We Are Thankful For You!

Posted by: Kelsey Schueler

This Thanksgiving, we want to take the opportunity to say thank you for voting the ocean!

Thank you for supporting pro-ocean candidates, making your voices heard, engaging with us, and helping to shape Congress. With your support, we now have more strength on Capitol Hill than ever before! Together, we can deliver on the promise of ocean political power.

With the holidays around the corner, you can help strengthen the ocean’s political power by giving your friends and loved ones a gift membership to Ocean Champions. It’s easy to give the gift of healthy oceans – no malls, crowds or agony. Surfers, fishermen, divers, boaters and romantic couples all love healthy oceans, and they’ll love you for your thoughtfulness! In addition to your own information, include the recipient’s in the area marked “In Honor of,” and we’ll do the rest (just click here). We’ll send a fabulous Ocean Champions hat with your gift membership, so they can wear a symbol of yours and their ocean devotion!

Thanks again for your continued support. Wishing you and yours a blue/green, healthy and happy holiday season!

Date Posted: November 28, 2013 @ 11:47 am Comments Off

To Eat Or Not To Eat? The Nuclear Tuna Question

Posted by: Kelsey Schueler

The news is flush with headlines about the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi meltdown. From previously unreported leaks to the challenges of cleanup to the impact on our oceans, lots of folks are understandably concerned. Some of the most outlandish headlines focused on research published by Daniel Madigan, Zofia Baumann and Nicholas Fisher from . These researchers’ findings have many asking, should I be eating nuclear tuna?

Photo credit: Marco Care

Before answering that question, there’s an underlying question to ponder: should you eat Pacific bluefin tuna at all? The clear answer is no. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, . Why? Because bluefin tuna are being fished unsustainably with stock depletion at 96.4%. In terms of human health, methyl mercury, a neurotoxin, is the major concern. The FDA already against consuming too much tuna.

If you’re eating bluefin tuna anyway, here is what you need to know: Tuna samples had cesium radiation levels 10 times higher than before the tsunami. However, this is not a health concern because . You’d have to eat 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of tuna to be at risk.

Radiation sounds scary. But, it is important to remember that most food contains naturally occurring radiation. Bananas contain about 20 times the dose found in radiated tuna. In fact, the seafood you have been eating for years contains traces of cesium left over from Cold War nuclear weapons testing.

On the other hand, there is reason for concern about local non-pelagic fisheries near Fukushima. Many bottom dwelling species that don’t move far from home show cesium levels 40% above health advisories. As a result, these fisheries remain closed.

Bluefin tuna, on the other hand, swim 6,000 miles across the entire Pacific from their Japanese spawning grounds to feeding grounds off California. As they swim across the ocean, radioactive materials in their flesh are diluted. By they time they reach California, radioactivity is than levels near Fukushima. It also means the cesium acts as a natural tracer to study migrations of fish, birds, mammals, and turtles.

Photo credit: Gerick Bergsma

While the human risk of eating Bluefin tuna isn’t much worse as a result of the Fukushima disaster, the Bluefin tuna’s risk of extinction from continued human consumption remains frighteningly high.  So, come to think of it, maybe it’s better if people believe they’ll grow additional arms and sprout eye stalks if they eat Bluefin tuna these days.

Date Posted: November 20, 2013 @ 2:29 pm Comments Off

Mysteries of the Deep: Oarfish Discoveries

Posted by: Kelsey Schueler

Imagine an almost 20 foot deep-sea fish with a bright-orange, ribbon-like dorsal fin along its narrow body that lives in one of the earth’s last largely unexplored ecosystems. Now imagine stumbling into two of these fish in the same week! This is reality for researchers in Southern California. The exciting and puzzling discovery has sparked many to ask why? From Japanese legends that oarfish are harbingers of , to hypotheses on shifting ocean conditions, the cause of death is still unknown.

Catalina Island Marine Institute

In some respects, the oarfish are reminders of how little is known about the ocean. The rarely seen and rarely studied species lives in the mid-ocean mesopelagic zone, which receives almost no sunlight. Compared to the sea surface and floor, researchers have explored very little in the middle of the water column. While many smaller species call the mesopelagic home, the giant oarfish is quite unique. This over 20 foot behemoth floats in place, essentially swimming vertically while slurping up tiny organisms (check out rare footage of a live oarfish swimming). Their unique body shape likely gave rise to the notion of sea serpents.

As a result, samples are in high demand. The first oarfish, measuring 18 feet, was found off Santa Catalina Island. It is the largest oarfish reported in nearly 20 years. Around the world, researchers are anxious for a piece of tissue. Samples will be tested for toxins, including radiation from Fukushima. DNA samples were also collected to shed light on the oarfish’s nearest relatives. The vertebrae, gills, liver, heart and eyes will also be examined. Large parasites (up to six feet long) were discovered in the intestine.

Phil Hastings, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The second oarfish, a female with eggs, was last week. Researchers found parasites, sand, and a small amount of krill in the stomach. The ear bones, which provide a wealth of information including the age, were not recovered from the damaged head. Scientists did not even attempt to weigh the massive fish, which had to be cut into four pieces for transport.

Many species like , spend more time in the mesoplegaic than was originally thought. While it will take years for research results, it also represents an opportunity to learn more about the entire water column and how the ocean works.

Want to learn more? Check out this fantastic with Russ Vetter, NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center biologist.

Date Posted: November 4, 2013 @ 2:33 pm Comments Off