Did you know that 1 in 6 animals featured in Finding Nemo is endangered? Marlin the clownfish and Nemo the clownfish may soon be listed as endangered:
Hi, I’m Nemo, and I’m a clownfish! In school today Mr. Ray told us that clownfish might become an endangered species. Unfortunately, humans have no idea how many of us there are in the ocean! Many divers have seen less clownfish in areas where there used to be a lot of us. This may be because humans are collecting us for pets, or because our coral reefs are sick. Marlin the clownfish told me that other clownfish pairs used to have to share anemones! But now where I live, there are plenty of anemones to go around.
Officially, the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned to list clownfish under the Endangered Species Act. Surprisingly, that doesn’t mean that there are so few of us that we are endangered. What it does mean is that where we live, the coral reef, needs protection. The Endangered Species Act protects the places that endangered animals live.
You can help me and my friends by not buying clownfish for your home aquarium. If you do, please get help from an expert and only buy captive born and bred clownfish. Please just enjoy seeing us in the ocean, in public aquariums or in Finding Nemo!
Here are the Cephalopod Awareness Days we are celebrating: October 8 is Octopus Day (my favorite!), October 9 is (Chambered) Nautilus Day, October 10 is Squid and Cuttlefish Day, October 11 is Myths and Legends, and October 12 is Fossils and Extinct Species (Vampire Squid fit here as “living fossils”, they have been in the news lately, perhaps you have heard that they eat feces and corpses in the deep sea?)
In honor of Octopus Day, I thought I would go over the “State of the Oceans.” Since I’m no orator (I have no vocal cords), you’ll have to settle for my thoughts.
Right now there are 3 major issues facing the ocean today:
1. Global Warming
Whether or not you believe global warming is currently happening, or that it is humans that are causing it, the effects of global warming have been shown over geologic time (i.e. longer than humans have inhabited the earth). Global warming causes seawater temperatures to rise, which can have devastating effects on all wildlife, especially on corals. For more on coral bleaching see my last post.
Due to global warming, sea level rises faster than usual due to the melting of the polar ice caps. Ocean acidification occurs because of all the extra carbon dioxide that the ocean absorbs, and it causes seawater to become more acidic (like soda or orange juice). It mainly affects those animals that have calcium carbonate skeletons, especially the plankton at the bottom of the food chain. For more on that read Terry the Pteropod’s post on ocean acidification.
Pollution comes in many forms, including chemical (like fertilizer runoff and industrial waste), and physical (like garbage or silt). Garbage is the most insidious form of pollution in the oceans. It consists mainly of plastic in all shapes and forms. Plastic never biodegrades, and all the plastic that has ever been produced is still around today (unless it was incinerated). For more, read my previous post on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Overfishing is happening all around the world in all the world’s oceans. Every single country that fishes is catching more fish than can be replaced by the birth rate of new fish. This means that most marine animals eaten as seafood are being fished unsustainably! For more information on overfishing, please watch the documentary The End of the Line.
Once again, I’m out of time. I’ll be back soon to discuss more pressing ocean issues. Please hug a cephalopod today! Or at least abstain from eating us or buying our shells (see Shelley the chambered nautilus’ post), thank you!!
Today I wanted to discuss a recent study I was told about (I’m may be smart, but I still can’t read!). This scientific study concluded that in past 30 years, half of the Great Barrier Reef (off of Australia) is gone. While I live on the same small patch of coral reef inside my cozy den, I still need live coral reefs to house and attract the food I eat!
Why did the Great Barrier Reef die? There are many reasons why, including:
Coral bleaching is when the symbiotic photosynthetic zooanthellae living in corals expel themselves. They essentially commit suicide. These zooanthellae are very important to the corals, as in return for shelter, they produce food (like plants on land) for the coral. Without the zooanthellae, the corals are more likely to starve to death and die (bleach).
What causes the zooanthellae to die? The most likely culprit is a rise in seawater temperature due to global warming. So what can be done to keep the coral from bleaching? The most important thing humans can do is reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming.
The good news is that some scientists are trying to revive bleached coral reefs by implanting live coral fragments onto them. Scientists have also attracted new coral growth to many bleached areas by running low-voltage electricity through a metal grid.
Why are coral reefs important? They are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth. In fact, 1 in 4 fish found in the ocean lives on a coral reef! And coral reefs only cover 0.1 percent of the earth’s surface!
I’m out of time, so I will cover the other culprits of coral bleaching another day. Ollie the octopus, signing off.
Hello, my name is Terry and I’m a pteropod. What exactly is a pteropod? Well, I’m also called a sea butterfly and I have been described as a “coffee bean with wings.” What I really am is a marine snail that is about the size of a lentil, which is less than half an inch long. My terrestrial snail cousins have a hard shell on the outside and a soft body inside, while my shell is on my inside and my gelatinous goo is on the outside.
Why am I important? Well if polar bears are the poster animals for the melting polar ice caps due to global warming, then I am the poster invertebrate for ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is also due to global warming as a rise in ocean temperatures can cause seawater pH to drop and become more acidic.
