Trick or Treat

Posted by: Mike Mishler

It’s not generally known but Halloween is the favorite holiday of ocean dwellers. They love to dress up in elaborate costumes and party ’til the tide comes in.
Here’s Flipper who throws the biggest party every Halloween.
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Here’s Flippers dressed up as the creature from Alien
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The Walrus has decided to go as John Lennon,
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Or Wilford Brimley he’s not quite sure yet.

The Jellies always dress up as Bob Marley
jah jelly

And Sharky Sharkerton
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expects to win the award for scariest costume with his very realistic corrupt Senator costume.
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However, they take trick or treating very seriously and the funny thing is since they use a tidal calendar, their Halloween falls on Nov. 4th this year. Very Scary.
So give them a treat when you vote on Tuesday otherwise you might find your house sea slugged or t.p.’d *
* (turtle pooped)

Date Posted: October 31, 2008 @ 9:12 am Comments (1)

The wild life of Haliotis Rufescen

Posted by: Mike Mishler

Haliotis Rufescen

In my other life I work as the Archivist for the La Jolla Historical Society. Today I was reading over some transcripts of oral histories recorded in the 1980′s and I found one for Al Frolich. Mr. Frolich talked about the joys of growing up in the seaside village of La Jolla in the 1920′s. Most of his time, it seems, was spent ditching school and hunting, or ditching school and fishing, or the time he and his buddy Jim ditched school and went cliff diving. One of the major themes in Al’s memory was, well beside ditching school, was how easy it was to hunt abalone.

First I don’t know why it’s always called hunting. It’s not like the abalone are going to bolt and stampede or that a vicious rogue stray might sneak up behind and stomp you.

Secondly what struck me was how easy it was to get abalone. Al describes days spent climbing over the rocks at low tide filling his sack with abalone. The coast was wild with them, he said and in the aftermath of a particularly nasty storm Al and his friend collected and then passed along to their friends, 50 to 75 abalone they found floating in the tide.

50 to 75 abalone. Compare that to part of the 2008 California Dept. of Fish and Game regulations concerning Abalone

Red abalone may be taken from April 1 through June 30; and from Aug. 1 through Nov. 30 in California’s waters north of San Francisco. The sport fishery is closed in July to allow abalone a recovery period during this traditionally high-take period.

The daily bag limit is three per day, with a maximum of 24 abalone per year.

Abalone taken must measure at least 7 inches in diameter.

Abalone may only be taken by hand or by abalone irons. Scuba gear and surface-supplied air are prohibited.

Free divers and shore pickers (16 years or older) must possess a valid sport fishing license. Abalone report cards are required by everyone fishing for or taking abalone.

Report cards are required on all abalone fishing days, including the two free fishing days, June 7 and Sept. 27.

So who cares about a bunch of ugly sea snails whose only real value is their tasty meat and shells that make great ashtrays?

scan-12.jpgsmoking-cigarette1.jpgAbalone shell

Hmm, good question. If you ask the experts what happened to abalone they talk about overfishing especially (illegal harvesting), disease, being too tasty to predators, and loss of habitat. Most of that seems natural right? Well if you look at it from the abalones point of view (Do they have eyes?) Okay, if you consider their feelings, they would probably mention overfishing as the main cause. See if there are less abalone overall and what’s left is crammed into smaller spaces where the water may not be as healthy as it once was, then yeah you’re more prone to disease. (Just ask any parent with small children) Oh, and the predators eating you and your young, aren’t eating less just to be nice to you. They only care about their survival. Wow this sounds more like Wall Street every second.

So what’s the point? The point is I need to get in a blatant plug for the Ocean Champions before we go to the polls. So, before you vote think of the plight of the oceans and the abalone, then cast your vote for the candidates who will help protect and repair our oceans. If you won’t help the abalone, at least do it for their babies.

Date Posted: October 29, 2008 @ 11:09 am Comments (1)

The 800 Pound Gorilla in the Room – Really

Posted by: Maureen Wilmot

With just twelve days to go before the election, I thought I would write today about Mountain Gorillas in Africa and an eel that missed her bartender.

What does this have to do with oceans and the races of our ocean champions?

Plenty, I say.

Last week I had the good fortune to hear Dr. Lucy Spelman speak at the University of California at Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab public lecture series.

Dr. Spelman is the former director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington DC and is currently the Regional Veterinary Manager for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project based in Rwanda, Africa.

She has just written a book with Dr. Ted Mashima called, the Rhino with the Glue-on Shoes. It is a collection of real-life stories of some of the most unusual cases taken on by zoological vets. It is not just about cutting edge procedures and life and death incidences, for the animals as well as the doctors; it is also about this amazing bond we humans have with animals. (Such as the eel that got too big for her tank at a bar so she was given to a public aquarium. The eel would not eat until her old bartender came to see her at the aquarium.)

