Wednesday, March 30, 2011

375-pound shark lands in fishing boat


Wow!!! WLFI

FREEPORT, Texas (AP) - Here's a fish story about the one that didn't get away, although the fishing boat captain may wish it had.

Jason Kresse told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it was "unreal" to see an 8-foot, 375-pound mako shark jump into his 25-foot boat and flop around for hours before dying.

A forklift was used to unload the shark Monday when the boat docked in Freeport, 55 miles south of Houston.

Kresse and two crewmen were fishing for red snapper, 50 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. He says fish guts were dumped into the water and the shark apparently went into a frenzy, launching itself into the boat.

Nobody was hurt.

The shark will be displayed at a seafood company.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Giant stingray leaps in boat, tangles with tourist

Check out this giant ray that landed on a boat! HeraldTribune

A spotted eagle ray that jumped into a pleasure boat on Wednesday stinging one of the occupants is photographed at the Lighthouse Point Fire Department in Lighthouse Point, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006. James Bertakis, 81, remained hospitalized Thursday after the stingray flopped onto his boat and stung him, leaving a barb in his chest. Doctors were able to remove the barb during surgeries Wednesday and Thursday by eventually pulling it through his heart and closing the wound. (ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVE / 2008)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Officials remain baffled over source of oil slick as Louisiana coastline is oiled again

Why are news outlets not covering this? With all of the chaos going on in the Middle East and Japan right now, BP and others catch a huge break and this new development is hardly covered by the national news. The idea that they could use chemicals to disperse the entire spill is just not feasible in our humble opinion. How much more oil will rise to the surface or be found? Frustrating!

Days after observers spotted a massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, no one in a position of power seems to yet know where it's coming from. So far, official reports are sketchy and contradictory, as New Orleans Time-Picayune reporter Mark Schleifstein notes in reviewing a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard:

"At this point, the dark substance is believed to be caused by a tremendous amount of sediment being carried down the Mississippi River due to high water, possibly further agitated by dredging operations," the Coast Guard release said.

A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, however, said none of the three dredges operating near the mouth of the Mississippi River has reported any oil in the material they're removing from the river bottom to keep the channel deep enough for ocean-going ships.

But as Louisiana officials and the Coast Guard conduct tests to determine the source, an all-too-familiar scene is developing over a 30-mile stretch of coast: Oil and oil byproducts such as tarballs have come rolling in. And teams of workers are rolling out a containment boom—the fencelike structures designed to keep oil from washing ashore—as oil-skimming vessels try to intercept the oil on the water's surface. And where the oil has landed, cleanup crews are scouring up the petroleum mess.

"We have 10,000 feet of hard boom and 9,000 feet of five-inch sorbent boom ordered into the area. We have 5,000 feet of each boom already delivered and staged in Grand Isle," Coast Guard Capt. Jonathan Burton said in a statement.

Meanwhile, residents of the Louisiana Gulf community of Grand Isle, who thought they'd finally turned the page on the nightmare of last year's BP spill, have noticed crude invading once again. "I was out there from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. yesterday and the stuff came in in waves onto the island and through Caminada Pass," Grand Isle resident Betty Doud told the Times- Picayune. "There were these orange, nasty waves and black oil mixed with it. The oil was in the rocks along the pass."

Article provided by Yahoo and written by Brett Michael Dykes

Friday, March 25, 2011

USCG: No Deepwater Horizon oil in gulf


More Oil? UPI

NEW ORLEANS, March 21 (UPI) -- A suspicious sheen on the water in the Gulf of Mexico is believed to contain sediment not oil from the Deepwater Horizon site, the U.S. Coast Guard announced.

The U.S. Coast Guard during the weekend responded to reports of possible oil pollution stretching into the Gulf of Mexico.

Analyzed samples from the suspected sheen contained trace amounts of petroleum hydrocarbons, oil and grease, the Coast Guard said. The dark substance is believed to be the result of an increase in sediment that was agitated by dredging operations in the Mississippi River.

