News Article | April 21, 2017
From now on, thirsty visitors can refill their own bottles at water fountains or grab a reusable cup in the cafeteria. The Vancouver Aquarium has taken a bold and admirable step in banning single-use plastics from its facility. Water bottles, straws, cup lids, and disposable cutlery will no longer be sold on the premises, as the Aquarium strives to align its retail practices with responsible ocean stewardship. It is the first aquarium or zoo to do so in Canada, and will hopefully inspire others to follow. Visitors are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles that can be refilled at four new water fountains and bottle-filling stations located throughout the Aquarium and even outdoors. In a pinch, there are reusable cups available in the cafeteria – a practice which is frequently rejected by restaurants on the basis of hygiene, but seems to be coming back into fashion, thankfully. Sometimes a powerful visual presentation is the easiest way to convince a skeptical audience. The Aquarium has created a temporary art installation showcasing the number of plastic water bottles sold in the café between September and November last year. It looks like a giant trash heap, and yet is only a fraction of the approximately 37,000 bottles sold on-site in 2016. Inside the window, a 20-foot model of a humpback whale swims among ‘waves’ of 1,200 plastic bottles – the average number of bottles that will be eliminated from the Aquarium’s waste stream every two weeks, now that the policy has changed. John Nightingale, president and CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium, said in a media release: “Humans are producing tremendous amounts of plastic at a time when the problem has never been more pressing. Currently, there is enough plastic in the ocean to cover every meter of world’s coastlines. There is a great dependency on single-use plastic water bottles that we must curb and the Aquarium, as an ocean conservation organization, is fully committed to doing our part.” The trend away from single-use water bottles is gathering steam. Last week Business Insider called bottled water “the new smoking” and, in a bizarre ad for Soda Stream, celebrity Paris Hilton even took an anti-plastic stance: I don’t ever listen to Paris Hilton, but she’s hit the nail on the head this time. Way to go, Vancouver Aquarium, for getting with the times and realizing that single-use water bottles really have no place in 2017. May others follow your example.
News Article | April 27, 2017
Les citernes pluviales et les composteurs de jardin sont deux des programmes qui ont été mis en place dans la province. Note aux rédacteurs : Une photo est associée avec ce communiqué de presse. L'institut canadien de plomberie et de chauffage (ICPC) a décerné au Fonds Éco IGA le prix national ICPC pour une utilisation efficiente de l'eau, en reconnaissance de son engagement à la cause de la conservation de l'eau, de ses partenariats environnementaux et de son programme de sensibilisation des consommateurs. C'est la troisième fois que ce prix est décerné depuis sa création en 2016. Il distingue une contribution exceptionnelle à l'amélioration de notre relation avec l'eau. « Les efforts déployés par IGA au Québec dans le but d'optimiser l'utilisation de l'eau sont une source d'inspiration car ils participent d'une détermination solidement ancrée et assortie d'objectifs bien précis », de dire Bill Palamar, président du CA de l'ICPC et président de Weil-McLain Canada. « Il y a toutes sortes de choses qu'on peut faire dans un jardin pour optimiser sa consommation d'eau, et il est bon d'encourager les familles, les quartiers, les entreprises locales et les entreprises internationales à y contribuer. C'est en reconnaissance de leurs efforts que nous leur décernons ce prix. » Le Fonds Éco IGA fait participer les consommateurs et les employés à plusieurs programmes : « L'eau est une ressource précieuse. Celle qu'on récupère dans les citernes pluviales peut servir à arroser le jardin, parmi bien d'autres utilisations. La collecte des eaux de pluie est une façon simple et pratique de protéger nos ressources naturelles et notre environnement », de dire Pierre Lussier, directeur du Fonds ÉCO IGA. En 2016, le premier prix ICPC pour une utilisation efficiente de l'eau a été remis à WaterAid Canada, en reconnaissance de ses efforts inlassables pour faciliter l'accès à de l'eau potable, à des installations sanitaires et à des toilettes dans les collectivités les plus pauvres de la planète. La même année, le Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre s'est également vu décerner le prix, en reconnaissance de sa contribution à la conservation de la vie aquatique, à l'éducation, à la recherche et à l'expérimentation de pratiques novatrices. Quelques mots sur l'Institut canadien de plomberie et de chauffage Fondé à Montréal en 1933, l'ICPC est une association à but non lucratif, qui s'emploie à offrir à ses membres les outils dont ils ont besoin pour réussir dans le contexte économique actuel. Plus de 260 entreprises sont membres de cette association professionnelle canadienne influente. Ce sont des fabricants, des distributeurs grossistes, des maîtres distributeurs, des agents de fabricants et des entreprises alliées qui fabriquent et distribuent des appareils sanitaires, du matériel de chauffage, des systèmes hydroniques, des TVR industriels, des équipements d'adduction d'eau et d'autres produits mécaniques. Les grossistes de l'ICPC exploitent plus de 700 entrepôts et salles d'exposition au Canada. Le chiffre d'affaires de l'industrie s'élève à plus de 6,5 milliards de dollars par an, et les membres de l'ICPC emploient plus de 20 000 personnes dans tout le Canada. Pour voir la photo associée avec ce communiqué de presse, veuillez visitez le lien suivante : http://www.marketwire.com/library/20170427-ecoiga.jpg
