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Puerto Madero, Mexico

This research explores the contributions of the sea turtle conservation movement in Baja California Sur (B. C. S.), Mexico, to the growth of associational life in the state. Mexico has historically been known as a country with a traditionally weak associational life. Yet, the activities of sea turtle NGOs and community groups presented a unique case study to better understand the social, political, and strategic factors that have contributed to voluntary civic engagement and the environmental successes of the movement. Through 799 interviews and surveys with public stakeholders, this research utilized Sabet's (Democratization 2:410-432, 2008) focus on political opportunity, efforts to reform informal rules, and supportive social networks, as an explanatory framework to help describe the emergence of associational life. We found that the sea turtle conservation movement in B. C. S. has become accessible to a diversity of interests and individuals. We found unexpected results in the extent of federal environmental agency complaisance in regard to the involvement of NGOs in conservation programs and environmental policy decisions that have traditionally been the sole domain of the Government of Mexico. © 2010 International Society for Third-Sector Research and The John's Hopkins University. Source


Polanowski A.M.,Australian Antarctic Division | Robbins J.,Center for Coastal Studies | Chandler D.,Australian Genome Research Facility | Jarman S.N.,Australian Antarctic Division
Molecular Ecology Resources | Year: 2014

Age is a fundamental aspect of animal ecology, but is difficult to determine in many species. Humpback whales exemplify this as they have a lifespan comparable to humans, mature sexually as early as 4 years and have no reliable visual age indicators after their first year. Current methods for estimating humpback age cannot be applied to all individuals and populations. Assays for human age have recently been developed based on age-induced changes in DNA methylation of specific genes. We used information on age-associated DNA methylation in human and mouse genes to identify homologous gene regions in humpbacks. Humpback skin samples were obtained from individuals with a known year of birth and employed to calibrate relationships between cytosine methylation and age. Seven of 37 cytosines assayed for methylation level in humpback skin had significant age-related profiles. The three most age-informative cytosine markers were selected for a humpback epigenetic age assay. The assay has an R2 of 0.787 (P = 3.04e-16) and predicts age from skin samples with a standard deviation of 2.991 years. The epigenetic method correctly determined which of parent-offspring pairs is the parent in more than 93% of cases. To demonstrate the potential of this technique, we constructed the first modern age profile of humpback whales off eastern Australia and compared the results to population structure 5 decades earlier. This is the first epigenetic age estimation method for a wild animal species and the approach we took for developing it can be applied to many other nonmodel organisms. © 2014 The Authors. Molecular Ecology Resources Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source


Entangled whales can tow fishing gear for tens to hundreds of miles over months or even years, before either being freed, shedding the gear on their own, or succumbing to their injuries. In a paper published online Dec. 9, 2015, in Marine Mammal Science, a research team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has for the first time quantified the amount of drag on entangled whales that is created by towing fishing gear, such as rope, buoys, and lobster and crab traps. The study provides important data for teams evaluating the risks and benefits of whale disentanglements. "We know that entanglement can change a whale's diving and swimming behavior and depletes their energy," said Julie van der Hoop, lead author of the paper and a PhD Candidate in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography, "but the big thing we have never really known is what it must be like for animals to tow the gear. Is it like wearing an empty backpack or is that backpack overloaded with heavy books? Does removing part of the gear improve chances of survival? These are some of the questions that we were looking to answer with this research." Working with colleagues from the Center for Coastal Studies and NOAA Fisheries, van der Hoop used a load cell to measure the drag forces on various types of fishing gear collected from past right whale entanglements. The team tested 16 sets of gear— five sets that included floats or buoys, one that included a two-brick lobster trap and 10 that were line only— towing them behind the WHOI vessel R/V Tioga across a range of speeds and depths. The team found considerable variation in drag created by the different sets of gear, with the presence of floats and buoys having a significant effect on the overall drag created for the entangled animal. "Some entanglements have very low drag, for example if a whale is towing 10 meters of rope, which is basically the length of the whale itself," van der Hoop said. "The weighted lobster trap created the most with three times the amount of natural drag on a whale's body. That's a huge increase in what is normal to these animals." On average, the team found that entanglement increases the total body drag to 1.5 times that of a non-entangled whale. They also calculated the additional energy costs to the animal. "Entangled animals have to spend twice as much energy to swim at the same speed," van der Hoop said, based on results from a separate study. "This study significantly improves our understanding of the energetic cost of large whale entanglement drag forces. These persistent entanglement cases can be a very serious barrier to whales attempting to grow migrate and reproduce," added Michael Moore, a coauthor and van der Hoop's advisor. "The study also reinforces current disentanglement efforts to minimize entangling gear if it cannot be removed entirely." The tests also allowed researchers to establish a relationship between drag and gear length, which will help in estimating the amount of drag on an entangled whale when it is first spotted. By reducing trailing line length by 75 percent, drag on the animal can be decreased by 85 percent. This research is an expansion on an individual case study in 2013 of a two-year-old female North Atlantic right whale called Eg 3911, or Bayla, who was first sighted emaciated and entangled in fishing gear on Christmas Day 2010 near Jacksonville, Florida, by an aerial survey team. Using a small, suction-cupped device called a Dtag to monitor the animal, van der Hoop, Moore, and colleagues from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and NOAA Fisheries, showed for the first time how fishing lines impacted an individual, entangled whale. Though disentanglement efforts by a rescue team eventually led to the removal of almost all of the gear after several attempts, Eg 3911 didn't survive. Her injuries were too severe to overcome. An aerial survey in February 2011 observed Eg 3911 dead at sea. A necropsy showed that effects of the chronic entanglement were the cause of death. "We know that entanglement does more than just kill whales, and we know North Atlantic right whales aren't as healthy as right whales in the Southern Hemisphere," said coauthor Peter Corkeron, of NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center. "This work is a step towards quantifying just how entanglement is contributing to North Atlantic right whales' health problems." Explore further: Sedation successfully used to disentangle North Atlantic right whale