Additionally, the Coast Guard said it received notifications of possible pollution in coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Researchers: Fish Become Wary Of Spearfishermen; 'The Fish Tended To Move Off'

Papua

TOWNSVILLE, Queensland -- Fish are not as dumb as people sometimes think: marine scientists have found that fish that are regularly hunted with spearguns are much more wary and keep their distance from fishers.

In investigating the effects of marine areas closed to fishing by customary laws, an international team of researchers working in the Pacific found that fish exposed to speargun fishing take flight much earlier when a diver approaches compared with those living in protected zones.

"We were studying the effect of the customary reef closures which many groups in the Pacific use," explains team member Fraser Januchowski-Hartley of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"In developed countries marine areas closed to fishing are a fairly recent idea – but in the Pacific islands, people have been using them for generations, for traditional reasons."

One of the issues the team was interested in was whether the existence of a closed area changed the behavior of the fish inside it, compared to the behavior of fish outside the area.

Their study took place at Muluk in Papua New Guinea where the local chiefs close areas of reef to fishing, sometimes for several years at a time, whenever it seems the fish are becoming a bit shy. The study looked at fish traditionally hunted by the local people including snappers, triggerfish, parrotfish and surgeonfish.

To study the fishes' flight distance, a scuba diver slowly approached the fish and dropped a marker at the point where the diver was when the fish was seen to take flight – and a second marker at the point on the reef where the fish was when it fled. This enabled them to measure the distances at which fish fled from the diver, both inside and outside the protected area.

"Fish which are regularly targeted appeared to have a pretty fair idea of the 3m range of the typical rifle-style speargun used by the local PNG fishers", explains lead author Dr David Feary of University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

"Inside protected areas, the fish tended to move off when the diver closed to within 2-3 meters of them. However those outside the protected zone, where hunting was common, mostly fled when the diver came within 4-5 meters of them."

"Quite simply, the fish in areas that were fished regularly were warier and stayed further away- just far enough that it would be difficult to hit them with the spear gun technology used locally"


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Marine ecosystem suffers huge blow after 45 baby sharks found dead


Now this is a marine-life massacre to Hammered Sharks!! Gulfnews

Dubai: Fishermen may have struck gold this week when they landed a great hammerhead shark pregnant with a litter of 45 pups, but the Arabian Gulf's marine ecosystem took a great hit.

The 5-metre-long shark was found at Deira Fish Market by filmmakers recording the decline of sharks in the region despite evidence showing that the Arabian Gulf is a ‘hotspot' for birthing shark.

"We need to raise the flag that this is an important region for sharks. This area is a pupping ground but when a slow-reproducing shark is found at the market with 45 pups something needs to be done for the welfare of the species," said Jonathan Ali Khan, project leader, producer and director of Sharkquest Arabia Musandam Expedition.

"If even half of these shark pups had survived, it might have made a significant contribution to the survival of this species at least in this region," he added.

The shark was landed in Khasab, Oman, and brought to the UAE to be sold for a higher profit, Khan said.

In 2008, the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water issued a decree banning shark finning, and halting shark-hunting from January to the end of April.

Only shark finning at sea is banned in Oman. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the UAE is one of the main Middle East exporters of shark fins to Hong Kong, exporting around 400-500 tonnes per year between 1998 and 2000 and attracting fishermen from the region to trade in shark products.

Shark researcher Thomas Vignaud, working with the Shark Quest project, visited Deira fish market and found the large pregnant female great hammerhead amongst dozens of other large sharks. Interested in collecting samples for genetic research as part of his PhD, Vignaud reached inside to reveal 45 dead, unborn babies almost ready to be born.

"Great hammerheads are of critical importance in this region and they have pretty much disappeared from everywhere else. We need to regulate fishing more as 80 per cent of sharks have disappeared," said Khan, a diver and filmmaker in the UAE for more than 25 years. "We know hammerheads used to aggregate in the Strait of Hormuz but we never see that any more."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shipwreck exhibit stirs up storm at Smithsonian


Check out this item from a shipwreck, which brought a storm to the exhibit! CNN


London, England (CNN) -- Though they sit quietly beneath the waves, shipwrecks are a cause of much wrangling above the surface. The issue of underwater archaeology is clouded by concerns about treasure hunting, the safety of wrecks, and the sale of finds.

