Story About Reef Restoration in San Andres (Colombia) After Hurricane Matthew

from El Isleño <http://www.elisleñ>

Acciones de choque y sanadoras en Little Reef

Miércoles, 19 de Octubre de 2016 04:19 Jorge Sánchez

Un grupo de buzos compuesto por personal de la corporación Coralina, jóvenes buzos de colegios de la isla, empresa privada y la ONG Help 2 Oceans hicieron presencia en la zona norte de la isla llamada ‘Little Reef’ respondiendo al daño causado efectos del Huracán Matthew que perjudicó en buena parte la vida en dicha formación arrecifal.

Las acciones combinadas se presentaron a raíz de la evaluación preliminar de la zona ordenada por el ingeniero Durcey Stephens Lever director de Coralina realizada la semana pasada y dirigida desde la Subdirección de Mares y Costas de esa misma entidad.

En efecto, como lo informó EL ISLEÑO en su portal web, la importante barrera secundaria sufrió daños y “la tarea es mitigar los efectos por medio de la replantación de fragmentos encontrados”, explicó Nacor Bolaños, biólogo que dirige las acciones.

La labores no se hicieron esperar y con un tiempo de inmersión cercano a las dos horas sumadas en tres inmersiones, estos buzos han cubierto gran parte de la barrera. Se actuó a tiempo y se espera aprovechar la ocasión ‘, además, para implantar algunas ‘semillas’ en La Pirámide, otro lugar que ha sufrido gran deterioro.

Los logros obtenidos durante las labores adelantadas han sido signifcativos. “Es maravilloso observar la resistencia en los pólipos marinos de los (corales) ‘cuerno de alce’ que aún se conservan en buen estado salud ya que no presentan signos de blanqueamiento, a pesar de las fracturas de la estructura de carbonato de calcio”, explicó Daniel Florio, operador de buceo local.

Se aguarda que las acciones conjuntas se mantengan guiadas e impulsadas por iniciativas similares.

El célebre buzo ambientalista Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) afirmó alguna vez que frente a las consecuencias de los fenómenos de la naturaleza, “estamos capacitados para reducir de forma drástica su gravedad y consecuencias actuando con celeridad, conocimiento y con unidad de criterio”. Manos a la obra.

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I’ve found some great stuff


I’ve recently found some great stuff and just wanted to share this with you, just take a look

Best Wishes, bartmann

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Eastern Caribbean Whales: Conservation as Cultural Preservation

[An extraordinary essay by Shane Gero, the co-founder of the Dominica Sperm Whale Project, about the cultures of whales, specifically those in the Eastern Caribbean Clan. This essay and the background research more extensively reported in PLOS One, are powerful arguments against the maintenance of the ceremonial Windward Island whale hunting. Read it and share. bp ]

… from the Sunday New York Times Sunday Review section <>

SundayReview | OPINION

The Lost Cultures of Whales


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CreditPing Zhu

Aboard the Balaena, Caribbean — I am alone on deck, my headphones filled with the sounds of the deep ocean. I have been tracking the sperm whales since 4 a.m. Now the island of Dominica imposes its dark shape in front of the rising sun.

“We have whales!” I shout down to Hal Whitehead, who founded the Dominica Sperm Whale Project with me a decade ago. He puts the kettle on and asks who it is as he comes on deck.

I tell him it’s Pinchy and her calf, Tweak. Tweak is making small suckling dives alongside his mother. Then Pinchy dives, and we move the boat into the calm spot she left behind — the “flukeprint.” We are collecting the whales’ skin and fecal samples and recording the sounds they make on a hydrophone, an underwater microphone. Soon after Pinchy dives, we hear the clicks of her codas — whale social calls; she is talking with Tweak. Then the echolocation starts as she hunts for squid. Tweak slides below the surface in search of his babysitter, Fingers, who is Pinchy’s aunt. Hal and I have breakfast, then wake the crew.


