Shifting Baselines

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Unintended Consequences

We need to pay closer attention to how hunting and fishing regulations are set or we may end up with unintended negative consequences for the species we are trying to protect. This according to new research reported in The New York Times. We know that target species can react to increased predation by humans (which…

Shifting Views of Marine Algae

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a profile of Sylvia Earle and the marine environment, which included some wonderful photographs and a nice introductory anecdote about how, in 1953, when Earle began studying algae, the marine plants and related microbes were often considered weeds or worse. Today, Earle says that one type — Prochlorococcus —…

Dolphin Stampede

Check out this video shot in the Sea of Cortez a friend from the Surfrider Foundation sent along. It is a great reminder of the magnificent life that still exists in the ocean. But can you imagine what it was like 200 years ago?

Shifting Glaciers

Check out this magnificent and convincing collection panoramic photographs of receding glaciers over the decades…

When Oppenheimer watched the atomic bomb go off he felt he had played a part in the destruction of humanity. I know the feeling. Last week I got a nice email from a group of graduate students in marine ecology at Northeastern University who apparently are losing their minds as badly as I did in…

Jellyfish and Bacteria

…That’s what you get when the ocean is infer-e-yah. We sang about it six years ago. In 2002 we made a Flash video in which we said, “A new term for the new millennium:  Jellyfish blooms.” And now our dire predictions appear to be coming true, around the world. They’ll sting your knees, and cause…

I am the lead author of a new study In Hot Soup: Sharks Captured in Ecuador’s Waters out in the journal Environmental Sciences. We reconstructed the shark landings for Ecuador from 1976 to 2004 and demonstrated that Ecuador captures more than 3.5 times the number of sharks they officially report catching–or about half a million…

This is rather distressing. It doesn’t sound like there has been any sort of major, published, peer-reviewed, quantitative documentation of this yet. But that said, something is not right when so many sport divers not only count dozens of dead or dying eels (the diver on this blog itemized in detail 50 encounters with dead…

Fish Stocks: All Fall Down?

Everywhere I turn it seems to be bad news for poster fish species. Bluefin tuna are in a bad way. And let’s not forget pollock, the world’s largest food fishery. This year, conservation groups and scientists feel the catch limits are being set anywhere from two to three times too high. Greenpeace has gone so…

In my Topics in Marine Science class that I teach at Western Washington University, we spend a week on marine mammals and a portion of that time talking about whaling. We discuss the use of whale oil for illuminants, the 1930s as the Whaling Olympic era, the devastation of certain whale populations, and the formation…