The Real Animals (and Fish!) of Finding Dory

By , April 16, 2016 1:40 pm



Although Finding Dory doesn’t come out until June 17, 2016, I thought I’d give my readers a sneak preview based on what Pixar has released. I’m speculating on some facts from the rumors I’ve heard (like part of the movie takes place in/off of California).

Dory is back! Her Mom’s name is Jenny and her Dad’s name is Charlie. She is a Yellow Tail Blue Tang or Blue Hippo Tang or Pacific Blue Tang or Palette Surgeonfish.

Marlin and Nemo are back too! They are Ocellaris or False Percula Clownfish or Clown Anemonefish.

Crush and Squirt are back also! They are Green Sea Turtles, one of 7 species of Sea Turtles. They were named green for the fat on their body, not the color of their shells or skin.

Mr. Ray is back! He is a Spotted Eagle Ray. Fortunately he’s not the type of Stingray shown migrating in the movie or else he’d be leaving his students! There is a specific kind of ray known as the Golden Cow nose Ray that may migrate in groups of up to 10,000!

There is a Beluga Whale named Bailey. Belugas are often called the “canaries of the sea” because of their vocalizations. Their (squishy) fat-filled melons (heads) are supposed to help with echolocation, the sonar that many whales use in the ocean.

Finding Dory, Destiny, Dory, Whale Shark

Dory and Destiny the Whale Shark from Finding Dory Photo: © Disney Pixar 2016

The Whale Shark’s name is Destiny. It’s cute that she and Dory knew each other and can speak whale, but Destiny is a Shark, not a Whale! She’s the largest shark in the ocean, but only eats tiny plankton with her cavernous mouth. Whale Sharks do have poor eyesight because their eyes are so tiny compared to their bodies, but they are not clumsy. Anyone who has snorkeled with Whale Sharks know they can turn on a dime to avoid swimming into you!

The (generic) octopus is named Hank. He is actually missing an arm, so he’s a “septopus.” In real life, the octopus would grow any missing arms back. There are so many neurons in a severed octopus arm that it can move and hunt on its own!

The Sea Lions are named Rudder and Fluke. I’m guessing they are California Sea Lions because part of the movie takes place off of California. If they were both male, then they could be found off of Pier 39 in San Francisco where bachelor males hang out and entertain tourists.

The baby Sea Otters are oh so cute! They are probably Southern Sea Otters, mainly found off the California coast. There would never be a group of babies together because a wild Sea Otter pup stays with Mom 24/7 and they rarely socialize with other mother/pup pairs. Even surrogate Sea Otter Moms at the Monterey Bay Aquarium only take care of one pup at a time!

I speculate Becky is a Pacific Loon. Loons may mate for life! They eat mainly fish, crustaceans, and insects.

This post will definitely be updated once the movie comes out on June 17, 2016. I can’t wait to see Finding Dory!!

For more images of the movie visit Finding Dory Images at collider.com
or
side-by-side (Finding Dory image vs. real animal images) at Mother Nature Network’s Meet the Real Animals Behind Finding Dory

My Manta Ray Encounter

By , March 18, 2016 5:29 pm
manta ray

Close encounter with a manta ray (notice the plankton in the water) photo by: Cherilyn Jose

My Manta Ray Encounter

From the back of the boat, I made a giant stride into the black nighttime water. Underwater, the cumbersome SCUBA equipment strapped to my back was weightless. Warm water crept into my wetsuit. Exhaling, I descended into the pitch black. Pinching my nose and blowing out through it cleared my ears every few feet, and the pain in my ears felt like when ascending in an airplane. Exhaled bubbles surrounded and reassured me. My only lifeline underwater was working properly. I paused to marvel at breathing underwater.

My descent stopped near the bottom of the coral reef. Narrow beams of light danced around as other divers searched for life on the night coral reef. My highlighted view showed motionless fish sleeping. Multi-legged critters scampered out of my light. A hungry moray eel caught an unwary squirrelfish.

Ten minutes of swimming brought me to the “campfire.” Placed in the center of this underwater campfire was a bundle of dive lights so the insects of the sea, tiny plankton, swarmed together. Swarms of plankton attracted various hungry sea animals including fish, and the guests for the night. Divers pointed their lights towards the surface to attract more plankton. Settling down on my knees in the moderate current, plankton surrounded me. Little white dots darted to and fro in front of my dive mask. My dry mouth came from breathing the arid air from my tank and made me cough into my regulator. My eyes watered from the coughing, then cleared. Something emerged in the distance.