A Whale’s Coda 0:25

A recording of the 1+1+3 coda that is made only by sperm whales in the Eastern Caribbean Clan. Dominica Sperm Whale Project

The whale families we work with, members of the Eastern Caribbean Clan, are shrinking. Their population is declining by as much as 4 percent a year, as we reported last week in the journal PLOS One, largely a result of climate change and the increasing human presence in these waters. (Whales can be hit by ships or become entangled in fishing gear.) We are not just losing specific whales that we have come to know as individuals; we are losing a way of life, a culture — the accumulated wisdom of generations on how to survive in the deep waters of the Caribbean Sea. They may have lived here for longer than we have walked upright.

Sperm whales live rich and complex lives in a part of the world we find difficult to even explore. And many aspects of their lives appear remarkably similar to our own. Grandmothers, mothers and daughters babysit, defend and raise calves together. Family is critical to surviving in the open ocean, and each has its own way of doing things. The whales live in communities of neighboring families in a multicultural oceanic society.

Behavior is what you do, culture is how you do it. All sperm whales do the same things — feed, swim, babysit, defend, socialize — but how they do them is different around the world. Just as humans use forks or chopsticks, they, too, differ in how they eat, what species of squid they eat, how fast they travel and where they roam, their social behavior, and probably many other ways we still do not understand.

They seem to mark these cultural differences with different dialects — or distinct sets of codas. Families that share the same dialect we call a clan. The whale families in the Eastern Caribbean Clan use 22 different coda patterns. When two sperm whale families meet at sea, they need a way to recognize one another; those from a similar culture are more likely to cooperate. It turns out that sperm whale families in the same clan will spend time together, while families that speak different dialects, from different clans, will never interact.


Sounds From a Gathering 0:28

When a family of whales from the Eastern Caribbean socializes they make up to 22 different types of codas, some of which can be heard in this recording of several whales. Dominica Sperm Whale Project

Whales’ codas appear to broadcast their identities. One coda pattern distinguishes individuals, a set of others identifies their families, and a special one marks the cultural clan. The 1+1+3 coda (click pause click pause click click click) is unique to the Eastern Caribbean, is made by all the whales in the Eastern Caribbean Clan, and has remained identical for at least 30 years. Calves spend at least two years learning to make it correctly. And they learn to produce it with great fidelity, which most likely ensures that their clan membership is recognizable over their large geographic ranges and across the diversity of other whales they encounter.

The whales in the Caribbean are distinct, and they appear to identify themselves as distinct. Unfortunately, as a result of a changing climate and human impacts, these urban whales, who live in nearshore waters, are at risk. One in three baby whales born off Dominica will not survive to its first birthday. Tweak’s cousin, Digit, had just begun hunting on her own when she got rope from a fishing net tangled around her tail; now she can no longer dive as well, and is struggling to survive.

Losing a large number of individuals is a tragedy, but what happens when we lose an entire whale culture? What do we lose when we lose a way of life?

Every culture, whale or otherwise, is its own solution to the problems of the environment in which it lives. With its extirpation, we lose the traditional knowledge of what it means to be a Caribbean whale and how to exploit the deep sea riches around the islands efficiently. And that cannot be recovered, not even if the global population of sperm whales was robust enough to support remigration into the Caribbean. These would be different whales, from elsewhere, who do things differently. This region would be profoundly impoverished for the new whales, who would be more vulnerable here. The species as a whole would lose some of its repertoire on how to survive.

Interactive Feature: A Conversation With Whales

Species conservation should not be just about numbers. The definition of biodiversity needs to include cultural diversity. All sperm whales around the world are similar genetically. In fact, recent research suggests that all sperm whales may have descended from a single whale some 80,000 years ago. But genetics may not be particularly helpful when conserving populations of cultural whales. “Genetic stocks,” which we have traditionally used to manage and protect much of the world’s wildlife, simply cannot preserve the diversity of life. Diverse systems are more resilient, and the most important diversity in sperm whales, as in humans, is in their cultural traditions.

I could point to many reasons to protect whales, like the way they mitigate the effects of climate change by cycling nutrients that enable the ocean to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, or how top predators regulate marine food chains. But if we are to preserve life, ours and theirs, we must find ways to succeed together, and value diversity in our societies and in our ecosystems.

