Scientists map global routes of ship-bourne invasive species
byMatt McGrath | BBC News
Scientists have developed the first global model that analyses the routes taken by marine invasive species.
The researchers examined the movements of cargo ships around the world to identify the hot spots where these aquatic aliens might thrive.
Marine species are taken in with ballast water on freighters and wreak havoc in new locations, driving natives to extinction.
The research is published in the Journal Ecology Letters.
There has been a well-documented boom in global shipping over the past 20 years and this has led to growing numbers of species moving via ballast tanks, or by clinging to hulls.
Some ports such as San Francisco and Chesapeake Bay have reportedseveral exotic new species arriving every year. Economic estimates indicate that marine invaders can have huge impacts that last for decades.
Now, scientists from the UK and Germany have developed a model that might help curb these unwanted visitors. They obtained detailed logs from nearly three million voyages that took place in 2007 and 2008.
“Our model combines information such as shipping routes, ship sizes, temperatures and biogeography to come up with local forecasts of invasion probabilities,” said Prof Bernd Blasius from the University of Oldenburg.
While this is a mathematical model, the researchers were able to adjust it by carrying out field observations. They were able to estimate the probability that a species can survive a journey and establish a population in a subsequent port of call.
“It is called ecological roulette,” said Dr Michael Gastner from the University of Bristol.
“The probability of winning from the perspective of the invader is really tiny - but because the number of attempts are now growing with more and bigger ships, you play this roulette so often that you become a likely winner sooner or later,” he added.
The team says that the key hotspots for invasion are Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Panama and Suez canals. Cooler climates like the North Sea are less likely to be troubled, unless ships come from similar waters such as the east coast of the US. They conclude that very long trips are less likely to be a cause for concern.
Asian Dive Expo (ADEX) 2013 - All about whale sharks
Last weekend, I crossed a major event off my bucket list. Speaking at ADEX.
Every year of my adult life that I spent in Singapore, I went to ADEX. It’s a big space, full of diving goodies, underwater photos and brilliant people. I would go with dive buddies/best friends to network, get stickers to decorate my laptop and anything else, and just generally revel in the world of people who love being underwater.
I have genuinely missed it the last couple of years. But not 2013. With the theme of whale sharks, it was a perfect platform for the NGO I worked for last year to talk about whale shark research. Myself, the President of the NGO and bonafide big brother Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, and my favourite conservation photographer Steve De Neef were invited to give talks and participate in ‘The Big Blue Buzz’ - a “debate” about animals on display.
The “debate” wasn’t really that, two teams, that were actually far from opposite. We are all working towards the same goals, but represent a gradient of how to do it. At least the subjects of animals on display like captive dolphins, and the whale sharks being fed in Oslob were talked about, and I hope that we made a few people think about their decision, and research into what they are actually supporting and making an educated decision. Still, there were some strong personalities in the debate, and I wish we’d had time to say a bit more.
In fact, that’s pretty much the over-arching theme of my presentation - “Whale Sharks and Tourism - Finding the Balance”. Who doesn’t want to swim with a whale shark? However, we have to recognize that by being in the water we are affecting them. The whale shark code of conduct has been developed so you don’t scare them off, but studies show certain actions of ours cause them to exhibit avoidance behaviours (Quiros 2007). When we talk about tourism, we need to remember the multiplier effect. One shark cutting an interaction short might not seem like a lot. But what if it’s several times a day, every day. If they are there to feed at the surface, what’s the effect of driving them away? If they avoid certain areas because of tourists, what’s the effect on migration patterns. And this is all without feeding them.
I also touched on the issue of the controversial feeding practices in Oslob, Cebu. But that is a whole other post, for another time.
I hope that at least one person walked away thinking that they should do their own research before booking a holiday. To educate themselves, and make informed choices. I want people to start taking responsibility for their tourism, and not to assume that any and all wildlife tourism or nature tourism is “ecotourism”. It has a strict definition, and if you really want to support ecotourism, you need to do your research.
Passionate issues aside, I met up with old friends and mentors, met so many new and amazing people and long-time heros of mine. I manage to eat some of the amazing Singaporean food I have missed, and escape the heat of Philippine summer which might be the end of me. It was one of my best weekends ever.
I knew after I did a marine biology fieldtrip (read About), and just never changed direction. But I have a friend who did English Lit at Uni and was all set to go into Theatre and got side-tracked into environmental advocacy.
Conservation should always be based on sound science, and you’d need a degree to get that science but conservation isn’t just getting the data. It’s education, awareness, community work, lobbying, policy, law, negotiation, project management. There are SO many skills needed - it’s extremely variable work, especially that most are working on a tight budget. And a Science degree doesn’t necessarily teach you those skills. In fact, most don’t.
