Florida Keys sharks – catching and tagging them for science

For scientist Neil Hammerschlag, it was just another Sunday. He was out cruising the reefs near the Florida Keys, hunting for sharks — not as trophies, but for research aimed at keeping them out of display cases and in the water. In many places, these iconic predators are disappearing.

A research assistant professor at the University of Miami, and the director of its R. J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, Hammerschlag spends every other weekend in southern Florida dragging baited, shark-safe lines behind a boat, hoping one of his research subjects will take a bite.

When he and his team catch one, they outfit the shark with either a satellite tag or an ID tag, take tiny samples of muscle and fin and a vial’s worth of blood (they check to see if the shark is pregnant), then send the shark on its  way. The whole process takes about five minutes.

Overall, many shark species are facing steep declines. Figuring out what is driving that trend, and reversing it, is a big motivation of Hammerschlag’s research. “We know a lot of shark populations are in trouble, but the question is, what is happening to Florida Keys sharks?” he said. “And if you want to be effective at conserving them, what would it take?”

via Science on MSNBC

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Tickets available for the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival

This will be my second year attending the Newport Beach Film Festival. Last year I watched a film about sharks and listened to Aaron Sorkin speak about writing. I loved it.

This year is looking to be just as good and I’m excited to see movies about the ocean, surfing, design, and drama.

One things that makes this film festival special is its focus on specialized topics, like:

  • Action Sports (surfing, skiing, extreme)
  • Art, Architecture, & Design (documentaries, profiles)
  • Music (profiles of great musicians and genres)

The festival runs from April 26 – May 3 and this year highlights the Island Cinema, a remodeled luxury theater at Fashion Island.

The full schedule is available online at Festival Genius, and you can follow the festival on Twitter – @nbff.

Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy

In 1985 a small group of concerned citizens set off on a mission to protect the last remaining wetlands in Huntington Beach, some 147 acres out of what used to be over 3,000.

Today, their dream is coming true as the Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy owns and has restored a majority of the land, some 100 acres from the Santa Ana River to the AES Power Plant.

The remaining pieces are a 44-acre parcel located between Newland and Beach Blvd, and a tiny triangle, some 7/10 an acre, sandwiched between the Huntington Waterfront Hilton and a new residential neighborhood. These, too, will soon be owned by the Conservancy.

Here is how that Newland Marsh looks now:

Dry, full of trash and non-native invasive plants

And, the restored marshes:

That's a Grey Heron in the center drinking some water (click pic to view large size).

The difference is clearly the water.

Why Wetlands?

A wetland is “the link between land and water and are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Some common names for different types of wetlands are swamp, marsh and bog.

Continue reading Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy