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Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation https://www.mosfoundation.org Focus on the Positive Wed, 26 Jul 2017 20:36:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 WARNING: Handle With Care!
 Our oceans are home to the discarded munitions of wars past! https://www.mosfoundation.org/warning-handle-with-care%e2%80%a8our-oceans-are-home-to-the-discarded-munitions-of-wars-past/ Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:38:32 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8314 In 1987, hundreds of dead dolphins washed up onto the shores of Virginia and New Jersey. Following an investigation, one marine-mammal expert stated that the dolphins showed wounds that resembled chemical burns. It is now believed that these dolphins were exposed to chemical weapons that had been discarded in the ocean. Since World War I, the oceans have been the dumping ground of enormous quantities of captured, damaged, and obsolete chemical, biological, conventional and radiological munitions.

idum.3In many cases, these munitions are resting quietly at the bottom of our oceans. However, in other places, these discarded munitions are causing a myriad of problems. There are risks to both humans and marine ecosystems. Let’s first take a look at the some of the potential risks to humans – explosive or chemically dangerous munitions washing up on beaches, munitions being disturbed/activated by fishing vessels, and the leakage of deadly chemicals into the water contaminating the water and the fish that digest these toxins. As the casings on some of these munitions erode and others detonate, poisonous materials are entering the food chain via plankton.

So, what is being done? In 2004, a Canadian by the name of Terrence Long founded a non-profit organization called the International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions (IDUM). Today, the IDUM is an internationally recognized body where all stakeholders (diplomats, government departments including external affairs, environmental protection and fishery departments, industry, fishermen, salvage divers, oil and gas, militaries and others) can come together in an open and transparent forum to discuss underwater munitions, seek solutions, and promote international teamwork on their issues related to underwater munitions.

Recovered Mustard Gas Canisters

Recovered Mustard Gas Canisters

In most cases, once an underwater munition has been removed, the problem is removed. That being said, the removal of these munitions can be incredibly dangerous and must be conducted by specialized teams trained in the handling of explosives and hazardous materials. In 2013, tourists visiting the Assateague Island National Seashore, a U.S. National Park on the Maryland coast discovered an unexploded ordnance on the beach. Fortunately they reported the find and the beach was closed while an Army bomb squad exploded the World War II-era munitions.

Between 1941 and 2003, the U.S. Navy occupied about 2/3rds of an Island in Puerto Rico called Vieques. The land was used both as a naval ammunition depot and for live training exercises. Operations included not only the storage and processing of supplies, but also the disposal of wastes and munitions of all types. As of 2004, the EPA had listed the presence of contaminants, such as mercury, lead, copper, magnesium, lithium, napalm, and depleted uranium, as well as unexploded ordnance and remnants of exploded ordnance.

As of 2014, the Navy has spent about $220 million since 2003, to investigate and clean contaminated lands on Vieques. For the remainder of Fiscal Year 2015 Congress appropriated $17 million for the cleanup of Vieques. While it is fantastic that there is forward momentum on the clean-up up this particular area, the effects are showing themselves in many very visible ways. The cancer rate in Vieques is 27% higher than mainland Puerto Rico and the infant mortality rate is much higher than other areas in Puerto Rico. These staggering numbers have turned Vieques into the poster child example of this issue. Unfortunately, the subject of underwater munitions isn’t sexy and doesn’t get the attention that is needs and deserves.

Noseart Bombs AwayThings YOU can do to make a difference! Educate yourself on this issue, research where you live and locations you make be visiting, talk to others about this issue so more people know, write to your government representatives to let them know you care about this issue, and if possible, make a donation to organizations like the IDUM so they can advocate for all of us. Underwater munitions might be “out of sight” but they have the capacity to make a huge impact on your health and the health of our future generations.

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Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation, Pangaeon and the SEAS Corporation announce Collaborative Alliance https://www.mosfoundation.org/marine-oceanic-sustainability-foundation-pangaeon-and-the-seas-corporation-announce-collaborative-alliance/ Wed, 15 Apr 2015 14:45:28 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8308 April 15, 2015 – WILMINGTON, Del. — The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is pleased to announce a collaborative alliance with the Sustainable Environment Associates (SEAS) Corporation and it’s subsidiary Pangaeon on an initiative called GUARDIAN. Designed to protect, restore and nurture island communities around the globe, GUARDIAN has brought together an experienced executive team of global sustainability leaders. MOSF Managing Director, Jennifer Pitzer, has joined the GUARDIAN Development Team and will be actively participating in the integration of geotourism and citizen science activities.