From the muted black darkness, and through the backdrop of the bright Hollywood lights of videographers, came an alien behemoth that glided over the all the divers. She was the star attraction for tonight, a manta ray. Her black back with white patches looked spray painted. Her flattened head and head fins swayed in her swim path. Her head fins unfurled to help funnel water into her cavernous mouth.

Her diamond-shaped body measured at least 6 feet across. She flapped her triangular pectoral fins in unison like a bird’s wings. Each powerful flap of her wings sent her flying within inches of divers’ heads.

The manta ray’s black back contrasted with her stark white underbelly. Her belly was full of black splotches. Splotch patterns are as unique as a human fingerprint and they allow scientists to identify and name individuals over time. The manta ray I saw was named Shirley. She gracefully flew inches over my head. I was reminded of the opening scene from the original Star Wars movie when an Imperial Star Destroyer appears to fly over the audience’s heads.

We divers are not supposed to hold their breath underwater, but in a briefing on the boat we were told not exhale bubbles directly onto a manta ray. I unconsciously held my breath as having Shirley so close to me took my breath away. I looked straight into one of Shirley’s eyes. They reflected such depth and soul that I couldn’t help but feel a deep connection with this alien being. It was like looking into a mammal’s eyes. Only manta rays are fish. They have the largest brain of any fish in the ocean, and a similar brain to body ratio as mammals. There is no doubt in my mind that manta rays are thinking beings. What they are thinking is a mystery to us humans though.

With her mouth agape, Shirley’s wide throat was visible. Her gills reverberated from the passage of water through them. A manta ray’s gills not only extract oxygen from the water around them, but also extract food like plankton. She closed her mouth periodically, presumably to swallow the plethora of plankton caught in her gill rakers.

I watched in awe as Shirley did loop de loops to gather plankton. The barrel rolls that manta rays perform are a magnificent underwater ballet. They are elegant and graceful. I could watch them for hours barrel rolling.

Later, another manta ray showed up. His name was Uhane Nui, which means “Great Spirit” in Hawaiian. Estimates placed his wingspan at eight feet across. Manta rays are the largest rays in the ocean. This one was huge. Shirley stayed in the lights, but Uhane Nui faded into the darkness and emerged from the bright videographer lights. Each appearance was a surprise and delight. The manta rays could come within inches of the divers and never bump into them. They could turn on a dime.

That magical night off of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii was my first encounter with manta rays. Upon arriving home, I devoured all the information I could find about them. I was dismayed to find out manta rays are killed when they get stuck in fishermen’s nets. Historically, fishermen would exact revenge on any manta rays that got stuck in their fishing nets and kill them.

I was later horrified to learn that today manta rays are now being targeted by fishermen. I got involved in the fight for California to ban the sale, trade and possession of shark fins. Now, much like sharks being targeted only for their fins, manta rays are now being hunted solely for their gill rakers. Gill rakers are used in controversial new formulas of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Often those hunting for shark fins will fin a shark alive and toss it back into the ocean to die a slow and agonizing death. Similarly, those hunting manta rays will kill them, cut out the gill rakers, and throw out the rest of the manta ray. Killing them that way is inhumane and wasteful.

A live manta ray is worth more alive than dead. Experts estimate a manta ray is worth one million USD over its lifetime due to ecotourism, but worth only five hundred USD when dead. Globally manta ray tourism is estimated to be 100 million USD annually. I’m hooked on SCUBA diving with manta rays-I will add to that total!

How and Why Do Fish School?

By , November 30, 2015 2:57 pm
schooling fish

Schooling Fish by: Wikimedia Commons Eric Kilby

How and why do fish school? First off, an aggregation of fish is when a bunch of fishes are together. Shoaling is when a group of fish come together for social reasons. It is more specifically called schooling when the fish also move together in coordination. Half of all fishes shoal at one point during their lives, and one quarter of fishes shoal their whole lives.

