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News Article
Site: www.rdmag.com

Illuminating fishing nets is a cost-effective means of dramatically reducing the number of sea turtles getting caught and dying unnecessarily, conservation biologists at the University of Exeter have found. Dr Jeffrey Mangel, a Darwin Initiative research fellow based in Peru, and Professor Brendan Godley, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University's Penryn Campus, were part of a team of researchers who found that attaching green battery powered light-emitting diodes (LED) to gillnets used by a small-scale fishery reduced the number of green turtle deaths by 64 per cent, without reducing the intended catch of fish. The innovative study, carried out in Sechura Bay in northern Peru was supported by ProDelphinus, the UK Government's Darwin Initiative, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and published in Marine Ecology Progress Series. It is the first time that lighting technology has been trialled in a working fishery. At a cost of £1.40 ($2) for each LED light, the research showed that the cost of saving one turtle was £24 ($34) -- a sum which would be reduced if the method was rolled out at larger scale. Multiple populations of sea turtle species use Peruvian coastal waters as foraging grounds including green, olive ridley and hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback. Peru's gillnet fleet comprises the largest component of the nation's small-scale fleet and is conservatively estimated to set 100,000 km of net per year in which thousands of turtles will die as 'bycatch' or unintentionally. The researchers used 114 pairs of nets, each typically around 500-metres in length. In each pair, one was illuminated with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) placed every ten metres along the gillnet floatline. The other net in the pair was the control and not illuminated. The control nets caught 125 green turtles while illuminated nets caught 62. The target catch of guitarfish was unaffected by the net illumination. They are now working with larger fisheries in Peru and with different coloured lights to see if the results can be repeated and applied with more critically endangered species. "This is very exciting because it is an example of something that can work in a small-scale fishery which for a number of reasons can be very difficult to work with. These lights are also one of very few options available for reducing turtle bycatch in nets," said Dr Mangel, who is one of the lead authors on the paper and ProDelphinus Research Co-ordinator. "The turtle populations in the eastern Pacific are among the world's most vulnerable and we are hoping that by reducing bycatch, particularly in gillnets, will help with the management and eventual recovery of these populations." Thousands of endangered turtles die as bycatch in gillnet fisheries around the world and it is hoped that this study will help to provide a solution. Professor Brendan Godley notes, "It is exciting to be part of research that is highlighting innovative methods that may assist the move towards sustainability in these fisheries. Understanding costings will help emphasize the need for institutional support from national ministries, international non-governmental organizations and the broader fisheries industry to make possible widespread implementation of net illumination as a sea turtle bycatch reduction strategy." "Bycatch is a complex, global issue that threatens the sustainability and resilience of our fishing communities, economies and ocean ecosystems," said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. "Funding research like this is key to NOAA's efforts to reduce bycatch. Through this work, we can better protect our natural resources."


News Article
Site: phys.org

Tony Koslow and John McGowan, researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and Eric Miller of MBC Applied Environmental Sciences of Costa Mesa, compared two independently collected data sets from the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) and power plant cooling water intakes (PPI) from five sites along the California coastline. The data show that fish abundance from both studies has declined sharply since 1970, with a 72 percent decline in overall larval fish abundance in the CalCOFI data set and a 78 percent decline in fishes from the PPI sampling. Although there was limited overlap in species between the nearshore PPI samples and the more offshore CalCOFI sampling, the correlation between the two time series was about 0.85. The study was published in the Oct. 28, 2015, issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series. "It is notable that these two very distinct data sets tell us that the larval fish populations collected by CalCOFI and near shore fish species observed by PPI data are both declining at nearly the same rates," said Scripps researcher John McGowan. CalCOFI was formed 70 years ago. Originally designed to study the ecology of the west coast sardine population, the ongoing CalCOFI surveys of the physical and biological oceanography and fisheries off California is today the longest-serving multi-disciplinary ocean observation program in the world. CalCOFI is a unique partnership led by Scripps Oceanography, NOAA Fisheries Service, and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. "The similarity in trends between the two data sets is amazing given the differences in life history strategies monitored by the two programs. While the CalCOFI program samples larval fish, several of the species integral to the PPI data set were surfperch, fishes that do not have a larval stage," said Eric Miller of MBC. These results also dispel previous speculation that commercial fishing or seawater intakes are always primary causes of fish population declines. The PPI data do not include many commercial fish species but do include species with no larval stage that could not be captured during CalCOFI surveys. The CalCOFI time series shows a decline in both commercial and non-commercial fish species. These facts point to a more basal cross-cutting factor, or factors, forcing the observed changes in fish populations. "The CalCOFI data were originally used to track sardines and now track the larval abundance of a broad range of fish species in the California Current system. Larval fish abundance is a strong indicator of adult fish populations, and the regular CalCOFI sampling indicates decreased abundance primarily for cool-water species," said Koslow, a Scripps researcher and first author of the paper. The study concludes that changes in the California Current ecosystem are the likely cause of this decline in fish abundance. Overall, fishes with an affinity for cool-water conditions, such as northern anchovy, Pacific hake, and several rockfish and midwater fish species are among the most abundant in the ecosystem. Over the 30-year period, these have declined most dramatically off southern California. However, whether this is due to a movement of cool-water species northward or an overall decline throughout the California Current is a key question for future investigation. "Changes in temperature, current, or other factors do not cause day-to- day changes in fish populations, but over a period of time, these changes are observed and reinforce the hypothesis that the California Current is changing," said McGowan. "The fish populations in the California Current have declined for four decades with no signs of reversal. This reflects large-scale change in environmental conditions, potentially including the transport of the California Current, salinity, zooplankton productivity, and other factors," said Koslow.