A planned 2012 exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, featuring 9th century Chinese artifacts salvaged from a wreck in Indonesian waters in 1998 is at the center of the latest row.

Archaeologists within the institution -- and further afield -- are criticizing the curator's decision to mount the show and, in particular, questioning the nature of the original salvage.

Discovered off the coast of the island Belitung in the Java Sea by fishermen diving for sea cucumbers in 1998, the 9th century Arab dhow was a treasure trove of objects including glazed ceramics, and silver and gold wares.

The Indonesian government granted permission to a private German salvage company, Seabed Explorations GbR, to excavate the wreck using divers.

The collection of finds, which included 60,000 objects, was sold largely intact to Sentosa Leisure Group, a statutory board under the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry, for $32 million, according to the Smithsonian.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gulf of the Farallones White Shark Disaster Redux


Check out this Great White in a protected area! Sharkdivers

The following images are as shocking as they are hard to comprehend. The damage to this shark is simply stunning. They are purported to be "before and after" images of a protected white shark that was mauled at the Farallone islands in 2009. A shark by the name of Junior. The shark was badly hooked by a hybrid shark research/film crew in the fall of 2009. The hook was set so badly in the animal that a pair of industrial bolt cutters had to be pushed through the gills of the shark to cut the hook. Two thirds of the hook was left inside the animal. If this is in fact the same animal and these images can be verified, it is clear evidence that this brand of hybrid film and television shark research should be banned from the Sanctuary. Permanently.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fishing for compliments: Seal who charms seasiders with a friendly wave





A Seal that waves? Mail


Say hello to the seal who has learned that by acting like an impatient customer in a restaurant, he can get an extra helping of fish.

Cheery Charlie has discovered that by pleasing the crowd with a friendly wave he can gain the upper hand on his fish-loving rival seals.

Visitors to Howth near Dublin, Ireland flock to the local harbour to purchase fish by the bucket load to chuck to the hungry seals and Charlie's wave has landed him a place at the top table.


The cheeky swimmer sometimes gets a bite on the head from other members of the seal colony but his mimicry of a diner desperate for service means he gets a generous portion from charmed locals.

Photographer Paul Hughes, 40, from Dublin was on hand to capture this magic moment.





Thursday, March 17, 2011

NEW PHOTOS: Woman talks about 600-pound dolphin jumping in boat; spraining her ankle




Florida Bottlenosed dolphin jumps into boat and is rescued!! Naples

— An East Naples women said she is happy to be alive after a Sunday boat outing on the Marco River brought an unexpected guest onboard – a fully-grown bottlenose dolphin. JoAnn Lorek and five companions were on their way to a beach picnic in a 22-foot private boat when the dolphin – reportedly 600 pounds – jumped onto the boat and pinned her ankle. Though Lorek, a part-time Fiddler’s Creek resident, came away with a sprained ankle and some bruises, it took aid from three response agencies and other volunteers to remove the dolphin from the boat. As Richard Johnston’s private boat was travelling on the Marco River on Sunday afternoon, Lorek said she and the other occupants noticed active dolphins in the area. She said no one on her boat was feeding the dolphins, but Johnston slowed the vessel as a precaution. Lorek said she was looking around for other dolphin activity when one leaped it the air toward the boat.

“I just saw this wall of dolphin,” she said. Lorek reported that she felt the dolphin graze her head on its way down, probably with its fin, before it landed on her ankle. She said the incident could have been deadly if someone had been standing directly in the dolphin’s path. Firefighters with the Isles of Capri Fire Control and Rescue District, officials with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Collier County Sheriff’s Office deputies, as well as a few private citizens, worked to rescue the dolphin. However, its weight posed some problems.

“There were 10 full-grown men and we couldn’t lift it,” said Lt. Keith Perry, an Isles of Capri firefighters. Lorek said at first the dolphin seemed panicked. It shook its flippers so hard it left flipper-shaped bruises on her leg. It finally relaxed when rescuers covered its eyes. Since the marine mammal couldn’t be lifted, officials tied a rope around the tail of the dolphin and slid an immobilization board under it. Then they slid the marine mammal toward the end of the boat.

