…]

Great Whales Still Face Grave Threats

by Gershon Cohen, Ph.D.  — Co-Director, Great Whale Conservancy

A magnificent Blue Whale fluke (Image courtesy of Michael Fishbach, Great Whale Conservancy)

A magnificent Blue Whale fluke (Image courtesy of Michael Fishbach, Great Whale Conservancy)

The Great Whales need our help.  They face multiple threats today in many parts of the world: “scientific whaling,” ship strikes, habitat encroachment, decreasing food supplies, ocean acidification, etc.; it is up to us to take on these threats and do what we can to protect these magnificent, sentient beings.

The Great Whale Conservancy was created in 2010 to answer this call, and the first problem we are focusing on is the ship strike issue that plagues whales in oceans around the planet –where great whales and cargo ships, oil tankers, and cruise ships try to occupy the same place at the same time.  The whales have no choice: they need to follow their food and consumes tons of protein every day to survive.  The ships have a choice: they can adjust their transits to minimize the time they spend in Great Whale habitat. [Read more…]

Lessons of BP Deepwater Horizon: Unlearned and Now Unleashed in Alaska

Shell's Kulluk platform aground at Stikalidak Island, Alaska

Shell’s Kulluk platform aground at Sitkalidak Island, Alaska (USCG Photo)

Just a short time ago the world was mesmerized by a mile-deep live feed of an unstoppable tempest of brown crude and an unprecedented frenzy of human activity undertaking desperate, inadequate attempts to halt the flow and skim, burn, disperse, and boom the rest. In the countless hearings by Congress and the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling that would follow, talk of a cold, distant frontier was unavoidable:  The chilling thought of such a disaster occurring in the Arctic, where remoteness, vastness, heavy weather and unforgiving seas combine to make even simple tasks at sea profoundly more difficult. In the face of the largest oil spill in history, many of us found consolation in that we were finally paying attention to the perils of offshore drilling and these lessons would finally be learned.

What BP Deepwater Horizon illustrated vividly was that civilization’s striking advances in deepwater drilling have far outpaced its ability to clean up should a disaster occur. Perhaps the most chilling of all the Congressional testimony was the revelation by oil company CEOs that the essence of their plan for dealing with a catastrophic oil spill was to not have a catastrophic oil spill. A great idea on paper, but in the real world, an arrogant denial of the limits of technology, human error, and Mother Nature’s merciless power. [Read more…]

A Small Gift as a Token of Our Appreciation

Show Them How You Feel About Salt Water! [Read more…]