“I am honored to join such a distinguished team of professionals. The GUARDIAN team includes sustainability leaders in the areas of energy, culture, finance, engineering, tourism, climate, education and technology,” stated Jennifer Pitzer, MOSF Managing Director. “GUARDIAN is addressing important issues facing island communities including sea level rise, fossil fuel energy dependence, waste management, food security, biosecurity, potable water shortage, the loss of cultural heritage, and critical socio-economic factors.”

“MOSF fills a crucial role on our diverse, international team with its focus on community empowerment and education as it relates to sustainability sciences. These two ingredients are fundamental to the successful development and legacy of GUARDIAN’s mission. In addition, MOSF is a valuable asset in our Public Private Partnership development framework,” said Paul Bierman-Lytle, President and Chairman of Pangaeon/SEAS Corporation.

MOSF and GUARDIAN are specifically collaborating on geotourism, citizen science, and empowerment/capacity building programs that benefit residents, visitors and the environment. In partnership with local communities, universities, governments and NGOs, MOSF is developing tourism-based activities that encompass the cultural heritage of the community and foster a sustainable environment for existing and future generations.

GUARDIAN has developed island-based models for assessing, implementing and optimizing utility and infrastructure systems. These integrated sustainability models establish sustainable ‘life support’ systems, including energy, water, food, waste conversion, ecological sewage treatment, eco-transportation, biosecurity, and natural disaster preparedness and resilience.

MOSF and GUARDIAN share the goal of establishing environmentally and financially sustainable models based on tourism centric businesses that keep revenue on-island. Tourism initiatives focus on ‘adventure tourism’ and include land, ocean, cultural and agri-based (food production) activities.

“I am excited by this collaboration, which works with communities set to position islands at the front line of demonstrating solutions to climate change, and which highlights the economic opportunity for all,” said Maya Doolub, Guardian Director.

This collaborative partnership brings together two passionate organizations with solid backgrounds in sustainability, engineering, business, technology, tourism and marine conservation. Both organizations share an entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to investing in green energy, sustainable development principles, and reproducible programs that empower local communities.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is dedicated to the advancement of marine conservation and sustainability projects. MOSF engages in market-driven, tourism centric programs that balance ocean health, human prosperity and emphasize marine stewardship. We establish geotourism and citizen science activities, which sustain or enhance the geographic well being of a destination, emphasize the culture and history of the area, and benefit both visitors and residents. For more information, please visit our website at: www.mosfoundation.org

About GUARDIAN (an initiative of Pangaeon/SEAS Corp.)

GUARDIAN is a sustainability solutions integrator focused on two business components that have been missing in sustainable developments:

1. Integration of utilities and infrastructure: to maximize efficiency among systems, reduce CAPEX and OPEX, provide reliable services especially during natural disasters, and expand community infrastructure services. These actions result in a high performance ‘utility and infrastructure ecosystem’.

2. Profitability: develop project components that generate revenue in a shorter time and with high IRR as the top business priority. Prove that sustainability solutions are profitable and good career choices for young people.

To achieve these goals, GUARDIAN has assembled C-level experts from a variety of international firms that are multi-disciplined, systems integrators, innovators, action-oriented and results-driven. GUARDIAN’s unique team provides expertise in all key sustainability components required to build a ‘community ecosystem’ that is built for longevity and capital independence.

 

See the actual press release online.

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Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation Announces the Appointment of a New Board Member https://www.mosfoundation.org/marine-oceanic-sustainability-foundation-announces-the-appointment-of-a-new-board-member/ Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:30:56 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8291 Mar. 27, 2015 – WILMINGTON, Del. —The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF), a Delaware-based marine conservation nonprofit, today announced the appointment of Jonathan Tourtellot to the organization’s Board of Directors, effective immediately. Mr. Tourtellot’s appointment expands the existing Board to 8 directors.

“Jonathan’s many years with the National Geographic Society and broad experience in sustainable tourism, destination stewardship and science communications will add a valuable perspective to our Board of Directors,” said Jennifer Pitzer, Managing Director of MOSF.  “We appreciate his willingness to serve as a director and look forward to benefitting from his judgment and counsel.”

After 22 years as a senior writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Mr. Tourtellot founded and directed National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations in 2001. He originated the concept of geotourism, defined as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.” Mr. Tourtellot is the Geotourism Editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine and continues to address numerous national and international groups, including the U.N. World Tourism Organization, UNESCO, and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Mr. Tourtellot helped the U.S. Travel Association develop the 2002 study Geotourism: The New Trend in Travel, a landmark survey of American traveler behavior and attitudes about issues of sustainability. In his capacity as geotourism editor for Traveler magazine, he has written on such topics as climate change, nature tourism, and heritage travel. He is a two time winner of the prestigious Lowell Award, presented by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation and in 2011, Traveler magazine won the prestigious World Tourism Award for his geotourism initiatives.