Once the dolphin was halfway off, Perry said the rope was removed and they slid it back into the water, where it swam away without incident.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan tsunami survivor Hiromitsu Shinkawa found 10 miles out at sea


Rescuers spot 60-year-old from Fukushima prefecture clinging to the roof of his home two days after the tsunami struck-Gaurdian

A 60-year-old man has been found on the roof of his floating house nearly 10 miles out at sea, two days after the tsunami that devastated the north-east coast of Japan.

Hiromitsu Shinkawa must have resigned himself to his fate when he was swept away by the retreating tsunami that roared ashore in his home town of Minami Soma in Fukushima prefecture.

As the wave approached, Shinkawa took the fateful decision to return home to collect belongings. Minutes later he was out at sea clinging to a piece of the roof from his own home.

Incredibly, he was spotted by a maritime self-defence force destroyer taking part in the rescue effort as he clung to the wreckage with one hand and waved a self-made red flag with the other. He had been at sea for two days.

Reports said that on being handed a drink aboard the rescue boat, Shinkawa gulped it down and immediately burst into tears. His wife, with whom he had returned home as the tsunami approached, is still missing.

He was quoted as saying: "No helicopters or boats that came nearby noticed me. I thought that day was going to be the last day of my life."

Officials said Shinkawa was in good condition after being taken to hospital by helicopter.

"I ran away after I heard a tsunami was coming," he told Jiji Press. "But I turned back to fetch something from home and was swept away. I was rescued while hanging on to the roof of my house."

The self-defence forces said the good weather and calm waters had allowed Shinkawa to stay alive during his 48-hour drift.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan tsunami 'could be 1,000-year event'


BBC-Tsunamis on the scale that hit north-east Japan last week may strike the region about once every 1,000 years, a leading seismologist has said.

Dr Roger Musson said there were similarities between the last week's event and another giant wave that hit the Sendai coast in 869AD.

It is not unusual for undersea earthquakes to generate tsunamis in this part of Japan. Offshore quakes in the 19th and 20th centuries also caused large walls of water to hit this area of coastline.

But previous research by a Japanese team shows that in the 869 "Jogan" disaster, tsunami waters moved some 4km inland, causing widespread flooding.

The researchers said that such gigantic tsunamis occur in the area roughly once every 1,000 years. Dr Musson, who is the head of seismic hazard at the British Geological Survey (BGS), suggested the latest tsunami was comparable to the event in 869.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Japan's Tsunami Triggered an Enormous Whirlpool


Why? A whirpool ? Fox

The tsunami that hit northern Japan today created an enormous whirlpool in a harbor off the east coast of that country. According to researchers, whirlpools aren't unusual after waves of this size.

The tsunami was triggered by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time. Video footage shows a boat swirling in the massive eddy. It's not known whether anyone was on the vessel.

Based on eye-witness accounts and video in recent years, whirlpools probably occur with some regularity after large tsunamis, said Ruth Ludwin, a retired seismologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Whirlpools have a big impact on the human imagination," Ludwin said. "They're very notable and very frightening. But from the perspective of the geological record, they don't leave any particular sign that has been recognized so far."

Whirlpools happen because of the interaction between rushing water and the geology of the coastline and seafloor, Ludwin said. "Obviously there is a lot of water that is being pushed around, and it is interacting with the shape, the bathymetry, near the coastline," she said. The first images and videos of post-tsunami whirlpools came out of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Ludwin said. But eyewitness accounts from previous coastal quakes suggest that tsunami whirlpools are nothing new. One was reported in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1775, Ludwin said. The Haida people of the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia have myths about a whirling wave of foam.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Devastating Tsunami Rips Through Japan After Massive Earthquake





A 23-foot tsunami strikes the northern coast of Japan, washing away cars and damaging buildings, after a powerful, magnitude 8.9 earthquake strikes the country!!! Fox



Friday, March 11, 2011

Pictures: Prehistoric American Skull Found in Sea Cave?