News Article | April 17, 2017
They are shy and elusive. They are tinier than a dolphin. And they are disappearing fast. Despite heroic efforts, vaquita porpoises are dying at astounding rates in illegal fishing nets in their limited habitat in the northwestern corner of the Gulf of California. Last week, two more vaquitas were found dead. Fewer than 30 vaquitas are believed to be alive today, making them the most endangered marine mammal in the world. But there is reason to hope. An unusual, diverse, international coalition of partners called VaquitaCPR and led by the Mexican government has worked feverishly to develop a bold, first-ever emergency plan to rescue the vaquita and place them in a sanctuary until illegal fishing is ended and their habitat is cleared of deadly gillnets. This week, the Mexican government's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) announced a pledge of up to $3 million dollars to help launch the first critical phase of this emergency plan, including construction of a sea pen sanctuary. This is a significant financial commitment, but additional support from the public is vital to ensure the full implementation of this daring effort to recover a population that totaled 600 animals just 20 years ago. "The challenge is staggering," says The Marine Mammal Center's Executive Director Dr. Jeff Boehm, who is leading the coalition's fundraising efforts. "How we respond to this emergency reveals who we are as a society. It sets precedent. We are asking the public to step up and donate what they can today at http://www. to match the Mexican government's generous funding. Additional donations are needed for veterinary care, staffing, and equipment and to ensure the program is not cut short because of lack of funds." The critical need for support from the public to help save the vaquita has been reinforced by a number of celebrities, who are asking their fans to help fund the project, according to Dr. Cynthia Smith, Executive Director of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. The Foundation is one of the primary partners supporting VaquitaCPR. Dr. Smith thanks singer, songwriter, and actress Miley Cyrus, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Hemsworth, and Carolyn Hennesy. "Public outreach and awareness is so essential to this project," said Dr. Smith. "When people understand the world is about to lose something dear, they will try to make a difference." The caring, compassion, and concern that prompted the development of the emergency plan to save the vaquita from extinction gained additional support today. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced its members have committed their support through its Save Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program and pledged to raise additional funds for VaquitaCPR. In recent years, significant contributions have enabled efforts that have focused on assessing the population and educating the public about the devastating threat facing the endangered porpoise. The Mexican government has expended more than $100 million to date on these efforts and more. According to Debborah Luke, AZA's Senior Vice President for Conservation & Science, the AZA community has also contributed to vaquita conservation through its innovative SAFE program in the past five years. The illegal gillnets killing vaquita are used to catch another endangered species, the totoaba. The fish's dried swim bladders fetch huge sums of money in China and Hong Kong, where it is believed the bladders help maintain youthful-looking skin. "We are very grateful that both the Mexican government and AZA have pledged support and hope it will inspire others who share our determination to save the vaquita to donate," emphasized Dr. Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, lead researcher and head of Mexico's International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA). "Does the public care enough to help save the most endangered marine mammal in the world? I think so. We can't stand by and watch this precious resource disappear. It will be challenging, but we must try." To support the rescue effort, learn more about the vaquita and for information about VaquitaCPR, visit VaquitaCPR.org VaquitaCPR is led by Mexico's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT). 'VaquitaCPR' is dedicated to conserving, protecting, and helping this rare porpoise recover. The National Marine Mammal Foundation, The Marine Mammal Center, and the Chicago Zoological Society are primary partners in this extraordinary conservation effort. Key collaborators in Mexico include the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC), the Mexican Association of Habitats for the Interaction and Protection of Marine Mammals (AMHMAR), and Acuario Oceanico. Additional United States collaborators are Duke University and the Marine Mammal Commission, with NOAA Fisheries providing technical expertise. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Dolphin Quest, SeaWorld, Vancouver Aquarium, the International Marine Animal Trainer's Association and the Association of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums are offering support and expertise to the program and assisting with fundraising.
