Last summer, shark conservation got an interesting new voice. Kool Kid Kreyola, a California-based painter and musician, took the ocean twitterverse by storm with “Me and My Shark Fin”. This video, a clever parody of Jay Z and Beyonce’s “Bonnie and Clyde” , told the story of shark fin soup… from the perspective of a shark.
Kreyola agreed to participate in an interview with me. If you have any follow-up questions, please post them in the comments section below, and I’ll make sure that he sees them.
Earlier this year, Andrew, Amy and I wrote a series of posts called “get to know your fry-entist” which expressed our views on science and advocacy. I was happy to see that last week’s Ecological Society of America meeting had an entire symposium dedicated to this important topic. It was entitled “above the din but in the fray”, and had an impressive list of speakers. I was particularly excited to see Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island’s presentation. Senator Whitehouse is a friend of marine conservation, and is in fact married to a marine biologist.
Sadly, I was not permitted to videotape the Senator’s stirring speech… but he was gracious enough to participate in a brief interview.
I would like to thank Senator Whitehouse for taking the time to meet with me (he was in the convention center for approximately 30 minutes, which included his 20 minute speech), as well as Katie from ESA and Lisa from the Environmental Defense Fund for putting me in touch with him.
Last week, I wrote about National Geographic’s Expedition Great White. In that post, I mentioned that the practice of removing great white sharks from the water for research was controversial, and that I would ask the lead scientist in the show about it. Here are answers to my questions from Dr. Michael Domeier and his colleague Nicole Lucas. They also wanted me to point out that their website has an FAQ page about this technique, which can be found here.
New proposed regulations for the red snapper fishery have conservationists celebrating and fishermen marching on Washington, DC in protest. Quota reductions are some of the most extreme and far-reaching I’ve ever come across. A huge area of the ocean (over 10,000 square miles) has been targeted for closure of not just the red snapper fishery… but all “bottom fishing” of the 73 species in the snapper-grouper management complex. According to the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, such severe regulations are necessary because of the degree of overfishing that has been occurring (8 times the sustainable level since 1970). As a result of this overfishing, the stock is also considered to be seriously overfished- the National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that current stocks are 3% of target size. A total area closure is necessary, according to the SAFMC, because even accidental bycatch of red snapper while trying to catch other snapper-grouper complex fishes can seriously impact such a reduced population. Since these fish live in relatively deep water, they often die after being released. Finally, an 87% reduction in red snapper mortality needs to occur over many years (possibly decades) to rebuild stocks. These regulations are in place right now via a process called “the interim rule”, and meetings will take place later this year to determine if they should remain in place.
Because of the controversy surrounding this topic, SAFMC science personnel were unable to be interviewed. However, . Zack Bowen, a charter boat operator from Savannah, Georgia, and Blaine Dickenson, a recreational fishermen and SAFMC advisor, agreed to participate.
A few weeks ago, I attended a public hearing about offshore oil drilling here in Charleston. I filmed the public comment period, and several participants agreed to be interviewed after the hearing ended. I have over 3 hours of footage if anyone is curious about what didn’t make the final cut. Interestingly, only a few participants lived in South Carolina. Oil companies and conservation NGO’s sent people from their Washington, DC headquarters. Most of the people who spoke were affiliated with a conservation NGO or an oil company or conservation NGO, but the unaffiliated individuals (residents of South Carolina) who spoke were all opposed to offshore drilling.
Jean-Michel Cousteau with an orca. Photo credit: Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society
The death of Sea World trainer Dawn Branchaeu revived an old debate over whether it is appropriate to keep orca whales in captivity. Many people are calling for all captive orcas to be set free, but I continue to support aquariums because of the roles they serve as educators and conservationists. Although several readers have pointed out that the sea world incident itself would make for a solid ethical debate, I am instead going to take you back more than 15 years to a movie that started this whole movement: Free Willy.