Mr. Tourtellot joins MOSF’s existing Board of Directors:

  • Armin Afsahi, Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni and Community Engagement at the University of California, San Diego
  • Kim Brown is a business owner, serial entrepreneur, consultant, and author. Kim and her family are current sailing around the world on a 56’ Oyster sailboat.
  • Shilpi Chhotray is a Manager of Stakeholder Engagement at Future 500 in San Francisco, California
  • B.R. McConnon, III, founder, Chairman, and CEO of DDC Advocacy, an international full-service advocacy firm in Washington, D.C.
  • David Pitzer, Senior Vice President and COO of Frederick Mutual Insurance in Frederick, Maryland
  • Dr. Tiffany Moisan, Research Physical Scientist in the Hydrological Sciences Lab at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Wallops Island, Virginia
  • Rosemarie Watkins, retired, former Director of International Policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is dedicated to the advancement of marine conservation and sustainability projects. MOSF engages in market-driven, tourism centric programs that balance ocean health, human prosperity and emphasize marine stewardship. We establish geotourism and citizen science activities, which sustain or enhance the geographic well being of a destination, emphasize the culture and history of the area, and benefit both visitors and residents. For more information, please visit our website at: www.mosfoundation.org

 

See the actual press release online.

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Combatting An Invasive Species: The Lionfish https://www.mosfoundation.org/combatting-an-invasive-species-the-lionfish/ Thu, 19 Mar 2015 18:38:27 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8267 Fire ants, zebra mussels, Asian carp, Burmese pythons… what do all of these species have in common? They’re abundant in certain parts of the U.S. and are outcompeting many other species in their respective habitats. What you may not know about these species is that none of them are native to the areas in the U.S. that they are taking over. Fire ants are from South America; zebra mussels and Asian carp are from Eurasia; Burmese pythons are from Southeastern Asia. All of these species have been introduced into the U.S. for various reasons and have since flourished in these environments. These are textbook examples of invasive species. Once established, they begin to outcompete and drastically endanger native species.

lionfish_infestation

Photo by Richard Carey

In the marine environment, there is one particular invasive species that is wreaking havoc on coral reef environments in the Western Atlantic: lionfish. These venomous fish were introduced into Florida waters from their native Indo-Pacific waters in the 1980s when aquarium owners decided they didn’t want them anymore. The pet trade has been the cause of the establishment of many invasive species, but lionfish are one of the worst culprits. Lionfish reproduce very quickly; a female can release two masses of up to 15,000 eggs as often as every four days. These fish also have high site fidelity, meaning once they find a habitat that is good for them, they will remain there. In some areas, the density has reached 200 adults per acre. There invasion has grown rapidly into other Southeastern U.S. states’ coasts, as well as into the Caribbean Sea. Projections indicate that lionfish will continue migrating further north and south; juveniles have recently been spotted of the coasts of some northeastern U.S. states and in both Columbia and Venezuela in South America.

Lionfish are voracious predators that will eat practically anything that fits into their mouths; one study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found over 40 different species of fish in their stomachs, including ecologically and economically important ones, such as grouper and yellowtail snapper. Lionfish are known to corral prey with their large, fan-like pectoral fins and then blowing water at the prey until they turn around and then promptly devoured. Lionfish eat many juvenile fish, which significantly reduces the number of native fish species, particularly ones that help feed grouper and snapper populations, as well as species that keep sea grasses and algae from overwhelming coral reefs.

The invasion of lionfish has led to some creative mitigation methods, including NOAA’s “Eat Lionfish” campaign. NOAA and others are working to encourage an appetite for lionfish in the seafood market, including hosting lionfish food fairs and seafood receptions. Don’t worry, chefs remove the venomous spines before the fish are sold to markets and restaurants. The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF.org) has even released a cookbook that includes information on how to safely catch, handle and prepare lionfish recipes. The 2011 Smart Seafood Guide also encouraged the public to begin dining on this invasive species, deeming it the “safer, more sustainable” seafood product, as many popular food species are overfished and their numbers are declining.

lionfish_cookbook_coverWhile this one mitigation method will be helpful, other efforts are needed to reduce the lionfish populations. Total eradication is very unlikely, if not impossible, because lionfish have already shown that they can easily adapt to different environmental conditions, including colder temperatures and deeper depths. In February 2015, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries released a 3-year comprehensive plan on how to respond, control, and adapt to an active marine invasion, specifically the lionfish. You can find this document here.