News Article | May 19, 2017
OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - May 19, 2017) - As the Auditor General reported on numbers just south of the Hill, meanwhile, on the Hill's eastern side, the numbers of living species were tallied, as Parliamentarians led a demonstration nature count to launch BioBlitz Canada 150, a nation-wide Canada 150 Signature project. "This fascinating project will help us raise our environmental awareness," said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. "Let's take this opportunity to celebrate Canada 150 by connecting with Canada's natural beauty and learning more about Canada's wild species -- a priceless resource." In only 45 minutes, the Parliamentarians' teams blitzed an impressive 137 species of the air, land and water, all logged onto the national iNaturalist.ca database. This, for a location in middle of Canada's capital, downtown, within centimetres of where hundreds of tourists walk by, and metres from the turbulent Ottawa River, at historic flood levels only days before. Two squads vied in a little friendly contention, this time outside Parliament, by representatives of the different political stripes, plus the Clerk of the House of Commons on behalf of all the Hill officials. Several are top-notch naturalists in their own right, and they were joined by some local specialists. The Parliamentary Secretary for Science Kate Young cheered them on, and added her estimate of how many species would be found. Estimates ranged from 3,100 species to 67 (the latter more symbolic than serious). The closest to the actual total was by MP (and professional biologist) Richard Cannings (South Okanagan-West Kootenay) who predicted 167. Among the smallest of the species were barely visible freshwater plankton. A special find was a Yellowbanded Bumble Bee, a species listed as "Special Concern" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Among the largest species identified was a Butternut tree along the escarpment of the Hill. A mere ten minutes drive away, the maximum species list is 3,592, in the Gatineau Park area, site of the Bioblitz Canada 150 National Capital BioBlitz for the public on June 10-11. This tally has been compiled over decades by constant surveying and by experts in the most obscure taxa -- and even there, a species new to science was added this past year. Other bioblitzes are set for the next days and months across Canada: there will be 35 official events, with a growing list of independent projects posted at bioblitzcanada.ca. CWF and its partners in conservation across the country call on Canadians to join in all year at a Bioblitz Canada 150 event or on their own with the resources available through the website. The CWF will be inviting all Canadian to play along by guessing the total species identified under the project as of October 31, 2017, the end of the events season. About the Canadian Wildlife Federation: The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes and co-operating with likeminded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca for more information. About BioBlitz Canada: BioBlitz Canada is a national partnership of leading conservation, education and research organizations with the goal to document Canada's biodiversity by connecting the public with nature in a scientist-led participatory survey of life from sea to sea to sea, and make sure this important information can be useful to current and future science, with open-source access to all. Its vision is to help Canadians learn about and connect with nature, be it in one's own backyard or the most important ecological sites in Canada. Other partners in conservation include: Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Biological Survey of Canada, Birds Studies Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment and Climate Change Canada), iNaturalist Canada, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, NatureServe Canada, New Brunswick Museum, Parks Canada, RARE Charitable Research Reserve, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Stanley Park Ecology Society, Toronto Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium and other organizations. About iNaturalist Canada: Launched in 2015, iNaturalist Canada is a virtual place where Canadians can record and share what they see in nature, interact with other nature watchers, and learn about Canada's wildlife. The app is run by the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in collaboration with iNaturalist.org and the California Academy of Sciences. Parks Canada, NatureServe Canada and CWF's Hinterland Who's Who have been key partners in the development of iNaturalist Canada and will continue to play a role in the program. Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/5/19/11G139307/Images/BioBlitz_Canada_150_Logo-06e7dfbae1048b518343499c85e03879.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/5/19/11G139307/Images/mw1bggo93tgma01pcmtvvmfo1f6q2-fc5e904644859ce3a72a8d7d3d8fc3dc.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/5/19/11G139307/Images/mw1bggntv641hf8vev1qkp1rq11sia2-9bd032cc4beaac678edd64a202b2a648.jpg Image Available: http://www.marketwire.com/library/MwGo/2017/5/19/11G139307/Images/mw1bggnkbkth8glup6q614raedl2-d3af64f9d31da9929d8912828e52264b.jpg