Shane Gero, a behavioral ecologist, is a founder of the Dominica Sperm Whale Project.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on October 9, 2016, on page SR5 of the New York edition with the headline: The Lost Cultures of Whales. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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How to Increase the Integration of Cuban Science and Technology with the Global Community

[In my experience both working with Cuba in UNEP’s Global Environmental Outlook program, and during birding trips to the island, I’ve been greatly impressed by the depth of Cuban expertise in many science and technology fields. There is a major challenge, crucially involving civil society networks (like CIVIC) both inside and outside of Cuba, to find ways to translate some of this expertise, developed in relative isolation for the past half century, to contexts and language that is understood and appreciated in the wider Caribbean and global science and technology communities. [Not to ignore the several outreach efforts made by the Cuban university scholarships provided for most Caribbean residents, and the many professionals (especially in medicine and engineering) that the Cuban government has provided for technical assistance to Caribbean island states for decades. bp]

from a post by Yacine Khelladi <yacine at yacine dot net>, moderator of the CIVIC [Caribbean ICT stakeholders Virtual Community <>] :

Can Cuban science go global?

Tensions between Cuba and the United States are easing. But researchers still struggle to join the scientific world.

Sara Reardon 28 September 2016

Image caption: Students collaborate on a physics experiment at the University of Havana.
The western edge of Havana hides a side of Cuban society that tourists rarely see. High fences and thick vegetation wall off the grand estates and embassies where the elites congregate. And amid these enclaves of privilege lies a cluster of concrete buildings belonging to the Polo Científico del Oeste — the ‘scientific pole’ of Cuba’s capital city. Here, a cluster of biotechnology research institutions are protected from the chaos and poverty of a city in transition.

For a country whose entire gross domestic product (GDP) is just half of what the US government spends on research, Cuba punches above its weight in some areas of science. Fuelled by relatively generous government support, biomedical researchers have managed to excel at creating low-cost vaccines, developing cancer treatments and screening infants for disorders. Other areas of science get more meagre funding, but Cuba still boasts some bright spots. As the largest and most populous island in the Caribbean, it is a key node in international networks monitoring hurricanes and infectious-disease outbreaks. And because there is so little trade and tourism, the country has nearly pristine coral reefs and mangroves, which attract attention from researchers worldwide.

The productivity and quality of some research in Cuba surprises those from other countries. “We had the same thought about Cuban science as everyone else did: that it was stuck back in I Love Lucy days,” says Kelvin Lee, invoking the 1950s TV show. Lee, an immunologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, is organizing the first US clinical trial of a Cuban vaccine.

Yet the success stories don’t outweigh the profound challenges facing scientists in Cuba. Research jobs pay poorly, and the number of students getting science doctorates has not risen in the past decade. Internet access is scarce, and those who have it find the service so sluggish that it can be next-to-impossible to e-mail a scientific paper. An energy shortage this summer forced government buildings to shut off their electricity for large portions of the week. During a temporary ban on air conditioning, scientists at the University of Havana sweltered over their laptops in 35 °C temperatures.

Image: Desmond Boylan for Nature
caption: Inside a laboratory at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Havana.

Another problem looms above all others: the US trade embargo. For the past half-century, the embargo has severely restricted the ability of Cuban researchers to buy scientific equipment, win international grants and travel in the United States.

But in December 2014, US President Barack Obama announced his intention to restore full relations between the two countries and began lifting travel restrictions. On 31 August 2016, a JetBlue Airways plane flew directly from Florida to Cuba — the first commercially scheduled flight between the two countries in five decades. This softening of relations has led to an era of evolution: it has opened up opportunities for researchers, such as easier travel to international meetings, and raises the prospect of many future benefits through collaborations and purchases. Yet the pace of progress has been much slower than many had hoped, and the future of US–Cuba relations remains uncertain. A decision to lift the embargo entirely requires action from a hostile Congress and lies in the hands of the next US president.

And in the meantime, Cuban researchers are stuck with many of the same problems as their counterparts in other developing nations: an exodus of young scientists, difficulty finding collaborators and an inability to afford increasingly specialized scientific equipment. This sets Cuba back years from where it could be, says Sergio Jorge Pastrana, executive director of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba. “The changes are coming but they change too slowly.”