But what really made me sit up and take notice was when Dr. Spelman talked about her current work with the remaining 750 Mountain Gorillas on this planet. She and her team of other vets, technicians and trackers work to monitor the health of these animals. She noted that gorillas and humans share 98% of the same DNA. Therefore, the gorillas are susceptible to the diseases and infections of humans. This led Dr. Spelman to expand her health care beyond the gorillas to include the surrounding villagers and their livestock. In order to prevent gorillas from being exposed the diseases, they need to keep the villagers healthy.

Dr. Spelman’s mantra is “It takes healthy people to protect wildlife.”

The more I thought of this, the more I realized this also so true about protecting the oceans.

It takes healthy people to protect the oceans.

And I am talking not just about exposing sea life to coughs and colds of humans. I am also talking about healthy, vibrant human communities.

We are more likely to have the financial resources needed to clean up coastal waters if the local economy is healthy and thriving. And you can understand how communities in the Northeast, whose economies are already wiped out because of plummeting fish stocks, are reluctant to support a law that in the long run will bring back the fish populations, but in the short run limit the amount of fish they can take.

With the oceans it goes both ways though. Healthy oceans means healthy humans, abundant fish stocks for food, clean water that does not carry diseases that infect humans and we need humans to be healthy so be able to know that their basic needs of food, shelter and health are met and then they can look outward to care for their environment.

So, as we hunker down for the homestretch in the 2008 election, think about why we need our ocean champions in Congress to ensure healthy oceans to ensure healthy citizens that will ensure healthy oceans in a wonderful feedback loop.

Date Posted: October 23, 2008 @ 2:45 pm Comments (3)

If an oil rig gushes oil into the ocean…

Posted by: Denise

…but, nobody knows about it— is it still harmful? How about if a McSuper-Luxury-Liner dumps gallons and gallons of waste into the ocean, but we don’t smell it, does it still stink?

I just read an interesting article in HBS Working Knowledge about our inability to make sound ethical judgments upon the wrongdoing of others when we do not know the victims and cannot see the direct and/or immediate harm.

Nameless + Harmless = Blameless?

As American’s, we have a pretty big decision to make within the next two weeks. I’m thinking it may be a good idea to enter the voting booth with the full understanding that even though we may not see it, hear it, or immediately feel it— decisions made by our elected representatives that are harmful to our environment, do indeed, negatively affect our health, economy and lifestyle. And while we may not see it in this evening’s nightly news, our kids will experience it for the rest of their lives.

Putting a face on ethics

August 11, 2006: Remelio Dalida, a fisherman, is the first human fatality claimed by the Guimaras oil spill. Dead fish and other sea creatures have washed up on the shoreline of Guimaras, coated in bunker fuel.

December 31, 2007: MANILA, Philippines Reported a case of a fatality brought by red tide happened when an eight-year-old girl died after experiencing stomach pains. The girl, a resident of Barangay Sampaloc in Sorsogon City, allegedly consumed shellfish infected with the red tide toxin that came from the Sorsogon Bay.

Col. Michael R. Stahlman
Hometown: Chevy Chase, Maryland, U.S.
Age: 45 years old
Died: October 5, 2008 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit: Marines, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Incident: Died Oct. 5 from injuries sustained in a July 31 non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq.

Vote like you know them.

Date Posted: October 21, 2008 @ 10:08 am Comments (5)

Google Now Mapping Oceans

Posted by: Jack Sterne

O.K., a quick break from politics (although I probably should be writing something about the debate tonight), to note this super-cool story about Google mapping the oceans.  Somebody mentioned this in a meeting I was in last week, but I hadn’t come across the story until now.  You can zoom around the oceans on Google Earth, and check out marine protected areas all over the planet.

According to the AP story:

The feature on Google Earth displays icons indicating sensitive areas of the world’s oceans, from the waters off the Galapagos Islands to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

A click on them brings up photos and/or video of the sites and marine life there, as well as text explaining the sites, how they are managed and local maritime lore.

Word is that Google plans to do even more with this tool down the line.  It never ceases to amaze me what they can come up with.

Date Posted: October 15, 2008 @ 9:21 pm Comments (1)

Kratovil Up in New Poll

Posted by: Jack Sterne

As many of you know, the race to succeed Ocean Champion Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District is one of our highest priority races.  We’ve endorsed local prosecutor and ocean lover Frank Kratovil (D) against anti-environment zealot State Sen. Andy Harris (R).  Rep. Gilchrest, who wants to ensure that his stalwart record of working to protect the environment is maintained, has crossed party lines to endorse Frank Kratovil.

Well the good news out of Maryland today is that Kratovil has now taken a two point lead over Harris in a new poll released yesterday.  This is after he trailed by nine points back in May.

This is a fantastic trend, and indicates that Kratovil could actually pull this off.  We really need to defeat Harris, or we’ll have a double-whammy, going from one of the strongest advocates for the oceans in Congress, to what is sure to be one of the worst.  Please do what you can to support Kratovil.  You can donate to his campaign here.