News Article | November 2, 2015
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/earth.xml

An 813-pound female leatherback sea turtle was found dead a mile south of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Necropsy reports from biologists revealed the adult female sea turtle died from rope entanglement. A two-foot section of marine rope was found in the sea turtle's mouth. Necropsy revealed several abrasions and teared tissues that complemented the rope entanglement, which led the turtle to a point of exhaustion and eventually drowned. Leatherback sea turtles are considered the biggest turtles in the world and also one of the reptiles' largest. The six-and-a-half-foot leatherback sea turtle was towed to a boat dock close to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The necropsy was completed at the New England Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital in Quincy, where officials determined the sea turtle had been dead for almost three days. The lifeless turtle was about the average size of its species. "It's the only sea turtle species that doesn't have a hard shell. It's like a hide that you might encounter on cattle, but softer and more leather-like," said Tony LaCasse, the spokesman for the New England Aquarium. The sea turtle had a tracking tag fastened to its body, which was probably used during nesting on the Caribbean beach. The exact locations will be determined early this week. Leatherback turtles are rarely seen species. However, another leatherback turtle was caught on a fishing gear near Pamet Harbor in Truro. The marine animal response team from Center for Coastal Studies were able to disentangle the 4.5-foot leatherback turtle using a grappling hook and sharp knives. The turtle survived with minor injuries and is expected to recover fully. The larger turtle had not been as fortunate. The mature female's premature death is a huge loss for its species. LaCasse added that out of a thousand hatchlings, only one could survive in the waters. Human activities such as heavy poaching remain the largest threat to the species. In New England, threats include entanglement with vertical lines and collision with boats. In early summer, leatherback sea turtles swim to New England waters to feast on sea jellies. But come winter, they swim towards the warmer waters of the eastern Caribbean.


News Article | November 2, 2015
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/earth.xml

An 813-pound female leatherback sea turtle was found dead a mile south of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Necropsy reports from biologists revealed the adult female sea turtle died from rope entanglement. A two-foot section of marine rope was found in the sea turtle's mouth. Necropsy revealed several abrasions and teared tissues that complemented the rope entanglement, which led the turtle to a point of exhaustion and eventually drowned. Leatherback sea turtles are considered the biggest turtles in the world and also one of the reptiles' largest. The six-and-a-half-foot leatherback sea turtle was towed to a boat dock close to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The necropsy was completed at the New England Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital in Quincy, where officials determined the sea turtle had been dead for almost three days. The lifeless turtle was about the average size of its species. "It's the only sea turtle species that doesn't have a hard shell. It's like a hide that you might encounter on cattle, but softer and more leather-like," said Tony LaCasse, the spokesman for the New England Aquarium. The sea turtle had a tracking tag fastened to its body, which was probably used during nesting on the Caribbean beach. The exact locations will be determined early this week. Leatherback turtles are rarely seen species. However, another leatherback turtle was caught on a fishing gear near Pamet Harbor in Truro. The marine animal response team from Center for Coastal Studies were able to disentangle the 4.5-foot leatherback turtle using a grappling hook and sharp knives. The turtle survived with minor injuries and is expected to recover fully. The larger turtle had not been as fortunate. The mature female's premature death is a huge loss for its species. LaCasse added that out of a thousand hatchlings, only one could survive in the waters. Human activities such as heavy poaching remain the largest threat to the species. In New England, threats include entanglement with vertical lines and collision with boats. In early summer, leatherback sea turtles swim to New England waters to feast on sea jellies. But come winter, they swim towards the warmer waters of the eastern Caribbean.

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