The really big news out of Johannesburg is that regulating exports of marine fish species has become normal, part of the mainstream business of CITES.
One story, however, had a positive message that stood out from the rest: the successful conservation of whale sharks along the coast of Gujarat, a state on India’s west coast. The story of Morari Bapu and the whale sharks he protected is not a typical story of conservation. It is one that involves the mixing of people, mythical stories, and at least one Hindu God.
When I left for the CITES CoP, I told my 5 year old son that I was going to a meeting where all the world’s countries were coming together to make sure that all the animals and plants around today would be around when he grew up – and I left South Africa still convinced that this is exactly the best way to describe the CoP.
Midshipmen are not ordinary fish - their songs are loud enough to wake houseboaters, they have rows of small light-producing organs that resemble buttons on the uniforms of naval officers (hence their name), and the males come in two distinct reproductive types, guarders and sneakers. However when Let’s Talk Science at UBC (LTS) was looking for a cool science project to get students from underprivileged Surrey high schools excited about BC's marine ecosystems, a strangeness or hook is exactly what was wanted.
Our job was to find common challenges and opportunities for managing wildlife trade among seahorses, sharks, rays, humphead wrasse, European eels, and sturgeons. These very cool fishes are united as the first wave of fishes to come under global regulations, requiring that no export threaten wild populations. While that sounds good, the challenge, as ever, lies in the implementation … and that was our focus.
Historical map makers – who worked before the world was fully explored – drew dragons and mermaids at the edges of the known world. Today these mythical creatures have vanished from our maps; the world has been mapped by waves of explorers, surveys, and satellites. We have grown incredibly precise at mapping features as diverse as ocean temperatures, aquifers, and ocean habitats. Yet much remains unknown.
Am I really a conservationist?
As a young marine biologist, I’m kind of ashamed to confess that I had never bothered to ask myself that question until last April, after I started fieldwork to initiate seahorse conservation in China. I took it for granted that I was.
Despite the importance of biodiversity conservation, Project Seahorse has made me realize how little I had learned about it in high school.
There are few things as rewarding as seeing science directly contribute to improved policy. We were thrilled to learn this month that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) recently announced the suspension of all exports of the threatened West African seahorses (Hippocampus algiricus) from Senegal and Guinea.
Having laws to conserve nature and knowing how to use them are two different things – if done well, seahorse conservation in the Philippines could pave the way for other species, writes Dr. Amanda Vincent on World Wildlife Day.
They say that good things come to those who wait. But after what recently happened in the waters of Port Stephens, Australia, I’ve realized that some really cool things happen to those who are just in the right place at the right damn time. On my team's fourth day of research diving we encountered (and filmed) a very, very pregnant male White’s seahorse giving birth.
Part 2 in this four-part series, Project Seahorse MSc student Clayton Manning ponders the question: "Hey, I'm in Australia doing seahorse research - How did I end up here?"
In this four-part blog series, Project Seahorse MSc student Clayton Manning ponders the question: "Hey, I'm in Australia doing seahorse research - How did I end up here?"
Prof Balshine spent a year collaborating with us at Project Seahorse in 2014/2015. This blog is about her research in Hamilton, Ontario.
We care about the characters and their fates. The dancers and thugs we meet are far closer to human experiences than the reality of sea animals going about their daily rituals of eating, surviving and finding mates. And I think it’s that quality that makes someone who would usually be indifferent to the ocean, become enthralled by the imagery that now fills their minds.
After nearly three months and hundreds of interviews, I’m even more convinced of the importance of fishers’ knowledge.