Stop Shark Finning

A dead Silky shark, longlined in the Indian ocean.

Every year, tens of millions of sharks die a slow death because of finning. Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off shark's fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea. The sharks either starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown. Shark fins are being "harvested" in ever greater numbers to feed the growing demand for shark fin soup, an Asian "delicacy". Not only is the finning … [Read more...]

The White Whale

Beluga whale (Delphinaptherus leucas),with its mouth wide open, White Sea, Russia, Kareliya.

The white whale by keisha gray The white whale known as Belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) are actually not whales at all but dolphins and belong in the Monodontidae family. Belugas are easily characterised with their completely white coloration, lack of dorsal fin, and domed forehead called a melon. The scientific naming of the belugas define them as “dolphins without a dorsal fin”. Belugas are highly sociable mammals th … [Read more...]

Mine, Mine, Mine! says the Damselfish

damselfish_yellowtail3

Stalking the crevices of coral reefs in the tropics around the world are the damselfish. They claim the nooks and crannies within the reefs, and then they defend those nooks and crannies with their lives. Okay, so that’s a little dramatic. They probably aren’t willing to die for their homes, but they will fight tooth and nail to keep their homes from other damselfish in the housing market. These are some of the mos … [Read more...]

Journey to Aquarius Reef Base

Outside Aquarius Reef Base, Conch Reef, Key Largo

This article is the second part (2 of 2) of a previously published article about an underwater adventure to the world's only underwater marine laboratory, Aquarius Reef Base.  Join me in this adventure and the obtainment of my AAUS Scientific Dive Certification, below.  Also, if you missed it, check out part 1 of 2 here. Visiting Aquarius Reef Base: Inside and Out From the surface of Conch Reef in the Florida Keys M … [Read more...]

Can Coral Reefs Adapt to Low pH Conditions?

Coral bleached by ocean acidification.

The single greatest threat facing coral reefs today is ocean acidification caused by human activities. It has been well documented that the burning of fossil fuels elevates carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere. This excess CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, and its dissociation in ocean water leads to decreased pH (higher acidity) and decreased concentration of carbonate (CO3-2), an essential ion for coral … [Read more...]

Surf Session Turned Tuna Crab Lesson

photo courtesy of Chris & Melody Beauchamp

After surfing at one of his favorite California reef breaks known as Terramar, my partner, Paul, returned home to tell me about massive amounts of red ‘crawfish-looking’ animals swimming around him in the water. Because crawfish are freshwater crustaceans, I felt compelled to investigate. As it turns out, the San Diego coastlines are in the midst of an invasion of tuna crabs! The tuna crab, also known as ple … [Read more...]

Soft Coral: Gorgonians

Sea Rod

Soft Coral: Gorgonians by Lydia Weltmann Found in the tropics and subtropics of the world, Gorgonians are a breed of soft coral colonies that typically have a tree-like appearance. Their branch-like parts distinguish them from other coral, as they can appear as sea fans, sea whips or blades, or they can be bushy. While they are all little wonders, each shape is actually a result of where they are found underwater. … [Read more...]

Stunning Symbiosis

Shark

What is Symbiosis? by Gabbie Baillargeon Symbiosis occurs when two organisms live together, and usually become dependant on one another to survive.  There are three different types of symbiotic relationships: Mutualism:  When both organisms are benefitted by the relationship Commensalism: When one organism benefits and the other does not benefit, but is not harmed by the other. Parasitism: When one organism is … [Read more...]

Beluga Whales: Canaries of the Sea by Ashton Felts

Beluga whale (Delphinaptherus leucas),with its mouth wide open, White Sea, Russia, Kareliya.

Beluga Whales: Canaries of the Sea by Ashton Felts Beluga whales are sometimes called canaries of the sea because they seem to sing. I, personally, believe that belugas should be protected in part so that the sea will continue to be filled with the beauty of their songs. But their songs are only part of their story. Delphinapterus leucas The beluga, or white whale, is an Arctic and sub-Arctic cetacean. It is one of … [Read more...]

Why Am I Eating Frozen Fish When I’m Surrounded By Reefs?

A view of Bocas del Toro's many waterfront restaurants.

Why Am I Eating Frozen Fish When I'm Surrounded By Reefs? By Emma Hedley Personal Observations on Overfishing in Bocas del Toro, Panama Bocas del Toro is my definition of a tropical island paradise and served as the base for my semester-long study abroad program with The School for Field Studies.  The island archipelago on the Caribbean coast of Panama consists of many small, forested islands surrounded by m … [Read more...]