News Article | May 12, 2017
Discovering Biodiversity Even at the Heart of the Nation's Capital OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - May 12, 2017) - Next May 16, right at Parliament Hill itself, comes the launch of a new cross-Canada initiative, BioBlitz Canada 150, one of the Canada 150 Signature Projects. Coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Federation and more than 60 partner organizations, this series of BioBlitz events will reach thousands of Canadians from sea to sea to sea in a celebration of our wild natural heritage. The launch will take a "nature selfie" of the Hill, outdoors, in habitat that lives on at this historic site. A select all-party squad of parliamentarians, some of whom are accomplished scientists in their own right, will team up with expert naturalists and head out to demonstrate what a BioBlitz is. Before media representatives and a film crew, they will have 45 minutes to survey a section along the base of the wooded slopes and the riverside, in a friendly race to list all the living species they can see, hear or reach. "This fascinating project will help us raise our environmental awareness," said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. "Let's take this opportunity to celebrate Canada 150 by connecting with Canada's natural beauty and learning more about Canada's wild species -- a priceless resource." "BioBlitz Canada 150 calls all citizens to be citizen-scientists this year," added Rick Bates, CEO of the Canadian Wildlife Federation. "Canadians, like our parliamentarians, range from very expert to just getting to know our wildlife better. But everyone can truly contribute real scientific knowledge in 2017 for the future of Canada's natural heritage." Leading the way, Senator Rosa Galvez (Independent) and MPs Will Amos (Liberal), Richard Cannings (NDP), Elizabeth May (Green) and Robert Sopuck (Conservative) will show how Canadians everywhere can come together too in 2017 to explore Canada's rich biodiversity. In 2017, 35 official BioBlitz events across the country will include 5 flagships in Regina, Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec City and Halifax, with 20 community celebrations and science activities, as well as 10 specialized science-intensive surveys by taxonomic experts. The BioBlitz Canada 150 events, including the demonstration launch, will gather real scientific data, tracking the changing species mix in each area -- maybe even making discoveries of species new to science. This information will ground our knowledge of such issues as climate change and the state of our biodiversity. The results will be shared in the public domain, accessible to all citizens, wildlife managers, conservation groups, science and education institutions, and government organizations to help shape wise decisions now and into the future to help conserve these wild species for generations to come. For more information about BioBlitz Canada 150 and for the list of events, as they roll out across the country, please visit bioblitzcanada.ca. The Canadian Wildlife Federation is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation of our natural world. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending legislative changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. Visit CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca for more information. BioBlitz Canada is a national partnership of leading conservation, education and research organizations with the goal to document Canada's biodiversity by connecting the public with nature in a scientist-led participatory survey of life from sea to sea to sea, and make sure this important information can be useful to current and future science, with open-source access to all. Its vision is to help Canadians learn about and connect with nature, be it in one's own backyard or the most important ecological sites in Canada. Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Biological Survey of Canada, Birds Studies Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment and Climate Change Canada), iNaturalist Canada, Nature Canada, Nature Conservancy of Canada, NatureServe Canada, New Brunswick Museum, Parks Canada, RARE Charitable Research Reserve, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Stanley Park Ecology Society, Toronto Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium and other organizations. About iNaturalist Canada: Launched in 2015, iNaturalist Canada is a virtual place where Canadians can record and share what they see in nature, interact with other nature watchers, and learn about Canada's wildlife. The app is run by the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in collaboration with iNaturalist.org and the California Academy of Sciences. Parks Canada, NatureServe Canada and CWF's Hinterland Who's Who have been key partners in the development of iNaturalist Canada and will continue to play a role in the program.
