Archive | Aquatic Life

San Francisco's Famous Sea Lions May Now be Off Central Oregon Coast

FLORENCE, Ore., Jan. 7 (UPI) — About 2,000 sea lions spotted off the central Oregon coast may be the popular marine mammals that disappeared from San Francisco’s piers, wildlife experts say.

The sea lions may have simply left their Fisherman’s Wharf hangout to follow their food to colder water, the experts say.

“We’ve seen these huge pods out on the ocean — 200, 300 yards across — altogether a couple thousand sea lions,” said Steve Saubert, co-owner of Sea Lion Caves, a connected system of sea caves and caverns open to the Pacific Ocean near Florence, Ore.

About 500 of the sea lions moved into the caves in the past week or two, Jim McMillan, an assistant manager at the cave preserve, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Saubert, 66, said California sea lions, as well as Steller sea lions, which are threatened, have been attracted to the area by an influx of cold water — about 51 degrees — and food, including herring, anchovies, smelt and squid.

The cold water has also attracted pelicans and other marine birds, he said.

Saubert told the newspaper this summer’s El Nino event characterized by a warming of surface waters along the California coast pushed the food north and the wildlife followed.

Biologists noted a shortage of herring in San Francisco Bay and along the Northern California coast.

The Marine Mammal Center near San Francisco counted a high of 1,701 sea lions at San Francisco’s Pier 39 shopping and tourist attraction Oct. 23. The number dropped to 927 Nov. 21 and was just a half-dozen last week.

Sea Lion Caves is one of the great sea grottoes of the world, comparable in size and coloration to the famed Blue Grotto on the coast of the island of Capri, Italy. The caves contain a wide variety of marine life.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Aquatic Life, Birds, Mammals0 Comments

Scientists Concerned Over 1,100 Pounds of Dead Octopus Washing Ashore in Portugal

VILA NOVA DE GAIA, Portugal, Jan. 6 (UPI) — More than 1,200 pounds of dead octopus have washed ashore on a 1.8-mile stretch of beach in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, concerned scientists say.

“It’s very strange that so many should be killed, and in such a confined area,” said Nuno Oliveira, head of the Gaia Biological Park. “There’s nothing in the scientific literature for this kind of mass mortality among octopus.”

An estimated 1,100 pounds of octopus all ages and sizes washed up dead Saturday and another 110 pounds Sunday, said Mike Weber, head of the Aguda coastal station in Gaia.

“That suggests that it wiped out the entire local population,” Weber told Time magazine in a story published Wednesday.

Firefighters gathered up the dead animals, with many sent for testing at a laboratory in Lisbon. Biologists have ruled out pollution as the cause of death because no other species were affected. The cause is likely some form of disease-causing parasite or bacteria, Oliveira said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Aquatic Life, Literature0 Comments

New Brunswick Town Told that Washed-up Lobsters Off Limits for Consumption

ST. JOHN, New Brunswick, Jan. 6 (UPI) — A small Canadian seaside town in New Brunswick has been warned lobsters that wash ashore cannot be eaten because they weren’t caught under license.

After an Atlantic storm Saturday, the crustaceans began washing ashore at Petit-Rocher on the northeastern coast and word spread quickly, the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal reported.

However, John St.-Coeur, a spokesman for the federal Fisheries and Oceans ministry issued a statement warning beachcomber they were breaking the law that says lobster can only be taken in traps by licensed fishermen during open season. Anyone else collecting lobsters could be fined $100,000, he said.

By Tuesday afternoon, the shore was mostly clear of lobsters and Mayor Pierre Godin said as many as 1,000 people — including him — had enjoyed many lobster meals since the weekend.

He dismissed the federal warning, saying residents had benefited from washed-up seafood for centuries.

“If it’s illegal, they are going to have to make a very, very big prison for us all,” he told the newspaper.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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1,700 Sea Lions Mysteriously Leave San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf After 20 Years

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 30 (UPI) — Nearly 1,700 sea lions have disappeared within weeks after living for nearly two decades at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, authorities said.

“It’s hard to say why they’ve departed,” said Joe Cordero, a biologist with the U.S. Marine Fisheries Service. “As to when and if they come back, no one can say. It’s puzzling.”

On Oct. 23, about 1,700 of the federally protected sea lions were counted on the docks of Pier 39, barking and shoving each other to the amusement of tourists. On Nov. 21, volunteers counted 927 sea lions at Pier 39 and a week later there were just 20, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Scientists have found no fluctuation in food supply or water temperature — two factors that would make the sea lions relocate, said Jeff Boehm, executive director of the California Marine Mammal Center.

While tourists are unhappy about the departure, many others are not. The big beasts had been known to bite swimmers, bump kayakers and climb on to docks and harass fishermen and dock workers.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Aquatic Life0 Comments

Melting Glacial Ice Harms Food Chain

JUNEAU, Alaska, Dec. 28 (UPI) — Melting glacial ice in the Gulf of Alaska affects the marine food chain from microbes to the fish that feed on them, scientists said.