Check out this prehistoric skull! NatGeo

Divers carefully place a marker near a human skull found upside down in a large underwater cave near the Caribbean Sea on Mexico's Yucat√°n Peninsula (map) in 2007. Based on the skull's location, the team believes the remains ended up there about 10,000 years ago—just before the then dry cave was inundated as sea level began rising. If confirmed, that age would make the skull one of the oldest known remains of an early American, or Paleo-Indian.

Though the skull was found alongside bones of a mastodon and other prehistoric animals in 2007, news of the find was released only late last month, to allow time to properly document the site, train the divers in archaeological practices, and coordinate with authorities. The divers had previously seen Ice Age animal remains in surrounding caves, but the human skull was a surprise. "That's one of the beauties of exploration—you never know what you're going to find," diver Alberto Nava said.

Now comes the tricky part. "We want to figure out the story of Hoyo Negro and how the human and animal remains got there," said Nave, of the Projecto Espeleológico de Tulum (PET) organization and Global Underwater Explorers (GUE).

(Read the account of a National Geographic archaeologist involved with the project: "Skull in Underwater Cave May Be Earliest Trace of First Americans.")

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Glow in the dark lake. Awesome!!!!





Truly awesome pictures of bioluminescence occurring in some Australian lakes! Has anyone seen this occur state side or elsewhere? Any additional insight would be welcomed from friends of ND.

A lot of our fellow ND fans and supporters are photo buffs themselves. Please send in any pictures that you would like to share with our community to ND. Your work will be recognized and others will have a chance to see pictures such as these.

"What happens to lakes in an area hit by forest fires and floods? Some will glow in the dark. For a cluster of lakes in Australia's eastern Victoria, the combination of the fire and then the rain washed ash and nitrogen-rich soil into the water. The Gippsland Lakes experienced a rise in sea level. That caused the lakes to mix with sea water, which also raised the salinity.

This recipe led to the introduction of a species of algae called Noctiluca scintillans, commonly known as "sea sparkle." The bioluminescent brew gave the water a nocturnal glow. Bioluminescence -- when a living organism lights up at night -- is a natural phenomenon. Australian photographer Phil Hart caught the eerie light of the lakes and shared his snaps. The shutterbug runs Night Sky Photography workshops in Australia, where he teaches the art of capturing images like these."

Many thanks to Claudine Zap from Yahoo for for this story and massive props to Phil Hart for taking these awesome pictures. I highly suggest photography enthusiasts check out Phil's website here. Great pictures!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

12,000 Year Old Fishing Tackle Found


Great article on the early origins of fishing and human migration. Do you think we immigrated by and land bridge, by sea, or both?

"People are discovering antique fishing tackle all the time, in closets and at garage sales, but none of that compares to discoveries made recently by archaeologists at two of the Channel Islands off Southern California. Looking for signs of ancient human settlement, they unearthed meticulously-crafted spearheads and other tools that date back 12,000 years and provide insight into the lives of a seafaring culture that obtained bounty from the ocean.

The astonishing discoveries, at three sites on Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands west of Santa Barbara, strongly support the theory that during an era when the first traces of humans appeared in the archaeological record in North America, a coastal culture existed that was distinct from the well-chronicled inland Clovis culture, which consisted of big-game hunters who subsisted on mastodons and other large mammals.

A 15-member team led by Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon's Museum of Natural and Cultural History found chipped stone tools, used for fishing and hunting, along with an abundance of discarded seashells and bones. The newly discovered sites might help scientists learn more about how North America became populated. It's widely believed that people arrived via a land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska, but some scientists believe seafaring migration occurred.

Erlandson explained that his team's find supports the notion that mariners were either first to inhabit North America, or that they arrived at about the same time as those via the land route.

While the recent finds are not the oldest in North America, Braje explained in the New Scientist story that "this pushes back the chronology of New World seafaring to 12,000, maybe 13,000 years ago. It gets us a big step closer to showing that a coastal migration route happened, or was at least possible."

