Archive for 11/07/2011

San Francisco Chronicle – 

North Shore pro surfer Jamie O’Brien is apparently very concerned about the spread of fibropapillomatosis among sea turtles, but since the online posting last week of the photo at right, in which he seems to be riding one of the creatures, he’s also been riding a wave of controversy.

Not only may O’Brien have violated state and federal laws against harassing sea turtles, he violated the sensibilities of those who consider the Hawaiian honu to be an ‘aumakua (a kind of ancestral guardian spirit) — if not their family’s ‘aumakua — and countless more concerned by the likelihood of clueless visitors imitating his stunt. In Hawai’i, the honu population is considered “threatened,” i.e. in somewhat better shape than “endangered,” with global warming and the disfiguring disease remaining as two key threats.

After the photo appeared on the Hawaii News Now Facebook page, unleashing a torrent of online criticism, O’Brien wrote on his Tumbr blog: If you are here with rage, read below.

And help build the storm. … Fibropapillomatosis of sea turtles is probably caused by a herpes-type virus, and is causing an epidemic amongst sea turtles.

Sea turtle fibropapillomatosis (FP) was first discovered in 1938. FP is a disease marked by proliferation of benign but debilitating cutaneous fibropapillomas and occasional visceral alien.

While much research has been and continues to be done to find the causes and remedies for FP, there is a new and alarming development.

Fibropapilloma tumors are starting to show up on other sea turtle species in increasing numbers !

If the same pattern of infection occurs as was seen with green turtles, it will not be long before FP outstrips even homo sapiens as the single greatest threat to marine turtles.

Full story…

Tom Arup –

Labor is considering proposals to establish the world’s largest marine protected area with 972,000 square kilometres of the Coral Sea to be given differing levels of environmental cover.

The Age believes the draft proposal for the tropical waters between the Great Barrier Reef and the edge of Australian territory will place about half the total region in ”no take” reserves, stopping fishing.

The rest of the Coral Sea will be made multi-use, single-use and wilderness conservation areas allowing recreational fishing, some commercial fishing, or both, to differing degrees.

The draft proposal is still being finalised before its release in coming weeks, but falls short of a campaign by conservationists for the entire Coral Sea to be declared a “no-take” reserve due to its largely unspoilt environment and military significance.

Director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society Darren Kindleysides said: “The government has the opportunity to leave an environmental legacy of global significance by fully protecting the Coral Sea in a large marine national park.

“There have always been two important goals since the campaign to protect the Coral Sea began in 2008 – providing a very large safe haven for marine life and recognising the historic significance of the area.

“We’ll be assessing the plan to see how it measures up against these two key tests once it is released.”

Environment Minister Tony Burke would not comment yesterday except to say “a draft bio-regional plan for the east region, including the Coral Sea, will be released later this year and will be followed by a three-month period of community consultation.

“But in an article in Fishing World last week, Mr Burke said he wanted to minimise the effects on recreational fishers from the rollout of marine parks around the country, including in the Coral Sea.

Full story…