Gill Braulik conducts scientific research and conservation on cetaceans in the western Indian Ocean for the Tanzania Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society. She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. The coast of Tanzania spans nearly 500 miles (800 kilometers), and all of it is potential habitat for dolphins and whales. Locating these threatened animals is a daunting undertaking, as each dolphin is just a tiny speck in an immense ocean. In fact, for the 40 days of our expedition, it takes incredible concentration and the sharpest, most practiced eyes to find them. But find them we will. The largest marine animals — such as dolphins, whales, sharks and marine turtles — are some of the most iconic creatures in the ocean. But even after decades of dedicated conservation efforts, these animals are still disappearing. Intense fishing has resulted in massive declines, mostly due to accidental entanglement in nets, hunting or targeted fishing. They also face threats from ship strikes, accumulated toxins and the increasing noise from ships, construction, oil exploration and naval sonar. Whales and dolphins are not as well understood as land-dwelling mammals. But the threats these marine mammals face are often more severe, and many populations are threatened with extinction. How do we even begin to prioritize or conserve important species or areas, when the scale of the unknown is so enormous, the threats are so great and the resources are so meager? The current survey is an attempt to address this problem. To solve the problem, first understand it For 15 years, I've been working to understand, and conserve, endangered dolphins in Asia and Africa. The work I'm leading in Tanzania — conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), with funding from the Pew Charitable Trust — is a new approach to rapidly generate information on marine mammals and the threats they face across the entire coast of a single country. In this case, the country is Tanzania, which is a little known but potentially important marine area because of its large variety of habitats, depths and strong coastal currents. What we learn will enable us to target conservation to the most critical places. If our effort is successful on the coast of mainland Tanzania, it will be replicated in other parts of Africa. All of our team members are Tanzanian nationals who work on marine conservation issues but who, prior to this expedition, had never seen a wild dolphin. After rigorous training, they are now running the survey capably and reveling in the experience. Leading the effort is Magreth Kasuga, a smart, resourceful and tough young Tanzanian woman from Dar es Salaam. Every time we see a new species, the team pulls out the identification books and scours them for information about what we just saw. "Did you know pilot whales normally eat squid?" Kasuga asked me. "They live to be more than 60 years old, and males weigh more than 3 tons!" This work will contribute to Kasuga's master's thesis, one of the first in the country focused on dolphins, and designed to provide a more detailed understanding of population size and movements of coastal dolphins in northern Tanzania. On day 30, our team of seven entered the Pemba Channel in northern Tanzania, and the anticipation was palpable. With its ripping ocean current and depths of up to 2,625 feet (800 meters), the channel offers spectacular sightings of unusual animals, including big groups of pilot whales, dramatic false killer whales and beautiful but rarely seen Fraser's dolphins. Today, the weather is calm, but the sun is hot. Another observer, Haji Mohammad, calls out a sighting. "Surfacing, 25 degrees to port!" As the boat turns toward the splash, all hands are on deck, eyes on the water. A group of spinner dolphins erupts out of the sea. While spinner dolphins seem to be the most common dolphin species in Tanzania, they are also one of the most spectacular, named for the way they leap clear out of the water and spin on their axis in what appears to be an act of sheer joy. In every direction, dolphins are leaping and spinning and many animals come and ride the bow wave of our boat. We estimate 800 individuals in this group — a record high so far. It's impossible not to feel exhilarated by this interaction with these wild, intelligent creatures. In addition to our visual observers watching from a high platform, we also used underwater hydrophones to record the clicks and whistles the animals produce. From those observations, we have made an unexpected discovery: The hydrophones also record the sounds of explosions from dynamite fishing.  This destructive and illegal activity involves the use of explosives to blast the sea, stunning or killing all nearby marine life. Blast fishing is an environmental catastrophe. According to research published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, a typical charge will kill most marine organisms within a radius of 5 to 20 meters ( 17 to 67 feet), depending on the situation. Widespread blasting can ultimately reduce coral reefs to rubble and degrade fisheries, and it accelerates the collapse of fish populations, according to WWF's Helen Fox. [In Photos: The World's Most Endangered Marine Mammal ] We have already recorded more than 300 blasts, with the highest density close to Dar es Salaam, the nation's biggest city.  Although it's well known to those involved in fisheries, tourism and conservation that blast fishing is rampant, we are shocked at the sheer scale of the problem. For whales and dolphins that rely on underwater sound for navigation and communication, the impact of underwater blasting is likely to be severe. Knowledge from studies of cetaceans impacted by noise, including from underwater explosions in other parts of the world, shows that, at best, animals might be disturbed and move away from their preferred habitat or, at worst, will be injured or killed. As day 30 ended, and the observers packed away the equipment for the night, we downloaded the data and updated our sighting tally. We had seen 10 species and 69 groups by day 30 — and by day 40, those numbers grew to 11 species and 75 groups. It's an impressive list. Despite many threats to the marine environment in East Africa, our national survey has found large numbers, implying sizable populations of many dolphin species.  Tanzania — home of the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro, and the land of elephants, lions and migrating wildebeest — has another jewel in its already impressive crown: a large diversity of dolphins it its oceans. Now that we have made this discovery, the next step is to set about protecting these amazing creatures. This article is the first in the series Women's History Month: Blogs from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society). Read more on the WCS Expert Voices landing page. Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates — and become part of the discussion — on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science . Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