There are a multitude of reasons why fish school. These include safety in numbers , easier to find food, swimming more efficiently and easier to find potential mates. Schooling behavior confuses potential predators, which cannot focus just on one fish to catch.

Schooling takes coordination, as each fish senses its position in relation to the other fishes. All fish have a lateral line around their bodies that help. There are tiny holes with sensitive hairs in them in the lateral line.

Most fishes don’t school when it is dark, so they are dependent on their eyesight.

According to some scientists, how they school is dependent on their genes. It’s not a learned behavior. Scientists did experiments on some small fish (see here for details) and cross bred individuals that preferred schooling to those that didn’t. The results told the scientists that there are parts of the fishes’ genome associated with schooling.

Another mystery is how fish somehow know when they are with fish that look like themselves so they can school together. They don’t recognize themselves in a mirror like more intelligent animals, so how do they do it? An odd fish out in a school increases its chances that it’ll be seen by a predator.

They may use their senses: sight, smell (pheromones), and sound. But otherwise a Google search only comes up with conjectures.

What questions do you have about fish? I’ll cover them in future posts.

I consulted the following
Wikipedia article on Shoaling and Schooling Fish

Elephant Seals, El Nino & Domoic Acid Poisoning

By , November 17, 2015 4:11 pm
elephant seal

Newborn Elephant Seal photo by: Charmaine Coimbra

Hello, my name is Ellie, and I’m an Elephant Seal. I’m excited because I’ll become a mother soon. I’ve been pregnant for eleven months. I’ve come to Ano Nuevo, off the central coast of California, USA. Here there’s what we call a rookery, where elephant seals hang out on the beach. We spend up to ten months a year at sea, so being on the beach is a vacation for us. Well, maybe not for the mothers who have to protect their pups and produce milk that contains up to 50 percent milkfat (human breastmilk is only 4 percent fat).

I feel the pup coming. I push, push and push until plop! My daughter is born! I clean her up by licking her. She’s already vocal, probably because she’s hungry. We have a special call to one another so we can be reunited if separated. The beach is crowded-there’s a lot of elephant seals here.

I worry that some male will bowl over my pup, or my pup will get in the way during one of the dominant male’s battles with rivals. Otherwise our days here will be blissful; sunning ourselves in the sun, nursing, and dozing off. I won’t wean her for four weeks, and after five weeks I’ll mate and finally return to the sea to feed.

Sigh, I’m not looking forward to returning to sea. Sure I’ll be famished, but the food fish just aren’t here. Usually, in a non-El Nino year, there is plenty of food. That is due to something called upwelling, which occurs off parts of the west coast of the Americas. Upwelling is when cold, nutrient-rich seawater comes up from the deep ocean onto the surface. Plankton, microscopic plants and animals that make up the beginning of the food chain, feast on the nutrients. The fish, that I eat, find plankton to eat.

In a non El Nino year, the trade winds blow west warm seawater from the Eastern Pacific Ocean (the west coast of the Americas) to the Western Pacific Ocean (Asia). This allows the cold nutrient dense water that dwells in the deep waters below to replace the warm surface water that was blown away west. This is what causes upwelling along the west coast of the Americas. In contrast, during an El Nino year, the trade winds stop and the warm water stays in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Warmer water means no upwelling, less plankton, and therefore less fish for me to eat.

To boot, once I find food there’s a horrible toxic algae called Pseudo-nitzschia australis in it. Domoic acid poisoning has neurological effects on animals that eat food contaminated with it. According to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, USA, “About three-quarters of the California sea lions at our hospital are suffering from domoic acid toxicity, which primarily attacks the brain, causing lethargy, disorientation, seizures and if not treated, eventually, death.” Recently the Dungeness crab season has been canceled because of this algae. This algae is also responsible for the red tide seen periodically off the coasts that closes shellfish fisheries.

It’s an uncertain world that my daughter will face. I hope she can survive to a few years old to have pups of her own.

YOUR Help Is Needed! Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card & Help a Scientist!

By , October 18, 2015 2:47 pm

Help us do science! I’ve teamed up with researcher Paige Brown Jarreau to create a survey of Ocean of Hope readers. By participating, you’ll be helping me improve Ocean of Hope and contributing to SCIENCE on blog readership. You will also get FREE science art from Paige’s Photography for participating, as well as a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card (100 available, 2 per blog participating!), or a t-shirt! Anyone can participate, even if you don’t regularly read this or other blogs. It should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. You can find the survey here: http://bit.ly/mysciblogreaders. Hurry, survey ends midnight CST November 20, 2015!