So Conservation needs scientists, but it also needs people people! It’s not the end of the world if you decide to do one or the other. You could do either, and dabble in the other and come out a well-rounded individual fit for conservation!
New Population of Rare Irrawaddy Dolphins Found in the Philippines
Irrawaddy dolphins found off the coast of the Island Palawan
by Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan / WWF
April 2013. - A new population of critically-endangered Irrawaddy dolphins has been found in the Philippines by Mavic Matillano of the WWF Palawan team. Spotted by chance off Palawan - along the coastline of the West Philippine Sea - this pod of rare marine mammals, locally called Lampasut, was observed displaying typical behaviour, foraging for prey around lift net fish traps sitting approximately one kilometre offshore.
Previous populations of these dolphins - gifted with features that offer the barest hint of a congenial smile - have been documented in Malampaya Sound, as well as off the island of Panay. The Quezon pod represents the fourth known group of Irrawaddy dolphins reported in the Philippines…
(photo: WWF-Philippines / Mavic Matillano)
Rolling in the deep.
PerhapsMost definitely the coolest photo I will ever have with a whale shark. Taken by photographer and all round hero, Steve De Neef (www.stevedeneef.com).
This shot was taken whilst we were out on survey here in Southern Leyte last week. This individual is actually LSR-24 – the 24th shark our LAMAVE team has identified here in Sogod Bay. It’s a juvenile male and if you look closely at the photograph you’ll see it has a big scar across the back of it’s head- probably from a fishing line.
The photo shows me photographing the shark for identification. By taking photographs of the unique spot pattern on the left side of the shark – just behind the gills and above the pectoral fin - we can identify individual sharks – it’s effectively a cheap way of tagging whale sharks and it’s through this process that we are assessing the whale shark population in this area of the Philippines. One thing we are trying to find out is whether the sharks are hanging around or just passing through? This individual, LSR-24 has now been here for over a month, having first been identified by our LAMAVE team at the end of February this year. Whilst I took the photograph, he continued to feed slowly, the two of us, chilling just below 10 meters from the surface…
Followers, meet my friend Sally. She works for the Large Marine Vertebrates Project at the research base in Southern Leyte, Philippines. Follow her for first hand shark adventures!
Merry Shellmas - I decided to make this post rebloggable so you can spread the word!
Got that? ;-)
She shouldn’t sell seashells on the seashore. And neither should you!
100 years of unprovoked shark attacks (1912-2013)
Andrew Barr and Richard Johnson | National Post
Surfer numbers have increased dramatically since the 1950s and advances in wetsuit technology mean people are going into the water all year round and staying out in the surf for longer periods, all of which increases the odds of someone being attacked by a shark. With this in mind, the National Post’s graphics team takes a look at the century in unprovoked shark attacks.
Blue = Male survivor
Pink = Female survivor
Black = Fatality
Looks pretty colourful to me.
Read more here including a break down of activities during the attacks and a close up of injury location (if any).
This is a great visual back up for this (Attn: NERDS: Free journal article). Remember when I posted about a new paper seeking to reclassify human-shark interactions? No? That’s ok. Here’s a snippet from the abstract:
There are few phrases in the Western world that evoke as much emotion or as powerful an image as the words “shark” and “attack.” However, not all “shark attacks” are created equal. Under current labels, listings of shark attack may even include instances where there is no physical contact between shark and human. The dominant perception of intent-laden shark “attacks” with fatal outcomes is outdated as a generic term and misleading to the public. We propose new descriptive labels based on the different outcomes associated with human–shark interactions, including sightings, encounters, bites, and the rare cases of fatal bites. We argue two central points: first, that a review of the scientific literature shows that humans are “not on the menu” as typical shark prey. Second, we argue that the adoption of a more prescriptive code of reporting by scientists, the media, and policy makers will serve the public interest by clarifying the true risk posed by sharks and informing better policy making.
Meet Taina Uitto, a passionate conservationist who lives her life without plastic. Her incredibly inspiring blog covers the ups and downs of the challenge.
Check it out for some Monday Inspiration, some tips and tricks on reducing plastic consumption!
…They’ve had similar enemies, life histories and PR problems.
Tara Haelle | Slate
Shark conservation has been growing for years, grabbing similar attention to the plight of the whales in the 70’s and 80’s (and 90’s).
With a common ‘enemy’ in mankind, older sexual maturity, long gestation times and low litter sizes, sharks and whales have a lot more in common than you might think.
Check Tara Haelle’s article on the recent milestones in Shark conservation.