Showing posts tagged as "Conservation"
Did you miss “Saving Otter 501”, the remarkable story of a stranded three-day-old otter pup rescued by the Aquarium? It’s being rebroadcast on KQED Dec. 4-6.
Against all odds, will this tiny otter be able to return to her home in the wild? Find out!
Sea star populations along the Pacific Coast from southern California to Alaska are dying in massive numbers due to a disease outbreak called “wasting syndrome.” If a sea star becomes infected, it will develop lesions, lose bits of arms or entire arms, then disintegrate into a gooey mass. At least 10 species are vulnerable, and up to 95 percent of populations in some tide pools have died.
Scientists—including Aquarium staff—are working hard to determine a cause. It could be environmental factors, a virus or bacteria. Wasting syndrome actually describes a set of symptoms apparently with no universal cause. In the past, warmer ocean waters have appeared to contribute, but this isn’t an El Niño year. According to our veterinarian, Dr. Mike Murray, it’s less likely to be an infection that’s spreading than it is a variety of factors that are contributing to separate outbreaks.
Our animals affected
Unfortunately we’ve lost some animals in our exhibits and seen firsthand the rapid progress of “wasting syndrome” in affected animals. We’re also taking steps to limit further infection in our sea star collection. The good news is that the problem is limited to sea stars. As far as we know, there’s no indication it could pose any concern for human health. At the Aquarium, it doesn’t seem to be affecting other echinoderms like sea urchins and sea cucumbers – just sea stars.
UC Santa Cruz’s Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Program has been collecting data on sea star deaths since June, after Washington’s Olympic National Park found up to a quarter of its sea stars were diseased. Our colleagues at Seattle Aquarium and Vancouver Aquarium, as well as our own veterinary medical staff, are also involved. Our own Dr. Mike is particularly involved as a member of the research team conducting the investigation into what’s causing the disease and current outbreak.
It may be part of a larger problem. The sea stars’ decline may have serious consequences for the ocean’s diversity. One example? The purple sea star eats mussels, which might otherwise crowd out other species on the rocky shore.
Love sharks? We just added a 6-foot, 71-pound sevengill shark to our Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit, collected from San Francisco Bay. Besides being beautiful to look at, these sharks are part of ongoing research designed to help save sharks.
How are you celebrating Sea Otter Awareness Week? On Friday, Friends of the Sea Otter is hosting sea otter expert Dr. Jim Estes, speaking on “Conservation of the Southern Sea Otter;” along with ocean advocate and Congressman Sam Farr. Open to the public at 7 pm in our auditorium!
How do you care for, tag and study “feisty” sea otters in nearby Elkhorn Slough? Watch our own Dr. Mike Murray at work in this fascinating portrait in the “Santa Cruz Sentinel.” (Dan Coyro/Santa Cruz Sentinel)
California sea otter numbers are up, according to the latest population survey conducted by researchers, including those from the Aquarium. The reasons: more pups — and the addition of San Nicolas Island otters to the count. Since the 1980s, scientists have calculated populations for the southern sea otter, a threatened species in California. For 2013, USGS lists the population as 2,941. To be considered for removal from threatened status, it would need to exceed 3,090 for three consecutive years.There’s more to be done!
It’s a Celebration of California’s Ocean! Enjoy an extraordinary evening of great food, wine and cooking demos featuring some of the West Coast’s most admired celebrity chefs and wineries at the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park California, Sept. 14. You’ll also meet Executive Director Julie Packard and learn about our work to protect the oceans and ocean wildlife!
Can you find two plovers in this picture? When you’re enjoying the beach this holiday, follow these tips from the American Bird Conservancy: 1) avoid roped-off areas and places where birds congregate; 2) don’t approach birds sitting on the sand, they may be nesting; 3) avoid activities that disturb birds, like fireworks or kites; 4) control children and pets; 5) and don’t feed the birds—nature does that. Oh and have a great #4thofJuly!
Welcome to your new world! We just released two threatened snowy plovers on a nearby beach. #Birds in distress and eggs that have been abandoned are often brought to the Aquarium, where we raise and release them to help this threatened population.
You can see yellowfin and bluefin tuna in our Open Sea exhibit, but did you know that next door we work with Stanford University to study and help save these prized and threatened animals?