Thank you Dr. Jane Goodall!

By , October 10, 2015 7:49 pm

Today I heard Dr. Jane Goodall speak for the 5th time at the Wildlife Conservation Network Expo in San Francisco, CA. Dr. Jane is my personal role model and hero. After hearing her speak for the first time at a Bioneers Conference, a light bulb went off for me. I’m to follow in her footsteps, but for the oceans that cover 70 percent of our Earth.

Dr. Jane inspired me to found a Roots and Shoots group at my children’s school, Kitayama Elementary in Union City, CA. We were honored with group of the month many years ago.

I never tire of hearing Dr. Jane’s talks. Each is unique and inspiring. While all her speeches refer to her time studying chimpanzees in Gombe, today she surprised me and mentioned my favorite animal, the octopus. She said to google “coconut octopus” to see an example of tool use in animals.

During her book signing, I asked Dr. Jane her favorite ocean animal. She said, “I suppose whales.” I definitely don’t think she’s been asked that before! I also thanked her for mentioning my favorite animal, the octopus. I gave her a blue marble (see the blue marble project here) and my business card with my blog url on it. I said I named it in her honor (all her books have the word hope in them) and she said she’d check it out. I forgot to mention that I often write from the (non-human!) animal’s POV. I think she’d approve. Thank you Dr. Jane for continuing to inspire me and so many others to save our natural world!

Book Excerpt Part 2-Ocean Country by Liz Cunningham

By , September 19, 2015 2:49 pm

Humpback whale breaching

Humpback whale breaching © 2015 Charles Costello


Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage From Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas is available in independent bookstores now or at

We spent four more days like that, looking for whales, watching them on the surface, and getting into the water with them.The stormy seas passed, and the waters calmed. Humpbacks are notorious for their playful acrobatics.We saw them breach and extend their heads out of the water to have a look at us (“spyhop”), and slap the surface of the water with their flukes (“peduncle throw”). A peduncle throw can mean many things. It can mean “bug off, fella,” if a female is tired of a male’s advances. Or a male that has established himself as a female’s “escort” might use it to discourage another male’s advances.
“Sometimes the calves,” Gene told us,“when they get playful, will get a little wound up and wander off and get a little bit too far from mom. They can get separated quite quickly and then mom will fire off a peduncle throw like,‘Hey, Junior! Get back here!’ ”
Once when we were in the water with a mother and calf, the mother rose vertically in the water to breathe. Straight ahead of us, forty-five feet of whale vertical beneath the sur- face. A gentle, living, breathing creature over four stories tall.
And well, I haven’t told you about all of us in the tender. The gear stowed at the center of the boat included small fins and masks and wet suits a third the size of ours. Gene’s partner, Cloe, had come with her daughter, Lucaya, who was six years old. And Dave, a friend of Gene’s since high school, was there with his wife, Suzanne, and their daughter, Eva.
There was a contagious mirth that we couldn’t have replicated without our younger boat-mates.When the humpbacks were “pec slapping,” slapping their pectoral fins on the surface to signal to each other, Lucaya and Eva leaned over the railing and squealed, “The whales are waving! The whales are waving!” (They were right.The whales were waving.)
For more of excerpt, click on page 2 below the social media bar

Pages: 1 2

Book excerpt: Part 1 of Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas by Liz Cunningham

By , September 7, 2015 5:46 pm
Humpback mother calf

Humpback mother and calf © 2015 Liz Cunningham

Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage From Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas is available in independent bookstores now or at

“…With genuine emotion and great pragmatism, Cunningham makes
passionate pleas for the continued health of the planet.”
—Publishers Weekly

In Ocean Country: One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in Her Quest
to Save the Seas
, Liz Cunningham shows us how people around the world
are practicing “hope in action” and why it’s time for all of us to
join them.