So how does the ocean become more acidic? Well the same carbon dioxide emissions that warm our atmosphere and cause global warming ultimately become absorbed by the oceans. The oceans cover more than 70% of the planet. Carbon dioxide dissolves in water and make it more acidic, like soda. While the seawater in the ocean is not turning into Coke, a sprinkle here and there of acidic water can have devastating effects on ocean life.
Ocean acidification will directly affect me, my descendents, and my planktonic peers as my inner shell will dissolve as the water around me becomes more acidic. I will die. While I have a fairly short lifespan of a few months (to years if I escape being eaten!) to begin with, it is the new gap in the bottom of the food chain that will be troubling. Fish won’t have anything to eat, and the larger animals that eat them will be hungry too. Imagine if on land all the grass and insects suddenly got wiped out. Then everything from birds, deer, and bears would be scrambling around for new food sources or face extinction.
So, what can you do to help? What you are hopefully already doing to curb global warming: driving less, carpooling, taking public transportation, and exploring the use of alternative energies. The 3 R’s help too: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Also support efforts to create Marine Protected Areas around the globe. Less than 1% of the oceans are protected versus 12% of land being protected. Don’t forget to spread the word, as we can all make a difference by being informed!
UPDATE DECEMBER 2012: Scientists have found that pteropods are being affected by ocean acidification now, as opposed to a previous prediction of 2038. Link to article here
Meet Ollie the Octopus and learn the ocean acidification definition
Hello, my name is Ollie, and I’m an Octopus. I will give the ocean acidification definition shortly! Welcome to my blog entry, told from the point-of-view of an octopus. I am ecstatic to have found myself a human translator (or is she an octopus translator??) named Cherilyn. I chose a blog to get my thoughts and feelings across as I will only live to be 2-3 years old at most and it is very urgent that I share the many changes happening to my watery world now!
Ocean Acidification is due to Global Warming
My human translator recently told me about a documentary she watched, “A Sea Change,” which is about ocean acidification due to global warming. All I could think was eek, my beak (mouth) and radula (teeth) will start to dissolve soon and they don’t make dentures for octopuses! Also within a few octopus generations (and definitely within your human lifetime), my coral reef may be dead. Yes, the corals that pre-date humans by thousands of years will be gone in a blink of geologic time. Sure the earth and her oceans over millions of years can deal with the rise of temperatures in both the atmosphere and ocean, but ocean acidification may be the straw that broke the camel shrimp’s back.
Ocean Acidification Definition
The ocean acidification definition is that all the little animals and plants that build up the massive coral reefs (which are visible from outer space!) will be gone if the saltwater they live in becomes more acidic and dissolves their calcium carbonate skeletons. My favorite foods, crabs and shrimps, will be gone if they can no longer make their exoskeletons. No longer will my worst nightmares consist of the “baby octopus bowls” served at Japanese restaurants. No, it will be that I have no food to eat, and to boot, no place to live!
Stop destroying my ocean!
One in four ocean creatures lives on a coral reef and I believe there isn’t a more beautiful and productive place on earth. In fact my human translator called coral reefs “heaven in the ocean” after a SCUBA dive in the South Pacific. From what I’ve heard, due to industrialization, humans have caused massive destruction to the beautiful land all across the earth by exploiting her once plentiful resources. I’m not looking forward to what humans can do to the oceans, nor can I ignore what they already have done.
No part of the once thought of massive, untouchable and exotic oceans are left unscathed by the reaches of man. There is no pristine anything anymore—from pollution caused by runoff from the land, to carbon dioxide and other chemicals spewed into the air that eventually make their way into the oceans (oceans cover more than 70% of the so called “earth”), to the overfishing of large predatory fish. But increasingly (and supposedly) efficient methods of fishing are wiping out entire schools of both small and large fish in a blink of an eye and leaving nothing but millions of fish scales to sink to the bottom of the ocean forever. Don’t get me started about the coral bleaching due to global warming, as seeing dead patches of coral really makes me want to really ink someone!
I’m glad I only live a few years at most. If I successfully reproduce, I hope my offspring will have a healthy coral reef to live on, and food to eat. I hope for your human offspring’s sake they don’t ask someday, “why are there no more coral reefs in the ocean? Or more importantly, “why didn’t you do anything to stop the destruction of the coral reefs?”
You Can Help!!
Fortunately there is still time, and there is still hope. Although only 1% of all the money donated to conservation causes is ocean related, you can make a difference one cent and one dollar at a time. It costs nothing to sign on-line petitions, e-mail your local Senators or Representatives or to just to stay informed (follow my human interpreter on twitter @protectoceans or visit protecttheoceans.org. Tell just one person what you’ve learned today and hopefully someday your grandchildren, after peeking underwater at a coral reef for the first time, or seeing a whale surface and spout in the ocean, will thank you for helping to protect the oceans and its inhabitants from destruction by mankind.