TENDUA - Association for biodiversity conservation

Newsletter n°10


WORLD : Our oceans are sick

Source : AFP
This classification has been developed by U.S. and Canadian researchers, who studied 171 exclusive economic zones (EEZ), extending 200 nautical miles from the coast, and are of the responsibility of coastal countries.

The researchers studied ten different themes, such as the availability of food, the water quality, the artisanal fishing, the capacity for carbon sequestration, tourism and biodiversity.
Benjamin Halpern (University of California), one of the leaders of the study, told AFP that it was “the first time that are directly combined so many different dimensions such as social, economic-ecological, political - that define a healthy ocean.”

“This is an important tool to assess where we are and where we want to go”, he said.
Alright, we have the tools, but do we know exactly where we want to go?...

The study, published in October 2013, shows a often poor status of our oceans.
Taking into consideration the classification of water quality, Jarvis Island, a small uninhabited South Pacific territory belonging to the United States, is the first with a score of 86 points out of 100, in conjunction with other Pacific uninhabited islands.

“Obviously, the human presence has a substantial negative impact on the ocean, and the scores are inversely related to coastal population”, notes the study, published in the scientific journal Nature. And nearly half the world’s population lives near the coast ...

At the top of the charts , the Seychelles, one of the few developing countries that are ranked in the «top 12». There are also Surinam, and Germany ranked 4th, ahead of countries inhabited with a score of 73 out of 100. These two countries are closely followed by French Polynesia (72 out ver 100). France obtains 66 out of 100, just behind Russia (67) and the French Antilles (54).
Poland and Singapore can be found at the bottom of the ladder. Eleven African countries occupy the last places in the ranking, with scores of 42-36, Sierra Leone being red lantern.

UNITED KINGDOM : the largest marine protected area to be created at the Picairn Islands

Source : ABC radio Australia

These four Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, with an area of ​​47 km2 are the only British overseas territory in the South Pacific, halfway between New Zealand and Chile.

© internet

Although probably the most remote and least populated, the Pitcairn Islands have a large project: creating the largest marine reserve in the world. The deputy mayor of Pitcairn recently went to London to convince the authorities to place under the protection of all waters around four islands, i.e. 836,000 km2.

The Pitcairn Council unanimously voted in favor of this project and is waiting for the green light from the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Governor of Pitcairn in New Zealand.

According to ABC Radio Australia , the mayor of Pitcairn Mike Warren confirmed that the idea of ​​a huge marine park was taken for the sake of the environment and also to attract tourists : “Actually we live on a budget support. And our budget is 95% dependent of the UK. It would be nice if we can manage ourselves. And we believe that the creation of a protected area is a step in this direction. But we would also protect the waters of Pitcairn and of the other three islands. If you live on Pitcairn today , you could watch the ocean through the window and the ocean is absolutely everything blue. We would like to protect it. We would also protect all marine life. Last year , a group of National Geographic came to Pitcairn. They took some great underwater photos that clearly show the purity of the waters of Pitcairn. Those are the two reasons why we would like the waters around Pitcairn to be protected.”

© voilier coccinelle

According to the organization Global Ocean Legacy: “The island waters are frequented by a large and varied wildlife including complex populations of hard and soft corals home to hundreds of species of fish, including two unique species: fish-soldier and an endemic Chaetodon fish species. This unspoiled and secluded environment also attracts large migratory animals such as graceful green sea turtle (EN) and the elusive sei whale (EN).”

This is probably due to its very low population (between 50 and 55 people representing 9 families) that the Pitcairn Islands are able to maintain a marine heritage of such wealth. One question : who will help Pitcairn people to control and protect the huge marine area ?

BAJA CALIFORNIA : 3 strandings in 8 days

Sunday, 10/13/2013, an instructor of the Marine Institute Catalina found, while she was snorkeling, the carcass of a 6m oarfish in the Bay of Santa Catalina Island in Baja California. According to the Institute, the oarfish can reach more than 15 m, making it the longest bony fish in the world.

Oarfish, Venice Beach, California
Oarfish, Venice Beach, California
© Marc Bussey

This rare animal, snake-shaped, has a long dorsal fin and purple eyes saucer-shaped.

Two days later, 25 miles beyond the canal in Venice Beach, this is a very rare beaked whale 5m and 2 tons that was found beached. It would be a Ginkgo-toothed beaked whale (Mesoplodon ginkgodens) or a Stejneger’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon stejnegeri).

Beaked whale, Venice Beach, California
Beaked whale, Venice Beach, California
© A. Shulman-Janiger

These toothed cetaceans look like big dolphins ranging in size from 4m to 12m, with a weight of 1 and 10 tones. We know almost nothing about these animals that usually live far offshore in deep water. There is very little or no observation at sea.

Beaked whale fluke, Venice Beach, California
Beaked whale fluke, Venice Beach, California
© A. Shulman-Janiger

The mammal is under study at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. Scientists conduct analyzes of the animal and proceed to the species identification.

Beaked whale, Venice Beach, California
Beaked whale, Venice Beach, California
© A. Shulman-Janiger

Dave Janiger prepares to deliver the beaked whale to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Photo by Alisa-Schulman-Janiger

On Friday, 18/10/2013, another 5m long oarfish was found stranded on the beach near Oceanside, California, by students from elementary school. Aquatic giants usually live more than 1000/1500 meters deep. According to Japanese tradition, the fishermen believe that these animals have close links with earthquakes. In finding them on the beach they would be like an alarm warning of an earthquake.

Indeed, several reports in the months that followed the earthquake of 8.8 magnitude in Chile in 2010, a year before the earthquake of magnitude 9 in March 2011 that shook Japan, several regalecs called “Messengers of God maritime palace” in Japanese, have washed up or were captured near the epicenter of the earthquake off the coast of Honshu.

Oarfish, Venice Beach, California
Oarfish, Venice Beach, California
© M. Bussey

We do not know the reason for these repeated stranding, in so little time, but we doubt whether it be a coincidence. Would it be the result of Navy’s maneuvers off the coast? An underwater earthquake the San Andreas? Some deep offshore explorations? The destruction of the seabed?
A reader on the Facebook page “ABC News 10” speculated that the cause was radiation from Japan ", in reference to the tsunami generated the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Scientists will try to find a possible explanation. To be continued ...

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