After Liz Cunningham was nearly swallowed by a rogue wave in a
kayaking accident in which she was temporarily paralyzed, she was left
with a sense of despair and alienation from the waters that she had
always turned for solace and healing. As she recovered physically,
Cunningham vowed that she would reconnect with the ocean and recover
hope—hope for herself and for the planet’s ailing waters. In Ocean Country:
One Woman’s Voyage from Peril to Hope in Her Quest to Save the Seas

(Foreword by Carl Safina, North Atlantic Books, September 8,
2015, Paperback), Cunningham shares her two-year global journey to
discover how communities and individuals are fighting to save the
marine world that every living being depends on and how they are
creating hope through action in dire times.

From a former “dynamite fisherman” in Indonesia who walked away from
heftier profits to save the ocean ecosystem his community relies on
for subsistence to a culinary school in Paris that teaches sustainable
cooking practices, people are rescuing our oceans and coming together
to fight the destruction that can seem inevitable. And they are
effecting change—though we rarely hear about. Recently, Bluefin tuna—a
species all but declared extinct—has seen in an uptick in their
stocks. This turn-around is a result of massive, coordinate effort
across industries and communities. It is one of the remarkable stories
of people practicing what Cunningham calls “hope in action.” From the
San Francisco Bay Area to the Turks and Caicos Islands to Sulawesi,
Indonesia to Papua, New Guinea to French islands in the Mediterranean,
Cunningham shows us how people throughout the world are beginning to
see that we can have hope, that we must act, and—most importantly—that
the two are interdependent.

Ocean Country is an adventure story, a call to action, and a poetic
meditation on the state of the seas—but most of all—it is a story of
finding true hope in the midst of one of the greatest crises to face
humankind.

Twenty-one percent of royalties will be given to the New England
Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF), which aims to
protect and promote ocean biodiversity through funding of small-scale,
time-sensitive, community-based programs. This amount was chosen to
highlight the percentage of oxygen in each breath we take and that the
fact that over one half of that oxygen comes from marine plants and
algae in the ocean.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LIZ CUNNINGHAM is the author of Talking Politics: Choosing the
President in the Television Age (Praeger), which features frank and
probing oral-history interviews with top television journalists such
as Tom Brokaw, Larry King, and Robin MacNeil. She has written for
Earth Island Journal, East Bay Express, the Marin Poetry Center
Anthology, The Outward Bound International Journal, Times of the
Islands, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She has collaborated with
institutions such as the Academy for Educational Development, the
Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Tides Foundation, and the
Smithsonian Institution. She also serves on the board of Outward Bound
Peacebuilding and holds a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the
Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Visit her at: lizcunningham.net.

For book excerpt click page 2 below social media bar:

Pages: 1 2

Guest Post-9 Things You Can Do to Reduce Garbage in Our Oceans

By , August 26, 2015 10:41 am
Plastic Ahoy! Book

Plastic Ahoy! by Patricia Newman

Today’s guest post is by Patricia Newman. She is the author of Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Millbrook Press), winner of the Green Earth Book Award, one of the Bank Street College’s Best Books for 2015, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and finalist for the AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Films Prize for Excellence in Science Books. Her goal is to help kids become ocean stewards.

9 Things You Can Do to Reduce Garbage in Our Oceans
Don’t you love the sound of waves lapping the shore? The salt breeze cooling your face. Treasures that wash ashore with the tides. But what if the tide washed in hundreds of pounds of plastic on your favorite beach?

I wrote Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch because tons of plastic float in our ocean and wash up on our beaches each year—5.25 TRILLION pieces. The book is my way of persuading you to rethink the way you use one-time plastic—things like cups, water bottles, yogurt containers, plastic bags. It’s no longer enough to simply recycle. We have to use less plastic because we’re drowning in the stuff!

Plastic Ahoy! Book

10 Plastic Waste Facts to Curl Your Hair



The news is bleak, but that’s where you come in. My challenge to you is to choose two of the following action items and pledge to reduce your one-time plastic consumption:

1. Skip the straw. Every day restaurants drop 500,000,000 straws in our drinks—enough to fill 46,400 school buses every year—and virtually none of them are recycled. REFUSE boxed drinks with plastic straws, and REFUSE the straw in every restaurant you visit. In fact, try to get the restaurant to serve straws only on request—or better yet—do away with them all together.


2. Bring your own bags. And not just to the grocery store. Everywhere. Toys R Us. Macy’s. Target. WalMart. Bed, Bath and Beyond. If you forget your bag, simply do without one.

3. Buy eco-friendly school supplies. Lunch boxes without plastic. Pencils made from recycled newspaper. Pens made from recycled water bottles. Recycled paper. You can find them online.

4. Ditch the single-use plastic water bottle. Instead of purchasing large flats of single-use water bottles for parties, school or the office, fill a big urn with water and let people refill their reusable bottles preferably made from stainless steel. If you absolutely need individual servings, consider boxed water.

5. Refuse plastic OJ bottles. Plastic manufacturers are beginning to make PlantBottles. I see them in the orange juice cooler in my grocery store. Yes, they’re an improvement over regular plastic. Yes, they come from sustainable plants. But so far, they are only 30% plant. And it’s unclear if recycling companies will accept them. I still prefer cartons.

6. Refuse plastic to-go boxes. Insist on cardboard boxes or aluminum foil for restaurant left-overs or take-out.

7. Recycle every bit of plastic you can. I recently checked the recycling rules in my hometown and we can recycle a lot of different kinds of plastic. Double-check the rules for your hometown and start filling up that recycling bin!

8. Sign up to participate in the September 19 International Coastal Cleanup.

9. Read Plastic, Ahoy! for other ideas.

Guest post-10 Fun Facts About Northern Elephant Seals

By , August 16, 2015 7:46 pm
elephant seal

Elephant seal (weaner stage) photo by: Charmaine Coimbra

This is a guest post by Charmaine Coimbra, a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, who writes and edits two marine-focused blogs, Neptune911.com, and Neptune911forkids.blogspot.com. She also writes for local publications. Since 2008 she has volunteered as a docent for Friends of the Elephant Seal in San Simeon, California

Ten Fun Facts About Northern Elephant Seals

1. Elephant seal pups must be born on a beach because they can’t swim or hunt yet.

2. When an elephant seal mother weans her pup from her rich milk, the pup is now called a “weaner.” The weaner will live off of its fatty blubber for several months—until the day it leaves for sea and catches its first food. Elephant seals eat squid, octopus, hagfish (slime eels), rays, skates, small sharks and hake.

3. When weaners leave their birth beach for the sea, they remain alone until they return to the beach in late summer or early fall. All elephant seals stay alone when they leave the beach for the sea. They do not swim in pods, herds or groups.

4. It takes eight years for a male elephant seal to grow to full length, including his elephant-like nose. He may eventually weigh between 3000 to 5000 pounds (1350-2267 kg.), and measure 14 to 16 feet long (2.5 to 3.5 meters).

5. A female elephant seal doesn’t grow a long nose. She is also smaller than the adult male. She will weigh between 900 to 1800 pounds (408 to 816 kg.) and measure between 9 to 12 feet long (2.5 to 3.5 meters).

6. A male elephant seal’s roar is so loud that you can hear it from one mile away.

7. Male elephant seals from different rookeries (beaches where elephant seals go to twice a year) have their own dialect.

8. Adult elephant seals can dive below 5,000 feet (1.524 kilometers) to the bottom of the sea.

9. Elephant seals can stay underwater for almost 2-hours.

10. Elephant seals migrate two times a year. They swim about 12,000 miles a year.

Guest Post-Marine Conservation is Everyone’s Business

By , August 3, 2015 6:12 pm
Green Sea Turtle Honu

Green Sea Turtle photo by: Ken Muise

This is a guest post from Ken Muise of snorkelstore.com. Ken is an active duty Soldier stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii. He believes he is best snorkeler in the world, although many disagree with him. His website helps people make good choices on snorkel gear, appreciate and respect the marine environment, and gives tips on keeping safe in the water.

Marine Conservation is Everyone’s Business

The planet Earth is bestowed with a spectacular existence of plant and animal life. The charm and grace of the planet is almost beyond description. The many creatures on land and at sea add to the attraction.

Ecosystem processes are designed to support the planet’s life, which includes the human species. These processes include filtration and pouring of the water basin, pollination, flood moderation and renewal of soil fertility. These natural processes are largely overlooked and not given the value they deserve.

For example, let’s look at the contribution of pollinators to the production of fruits such as blueberries, melons, and apples. According to experts the estimated value of pollination services, which are carried on by insects, is about $ 217 billion each year.

