Lessons from the Death and Life of Monterey Bay

A few weeks ago, Mark Powell at Blogfish posted “Where are conservation success stories?” in which he asks if we have a bias against good news in conservation. Late last year we presented a series of conservation success stories from the IUCN. Whether because we choose to focus only on the doom-and-gloom news stories or because the natural world really is in pretty bad shape, success stories in conservation are few and far between. That is why The Death and Life of Monterey Bay, a new book by Stephen Palumbi and Carolyn Sotka, is so important. Palumbi is a working scientist and director of the Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey Bay and his work has been cited on this blog before. Carolyn Sotka is the project coordinator for COMPASS, an organization that connects scientist to policy makers and journalists.

In The Death and Life of Monterey Bay, Palumbi and Sotka present the history of Monterey Bay, from discovery, to exploitation, to collapse, and ultimately to rebirth. They weave the narratives of many important players, exploring the legacy of a dedicated conservationist who existed before the term was coined, the hunters, fishers, and canneries who found fortune and destruction, the writers and scientists who made Monterey Bay a literary icon, and the Bay itself, which survived by equal parts luck, tenacity, and foresight. The events in the book span hundreds of years, but we can still glean lessons from both the collapse and rebirth of Monterey Bay.

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Weekly dose of TED – Stephen Palumbi: Following the mercury trail

For 2011 we’re going to do a bit more with our Weekly dose of TED series. Instead of just posting a video each week, we’re going to include a short discussion of either the entire talk or a point that could be expanded.

The idea that, when it comes to seafood, we may not know what we are actually eating is a major problem. Beyond the whale/dolphin debate, how many of us can honestly distinguish among all the seafood we eat? I once went into a few local restaurants to surreptitiously test the tuna they served. Some tuna was tuna, some was grouper, some was Nile perch, but all of it looked the same when cooked. In many cases this is not a case of restaurants misleading customers, or even being mislead themselves, but simply a problem with the length of the supply chain. The more intermediates that a piece of fish has to go through to get from the boat to your table, the more chances there are for it to be misidentified. In general, the places serving local fish were far less likely to have something misidentified. The problem is that this really throws a wrench into the principle of supply side conservation if we are unable to honestly choose our seafood.

~Southern Fried Scientist


The Krill Surplus Hypothesis and the Power of Data

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.orgAlmost a year ago, we discussed briefly the Krill Surplus Hypothesis. In this model, the removal of large baleen whales created a competitive release for Minke whales, Balaenoptera bonaerensis, exponentially increasing their food supply and and allowing their population to boom. By removing all other krill eating whale from the Antarctic, Minke whales were allowed to thrive, gorging on an endless supply of krill. The flipside to this hypothesis is that now Minke whales have become competitive excluders of other baleen whales, preventing their re-population post-whaling. Minke whale may be preventing the recovery of other whale species.

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