REEF.org has also created an annual event to help with mitigation efforts: lionfish derbies. These derbies, held in numerous locations, are single day competitions to collect and remove as many lionfish as possible. Teams collect lionfish by netting or spearing while SCUBA diving, free diving, or snorkeling. Lionfish derbies typically begin at sunrise and contestants must have their catches in to the scoring table by 5:00pm. Prizes are awarded to the contestants who bring in the most fish, the biggest, and the smallest individual fish. REEF.org has done a great job at using these contests to educate as well. The night before each event, all contestants must attend a “Captain’s Meeting,” where they learn about lionfish biology, ecology, impacts, harvesting methods, and derby rules. During the event, spectators are welcomed to observe scoring, and can also observe lionfish dissections and filleting demonstrations. Spectators can obtain free samples of prepared lionfish and are encouraged to ask questions they may have about the invasive fish. REEF.org began hosting lionfish derbies in 2009, and since then have brought in almost 15,000 fish.

Lionfish-Scuba-Diving-ExperienceIt is clear that mitigation efforts can make a significant impact at the local level; however, it is still unknown how significant those impacts are at the macro level. Raising awareness is one of the major goals of the aforementioned mitigation techniques and is important for the eventual control of this invasive fish. Healthy coral reefs and lionfish are struggling to coexist in the Western Atlantic, and we need our reefs to be healthy, as many people depend on these fragile ecosystems for their livelihoods. So order lionfish at your next dinner out, and whenever you see one while diving or snorkeling, spear it, but please be careful!

Article by Hillary Ballantine:

Hillary Ballantine is from a small town in central Ohio, a long way from the ocean. She became mesmerized by marine life at a very young age, and always knew she wanted to help save the whales. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a B.S. in Marine Science and a B.S. in Biology, and is currently attending graduate school at Antioch University New England, earning a M.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology. She has worked with educating the public on marine life at Myrtle Beach State Park, and hopes to further her experience in both the education and scientific aspects of conservation.

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Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation Announces Media Partnership with The TerraMar Project https://www.mosfoundation.org/marine-oceanic-sustainability-foundation-announces-media-partnership-with-the-terramar-project/ Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:30:03 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8223 PRLog – March 4, 2015 – WILMINGTON, Del. — The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) today announced a new partnership with The TerraMar Project to promote marine conservation efforts throughout the world. MOSF and TerraMar share a common vision—a sustainably managed ocean—and will collaborate to inspire, educate and inform audiences about the benefits of and threats to the seas.

“In order to truly make a positive difference, it is imperative that conservation groups work together as a team,” stated Jennifer Pitzer, MOSF Managing Director. “The TerraMar Project is building a robust online community designed to share, inspire, educate and promote ocean literacy. We look forward to working with The TerraMar Project team and introducing interactive opportunities for ocean lovers globally.”

“We’re on a mission to create a global community to give a voice to the ocean,” said Rob Foos, TerraMar’s Director of Development. “By partnering with MOSF we are not only expanding our audience, but we are also providing our community with fantastic opportunities to get involved through their unique geotourism and citizen science experiences.”

As defined by the National Geographic Society, geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents. MOSF and TerraMar are working together to highlight and promote geotourism opportunities and successes around the globe. By encompassing key sustainability principles to highlight a destination’s geographical character, these projects are designed to emphasize the distinctiveness of the locale and benefit visitors, residents, and the environment.

The ocean comprises nearly three quarters of the planet with 64% of that area situated beyond the national jurisdiction of any single nation and is known as the “global commons”. Also known as the high seas, or international waters, this area has been designated by the United Nations as the common heritage of all mankind and represents approximately 45% of the globe. In order to promote responsibility and sustainability for our global commons, The TerraMar Project offers unique tools to engage with the high seas and encourage ownership by providing a flag, a digital passport, and a daily newspaper for the region called The Daily Catch. As an online hub for the ocean, The TerraMar Project also has a robust education platform and is aggressively advocating for a standalone ocean Sustainable Development Goal in the United Nations’ post-2015 agenda.

MOSF and TerraMar will initially focus their joint efforts on highlighting geotourism opportunities and successes on social media and through The Daily Catch, expanding the visibility of these offerings that benefit the marine environment.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is a Delaware non-profit dedicated to the positive global promotion of successful marine conservation and education initiatives. MOSF researches and documents proven, successful marine conservation projects that balance ocean health and human prosperity. With the support of public and private sector partners, projects are selected for documentation and replication based on a model that evaluates financial feasibility, long-term sustainability, and the use of scientifically sound practices. MOSF engages coastal communities, at a grassroots level, to ensure that project implementations are culturally sensitive, community-driven and receive the support they need to thrive. For additional information, please visit our website at www.mosfoundation.org.