News Article
Site: www.scientificamerican.com

After posting our early edition of 2016 science art exhibits nationwide, several artists got in touch to let me know about upcoming shows they are in. I updated the roundup accordingly and in the process, discovered four opening receptions in the next three weeks. If you are in the area and available, don't miss the opportunity to meet these accomplished artists face-to-face: Origin of the Universe. Evolution of the Universe. String Theory. Dark Matter. Dark Energy. Multiverse. Unification of Space + Time. Our Solar System. Cultural Cosmology. Art.Science.Gallery.’s science-inspired printmakers explore the cosmos in this far out exhibition for PrintAustin 2016, a city-wide printmaking festival. This exhibition explores the relationship between culture and nature, one of the oldest human tropes. In this recurring schism, humans believe ourselves to be of nature and, alternately, distinct from it. As we search texts and traditions to support either position, the persistence of the trope itself is underscored; it’s an impasse, shifting in form. It’s also an embrace of or a resistance to the natural world that produced us; from which we believe we stand apart. In Raw and Cooked, artists Jim Jacobs, Joshua Winegar, and Paul Crow present work within this nature/culture dialectic. Jacobs begins with an ancient horticultural intervention, the graft, to focus our attention on a literal intersection of the natural and the human-made. Winegar takes on the natural world as a partner in a conversation with his psyche, alternately responding to, and intervening in, the world which surrounds him. Crow maps the span of his life onto the time frame of the human awareness of global climate change. Each artist begins with material that exists before agency and brings it through a process of intervention to manifest a hybrid: the artist in dialogue both with the world and without, and with an inner understanding of that world. Artist and ocean advocate Courtney Mattison creates large scale ceramic installations and sculptures inspired by science and marine biology. Her intricate hand-crafted porcelain works celebrate the fragile beauty of endangered coral reef ecosystems and promote awareness to conserve and protect our natural world. Born and raised in San Francisco, Courtney received an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Marine Ecology and Ceramic Sculpture from Skidmore College in 2008 and a Master of Arts in Environmental Studies from Brown University with coursework at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. Mattison has exhibited her work nationally including at the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY, the headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Curated by Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education. Exhibit details: Botanical Paintings in Colored Pencil by Nina Antze January 7, 2016 – April 25, 2016 Please call ahead 707-527-9277 x 107 to see exhibit Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA California Flora is an exhibit of botanical paintings by colored pencil artist Nina Antze. The paintings were created over the past eight years and focus mainly on California natives. Also included are paintings documenting Luther Burbank’s Experiment Farm in Sebastopol and a piece from the Alcatraz Florilegium, a documentation of the plants of the Alcatraz gardens. Nina Antze is a botanical artist and quilt maker living in Northern California. She has a degree in Fine Art from San Francisco State University and has a Certificate in Botanical Illustration from the New York Botanical Gardens. She teaches Colored Pencil classes in the Botanical Certificate Program at Filoli Gardens, at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and around the Bay Area. Her botanical paintings and colored pencil drawings have been exhibited in New York, at the Huntington Library, and at Filoli Gardens and her quilts have won numerous awards. She works in colored pencil, watercolor pencil and fabric. Her botanicals can be viewed at her website, www.pcquilt.com Exhibit details: The Alcatraz Florilegium January 16 - 29, 2016 University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley 200 Centennial Drive Berkeley, CA The Northern California Society of Botanical Artists (NCSBA) in collaboration with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the Garden Conservancy has created a florilegium, a series of botanical paintings, to document the plants of The Gardens of Alcatraz. The UC Botanical Garden is thrilled to welcome the NCSBA to exhibit this special showing of the Alcatraz Florilegium, with over 70 drawings and paintings, in the beautiful Julia Morgan Hall. For those unable to attend the exhibit in person, visit the online version here. _______________________________ If you have a scienceart exhibit that should be included in Symbiartic's regular scienceart roundup, with the relevant details.


