Santa Barbara Oil Spill

I was so sad to hear about the Plains All American Pipeline oil spill this occurred this past Tuesday off the coast of Santa Barbara County in California. The spill ended up being five times worse than they originally thought. While clean up efforts continue, the long term effects on the marine life and environment are yet to be seen. We are still seeing effects on the marine life from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill that took place in the Gulf back in 2010.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has this to say:

“California’s coastline is one of the state’s most precious natural treasures. This oil spill has scarred the scenic Santa Barbara coast, natural habitats and wildlife. My office is working closely with our state and federal partners on an investigation of this conduct to ensure we hold responsible parties accountable.”

This spill hits a little closer to home for me. I live in northern California, and I volunteer with marine mammals like the California sea lions and elephant seals being effected by this spill. In addition, fish, birds, and other wildlife are being affected by this spill. Apparently, it is the only major pipeline in the area without an automatic shut off valve because of the previous owner somehow talking his way around the requirements back in the ’80s. That is unacceptable. As of today, they still hadn’t found the segment of pipeline with the leak.

In an MSNBC article, it is reported that:

“The oil transportation company has been fined at least 10 times for oil spill violations in four other states between 2004 and 2007, according to reports. The Houston-based company has been deemed the “worst violators” by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration.”

This company needs a kick in the butt. They should be shut down. That many violations and failure to have an automatic shut off valve?! It makes me sick just thinking about it. We can only hope that this was a lesson to them, and that they will be held fully responsible.

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First Recovery of An Endangered Fish

Earlier this month, for the first time in the history of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, a fish has been proposed recovered. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri) is no longer meeting the requirements to be considered endangered or threatened under the act. The proposal states that threats to the species have been “eliminated or reduced and populations are stable”.

The Oregon chub was first listed as endangered in 1993. In 2010, the species had progressed enough to be reclassified as threatened. Introduction of the fish into areas of it’s historical range played a major role in it’s reclassification, in addition to researchers finding more and more unknown populations.

Source: USFWS Proposal

Weird Wildlife Wednesday: Dumbo Octopus

It was hard to write this week’s Weird Wildlife Wednesday because we have just moved and our internet isn’t set up yet. Luckily, there is a Starbucks with wifi next door to us and our internet will be set up by the end of the day!

Anyway, this week’s bizarre animal is the Dumbo Octopus (Grimpoteuthis). This guy sure is a cutey. They live in the extreme depths of the ocean and hover right above the sea floor. The Dumbo Octopus isn’t just one species, it is a group of species ranging in size from 8 inches to over 6 feet long. They pounce down onto their prey which consists of isopods, bristle worms, etc. They have unusual reproduction characteristics and it is thought that the female can store sperm and continuously lay eggs with no specific breeding season. They use little mantle fins, which look like dumbo ears, to move around in the deep dark highly pressurized ocean. They have been found many places throughout the world but because they live so deep and are rarely seen, there isn’t a lot of information about their population status.

Source: http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/dumbo_octopus

World Oceans Day

Today, June 8th, is World Oceans Day! There are so many things you can do today, and should maybe do every day, to celebrate and learn about our world’s oceans. Visit the site, which I linked to in the previous sentence, to learn more.

HAPPY WORLD OCEANS DAY EVERYONE!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tSEbPSrKkp4]

Review of Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

This review isn’t of a zoo, per say, but it is of an aquarium that is very special to me. Today I am reviewing the Mote Marine Laboratory, an aquarium, research facility, and marine animal hospital in Sarasota, FL. This aquarium was the sole reason I moved to Florida in January. I moved here for an internship at the aquarium’s sea turtle and whale hospital. It was an experience that changed my life.

I may be a little biased here, but I highly recommend this aquarium to vacationers. Founded by Eugenie Clark back in 1955, Mote has been a strong research facility since. The main building of the aquarium houses a variety of different fish species, sharks, and the sea lion show during its season, along with most of the research offices. There are various research projects underway including coral conservation, shark research, sea horse breeding, and more. One famous shark scientist, Nick Whitney, who has been seen on tv various times, does his research through Mote Marine and was a member of the OSEARCH research team.

The second building houses the marine mammals and sea turtles of the aquarium as well as the research offices for these animals. There is a pantropical spotted dolphin named Moonshine, two manatees named Hugh and Buffett, and a variety of sea turtles who were deemed non-releasable after being rescued and doing a stint in the hospital.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgebvNY_mgE]

The second building is also where the Sea Turtle & Whale Hospital is located. This is where I interned for forty hours a week from January until April. Below you will see pictures of some of the turtles we rehabilitated along with a video of one being released. This internship was amazing. I met great friends, worked with wonderful staff, and learned so much. I wouldn’t change a thing about my internship and I was definitely sad to see it end.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-1-xK6FOag]

I recommend visiting Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium if you ever find yourself in the Sarasota area. And I definitely recommend their internship program to anyone interested in that line of work. It is definitely worth it.