News Article | May 13, 2017
Over the past few years, evidence has been mounting that synthetic textiles such as polyester and acrylic, which make up much of our clothing, are a major source of pollution in the world’s oceans. That’s because washing those clothes causes tiny plastic fibers to shed and travel through wastewater treatment plants into public waterways. These microfibers are sometimes inadvertently gobbled up by aquatic organisms, including the fish that end up on our plate. The apparel industry is largely responsible for stopping microfiber pollution, yet it has been slow to respond, according to a report released Tuesday by Mermaids, a three-year, €1.2m project by a consortium of European textile experts and researchers. The report recommended changes in manufacturing synthetic textiles, including using coatings designed to reduce fiber loss. Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation, an Amsterdam-based nonprofit and Mermaids’ public outreach partner, urges the apparel makers and sellers to apply the report’s recommendations. “So far we have hardly seen any effort from the clothing industry to tackle the problem at the source,” she said. The Mermaids report is the latest research effort to quantify the environmental and health impact of microfiber pollution and offer potential solutions. Researchers studying plastic pollution started discovering microfibers in the early 2000s but it was not until a 2011 study, by ecologist Anthony Browne, that microfibers were linked to the apparel industry. He sought research funding from the apparel industry but received little support. In recent years, additional studies revealed the enormity of the problem. It is estimated that a single fleece jacket can release a million fibers in a single washing. Numbers like that stunned the public, but only a few brands have launched or completed studies to determine how many fibers their products shed, or whether fibers found in the environment can be traced back to their products. None have announced design-based solutions that would result in products that shed fewer synthetic fibers, something that The Story of Stuff, an environmental group, called for in a short film earlier this year. Canadian retailer MEC and outdoor apparel brand Arc’teryx recently commissioned researchers at the Vancouver Aquarium to develop a protocol for tracking synthetic fibers from the source – their apparel – to the ocean. The firms hope the protocol will become an industry standard that other brands will use as well. Last year, Patagonia released findings from a lab-based study to quantify fibers shed from its products in the wash. However, the tests did not use detergent, which multiple studies have shown significantly increases fiber loss, so the results do not reflect real-world conditions. Meanwhile, stopgap measures are emerging. A German company recently created Guppy Friend, a fiber-catching mesh bag for holding synthetic clothes while washing them. The inventors of another device, Cora Ball, recently raised just over $353,000 through Kickstarter when they sought only $10,000 to bring the product to the market. Cora Ball, tossed into the washer with the clothes, attracts and entangles fibers. But it’s impossible to know at the moment how successful these new devices will be. Mermaids’ report also suggested new formulas for laundry detergents to help minimize fiber shedding. It also advised consumers to stay away from powder detergent, especially those with added oxidizing agents to remove tough stain because they produce the highest fiber loss during washing. Short, gentle wash cycles in cool water are best, and fabric softener helps reduce shedding, too. Last year, Mermaids launched a public awareness campaign to get the word out. The contamination is getting worse. Just this week, an advocacy group, Center for Biological Diversity, called on the California State Water Board to rule that plastic pollution is a significant problem in its coastal water, a determination that could prompt new policies to regulate companies selling plastic, says Blake Kopcho, the group’s ocean campaigner. The group points to the findings of a 2016 study by the San Francisco Estuary Institute that estimates that wastewater treatment facilities discharge 56 million microplastic particles, nearly all microfibers, into the San Francisco Bay each day. Researchers launched Mermaids in 2015 and set an ambitious goal to cut the amount of microfiber shedding during washing by 70%. The Italian National Research Council led the research, with help from Polysistec, a maker of textile coatings, and Leitat, a Spanish research council. The Mermaids researchers pinpointed factors in the manufacturing of polyester and acrylic textiles that influences the amount of fibers that could be shed from a finished product while it is being laundered, or even during normal wear. They then recommended changes, such as lowering the melting temperature during yarn production to improve it tensile strength and reduce the likelihood of breakage. There are tradeoffs to changing manufacturing processes, however, and some could lead to slower production rates. The researchers also evaluated a range of coatings, or chemical treatments, for their ability to inhibit fiber loss. The coatings that are already used by textile makers, such as silicone and acrylic finishes, produced mixed results, ranging from zero reduction to cutting fiber loss by as much as 40%. One of two bio-based