The organic matter of the gulf’s watersheds is “remarkably” biologically active and is likely to decrease as glacial ice melts and the biomass is not replenished, said Rick Edwards, an aquatic ecologist with the Pacific Northwest Station in Juneau, Alaska.

The organic matter supports life to the highest level of the marine food chain, Edwards and his team wrote in a recent issue of the journal Nature.

Some of the organic matter discharged from the watersheds is almost 4,000 years old, yet more than 66 percent of it is rapidly metabolized by marine microbes into living biomass to support the food chain, said Eran Hood, a researcher from the University of Alaska Southeast.

“We don’t currently have much information about how runoff from glaciers may be contributing to productivity in downstream marine ecosystems,” Hood said. “This is a particularly critical question given the rate at which glaciers along the Gulf of Alaska are thinning and receding.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Aquatic Life, Fish0 Comments

130+ Whales Beach on Separate New Zealand Beaches

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Dec. 28 (UPI) — Nearly 130 whales have died in two beachings along New Zealand’s beaches, conservation officials said.

One stranding was on a remote northwest area of South Island and the other happened on the Coromandel Peninsula, Radio New Zealand reported Monday.

John Mason, the Department of Conservation’s Golden Bay area manager, said 70 of 106 whales spotted near Farewell Spit had died by the time personnel arrived and many of the others were in such bad shape, they had to be put down.

On Sunday, residents, vacationers and others joined Department of Conservation personnel to rescue a pod of pilot whales beached at Colville Bay on the Coromandel Peninsula. Forty-two whales were refloated, but the remaining 21 died, officials said.

Mason said most whale beachings typically occur in December and January.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Aquatic Life, Conservation, Mammals, Other0 Comments

Red Snapper Population Sees Increase in Gulf of Mexico

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 27 (UPI) — The red snapper population in the Gulf of Mexico appears to have rebounded thanks to the efforts of U.S. government regulators, scientific data suggests.

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune said Sunday a new scientific assessment of the fish species’ population numbers in the gulf indicate the red snapper population is growing although overfishing still remains a point of concern.

Roy Crabtree, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s southeast regional administrator, praised the apparent reversal of the lengthy trend of major overfishing threatening the red snapper population.

“We’ve been trying to end the overfishing of red snapper for over 20 years, and this is the first time we’ve been able to do it,” Crabtree said. “I think a lot of fishermen have endured a lot of pain over the last few years, so hopefully things start to change for the better.”

The reversal of fortune for the species’ population comes after the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council set the red snapper quota to 5 million pounds in 2008.

The Times-Picayune said the catch limit for sport and commercial fishers was one of lowest for Gulf snapper in history.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Aquatic Life, Conservation, Fish, Nature & Ecosystems, Regional0 Comments

Beached Pilot Whale Saved in Canada

YARMOUTH, Nova Scotia, Dec. 25 (UPI) — Fisheries officers helped move a beached pilot whale back into the water in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, officials said.

Marine Animal Response Society official Andrew Reid said the whale was found beached near Port Maitland this week and rescuers were able to return the large mammal to the water Thursday through the use of an improvised trench, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

After digging a trench and moving the whale into the trench with pontoons and a tarp, fisheries officers and volunteers were able to push the animal into the water, Reid said.

“We were out in the water for probably about an hour while it regained its strength. We deflated the pontoons and it initially swam toward the shore, which was a little bit concerning, but gradually turned back out to sea and swam out,” he told the CBC.

Howard Blinn of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said there have been additional reports of beached pilot whales in the area.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Aquatic Life, Conservation, Fish, Mammals0 Comments

Erupting Volcano Filmed in Deep Sea

FALMOUTH, Mass., Dec. 18 (UPI) — For the first time, video and still photographic images have captured a deep-sea volcano erupting molten lava, scientists in Massachusetts said.

Scientists used a remotely operated vehicle named Jason to capture the event nearly 4,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean near Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Falmouth, Mass., said in a release.

Scientists in a control van on a research ship guided Jason to within 10 feet of the erupting volcano to collect samples of rocks, hot spring waters and biological specimens, expedition leader Albert Collasius said.

“There were 15 exuberant scientists in the control van who all felt like they hit a home run,” Collasius said.

Through a fiber optic tether, Jason transmitted high-definition video of the eruption as it occurred during the first week of May. The video was shown publicly for the first time at this week’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Aquatic Life, Land & Soil, Volcanoes0 Comments

Turtle's Gas Triggers Alarms

NORFOLK, England, Dec. 17 (UPI) — Staff at a British aquarium said gas bubbles resulting from a green sea turtle’s healthy diet caused the tank overflow alarms to sound.

Officials with the Sea Life Center in Norfolk, England, said George the turtle’s flatulence from his twice-daily treat of Brussels sprouts is so profound that they had to lower the water level to keep his gas bubbles from triggering the overflow sensors, The Sun reported Thursday.

“He produced so much gas the bubbles triggered an alarm just above the surface of the water,” said Christine Pitcher, the aquarium’s display director.

“It resulted in an aquarist having to dash to the center in the middle of the night. So by lowering the water tank level, we are taking no chances.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Aquatic Life, Reptiles0 Comments

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