About The TerraMar Project

The TerraMar Project is a non-profit on a mission to build a community to provide a voice for the least explored, most ignored part of the planet—the high seas. TerraMar is a digital platform that connects people with the ocean in unique ways by offering educational materials to improve ocean literacy; promoting ownership through passports, ambassadorships, and the ability to claim parcels of the ocean; staying informed through social media and a daily digital newspaper for the ocean called The Daily Catch; and advocating for the ocean at the United Nations and in forums around the world. The TerraMar Project is diligently urging the United Nations to include the ocean as a standalone Sustainable Development Goal in their post-2015 agenda, legislation that would dramatically move the needle on ocean conservation. Learn more at www.theterramarproject.org.

 

See the actual press release.

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Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation Announces Partnership with Ocean Crest Alliance https://www.mosfoundation.org/marine-oceanic-sustainability-foundation-announces-partnership-with-ocean-crest-alliance/ Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:11:07 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8210 PRLogMarch 3, 2015WILMINGTON, Del.The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is pleased to announce a collaborative partnership with Ocean Crest Alliance (OCA) to develop geotourism and citizen science-based programs that integrate with marine protected areas (MPAs). These two marine conservations organizations are working together to implement market-driven programs that benefit local communities, promote eco-friendly tourism and help fund the management and protection of marine ecosystems.

“Ocean Crest Alliance, with Joe Ierna at the helm, is a non-profit organization that is developing innovative ways to establish and manage much needed MPAs,” stated Jennifer Pitzer, MOSF Managing Director. “Like MOSF, OCA has a very strong focus on stakeholder engagement, the importance of financially and environmentally sustainable programs, and the use of green technology to achieve our goals.”

“We have designed and developed a unique MPA Facility and E-Share program that provides a vehicle for MPAs to be financially sustainable while operating sustainably within Nature and the Community that it serves.” said Joe Ierna, Ocean Crest Alliance Director.

MOSF and OCA are collaborating on geotourism and citizen science programs that encompass key sustainability principles and highlight a destinations geographical and cultural character.  Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents. Citizen science enables non-scientists with specific interests, such as marine conservation, to get into the field and assist with the collection, analysis and documentation of valuable data for professionally-trained scientists.

MOSF and OCA have already begun working together on a sea turtle conservation program on Long Island in the Bahamas. Long Island is the site of a proposed 215,000 acre MPA, which is a part of Mission Blue Bahamas “Hope Spot”. This program will be designed and developed with extensive input and involvement of the residents of Long Island. The ultimate goal is to hire and train local Bahamians of the island to manage and staff the program full-time with oversight and assistance provided by MOSF and OCA, as needed.

Partnering with colleges and universities globally, the marine conservation programs will be set up host student interns that can attain required community service hours, get hands on marine conservation experience, and learn valuable work-life skills. Students will be engaging in activities ranging from education outreach and turtle nesting area cleanups to marine life rescue, rehabilitation and release.

This collaborative partnership brings together two passionate organizations with solid backgrounds in business, technology, and marine conservation. Both organizations share an entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to investing in green energy, sustainable development principles, and reproducible programs that benefit local communities.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is dedicated to the advancement of marine conservation and sustainability projects. MOSF engages in market-driven, tourism centric programs that balance ocean health, human prosperity and emphasize marine stewardship. We establish geotourism and citizen science activities, which sustain or enhance the geographic well being of a destination, emphasize the culture and history of the area, and benefit both visitors and residents. For more information, please visit our website at: www.mosfoundation.org

About Ocean Crest Alliance

Dedicated to Honor, Protect and Restore the Health of the World’s Oceans and the Life of the Earth’s Systems through Conservation, Research, Education, Science and Technology. OCA programs anticipate dedicating resources in the fields of ocean-related studies, alternative energy and marine-related activities/technologies; towards building marine protected area facilities, design and build a fleet of vessels to support the sustainability of the various contracted research projects; to establish a Global Network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). For more information, please visit our website at: www.oceancrestalliance.org.

 

 

See the actual press release.