Date Posted: October 14, 2008 @ 5:50 pm Comments Off

Turning Up The Volume

Posted by: Chris Laughlin

I am continually reminded and amazed at how everything can be so connected. From what I’ve been reading in recent articles… if we don’t start doing something to curb our fossil fuel consumption, combined with the fact that the overall pH of the world’s oceans continues to drop, the volume is only going to increase in our beautiful big blue. And, our beautiful big blue marine life will pay the price…

Gray whale off of the coast of Mexico

As if they don’t have enough to contend with already. Numbering less than 400, the North Atlantic right whale ranks among the most endangered species in the world.

Southern right whale, sister species to the North Atlantic right whale and North Pacific right whale.

Check out this recent MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) article: “Unanticipated consequences of ocean acidification: A noisier ocean at lower pH

Bottom line:

We’ve got to START PROTECTING and STOP TURNING UP THE VOLUME.

Date Posted: October 10, 2008 @ 3:41 pm Comments Off

Learn Baby Learn!

Posted by: Mike Mishler

Okay time for a little trip through deregulation history.
The idea of deregulartion is that if you let an industry regulate itself the natural forces of the market will make it more efficient and better at responding to consumers needs. Does it work?

Airlines~ Deregulation was supposed to encourage competition, give consumers more choices and lower prices. Hmm, Yeah that worked, It all smiles, and champagne in the friendly (We’ll have to charge you for that smile) skies. So yeah, that worked.

Utilities and power companies~ Deregulation was going to be good for consumers, good for the economy (especially for caviar producers) lower prices, and boost the use of clean, renewable power sources. Yeah that worked. Um, what about Enron? Or the companies who caused black outs by shutting down power plants when they were needed most so they could drive up energy costs. As for clean energy, they are now promoting “clean” burning coal power. Smoke, soot, and asthma are the new green.

Wall Street~ Sure, let the engine of the world’s economy regulate itself. Heck they wouldn’t do anything to hurt themselves, or us, in the name of short-term dividends and billion dollar bonuses. How’s that working? Apparently we’d have been better off hiring a pack of wild dingoes to baby-sit our kids.

Speaking of dingoes, now we’re at the point where Congress has listened to the call of the wild dingo, and mynah birds, (Drill baby drill! Squawk!) and is going to allow offshore drilling. The mynahs are just repeating what they’ve been told to say and the dingoes are promising to be good. They say drilling is much safer and cleaner today than it was in the bad old days when they didn’t have to care about seagulls and seals. All they ask is to please (they’re saying please) take away any restrictions and roll back those pesky regulations that cut into productivity. If we give them what they want all will be not just hunky, but hunky dory in 12 to 30 years. Remember they’re not in this business for profit they’re doing it for the economy, for our national security, but most of all, for our children. They love children.

Date Posted: October 8, 2008 @ 4:52 pm Comments (1)

Reflections on last week…

Posted by: David Wilmot

What a week. I’m returning energized from a week in Washington, DC. With the November election just over a month away, DC was electric. Of course, the state of our economy and the ongoing efforts to craft a bailout added another dimension. I was there to do a little looking back and even more looking forward. Once a year, we take the opportunity to recognize members of Congress who have worked to protect our oceans. If you have attended in the past, you would call this recognition a party. And if you attended this year, you would call it our biggest and most exciting Ocean Champions party.

I’m very proud. I’m proud that together we have built Ocean Champions into an organization that is having tremendous reach. The bottom line is that a lot of people,  people who matter for our oceans,  joined the party this year. We should all be thrilled that so many members of Congress are doing important work for our oceans AND they wanted to come to our event to thank us for helping them. We were there to thank them! And our friends and colleagues from the ocean conservation community and beyond joined us. I hope everyone who attended had as much fun as I did. And if you couldn’t make it, we missed you and enjoy the pictures.

In addition to our event and a variety of fundraisers for candidates (I’ll share some stories soon), I was fortunate to attend the grand opening of the Sant Ocean Hall at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. It was a wonderful evening (even with the pouring rain outside) and exciting to have our oceans and their wildlife receiving much needed recognition and attention. I had the good fortune of speaking briefly with Roger Sant and his daughter Shari Sant Plummer and congratulating them on the exhibit. If you don’t know, the new Ocean Hall is named after Victoria and Roger Sant who have been very generous philanthropists to many ocean conservation efforts. Thank you Roger, Vicki and Shari!

Photos Copyright Doug DeMark Photography
Sandra Whitehouse and Rep. Sam Farr

Ocean Champions Board Member Mike Sutton & Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

David Wilmot, Rep. Shays & Ocean Champions Chairman Rob Moir


Margo Pellegrino, Roz Savage, David Helvarg & Billy Causey

Del. Madeline Bordallo & David Wilmot

Chairman Rahall, Senate Candidate Tom Allen & David Wilmot

Reps. Farr & Capps

David Wilmot & Rep. Pallone

Patrick Collins & Jan Cousteau

David Wilmot & Phillippe Cousteau

More photos coming soon on our website…

Date Posted: October 2, 2008 @ 8:57 am Comments (1)