Old School
In the heart of Havana’s Old Town, the academy is a cool, marble respite from the humidity. It is in the midst of remodelling: librarians sort century-old books of its proceedings, and Pastrana says that he plans to install solar panels. Outside, people pick their way along streets strewn with construction rubble while shops hawk Che Guevara shirts, cheap cigars and mass-produced paintings of cars.

Like the colourful, iron-railed buildings that surround it, the science academy is a grand institution, the first of its kind established outside Europe. In its 155 years, it has hosted greats such as Albert Einstein and one of Cuba’s most famous scientists, epidemiologist Carlos Finlay, who discovered that mosquitoes transmit yellow fever in the late 1800s. Until the revolution, the Cuban academy shared close ties with the US National Academy of Sciences and with its European counterparts. Even under the embargo restrictions, the organization has forged ties with US scientists at institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Pastrana says that science got lucky when Fidel Castro took over (see ‘How Cuban science stacks up’). Cuba could have ended up with “a very bad leader for science”, he says. Instead, one of Castro’s first acts was to create and enforce a universal-literacy requirement, and he prioritized knowledge building and discovery. “The future of our country has to be necessarily a future of men of science,” Castro said in a 1960 speech. The now-famous quote is engraved in Spanish on the wall of the science academy’s lecture hall.


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from Conservation Magazine

Biofuels have for years divided energy experts and environmentalists. Critics say that they displace farmland and cause deforestation. Proponents argue they are a green, low-carbon alternative to petroleum-based fuels.

A new analysis adds fuel to the incendiary topic. Researchers report in the journal Climatic Change that biofuels might harm the climate more than petroleum. Substituting petroleum fuels with biofuels in American vehicles has led to an increase in net carbon dioxide emissions over the eight years covered by their study, they calculate.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard has set an annual production target of 36 billion gallons of biofuel in 2022. The push for biofuels is based on life-cycle analyses, which assume that fuel crops absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, and this carbon negation effect adds up over time.

For the new study, researchers at the University of Michigan Energy Institute analyzed real-world data from 2005–2013 on crop production, biofuel production, gasoline production, and vehicle emissions. They analyzed how much carbon dioxide corn and soy plants pull from the air while growing, and how much of it they release when burned.

The result? Growing fuel crops only absorb 37 percent of the carbon dioxide that burning biofuel releases. “This shows that biofuel use fell well short of being carbon neutral even before considering process emissions,” said lead researcher John DeCicco.

The research, funded by the American Petroleum Institute, has garnered both criticism and praise. Praise came from researchers who say traditional life-cycle calculations of biofuels’ climate impact have been flawed, and that biofuels don’t need national growth targets and subsidies. Critics, meanwhile, pointed out that the study does not take into account the long timescale it takes for crops to soak up carbon emissions.

Plus, as a news story in Wired pointed out, the researchers only looked at corn ethanol and soy biodiesel. Fuels made from cellulosic sources such as grasses, stems, and leaves are widely accepted to be less carbon intensive in addition to not competing with farmland. —Prachi Patel | 8 September 2016

Source: John M. DeCicco et al. Carbon balance effects of U.S. biofuel production and use. Climatic Change. 2016.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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from a notice from the Sea Turtle list based on this Smithsonian blog . . .



According to a new study, eating sea turtle eggs increases the health risk of heavy metal exposure in local communities in Panama and may provide a new strategy for conservation.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and McGill University collected eggs from green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) from the Pacific coast of Panama, and measured the heavy metal amounts—known to cause adverse health effects in humans—the eggs contained. The study was published in June in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health.

They found the eggs contained elevated levels of a number of heavy metals, particularly cadmium at a level that could be toxic to young children who eat 20 eggs per week or more. That consumption figure may sound high, but during egg laying season, when the turtle eggs are an easy source of protein, it is consistent with the eating habits in isolated coastal communities.

Throughout the year, thousands of female sea turtles crawl onto beaches on both sides of the Isthmus of Panama (Pacific and Caribbean) and lay eggs in the sand. The eggs are easily dug up, collected, eaten or sold by locals. Because one nest can contain as many as 100 eggs, families living near laying beaches with no refrigeration can easily exceed the safe weekly consumption of a few eggs per individual per day.