 

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Citizen Science: A Partnership Between Everyday People & Professional Scientists https://www.mosfoundation.org/citizen-science-a-partnership-between-everyday-people-professional-scientists/ Mon, 02 Mar 2015 20:13:17 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8183 Measuring TurtleLast summer, my family and I were strolling along a beach in South Carolina and noticed beautiful shells that were washing up onto the beach with each wave. The creatures would quickly burrow themselves, and their protective shells, into the wet sand. I took a few photos and posted them on Facebook. I commented, “Wow, these shells are beautiful, anybody know what they are?” Honestly, I didn’t expect much of a response. Instead, I received a number of comments about what species of marine gastropod it was and one oceanographer friend exclaimed, “I am so envious, where are you? I have always wanted to see one of those!”

The now famous Olive snail

The now famous Olive snail

I am not scientist, but I learned that my observations, questions and photos were of value to the scientists who make a living studying, tracking, and monitoring our amazing ocean life. Without knowing it, I was acting as a “citizen scientist”. Citizen science can mean anything from people simply observing natural events and characteristics to a full-fledged revolution in ‘science’ that establishes the important social role of learning about the world we live in. Citizen science can enable professionally-trained scientists to leverage the efforts of groups of people distributed widely, or a way to leverage the brains, experience, and insights of the world’s people to advance understanding.

In order for citizen science data to be used and usable, it is important that the information collected is credible and needed by scientists. Fortunately, the value of citizen science is being recognized by individuals and organizations that are in a position to get the word out. Programs are being developed by government agencies and nonprofits, like ours, to train people interested in getting involved and to develop Web-based applications where citizen scientists can share their findings.

reeforg

Copyright REEF.org

Mote Marine Laboratory, in conjunction with the US government and numerous universities, has developed a program called the Marine Ecosystem Event Response and Assessment Program (MEERA). MEERA is a community-based reporting network, which enables ANYONE on the water to report on unusual biological events in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and surrounding waters. Another online tool, supported by the National Geographic Society and called Project Noah, enables nature lovers and citizen scientists to explore and document their natural world. These tools are a powerful source of information that can be used for science research and educational programs that promote wildlife awareness and preserve biodiversity.

In tandem with our geotourism based programs, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is developing training and participatory programs that enable ocean lovers to get involved in hands-on citizen science activities. All of our programs are marine conservation focused and include activities ranging from the identification and protection of sea turtle nesting locations to scuba diving trips on which divers help reduce the population of invasive species, like the lionfish, on coral reefs. MOSF’s first geotourism and citizen science programs are already being developed and will be launched in the Caribbean region.

Turtle Research

Turtle Research

Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology has an established citizen-science program that has more than 200,000 individual people contributing data each year; data collection on this vast of a scale was only recently unimaginable. Cornell’s scientists are using these data to determine how birds are affected by habitat loss, pollution, and disease. They trace bird migration and document long-term changes in bird numbers across the North American continent. The results have been used to create management guidelines for birds, investigate the effects of acid rain and climate change, and advocate for the protection of declining species.

Citizen science is very important! It helps scientists attain information and answer questions about topics that they may not have the resources to collect on their own. Citizen science encompasses a broad range of topics, geographic settings, and strategies. Some projects are confined to a single species and locations, like loggerhead sea turtles on an specific island in the Bahamas, while others are global in scope. On any scale, citizen science creates opportunities for people of all ages to connect with the natural world, gain scientific skills, and learn key science concepts.SharkTagging

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Your Perfect Vacation Adventure is Waiting! Vacations for explorers-at-heart https://www.mosfoundation.org/your-perfect-vacation-adventure-is-waiting-vacations-for-explorers-at-heart/ Thu, 19 Feb 2015 20:44:22 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8161 Have you ever wanted to have your own genuine adventure? Do you dream of exploring far off places and immersing yourself in another culture? Stop dreaming, these types of adventures are now possible for young and old travelers alike! There are a variety of vacation options out there that aren’t your standard trip to the beach or amusement park. Your ideal adventure is out there and achievable via geotourism.

snorkel-turtlev2What is geotourism exactly? Geotourism is sustainable tourism that promotes the local atmosphere, culture, history, environment, residents, and economy of a geographical region. You can immerse yourself in all the local delights, participate in conservation efforts, local festivities, and really learn about an area from the people who call it home. Many popular destinations have unfortunately become “tourist traps,” designed to suck in tourists with disposable income and simply take their money in exchange for plastic trinkets. You may return home with souvenirs showing where you’ve been, but probably missed the true memory making experiences a destination has offer. With geotourism, you are invited to go behind the scenes, see the things only locals know about, and discover the little-known gems of a geographic region.