News Article
Site: phys.org

Dr Jeffrey Mangel, a Darwin Initiative research fellow based in Peru, and Professor Brendan Godley, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University's Penryn Campus, were part of a team of researchers who found that attaching green battery powered light-emitting diodes (LED) to gillnets used by a small-scale fishery reduced the number of green turtle deaths by 64 per cent, without reducing the intended catch of fish. The innovative study, carried out in Sechura Bay in northern Peru was supported by ProDelphinus, the UK Government's Darwin Initiative, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and published in Marine Ecology Progress Series. It is the first time that lighting technology has been trialled in a working fishery. At a cost of £1.40 ($2) for each LED light, the research showed that the cost of saving one turtle was £24 ($34)—a sum which would be reduced if the method was rolled out at larger scale. Multiple populations of sea turtle species use Peruvian coastal waters as foraging grounds including green, olive ridley and hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback. Peru's gillnet fleet comprises the largest component of the nation's small-scale fleet and is conservatively estimated to set 100,000 km of net per year in which thousands of turtles will die as 'bycatch' or unintentionally. The researchers used 114 pairs of nets, each typically around 500-metres in length. In each pair, one was illuminated with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) placed every ten metres along the gillnet floatline. The other net in the pair was the control and not illuminated. The control nets caught 125 green turtles while illuminated nets caught 62. The target catch of guitarfish was unaffected by the net illumination. They are now working with larger fisheries in Peru and with different coloured lights to see if the results can be repeated and applied with more critically endangered species. "This is very exciting because it is an example of something that can work in a small-scale fishery which for a number of reasons can be very difficult to work with. These lights are also one of very few options available for reducing turtle bycatch in nets," said Dr Mangel, who is one of the lead authors on the paper and ProDelphinus Research Co-ordinator. "The turtle populations in the eastern Pacific are among the world's most vulnerable and we are hoping that by reducing bycatch, particularly in gillnets, will help with the management and eventual recovery of these populations." Thousands of endangered turtles die as bycatch in gillnet fisheries around the world and it is hoped that this study will help to provide a solution. Professor Brendan Godley notes, "It is exciting to be part of research that is highlighting innovative methods that may assist the move towards sustainability in these fisheries. Understanding costings will help emphasize the need for institutional support from national ministries, international non-governmental organizations and the broader fisheries industry to make possible widespread implementation of net illumination as a sea turtle bycatch reduction strategy." "Bycatch is a complex, global issue that threatens the sustainability and resilience of our fishing communities, economies and ocean ecosystems," said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. "Funding research like this is key to NOAA's efforts to reduce bycatch. Through this work, we can better protect our natural resources." More information: N Ortiz et al. Reducing green turtle bycatch in small-scale fisheries using illuminated gillnets: the cost of saving a sea turtle, Marine Ecology Progress Series (2016). DOI: 10.3354/meps11610

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