finishes, chitosan, which is derived from crustacean shells, reduced fiber loss by up to 50% compared to no coating. While the Mermaids report offers recommendations, it doesn’t spell out the financial and technical difficulties of implementing manufacturing changes. Textile and apparel makers so far seem unconvinced that they should invest in those changes. MEC and Patagonia declined to comment on the Mermaids findings, and representatives from both companies said they would not be bringing the Mermaids recommendations to their textile partners in the short term. Instead, they called for more study. Further research remains necessary to have a deeper understanding of the environmental and health impact of microfiber pollution, scientists say. For example, while research has shown that small organizations such as plankton can get sick from ingesting fibers, there isn’t enough data to determine large-scale, ecosystem-wide impacts from microfiber contamination or whether they threaten human health. Knowing the extent of microplastic contamination is crucial for coming up with effective ideas and regulations to tackle it, says Natalia Ivleva, a professor at the Institute of Hydrochemistry at the Technical University of Munich. Ivleva and her colleagues dug into highly publicized research that purported to find microfibers in 24 different brands of German beer, and found that the means by which researchers identified contaminants was unreliable. “Chemists, analysts, polymer scientists all need to come together” to advance thorough, highly vetted research, she says. Meanwhile, she says, ecologists face “a huge job” in determining the extent to which all types of microplastics are impacting aquatic organisms and, ultimately, us.
News Article | April 7, 2016
A California sea lion in critical condition was rescued off the coast of Salt Spring Island on Monday. The animal is now under the care of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. Locals say that it was in distress, lethargic, and just stayed in one place the whole time. "We had several reports of a male sea lion in distress on Salt Spring through the weekend," said Martin Haulena, head veterinarian of Vancouver Aquarium. Looking at the pictures they received, Haulena describes that the animal is in a very poor condition. It is so thin that the ribs and spine can be seen. It also suffered "massive weight loss." Together with the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Haulena helped bring the animal from the coast to Vancouver Aquarium's rescue center to receive medical treatments. They then confirmed that the sea lion is a male, believed to be five to seven years old. Aquarium's staff are currently working to stabilize the animal. He is now being treated with gastric protectants, subcutaneous fluids, and antibiotics. However, it is still uncertain why the sea lion is in trouble. He will stay under observation and will have to undergo further examination. "The animal is in such poor condition that now is not the time to perform potentially stressful medical procedures," said Haulena. He added that it will be hard to target the treatment without diagnostic information. California sea lion, known for its playfulness, intelligence, social behavior and noisy barking, is a common animal found from British Columbia down to the southern part of Baja California. It has a steady growing population of approximately 238,000. Aside from Baja California and British Columbia, California sea lions can also be seen in Monterey, San Francisco, and Galapagos Islands. Sea lions are the most common patients of The Marine Mammal Center, a nonprofit veterinary research hospital and educational center devoted to rehabilitate and rescue ill and injured marine mammals. The common reasons why the sea lions are rescued are: toxicity, leptospirosis, pneumonia, cancer, entanglement on fishing gears, gunshots and malnutrition. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | April 20, 2016
An endangered green sea turtle found in Canada's frigid seas in January is now heading back to California's warmer waters after receiving initial rehabilitation from hypothermia. Comber, a green sea turtle discovered on a far-flung beach in Vancouver Island's west coast, had suffered from a hypothermia so terrible that it had been hard for officials to say if the turtle was still alive. Sea turtles such as Comber are cold-blooded, which means they depend on external environments to regulate body temperature. As such, sea turtles do not usually live in Canada because of the country's climate. On Jan. 23, the sea turtle, who is about 12 to 20 years old, was admitted to Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Center with an 11.2 degree Celsius (52.16 degree Fahrenheit) body temperature. Dr. Martin Haulena, the rescue center's head veterinarian, said Comber's state in January was so bad that he had difficulty breathing. The aquarium staff then treated Comber with gastrointestinal protectants, antibiotics, and a measured boost in temperature. They kept track of the turtle's heartbeats through ultrasound. Hauder said there is nowhere in the country with waters warm enough to help the 35-kilogram (77-pound) Comber survive. To make sure that Comber gets to find a suitable home, Vancouver Aquarium had coordinated with other agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (UFWS), U.S. Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and several U.S. aquariums. Fortunately, Comber will be taken by the UFWS and returned to California. After staying at the Seattle aquarium for one night, Comber will be taken to San Diego SeaWorld where they will finish the turtle's rehabilitation. Once waters are temperate enough, Comber and other sea turtles under rehabilitation, including an olive ridley sea turtle named Tucker, will be freed. Of these animals, Comber is the single sea turtle that managed to reach Canada. Tucker was found off a Washington coast. Although Comber is the first green sea turtle rescued and released by the aquarium, he is not the first to be rehabilitated. In 2005, the team found a green sea turtle named Schoona in the waters off British Columbia. She was considered non-releasable and now stays in the aquarium's gallery of Tropical Waters. In California, when green sea turtles are rescued, only 30 percent of the saved animals make it to release, said Haulena. Comber, however, had beaten the odds. Haulena said getting Comber healthy enough so he could be released into the wild was their number goal. "He can contribute to the growth of the endangered sea turtle population," added Haulena. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | January 28, 2016
Sea star wasting disease, the cause of which remains uncertain, has baffled scientists since it first appeared in the summer of 2013. Some species of the affected sea stars act lethargic or have arms that are abnormally curled upward; others abruptly change color. In either case, they soon develop skin lesions through which their internal organs may eventually fall out. In the end, their limbs detach, and they die. What makes this outbreak so alarming is that it is occurring from Mexico to Alaska and involves more than 20 species, says Littman. Millions have died. Previous incidents of wasting disease were restricted to a very small geographic range and affected only a few species. A significant loss of stars could have a dangerous domino effect. "You don't think of them as being particularly fast," says Littman, "but sea stars are important keystone predators in the tide pools." His summer studies investigated whether sea stars with the wasting disease could be identified before they showed outward signs of it. While early detection won't benefit sea stars in the wild, it would help aquatic veterinarians care for captive ones, which are getting sick just as much as their wild counterparts. Early indicators of the disease, Littman theorized, could be found in density scans of the sea creatures. His research followed up on the findings of a Monterey Bay Aquarium veterinarian who had seen some decreased density in the bodies of sea stars with the wasting syndrome. Littman's work was supported by the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine and the national AQUAVET program based at Cornell University. Felicia Nutter, V93, a research assistant professor of infectious disease and global health at Cummings School, hooked the third-year veterinary student up with veterinarians Lesanna Lahner of the Seattle Aquarium and Marty Haulena of the Vancouver Aquarium. Under their mentorship, Littman compared images of ailing and healthy sea stars in hopes of finding telltale density variations. He was interested in the tiny bones, called ossicles, that run throughout the bodies of sea stars. These vary in shape and size and form the skeletal network that supports a star's body. One of the biggest challenges Littman faced was how to use technology to get images of the ossicles. In human medicine, doctors use dual X-ray absorptiometry to measure bones' mineral density and diagnose conditions like osteoporosis. But the machines that do these scans are very expensive. Besides, he says, "I would have also needed to be able to compare the results to a range of 'normals,' which didn't exist" for sea stars. Maurice Solano, an assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at Cummings School, gave him tips on how to use software to come up with a range of normal densities for healthy sea stars, Those densities could then be compared with the densities of sea stars with wasting disease. Littman had hoped that X-ray, which is inexpensive and widely available, would help him detect the disease, but the invertebrates' unusual anatomy foiled that plan. "You put a star on a table and shoot a beam down to get one flat picture, but because [all the ossicles] overlap, and not all stars are of uniform thickness, X-ray turned out to be impractical for determining their densities," he says. CT scans did the job. Because a CT scanner takes hundreds of cross-sectional pictures, Littman was able to assess sea star ossicles in several different planes and even in 3-D. "We weren't able to determine where a lesion was going to appear on the skin of a sick sea star," he says, "but we were able to get the overall density of a sea star and determine whether it was above or below the 'normal' determined from CT scans of healthy stars. Our preliminary data showed that the ossicles of healthy stars have much higher density." Now back on campus, Littman expects to be first author, with Lahner and Haulena, on a forthcoming paper about how to perform an X-ray on a sea star to help diagnose other conditions. He says he hopes to continue working with sea stars and other marine animals. "The ocean covers 70 percent of the earth, and we know less about it than we do about space," says Littman. "Invertebrates, fish, marine mammals, sea turtles—that's where my passion lives."