Regular monthly reef monitoring in Apo Reef Natural ParkMost of us have heard of ecotourism, which is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas while preserving the environment and improving the well-being of local people.” Geotourism is the evolution of ecotourism, it takes the concept to the next level by embracing environmentally sustainable travel and extending it to the culture and history of a destination. Geotourism operations actively engage and support local businesses, natural resources, products and services. In many cases, geotourism involves conservation activities, education, and volunteerism – you could help protect hatching sea turtles, plant trees that help prevent erosion, or participate in a coral reef restoration program. Prefer the arts and cultural attractions? No problem! Geotourism activities often include local art programs and community festivities that engage your creative side. There really is something for everyone in geotourism and the wide variety of activities and the possibilities for adventure are endless!

sustainable fishing sunset

Let’s get to the aspect of geotourism that is near and dear to our hearts: marine conservation. Geotourism promotes the conservation of local natural resources and biodiversity. The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is diving into the geotourism market with both feet – we are working with local hotels & resorts, coastal communities, and conservation groups around the globe to bring you a variety of options. Some of the many activities we will offer range from hands-on sea turtle nest protection and kayak-guided mangrove educational tours to coral reef restoration and marine conservation classes with local students. Program availability will vary depending on the location, community needs, and ecosystem. Stay tuned to our website and social media sites for announcements of new projects throughout 2015 and beyond.

Article by Hillary Ballantine:

Hillary Ballantine is from a small town in central Ohio, a long way from the ocean. She became mesmerized by marine life at a very young age, and always knew she wanted to help save the whales. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a B.S. in Marine Science and a B.S. in Biology, and is currently attending graduate school at Antioch University New England, earning a M.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology. She has worked with educating the public on marine life at Myrtle Beach State Park, and hopes to further her experience in both the education and scientific aspects of conservation.

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The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation Partners with Reef Worlds to Promote Dynamic Reef Projects https://www.mosfoundation.org/the-marine-oceanic-sustainability-foundation-partners-with-reef-worlds-to-promote-dynamic-reef-projects/ Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:56:04 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8105 PRLog – Jan. 29, 2015 – WILMINGTON, Del. — The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) today announced its partnership with Reef Worlds to develop and promote near shore resort reef tourism projects that improve marine habitats. MOSF and Reef Worlds share a common goal of providing tourism-based projects that respect and embrace the local culture, environment and economic welfare of an area.

“MOSF’s focus has always been on the advancement and development of marine conservation and sustainability initiatives,” stated Jennifer Pitzer, MOSF Managing Director. “After numerous discussions it became clear that there are strong synergies between our two organizations. Reef Worlds’ unique approach to dynamic reef development and habitat tourism is a win-win opportunity for marine conservation, local communities and the tourism industry.”

“Our goal is not just to create awareness that coral reefs, specifically near shore reef systems off resorts, are dying and gone, but to try to move the needle resulting in significant regional change,” said Patric Douglas, Reef Worlds CEO.

As defined by the National Geographic Society, geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents. MOSF and Reef Worlds are engaging in geotourism projects that encompass key sustainability principles and highlight a destinations geographical character. Projects are designed to emphasize the distinctiveness of the locale and benefit visitors and residents alike.

Using eco-friendly materials designed to be a haven for marine life, Reef Worlds develops Dynamic Reef projects that merge marine science, art and culture. These structures not only draw tourism, but they also alleviate the pressure on existing natural reefs, which are experiencing devastating losses. Due to the unique nature of Reef World designs, tour operators and resort managers quickly realize a return on their investment and attract tourists to their location. Reef World is already engaged in Dynamic Reef development projects in Dubai, Mexico and the Philippines.

MOSF and Reef Worlds will initially focus on key destinations in the Caribbean. The opening of Cuba to U.S. tourism is anticipated to cause a profound shift in Caribbean tourism. While this may be a daunting prospect to tourism operators in the region, there is also an opportunity to differentiate themselves and benefit from the spillover effect of increased traffic. More than ever, today’s tourists not only expect, but also demand, unique and authentic travel experiences. For many, this includes selecting vacation experiences that enable engagement in activities that benefit the environment.

MOSF and Reef Worlds will work with existing and new tourism operators to identify coastal areas and resort operations that will benefit from the development of dynamic reefs. Both organizations will engage with coastal communities, at a grassroots level, to establish solutions that are locally managed, environmentally and economically sustainable, and culturally relevant.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is a Delaware non-profit dedicated to the positive global promotion of successful marine conservation and education initiatives. MOSF researches and documents proven, successful marine conservation projects that balance ocean health and human prosperity. With the support of public and private sector partners, projects are selected for documentation and replication based on a model that evaluates financial feasibility, long-term sustainability, and the use of scientifically sound practices. MOSF engages coastal communities, at a grassroots level, to ensure that project implementations are culturally sensitive, community-driven and receive the support they need to thrive. For additional information, please visit our website at www.mosfoundation.org.