The world has been moving towards rapid industrialization and urbanization. Humans, to satisfy their materialistic desires, began ignoring natural habitats. This has affected the natural habitats of different creatures. Now various species of terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals are on the brink of extinction.

Habitat conservation, both on land and at sea, for wildlife is amongst the most vital issues confronting the environment. As the human population expands, area utilization increases. Wild species have less space to call home.

The surface of the Earth has changed due to human actions, such as severe deforestation, loss of topsoil, and biodiversity extinction. Some species can’t live outside their own living space without human mediation, such as zoos and aquariums. The conservation of their natural surroundings is crucial to their protection. Transitory species are more vulnerable against environment devastation, especially along their migratory routes. Changing a creature’s living space can bring about a domino effect that can undermine an entire ecosystem.

It is important for people to actively participate in repairing the ecosystems that have been widely damaged due to human intervention. Volunteer efforts in conservation projects aim to remedy this loss of biological resources. People are able to take an active part in preventing the extinction of certain species and help maintain ecosystem integrity.

Marine conservation has gained momentum. Aquatic beings are faced with various dangers. Coral reefs are an epicenter of biodiversity. They provide various marine animals with food, protection and shelter. In addition, coral reefs are important to humans as a source of the food (i.e. fish, shellfish, etc.) and for eco-tourism.


Unfortunately due to human impacts on coral reefs, they are increasingly degraded and in need of conservation. The greatest threats include overfishing, destructive fishing practices, sedimentation and pollution from land. Along with increased carbon in the oceans, coral bleaching and diseases, there are few pristine reefs worldwide. In fact, up to 88% of coral reefs in Southeast Asia are now threatened, with 50% of those reefs “high” or “very high” for risk of extinction.

Coral reef degradation is harmful to island nations such as Samoa, Indonesia and the Philippines because many people there depend on coral reef ecosystems to feed their families and earn a living. Many fishermen are unable to catch as many fish as they used to. They use cyanide and dynamite fishing, which further degrades the coral reefs. One solution to stop this cycle is to educate the local community about why conservation of marine areas is important. Once the local communities understand the issues, then they fight to preserve the reefs. Coral reef conservation has many economic, social and environmental benefits, not only for the people who live on these islands, but for people worldwide as well.

Government agencies and other organizations have been working hard to alleviate the problem of coral reef decline. With various laws, acts, and campaigns, they aim to educate people. There are various programs that facilitate marine conservation. Marine conservation can be accomplished if people join hands to achieve this goal.

MarineBio Conservation Society is deeply committed to marine conservation. It is based on the idea that by sharing marine and maritime life, people will be inspired to protect the oceans. I hope people will consider becoming members of the MarineBio Conservation Society. Pollution free oceans will then be enjoyable to all when diving with snorkel gear.

Children’s Book Review-Larry the Lazy Blue Whale

By , July 20, 2015 7:54 pm

Larry the Lazy Blue Whale

Larry the Lazy Blue Whale


Children’s Book Review of Larry the Lazy Blue Whale by Burt Kempner

Larry the Lazy Blue Whale: A Mild Wild Story by Burt Kempner is a children’s book about a blue whale making his way to his winter feeding grounds. He takes a nap. Little does he know that two pirate ships are about to lay claim to him as land!

The rest of the book is about the two pirate ships, their fighting and eventual resolution. I won’t give away the ending, but it is satisfying and has a good moral.

I liked the introduction to the blue whales, but lost some interest when the pirates came along. The pirate part is written fine. I was just expecting more about the natural history of Larry.

The illustrations by Stephanie Richoll are outstanding and help move the story along.

If you like children’s pirate adventure books, then this is the book for you. If you’re expecting to learn just about Larry’s life history, you’ll be disappointed. But if you like blue whales and pirate books, then this is definitely the book for you! It’s a book you won’t mind reading to your children over and over.
Buy now from

10 Facts About the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

By , July 13, 2015 9:30 pm
Lion's Mane Jellyfish

Lion's Mane Jellyfish photo by: NOAA

Note: Since Jellyfish aren’t really fish, I will now refer to them as Jellies instead…

1. The Lion’s Mane Jelly is the largest Jelly in the ocean. Its bell can reach up to 8 feet in diameter, and its tentacles up to 120 feet long (that’s longer than a blue whale!).

