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Lionfish Light The Way

picture of a Red Lionfish

The Red Lionfish, with its graceful fins and venomous spines, is creating a very serious problem since its invasion of the Gulf and Mediterranean waters.

As some of you may know, the Lionfish is a warm-water species from the Indo-Pacific waters.  Sporting venomous spines, they are a generalist, eating everything from fish nearly half their size, to crustaceans, shrimp, etc.  Having been introduced in the early 1990’s off the coast of Florida, they are taking over the Gulf and Caribbean waters.  Their venomous spines are an adaptation that indigenous species have no means of dealing with.  Their presence has been devastating to an already challenged ecosystem.  Starting from that one spot in Florida, and tracing back genetically to just 6 or 8 females released into the Gulf’s waters, they now cover a vast range, covering the entire Gulf and Caribbean region (see image further below.  As generalists, they are destroying the balances of nature, consuming and growing unchecked.  Sturdy, these beautiful fish are akin to the red-tailed hawks of North America; they can live on most anything and thrive in many conditions.  Their only bottleneck now is cooler waters; They don’t seem able to withstand waters further north, so spreading to the UK along the Gulf Stream is unlikely.  Read more

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Where Have All The Whalers Gone?

Seriously. As late as the 1970’s, Australia and the United States were amongst the whaling nations. After even the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which is a pro-whaling organization, called for a moratorium on killing whales, nearly all nations stopped the activity.

Picture of whaling in times past

Back when it was harder to kill a whale, we weren’t as much of a threat to them… or ourselves.

Why? What changed? We became to clever, too capable of killing. Where once it was a dangerous and courageous act to go out into the oceans in pursuit of a whale, perhaps kill one or two, men developed power boats and explosive-charged harpoons fired from 50-caliber guns… and the whale populations went from millions to a few hundred thousand in half a century.

Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle, describes the scenario in her book, “The World Is Blue (How our fate and the oceans’ are one).”  After millions of years of being the apex predator, the supreme beings of the sea, along comes man, figures out how to make things (fuel and gunpowder) explode, and throws off the entire natural order of things in the ocean by invading their world, by killing off beings as smart and long-lived as we are, as though they were a prey species. Read more

Wildlife Weekend – Whale Watching Tour

Whale Watching Tours San Diego

No plans for Memorial Day weekend? Take a weekend to surround yourself with marine life on a Searcher Natural History Tour Wildlife Weekend. We’ll take you to the deep offshore waters of San Diego and cruise past the Los Coronados islands of the coast of Baja, Mexico. Blue and fin whales; seabirds such as albatross, shearwaters, storm-petrels, and terns; common and Risso’s dolphins; elephant seals and California sea lions, and much more are expected. Join Searcher crew and expert naturalists on a San Diego whale watching tour, a weekend to remember!

Wildlife Weekend Itinerary: Saturday, May 28th – Monday, May 30th, 2011

Day 1: Board Searcher at 8 a.m. at Fisherman’s Landing in San Diego on Saturday, May 28th. Then we’re off to look for dolphins and migrating blue whales as we make our way to the 9-mile bank. We’ll spend the rest of the day over deep-water areas where we encounter pelagic birds and other marine life.

Day 2: Spend the entire day offshore searching and observing marine mammals and seabirds.

Day 3: Cruise through Mexican waters past Los Coronados Islands to view seabirds, elephant seals, California sea lions, and other animals that use these remote islets for resting, nesting, and feeding. Arrive back to the dock at Fisherman’s Landing by noon on Monday, May 30th.

Cost: $450 (Includes all meals, beverages, and on-board accommodations). A portion of the sale of each ticket goes to support ACS and its education, research, and conservation initiatives!

Whale Watching Tour Reservations: To reserve your spot aboard The Searcher visit www.bajawhale.com

Or contact Celia Condit:

Phone: 619-226-2403
Email: searcher [at] bajawhale.com
Searcher Natural History Tours,
2838 Garrison Street,
San Diego, CA 92106

Thanks! Update Provided by:
Cheryl M. McCormick, Ph.D.
Executive Director
American Cetacean Society