News Article | February 17, 2017
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Feb. 17, 2017) - The Government of Canada is committed to protecting our oceans and marine life for future generations. During his visit to Vancouver this week, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced a suite of initiatives to ensure that our Pacific Coast remains healthy, prosperous and safe for generations to come. The Minister announced the establishment of the new Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area, which will protect large colonies of unique glass sponges estimated to be 9000 years old. The reefs provide refuge, habitat and nursing grounds for many aquatic species such as rockfish, finfish and shellfish. The designation of this Marine Protected Area is a step forward in Canada's plan to protecting 5% of its marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020. In addition, the Minister signed, along with provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders, the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) Plan. This Plan will help protect the health of the North Pacific Coast by setting out a framework to manage the marine activities and resources in that area. Under the Oceans Protection Plan, the government is taking action to better understand and address the cumulative effects of shipping on marine mammals. While speaking to stakeholders at the Vancouver Aquarium, the Minister announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will work with a coalition of partners to integrate underwater acoustic data to enhance our knowledge on the impacts of noise on marine mammals and make better decisions on how to mitigate these impacts. The Department is currently concluding an agreement with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to further support this project through the acquisition of hydrophones and other acoustic monitoring technology and systems. The Minister also announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has launched a science-based review of the effectiveness of current management and recovery actions under way for the southern resident killer whale, the North Atlantic right whale and the St. Lawrence estuary beluga. The science-based review will be completed this summer and will identify key additional measures and priorities for new or enhanced actions. At the Vancouver Aquarium, the Minister also announced over $1 million in support for two new research projects to monitor contaminants and investigate their impacts in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is providing $399,000 to the Vancouver Aquarium to help implement Pollution Tracker, a new science program that will help identify the sources of contaminants in British Columbia and inform policies and management decisions. The Vancouver Aquarium is receiving a further $215,000 to study, for the first time, microplastics in the Arctic Ocean and their biological effects on marine life. An additional $520,000 in in-kind support, such as vessel use, will be provided to assist in the collection of samples. The Minister also highlighted the Government of Canada's commitment to enhancing the prevention and response capacity of the Canadian Coast Guard. New lifeboat stations, modern equipment, and emergency tow packages are among the measures that will be put in place under the Oceans Protection Plan. The Government of Canada will also be establishing a dedicated Primary Environmental Response Team (PERT) near Port Hardy, B.C. "Our Government is acting on its commitment to protect our coasts. While visiting beautiful British Columbia, I met with many partners and stakeholders and saw first-hand the accomplishments we can achieve by working together. With these initiatives, as well as other initiatives under the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, I know that we will make great strides in safeguarding our coasts for future generations." The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard "Pollution is a major issue for sea life and human health around the world. The Government's announcement addresses the urgent need for data on a wide range of pollutants in coastal British Columbia - including hydrocarbons, flame retardants, and heavy metals - as well the emerging issue of plastics in our oceans. This partnership will help us all understand what needs to be done to protect ocean life and human health for future generations." "This acoustic data project will complement and help expand the work already underway as part of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority led ECHO program." Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) Plan officially endorsed by all planning partners For more information about the Canadian Coast Guard, visit www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca.