We ARE proud to join Lisa Rider and other passionate ocean advocates and waste management professionals each fall at the NC Marine Debris Symposium. We learn more than we ever imagined about ocean plastic and about how to truly help address the problem. Here’s a brief history from the Symposium website:
“Marine debris is a problem that continues to grow. Our waterways and oceans are constantly polluted with a wide variety of marine debris ranging from polystyrene trays and plastic bags to derelict fishing equipment and abandoned boats.
Marine life, such as several Fish species, Whales, Sharks, Sea Turtles, and Birds have been known to ingest marine debris or become entangled in marine debris, which may lead to injury, intestinal blockage, and death. Marine debris is an Eastern North Carolina concern not only because of the threats to our native wildlife, our ecosystem and our own health, but it also washes up on beaches and shorelines degrading the environment, and effecting our local economy and tourism.
We hope that this Symposium will create local cooperation and regional partnership by providing a forum for the exchange of information on recent developments, program ideas, and best management practices for marine debris prevention, education, and removal.”
Also, check out Linda Booker’s new film STRAWS!
The Petition is available online here. Press Release Below:
NRDC ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS: MEDIA CENTER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES (September 18, 2014) —The Gulf of Mexico’s only non-migrating great whales are in big trouble, which is why the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to add the region’s Bryde’s (pronounced BROO-dus) whale population to the federal endangered species list. Recently published studies identify the Gulf population as genetically unique numbering fewer than 50 animals.
This small population – whose habitat appears to have dwindled to a single area, the DeSoto Canyon, off the Florida panhandle – faces a suite of potential threats in the Gulf’s highly industrialized waters. Collisions with ships, deafening ocean noise from oil and gas exploration, and pollution from the Deepwater Horizon spill and other sources make the population’s prospects dim without federal protections.
“This is a unique group of whales, different from all others of its kind, and it’s threatened six ways to Sunday,” said Michael Jasny, director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project and lead author of the petition. “An Endangered Species listing would bring a recovery plan and the resources needed to save these animals … they just can’t make it in the Gulf if we don’t help them out.”
In July, biologists from the National Marine Fisheries Service published an article inEndangered Species Research detailing the genetically unique nature of the Gulf of Mexico’s population from Bryde’s whales across the world’s oceans. The paper concludes that the population is distinct and suggests an independent singular evolutionary trajectory. The small population size and markedly low genetic diversity raise conservation concern for the Gulf’s only baleen, or filter-feeding, whale.
“The unique nature and tiny population of Bryde’s whales in the Gulf deserve our attention,” said NRDC Wildlife Program Director and petition co-author Dr. Sylvia Fallon. “With help, these amazing whales can be saved.”
Named after Norwegian commercial whaling pioneer Johan Bryde, these baleen whales are closely related to blue and humpback whales. The 35- to 50-foot marine mammals can be found in warm waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. While not targets of contemporary whaling operations, the whales face huge threats in the Gulf, including ship strikes, toxic pollution, and noise from seismic airgun surveys for oil and gas. Known for spectacular feeding behaviors, which involve lunging mouth agape through schools of fish and krill, Bryde’s whales have a diverse diet that allows them to find food and stay in the Gulf’s waters all year long.
Endangered Species Act Process
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides protections for plant and animals under threat of extinction. The National Marine Fisheries Service must make its initial assessment of NRDC’s petition within three months. If the Service finds that the petition presents “substantial scientific evidence” that the whales are endangered, the agency is required to conduct a formal status review of the species and to make a preliminary listing decision within the year. The petition is available online.
Additional Media and Resources
- NRDC Petitions to List Endangered Gulf Whale (blog, September 2014, Michael Jasny)
- Unique and endangered: Why we need to protect the Gulf of Mexico’s Bryde’s whales now (blog, September 2014, Sylvia Fallon)
- National Geographic published stunning photos of Bryde’s whales near Baja Mexico that illustrate the species’ highly athletic feeding strategies (additional photos available on NOAA Fisheries’ and Arkive websites)
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
Please Sign NRDC Petition to Save Whales from Navy Sonar Blasts
The Navy is prepared to kill nearly 1,000 whales and other marine mammals during the next five years of testing and training with dangerous sonar and explosives. Tell Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to direct the Navy to adopt commonsense safeguards that will protect marine mammals during routine training without compromising military readiness.
Sign petition here.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and Virgin Unite, has joined non-profit group WildAid to swim with 300 whale sharks off the coast of Cancun to demonstrate that the economic benefits of shark tourism can drastically outweigh the value derived from killing a shark for its fins.
According to WildAid, the lifetime economic value of a single whale shark can exceed $2 million dollars, compared to a few hundred dollars to kill the same shark for its fins. It is estimated that whale shark tourism is worth over US$47 million worldwide per year.
“Sharks play an incredibly vital role in our lives both environmentally and economically,” said Branson. “They are at the top of the food chain and balance the ocean’s now fragile ecosystem, and the conservation tourism numbers show that they are more useful to coastal communities alive than dead. It goes without saying that we must do everything we can to preserve these highly-threatened, magnificent creatures.”
Fins from up to 73 million sharks are used every year to make shark fin soup and related food products. Shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice – captured at sea and hauled on deck, the sharks are often still alive while their fins are sliced off. Because shark meat is not considered as valuable as the fins, the maimed animals are tossed overboard to drown or bleed to death.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that 1/3 of the world’s pelagic shark species are threatened with extinction, with certain species experiencing declines up to 90%.
WildAid’s mission is to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetime by reducing demand through public awareness campaigns and providing comprehensive marine protection. WildAid has been investigating the shark fin industry and markets around the world for over a decade. Extensive footage and stills of shark finning, the fin trade and preparing shark fin, as well as our PSAs, are available upon request. For more information, visit www.wildaid.com or follow us on Twitter (@wildaid) or Facebook (fb.com/wildaid).
Virgin Unite is the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group. For more information, please visit www.virginunite.com.
Mexican President Felipe Calderón has just rejected plans for a massive resort complex that could have devastated the marine paradise of Cabo Pulmo, its coral reef and the local community.
This is a huge victory for NRDC and all the local, national and international groups that waged a strong multi-year campaign urging officials to abandon the destructive proposal called Cabo Cortés.
Tens of thousands of BioGems Defenders like you stood strong in vocally opposing this mega-tourism scheme.
Please send a message to President Calderón and thank him for stopping Cabo Cortés in its tracks.
Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is home to the only living hard coral reef in Mexico’s entire Gulf of California. This pristine haven is teeming with whales, porpoises, dolphins, orcas, sharks, sea lions and five of the seven species of endangered sea turtles.
But it was all put at risk by Spanish developer Hansa Urbana, which would have built up 9,400 acres next door with condos, hotels, golf courses, a marina and a private jet port — imperiling the coral reef’s marine life and the local communities that depend on eco-tourism for survival.
Make no mistake: We may have won this battle, but Cabo Pulmo still lacks permanent protection from industrial development. Now, the region needs a plan to ensure that communities do not have to repeatedly rescue this valuable resource, a sustainable plan that takes advantage of the natural riches of Baja California’s marine ecosystems.
Send your message to President Calderón today. Thank him for halting Cabo Cortés. Then urge him to work with the people of the region to guarantee that this globally-important marine sanctuary will be sheltered from massive development projects forever.
This month’s petition: http://act.oceana.org/letter/l-seismic/