About Reef Worlds

At the intersection of art, science, and the environment is Reef Worlds. When a unique team of film and television designers, dive site developers, and marine biologists got together they dreamt of a better way to experience the undersea realm the result was Reef Worlds. The global issue of coral reef habitat loss is a real challenge. As a “out of sight, out of mind” conservation problem the challenge is to reengage people with reefs and oceans in a tangible way. Reef Worlds resort based Dynamic Reefs create a sustainable way to educate, inspire, build habitat and revenues that can be used for additional conservation projects like coastal Mangrove rehabilitation. For additional information, please visit our website at www.reefworlds.com.

See the actual press release.

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Caring for Color: Conserving the World’s Corals https://www.mosfoundation.org/caring-for-color-conserving-the-worlds-corals/ Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:33:50 +0000 http://www.mosfoundation.org/?p=8044 Picture this… an underwater oasis teeming with colorful corals and fish. Sea turtles are masterfully maneuvering through the corals in search of tasty sponges, crabs, and jellyfish. You can spot several sharks swimming peacefully around the reef, paying no mind to you. A shadow falls over you, and you glance up nervously, only to sigh in relief to see a harmless manta ray gracefully glide above you. After the ray passes, you notice that the reef has suddenly and drastically changed. The coral has become white, as if all of the color had been sucked out of it. Silvery specters of the colorful reef fish are now the only inhabitants of this ghost town. There are no more turtles, sharks, or rays in this reef. The reef has become bleached; it’s dead. Although this doesn’t actually happen in the blink of an eye, with rising ocean temperatures and falling pH, it is happening more and more frequently around the world. It’s not a great time for coral reefs, but there are many different ways that we are racing to conserve these “rainforests of the sea,” and many of them are working.

spiegelgroveWhat do shipwrecks and statues have in common? They have both been made into artificial reefs. Contrary to the name, these reefs do not contain fake coral, but real, living, natural coral. The term “artificial reef” comes from the fact that the base the corals attach to is not naturally occurring. Many retired ships have intentionally been sunk in areas where they would serve as the base of a new reef. In fact, this is probably the most common form of artificial reef, whether the shipwrecks were intended for such use or not. There are some more unconventional bases for artificial reefs, as well. We’ve all seen the hauntingly beautiful pictures of statues sunk in shallow locations to create a garden of substrate for corals and sponges to grow on. More recent pictures show that this project has been very successful and the statues are now covered in colorful creatures, attracting fish and tourists.

artificialreefartArtificial reefs often attract visitors interested in snorkeling, recreational diving, and both sport and commercial fishing activities. These reef structures not only draw tourism to an area, but they can alleviate the pressure on existing natural reefs. When planned well, tourism can also bring much-needed infrastructure and economic revenue to coastal communities. It is very important to educate both locals and tourists on how their activities can affect coral reefs and the ocean ecosystems that they support.

For example, many tourists are eager to take a piece of the reef home with them, and will often either break off a piece of coral themselves or buy pieces broken off by locals to sell. Recreational divers and snorkelers can also unintentionally break off coral by swimming around and brushing against the reefs. Both of these activities are very hard on the life in and around the reefs. Luckily for the coral reefs, through proper education, management and reef building techniques, there are many ways in which we can help them thrive.

lionOne of these techniques has been used in the aquarium trade for decades; coral propagation, also known as “fragging,” is the process of breeding coral. Almost any coral can be fragged and conservationists around the world have begun raising coral in nurseries or coral farms. Currently the focus is on growing endangered coral species to be replanted on reefs that have been damaged due to storms, human and boat traffic, or deteriorating ocean conditions. The coral can be grown in a protected environment when they are young and most vulnerable and then planted on established reefs. Coral gardening is a great example of aquaculture, which is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic plants.

CRFAlthough there are a number of factors putting our reefs in danger, we are applying various practices to help combat this. The use of many artificial reefs and coral gardening is helping to increase not only the number of reefs in the world, but also their health. Remember, a healthy reef brings no grief!

Article by Hillary Ballantine:

Hillary Ballantine is from a small town in central Ohio, a long way from the ocean. She became mesmerized by marine life at a very young age, and always knew she wanted to help save the whales. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a B.S. in Marine Science and a B.S. in Biology, and is currently attending graduate school at Antioch University New England, earning a M.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology. She has worked with educating the public on marine life at Myrtle Beach State Park, and hopes to further her experience in both the education and scientific aspects of conservation.

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