To read the full article check out
Grind TV

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shark sightings near Port Canaveral stir up talk of great whites


Great Whites off Florida coast? Floridatoday

Fishermen always like to share fish tales. The past few weeks, some have been telling a great white one.Perched atop the 36-foot "Relentless," a charter boat out of Port Canaveral, Derek Redwine saw a dark shape come into view while scanning the green waters for fish seven miles off Cocoa Beach.

While searching for cobia last Sunday -- a large fish that spends much of its time swimming alongside manta rays -- Redwine hollered for Capt. Scott Bussen to slow down. "I thought I saw a ray with a big cobia swimming above it," said the Merritt Island artist who owns BoldWater graphic design. "As we got closer, a shark came into focus."

A big shark. So big, in fact, that what Redwine thought was a fish hovering above a manta was actually the long shadow cast on the approximate 15-foot great white shark by its own dorsal fin, he said. "The girth was unbelievable to me," Redwine said.
Captain Bussen slowed the Relentless to a halt above the slow-moving shark for a better look. The fish apparently had the same idea. "He hung around for a good 15 minutes, just slowly circling us," said Redwine. "He was really peaceful and docile."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Young sperm whale washed up on Kent coast had 'starved to death'


Check out this starved young sperm whale! Mail

A whale found dead off the south coast starved to death, initial findings have revealed.
The 45ft long sperm whale was found stranded on a beach in Pegwell Bay, off the Kent coast, yesterday.
The juvenile male had not eaten for some time and had become dehydrated, a preliminary post-mortem examination found.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London carried out the investigation as part of the Defra funded collaborative UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP).
Rob Deaville, project manager of the CSIP, said: 'Preliminary results from the post-mortem examination indicate that the whale had not fed for a long time, suggesting it had become dehydrated, which most likely played a role in its live stranding.
'Further tests will now be carried out to determine the full picture'.
The mammal was spotted at yesterday morning and although rescuers were called it later died.
Whale beachings are rarely explained. Scientists attribute them to natural and environmental factors such as rough weather, weakness due to old age, hunting too close to shore and navigation errors.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fishermen rally over grouper ban


Florida Fisherman want their Grouper! FOX

ST. PETERSBURG - Several hundred traditional rivals rallied Friday against the same opponent: The National Marine Fisheries Service.

Commercial and recreational fishing interests set up camp across the street from the NMFS building on downtown St. Petersburg's waterfront. Federal regulators recently reduced the quotas on gag or black grouper by more than 90 percent.

The regulators think the species is being over-fished. The fishermen disagree.

"There's plenty of fish out there," said Bob Spaeth, president of the Southern Offshore Fishing Association. "All of these people back here know what's in the sea. Those people over there in that building only know what's in the computer and the computer is wrong."

Signs and banners accused the regulators of using "bad science" to set quotas.

Florida Guides Association president Pat Kelly said, "The job right now is to try to keep people working, and try to let people recreate and have decent time on the water with much less worry about regulation eliminating them."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The gulf oil spill's toxic legacy


Obama's favorite restaurant on gulf coast closed because BP spill along with many others! The Age


SMALL trucks noisily patrol the beach behind Steve Fourrier's home in Grand Isle, Louisiana. From his deck he watches them dump sand into screening machines. Crews follow close by, dragging rakes along the beach.

Fourrier wonders when his grandson will be able to play in that sand again, and if he'll be able to put out his crab traps this northern summer. Most of all he wonders when, or if, Grand Isle will ever be the same again.

''The only answer you can have any certainty of,'' he says, ''is that absolutely nobody knows.''
Ten months after BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and began spewing almost 800 million litres of oil into the gulf, and seven months after the well was capped, Elmers Island beach, like many, is still closed. Camardelle's Seafood, where President Barack Obama ate on his visit last June, has been closed since July. It has quietened down a lot since the height of the clean-up, ''when BP took over the world'', as Grand Isle ports commissioner Wayne Keller puts it, ''but we've still got oil in the sand and tarballs washing up on the beach''.

