Environmental Issues

On Ocean Stewardship

In early January, California got hit with a series of storms. With no dive lined up on a Saturday morning I needed an “ocean fix” so I drove to the beach at Casa Cove in La Jolla to check out the colony of harbor seals that inhabits the controversial area known as the Children’s Pool. Their pupping season begins in mid-December, and I wanted to see if I might be able to see and photograph a newborn pup or two. I knew I would have […]

SoCal’s Bluewater Sharks: The Blue Shark and Shortfin Mako

The first time I saw a blue shark was during the summer of 1975. I am certain of the timing because that time frame was the first time I dived at the Channel Islands. And when we were on our way to and from the islands during daylight hours we were almost certain to see the dorsal fins of dozens of blue sharks knifing their way along the surface.  That is not the case today. But maybe, just maybe, it can be that way again. […]

Massive Anchovy School Migrates Off La Jolla

The waters off La Jolla in San Diego were filled with anchovies in early July, as a massive school of the fish migrated near shore, leading to a spectacular sight recorded by researchers from the San Diego-based Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). The event gained nationwide media attention. According to Scripps, the giant school of California anchovies, also called northern anchovies, Engraulis mordax, formed a dark band off La Jolla, near the Scripps pier, swimming quickly through the area. In an interview with CNN, SIO […]

Sea Star Mass Mortality Hits West Coast

Sea stars along much of the Pacific coast of North America are experiencing a mass mortality called sea star wasting syndrome. Early signs of the syndrome can include a “deflated” appearance, unnatural twisting, or small lesions on the surface that may increase in size and number. Wasting syndrome can progress rapidly, and often leads to loss of arms, softening of tissue, and eventual death just a few days after external signs become visible. Although similar sea star wasting events have occurred previously, a mortality event […]

Seen Any Basking Sharks? Contact NOAA

Basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) are one of the largest fish in the sea, second only to whale sharks. They can reach a maximum size of 45 feet, and are distinguished from whale sharks by their pointy snouts, dark grey to brown color, and gill slits that nearly encircle their head. Like whale sharks, as well as all the largest rays and cetaceans, basking sharks are filter feeders foraging near the base of the food-web on krill and other zooplankton. Consequently, they have no interest in […]

California Marine Life: Technology Provides New Insight Into White Shark Behavior

The image of a white shark invokes extremes in our emotions. They bring out a deep, primal fear in some, while others experience joy in observing their grace and beauty. White sharks are big–up to twenty-one feet long and 7000 pounds. They have a mouthful of serrated teeth that are effectively used to hunt fish when they are young, but switch to marine mammals after they grow to nine or ten feet. On very rare occasions they will bite a human. Yet, those who have […]

Orange County Ocean Restoration Project Celebrates Its Successes

Giant kelp forests are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. Often referred to as the rainforests of the sea, more than 800 species depend on them and we are one of them. We use products everyday that contain algin, a compound extracted from giant kelp. Over the last 30 years, giant kelp bed densities have been in decline. This is thought to be due to the population explosion in Southern California and an unbalanced food web. According to the California Department of […]

The Price and Pain of Ocean Conservation

The application of the Marine Life Protection Act to the coastline of California came one step closer to completion as the proposals for the area from Pt. Conception to the Mexican border were forwarded to the Fish and Game Commission for approval on December 9th. Over the next several months the merits of the proposals will be debated and final evaluations will be determined before the end of 2010. This third of four phases will be complete when late this year. The final work on […]

Environment in Danger: Stopping the Killer Weed

Your assistance is needed to prevent a grave environmental and economic disaster from occurring along our precious Pacific coastline. A highly invasive strain of the non-native green seaweed Caulerpa taxifolia has been discovered in a coastal lagoon in San Diego County. (August 2000 California Diving News). This finding is the first time the invasive strain of Caulerpa taxifolia, also dubbed “killer algae” in the Mediterranean, has been reported in the Western Hemisphere. However, another infestation has also been identified more recently in an isolated portion […]

California’s Changing Abalone Regulations-The Science Behind The Law

In California abalone is big business. In 1957 the yearly commercial abalone harvest peaked at 5 million pounds, and dropped to around 300,000 pounds annually in the mid 1990s. Sport harvesters in Northern California currently take some 2 million pounds of abalone per year, and spend an estimated $10 million to do so. With the closure of commercial take in 1997, the price of a poached abalone has risen to between $80 and $100 per abalone, and the value of abalone poached each year is […]

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