“When you are in these local communities along the coast, when it’s the season, the people eat them all the time,” says Hector M. Guzman, a marine biologist at the Tropical Research Institute. “You can buy a dozen right on the street everywhere in the countryside, and there are plenty in the market. Kids and pregnant women eat them, and people put them in their drinks at bars.”

The most damaging effects of eating so many eggs may be cumulative, Guzman explains. “It might not be that something is going to happen in one or two weeks, or in one season,” he adds. “But if you do that every year of your life, you are bio-accumulating these metals into your tissues.”

Heavy metals tend to stay in a person’s body, accumulating in fatty tissues over a lifetime. Heavy metals consumed in turtle eggs are added to the normal daily intake of these toxins from fish, seafood and other environmental sources. Sea turtle eggs may contribute a significant amount of these toxins. In the case of cadmium, average consumption rates can account for more than 30 percent of safe intake levels set by the World Health Organization, especially in young people from the age of five through young adulthood

Long-term exposure to cadmium can cause kidney and skeletal problems in humans. The researchers also found elevated levels of mercury, arsenic, manganese, iron, copper and zinc in the turtle eggs. The effects of these heavy metals on humans range from neurological damage, reproductive health problems and various forms of cancer.

The effect of these toxins on the turtles remains unknown, although it is presumed to be just as detrimental. The presence of toxins in the marine environment has grown dramatically in recent decades from mining runoff, industrial emissions and batteries and paints. Sea turtles the world over have been found to have elevated levels of heavy metals in their bodies, which could be having a negative impact on their health and reproductive rates.

A more immediate threat to the turtles, however, comes from direct human activity such as hunting, entanglement in fishing gear and the raiding of sea turtle nests.

Although collecting turtle eggs is mostly prohibited throughout the tropical eastern Pacific, including Panama, poaching is rampant and contributes to the dwindling numbers of many sea turtle species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, olive ridley turtles are listed as vulnerable and green turtles as endangered.

Conservation efforts have increased awareness of the problem, but among rural coastal communities, these campaigns have made limited progress. “Back in the ’70s, when I was a student in Costa Rica, the practice of conservation campaigns was to produce coloring books to teach the kids to conserve, or to teach about beautiful turtles in danger,” Guzman says. “Now, four decades later and after a huge international effort, honestly, I don’t think we have succeeded in protecting the turtles.”

He hopes this study will open a dialogue about public health that might be more effective at conserving sea turtles by reducing demand for their eggs. “We need more data of course; this is just preliminary while we continue working in the Caribbean, but it is suggesting that we should be careful about eating the eggs,” he says. “I am a scientist, not a conservationist, but to me, it says talking about public health might be an ideal approach to the conservation of sea turtles.”

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Makes Me Feel Dumb(er)

This one short article has more words that are totally foreign to me than I usually encounter in a week:

Wordnik Word of the Day for August 29, 2016


To prophesy; to foretell; to practice prediction; to utter prophecies.

Paul, I vaticinate that the mansuetude of your response will bring out the best of my muliebrity.
Save the language! &laquo; Write Anything

You may see my attitude as defensive and oppugnant, but I vaticinate further derogation of our incomparable tongue should such complots be permitted to unfold without denunciation.
Archive 2008-10-01

Semblably Titus Livius writeth that, in the solemnization time of the Bacchanalian holidays at Rome, both men and women seemed to prophetize and vaticinate, because of an affected kind of wagging of the head, shrugging of the shoulders, and jectigation of the whole body, which they used then most punctually.
Five books of the lives, heroic deeds and sayings of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel

I am reassured, however, by the reflection that I am not expected to look into the future and vaticinate.
A Royalist Fiasco

But Gwyneth and I are not uncomfortably provided for, and I no longer contribute paragraphs of gossip to the Pimlico Postboy, nor yet do I vaticinate in the columns of the Tipster.
In the Wrong Paradise

The word ‘vaticinate’ comes from the Latin ‘vāticinātus’, from ‘vāticinor’ (“foretell, prophesy”).

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