Michael Boatright, 53, has run an aquaculture and fish-farming business in New Orleans since 2004. ''I was on track for a great year,'' he says, ''but now all my customers are buying from Florida.'' He has sold everything from farm equipment to his watch to pay his bills. His phone has been cut off and his power will go next. ''Christmas was terrible,'' he says. ''I couldn't buy my grandson anything, and he was asking if Santa thought he'd misbehaved.''

Boatright has been diving in the gulf since he was 17. From last June to September, he dived as usual about once a week, in areas the federal government had declared safe and open for fishing. ''We didn't think there was much risk,'' he says. ''The water looked good, looked clean.''

In September he started experiencing dizziness and blurred vision, then vertigo and palpitations. By October he was passing blood and had severe nosebleeds. ''At first I was in denial,'' he says. ''I'm broke now, and like most fishermen don't have healthcare. But I was a paramedic for 25 years and I knew this was serious and abnormal.''

Last month he had his blood tested. The results showed extremely high levels of chemicals such as xylene and ethylbenzene, highly toxic carcinogens found in crude oil.

According to chemist Dr Wilma Subra, whose lab ran the test on Boatright and two of his diving partners, all three had the same results, and the mix of chemicals was an ''exact fingerprint'' for those identified when they tested samples of the BP crude erupting from the ocean floor.

Subra, a renowned environmental toxicologist with more than 30 years' experience, has been dubbed ''a modern-day Erin Brockovich'' by CNN. She and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, which has been working locally since 1986 with more than 100 community organisations, have been conducting toxicity tests on clean-up workers, fishermen and coastal residents experiencing symptoms like Boatright's. Results like his are increasingly common, she says. One person had benzene levels 36 times higher than normal.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Scientists investigate after deepwater sunfish wash up on Ponte Vedra, St. Augustine and Vilano beaches


More fish wash ashore! Jacksonville

Florida fish and wildlife officials are investigating the recent deaths of three massive ocean sunfish found less than a week apart on three St. Johns County beaches, including Ponte Vedra Beach.
On Feb. 16, a 9-foot, nearly 500-pound sharp-tailed mola was found washed up on St. Augustine Beach near A Street around 8 a.m.
Three days later, on Feb. 19, another one washed up on Ponte Vedra Beach, near 159 Sea Hammock Way, behind the Old Ponte Vedra condominiums. Officials had little information Wednesday about the creature's size.
Then a deputy found the carcass of a 7-foot, 300-pound sunfish about a quarter-mile north of the Surfside ramp on Vilano Beach around 2 a.m. Monday.
Five other sunfish have been found along East Coast beaches since Jan. 11, said Carli Segelson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute spokeswoman.
"These species are not frequently seen because they are deepwater fish," she said.
Last year, seven washed up about the same time of year. Scientists still haven't determined their cause of death and they don't anticipate determining the causes for the most recent ones for months, said Micah Bakenhaster, FWC research division biologist.
"It could be something wrong when they are close to shore, but it's hard to say," he said. "Most of the ones we've seen have not shown any obvious signs of disease."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Crazy Green" Algae Pools Seen in Antarctic Sea


NatGeo

"Crazy green" pools teeming with life have been found among remote Antarctic sea ice, scientists say—and they may be a global warming boon.

Observed in the little-studied Amundsen Sea (see map), the brilliant blooms owe their colors to chlorophyll, a pigment in various types of phytoplankton, or tiny algae. Algae-eating zooplankton, small crustaceans called krill, and fish and shrimp larvae also thrive in the area.

A recent scientific expedition studied the blooms while plying the Amundsen Sea's polynya, a region of seasonally open water surrounded by sea ice.

Often hundreds of miles wide, polynyas are nutrient-rich "oases" that offer refuges for animals big and small, according to Patricia Yager, chief scientist for the Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition (ASPIRE), which is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.

The open pockets occur for two reasons: because wind blows chunks of ice away from the coast, and because warm air or an upwelling of warmer water melts sections of ice away. (Related: "New Zealand Earthquake Spurs Giant Glacier Collapse.")

When summer sea ice melts, it can release micronutrients into the ocean that supercharge algae blooms. Micronutrients are trace amounts of elements, such as iron, that are essential for plant growth.