Here are quick updates on what is going on in the world regarding the oceans and lakes. I hope to not only bring good news but to shed light on everyday happenings in our pristine underwater world. All information is from highlighted reliable sources, posted a day or two after news release.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS IN DANGER
As of late July, there is what’s called the “floating city” of Chinese fishing vessels, approximately 260 boats all larger than a soccer field, positioned between Ecuador’s territorial border and the Galapagos Islands Economic Exclusion Zone. Thus meaning they are in legal waters if they do not cross either border. The Distant Water Fishing (DWF) vessels fishing here are only a small portion of the 17,000 fleet of the Chinese. The fleet is composed of factory, storage and supply vessels which makes it easy for them to stay out at sea for multiple months to a year destroying everything in its path. Although China claims they are a “responsible fishing nation” and they have a “zero tolerance” for illegal fishing, what is brought in to their ports proves different. The China Embassy located in Quito, Ecuador has communicated with Ecuadors Navy that they are “not opposing a threat to anyone”. Despite what the Chinese Embassy says, Ecuador is still concerned and keeping their navy on high alert. Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do to help save this pristine reserve and the large shark biomass that roams through this area. Putting pressure on Ecuadors President to expand the Galapagos Marine Reserve is what we must continue to do. Along with staying aware of the fish we consume, making sure its coming from a sustainable and environmentally friendly company that uses sustainable practices. As one third of fish stocks are being fished at “biologically unsustainable levels”, confirmed in June by the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization.
Oil TANKER IN YEMEN
Just off the coast of Yemen sits a massive oil tanker, FSO-SAFER, containing crude oil and has been unattended for quite sometime now. Leaving this tanker with 1 million gallons of crude oil in the Red Sea could dissipate all wildlife that roams the ocean and destroy the ecosystem it surrounds. There are urgent repairs that must be taken on this ship along with offloading the oil safely although as doing so poses a high technical challenge. Having UN action to prevent such a global environmental and humanitarian tragedy is of the utmost importance. I encourage you to call, email and urge the UN to take action on preventing this spill immediately.
OIL SPILL IN THE INDIAN OCEAN-Updated
Early August in the islands of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean a Japanese owned ship ran aground, hitting a reef and spilling more than 4,000 tons of fuel, cracking its hull. This spill is not only extremely devastating for the environment but also the island as 1.3 million people rely heavily on the tourism that their beautiful crystal clear waters bring. The government only has an adequate amount of equipment regarding their National Oil Spill Contingency Plan to help clean up less than 10 metric tons, meaning they are not equipped to cleaning up this massive spill alone. Volunteers, community members and workers are all in dire need of assistance in getting the proper equipment to clean it up. Spreading the word, staying alert and donating is what we must focus on to help this ecosystem from dying as a whole.
As of August 18th, local media in Mauritius declared the smaller half of the boat would be towed 8 miles to the east of the island and sunk. In that same area is a very common whale nursing ground that is known for whales to go through with their calf as they migrate from Antarctica. During that same time, it’s extremely common for whales to mate and birth calves along the coast of the island as they follow a massive food supply of krill. Prior to the crash of the “Wakashio” the islands Former President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim stated between 2009-10 there were over 1200 sightings of whales including 17 different species. Meaning the island was abundant and vibrant with sea life. It has been 25 days since the crash, assessments are still being made and it is not clear how the rusting of the boat will effect the pristine coral reef and whale nursing grounds.
Government officials have now confirmed 17 dead dolphins that have washed ashore just days after the Japanese-owned oil ships front section was sunk 8 miles from the original disaster zone. The numbers of dead dolphins and creatures are still rising. It has yet to be confirmed on how this has happened.
SHARKS AND THE COVID-19 VACCINE
While every country rushes to get a Covid-19 vaccine for their citizens we must first discuss where this vaccine is coming from. Like many other vaccines, our oceans take a toll on the ingredients used. A common adjuvant used comes from sharks liver oil, called Squalene. An adjuvant helps the vaccines response and gives it a stronger boost to produce more antibodies. It is basically a booster for the vaccine. For just a single tonne of squalene 3,000 sharks are needed and for every human in the world to get just one dose of the vaccine, its been estimated that 250,000 sharks would be killed. It’s more likely every person would get two doses meaning 500,000 sharks would be killed for this vaccine. One of Britains top pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKine, is planning to get a billion doses of shark squalene to produce Covid-19 vaccines.
Sharks being killed for squalene isn’t new, its been done for years for machine oils and cosmetics. But as the world fast tracks this vaccine the shark population is becoming more and more endangered like never before. Gulper and Basking sharks are far more rich with squalene, making them soon to be critically endangered. For sharks to reproduce it can take up to 10 years, only birthing one pup. Thus making these demands for shark squalene incredibly dangerous for an already plummeting population number in all species. Many conservationists are pushing pharmaceuticals to instead use plant-based and synthetic alternatives such as fermented sugar cane to save our sharks from an awful devastating blow to the marine ecosystem.
OIL SPILL IN GULF OF PARIA
Just off the coast of Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela there is a floating storage and offloading facility undergoing repairs that is on the verge of becoming an incredibly horrific disaster. Onboard there is roughly 60,000,000 gallons of oil stored which is more than what was on the Exxon Valdez, one of the worst oil spills in history. Unfortunately the Trinidad&Tobago Government and Venezuelan energy company, PDVSA, who owns the ship are doing nothing to protect the environment and save this ship from spilling into the ocean. If this were to spill, our marine ecosystem will be destroyed and we will be paying the consequences for many decades to come. Not only will it be devastating for the ocean and every living thing that resides in it, but it will deeply hurt the livelihoods that the ocean provides that so many rely on.
I HOPE YOU BECOME INSPIRED TO MAKE A CHANGE IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE TO PROTECT WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT IN THIS WORLD.
LOV UR WTR