2. The Lion’s Mane Jelly lives in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic Oceans.

3. The Lion’s Mane Jelly is bioluminescent (glows in the dark!).

4. Like all jellies, the Lion’s Mane Jelly has no brain, blood, or nervous system.

5. Like all jellies, the Lion’s Mane Jelly is 95% water.

6. There are 200 species of True Jellies.

7. All Jellies are radially symmetrical.

8. Jellies have no eyes, but rather eye spots that detect light and dark.

9. Lion’s Mane Jellies have nematocysts in their tentacles that they use to sting their prey. Nematocysts are barbs (sharp points) filled with venom.

10. A Jelly can sting you even if washed up on the beach so be careful! Jelly stings on humans can be treated with vinegar to lessen the pain.

Happy World Oceans Day!

By , June 8, 2015 7:41 pm
Clark’s clownfish Wakatobi Indonesia

Clark’s clownfish photo by: Cherilyn Jose

Happy World Oceans Day! Each June 8 I stop and ponder the state of the oceans. It’s not a pretty picture as there is overfishing, pollution and climate change effects to worry about. Since I last wrote this post, “The Three Most Pressing Issue for World Oceans Day”up to 80% of the world’s fisheries are now exploited, up from 53% just 2 years ago. Over 1 billion people rely on fish for their primary source of protein. What are they to eat once there are not enough fishes to catch?

Ocean acidification has become more of a hot button issue, as the effects of it are already being seen on commercial shellfish and pteropods (a marine snail). Ocean acidification is a ticking time bomb for coral reefs. There are a few studies on places with naturally lower pH and the corals there survive, but overall it’s a bleak picture for coral reefs as far as ocean acidification is concerned. There’s also coral bleaching due to higher seawater temperatures. What is to become of the coral reefs that house 25% of the ocean’s wildlife?

More people are now aware of the problem of plastic in the ocean. If it was just plastic water bottles and plastic bags, then it would be easy to clean up. Unfortunately most of the plastic, over 90% of it, is microscopic-sized. The plastic is small enough for plankton to eat. The plastic bioaccumulates up the food chain. The little fishes eat the plastic and the bigger fishes that eat the little ones also get a dose of plastic and so on until you get to the top level predators such as sharks and humans that get an even bigger dose of plastic. Humans carry around several pounds of plastic in their body!

Phew, fortunately there are things you can do to help the oceans (taken from a previous post):

*Marine protected areas (MPAs) can help fisheries become sustainable by being a nursery for the fish caught right outside the MPA borders. Unfortunately only 1% of the oceans are protected.

*You can help by eating only sustainably caught seafood. Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide as a start.

*Curbing carbon dioxide emissions (i.e. using less fossil fuel) by using other alternative energies will help tremendously in slowing down ocean acidification.

*Driving less and using public transportation are great ways to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also consider getting solar power for your home or workplace.

*Plastic pollution is preventable, especially by cutting down the use of single use plastic bags. Please bring your own bags to the grocery store! Support local plastic bag bans. Pressure manufacturers to use only recyclable packaging. Recycle as much plastic as you can.

Every little action counts in the big picture!

Zale’s Tales-A Children’s Book Review

By , June 1, 2015 8:08 am
Zale's Tales Book Review

Zale's Tales by Everett Taylor

Zale’s Tales is a children’s book written and illustrated by a husband and wife team under the pen name of Everett Taylor.

Zale’s Tales follows the adventures of a boy who picks up a special pearl on the beach. Instantly he is in the ocean and is transformed into a sailfish! Zale loses the magic pearl (fish don’t have any pockets!) and has a long journey ahead to retrieve the pearl. His journey is filled with transformations into animals such as a mako shark and a giant squid.

Zale’s Tales is a beautifully illustrated and innovative children’s book. I enjoyed the illustrations, and my 5 year old daughter enjoyed Zale’s adventures in the ocean. This book is a great introduction to the ocean world and its inhabitants for young and old alike. I highly recommend this book to any ocean lovers, or to those who would like to nurture the next generation of ocean lovers.

Note: I did receive a review copy of this book, but I reviewed it as honestly as possible.
Buy now from

Panorama Theme by Themocracy