Posts tagged Caribbean Sea & Gulf of Mexico
Florida’s Red Tides and Their Impacts on Sea Turtles

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have occurred on Florida’s west coast for centuries, with the first documented report of the HAB known as a red tide in 1844. Although many different organisms can cause HABs, the red tide that commonly affects the Gulf Coast of Florida is caused by a single-celled dinoflagellate known as Karenia brevis (formerly Gymnodinium breve and Ptychodiscus brevis), which can turn waters reddish-brown when its concentrations are elevated. When winds, currents, salinity, and temperatures are ideal for algal transport and growth, the cells can be concentrated and proliferate into what are known as blooms. Although natural biogeochemical cycles contribute to the presence of HABs, it is possible that anthropogenic influences, including industrial and agricultural runoff (e.g., fertilizers and phosphate mining wastes), and increased ocean temperatures are resulting in an amplification of the frequency, duration, and range of harmful algal blooms.

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The Conservation Status of the Kemp's Ridley Worldwide

The Kemp’s ridley is a signature species for the Gulf of Mexico, and it has become an icon for conservation. Its story includes a long-term international conservation effort, undertaken by Mexico and the United States, which brought the species back from the brink of extinction. A recently completed IUCN Red List assessment not only evaluated the Kemp’s ridley’s current conservation status but also provided a rare glimpse into the history of a critically endangered species prior to its decline.

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The Wayuu: Shepherds of the Sea

The Wayuu, of northern South America, consider themselves to be the protectors and custodians of an ancient culture based on maintaining a harmonious alliance with nature. Like many other indigenous groups around the world, the Wayuu revere turtles to this day for their spiritual and cultural values and as a source of food, medicine, and other products that are crucial to their daily lives.

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Tortoiseshell: Too Rare to Wear

Hawksbill shell, commonly called tortoiseshell, has been a precious commodity for centuries, and countless millions of turtles have been killed to supply craft markets along trade routes spanning the globe. Too Rare To Wear is a newly formed coalition of more than 40 conservation and tourism groups that is tackling the issue of hawksbill shell sales to tourists in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Caught In a Net: Green Turtles and the Turtle People of Nicaragua

The extensive, shallow continental shelf of eastern Nicaragua is home to hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of green turtles that forage on the abundant seagrass that grows there. This green turtle aggregation is a mixed stock from rookeries and developmental habitats throughout the greater Caribbean from Bermuda to Brazil and to the eastern reaches of the Caribbean Sea. Playa Tortuguero, in Costa Rica, is the principal nesting beach from which foraging turtles in Nicaragua originate. Tortuguero is one of the world’s largest green turtle rookeries.

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New Riddle in the Kemp’s Ridley Saga

Kemp’s ridleys evaded the notice of scientists until the late 1800s. Once discovered, scientists took nearly 100 years to find out where and how they reproduce. In the past five years, an unexplained precipitous population decline has scientists scrambling to solve yet another riddle, one that will determine if the future of this critically endangered species is again in jeopardy.

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Ancient Mayan “Place of the Turtles” Copes with Modern-Day Tourism

Akumal, a small town about 100 kilometers south of the well-known tourism mecca of Cancún, was the first tourist destination in Quintana Roo, and tourists flock to Akumal by the tens of thousands annually. As a result, local sea turtle populations and marine ecosystems are now threatened by the impacts of too much visitation.

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Sea Turtle Farming: Past, Present and Future?

Green turtles provided a vital source of protein for settlers who arrived in the Cayman Islands more than 300 years ago. For centuries, green turtles were harvested directly from their natural habitats, but the unregulated and unsustainable harvest ultimately led to a dramatic decline in Cayman turtles in modern times. Many other nations that experienced similar declines chose to prohibit the consumption of green turtles, keeping in line with international legislation. The Cayman Islands took a different path and, in 1968, decided to turn to the commercial production of green turtles.

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