This paper applies the concept of cultural ecosystem services (CES) to reveal the diverse benefits the Baltic Sea provides to human well-being. The study identifies and defines relevant CES for marine and coastal environments and applies them in a survey with 4800 respondents from Germany, Finland and Latvia. The relative importance of various CES was determined by asking respondents to allocate 100 points between CES related to recreation, landscape, inspiration, learning and education, spiritual experiences and belonging, historically and culturally important places and the existence of habitats. The results reveal significant differences in the importance of various CES across countries, users and nonusers of the Baltic Sea, as well as respondents with different human–nature relationships. The results emphasize the importance of considering recreation, landscapes and habitats in conservation policies, while acknowledging that all CES are perceived as important by some population groups.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Tourism represents an important opportunity to provide sustainable funding for many ecosystems, including marine systems. Tourism that is reliant on aggregating predator species in a specific area using food provisioning raises questions about the long-term ecological impacts to the ecosystem at large? Here, using opportunistically collected video footage, we document that 61 different species of fish across 16 families are consuming tuna flesh at two separate shark dive tourism operations in the Republic of Fiji. Of these fish, we have resolved 55 to species level. Notably, 35 (63%) of the identified species we observed consuming tuna flesh were from ostensibly non-piscivorous fishes, including four Acanthuridae species, a group primarily recognized as browsers or grazers of algae and epibenthic detritus. Our results indicate that shark diving is having a direct impact on species other than sharks and that many species are facultatively expanding their trophic niches to accommodate the hyperabundance of resources provided by ecotourism.
Infectious diseases are potential contributors to decline in Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) populations. Although pathogens are theoretically considered to pose higher risk in high-density rearing environments like hatcheries, there is no direct evidence that hatchery-origin Coho salmon increase the transmission of infectious agents to sympatric wild populations. This study was undertaken to compare prevalence, burden, and diversity of infectious agents between hatchery-reared and wild juvenile Coho salmon in British Columbia (BC), Canada. In total, 2,655 juvenile Coho salmon were collected between 2008 and 2018 from four regions of freshwater and saltwater in BC. High-throughput microfluidics qPCR was employed for simultaneous detection of 36 infectious agents from mixed-tissue samples (gill, brain, heart, liver, and kidney). Thirty-one agents were detected at least once, including ten with prevalence >5%. Candidatus Brachiomonas cysticola, Paraneuclospora theridion, and Parvicapsula pseudobranchiocola were the most prevalent agents. Diversity and burden of infectious agents were substantially higher in marine environment than in freshwater. In Mainland BC, infectious burden and diversity were significantly lower in hatchery smolts than in wild counterparts, whereas in other regions, there were no significant differences. Observed differences in freshwater were predominantly driven by three parasites, Loma salmonae, Myxobolus arcticus, and Parvicapsula kabatai. In saltwater, there were no consistent differences in agent prevalence between hatchery and wild fish shared among the west and east coasts of Vancouver Island. Although some agents showed differential infectious patterns between regions, annual variations likely contributed to this signal. Our findings do not support the hypothesis that hatchery smolts carry higher burdens of infectious agents than conspecific wild fish, reducing the potential risk of transfer to wild smolts at this life stage. Moreover, we provide a baseline of infectious agents in juvenile Coho salmon that will be used in future research and modeling potential correlations between infectious profiles and marine survival.
A changing climate is driving increasingly common and prolonged marine heatwaves (MHWs) and these extreme events have now been widely documented to severely impact marine ecosystems globally. However, MHWs have rarely been considered when examining temperature-induced degradation of coral reef ecosystems. Here we consider extreme, localized thermal anomalies, nested within broader increases in sea surface temperature, which fulfill the definitive criteria for MHWs. These acute and intense events, referred to here as MHW hotspots, are not always well represented in the current framework used to describe coral bleaching, but do have distinct ecological outcomes, including widespread bleaching, and rapid mass mortality of putatively thermally tolerant coral species. The physical drivers of these localized hotspots are discussed here, and in doing so we present a comprehensive theoretical framework that links the biological responses of the coral photo-endosymbiotic organism to extreme thermal stress and ecological changes on reefs as a consequence of MHW hotspots. We describe how the rapid onset of high temperatures drives immediate heat-stress induced cellular damage, overwhelming mechanisms that would otherwise mitigate the impact of gradually accumulated thermal stress. The warm environment, and increased light penetration of the coral skeleton due to the loss of coral tissues, coupled with coral tissue decay support rapid microbial growth in the skeletal microenvironment, resulting in the widely unrecognized consequence of rapid decay, and degeneration of the coral skeletons. This accelerated degeneration of coral skeletons on a reef scale hinder the recovery of coral populations and increase the likelihood of phase shifts toward algal dominance. We suggest that MHW hotspots, through driving rapid heat-induced mortality, compromise reefs’ structural frameworks to the detriment of long term recovery. We propose that MHW hotspots be considered as a distinct class of thermal stress events in coral reefs, and that the current framework used to describe coral bleaching and mass mortality be expanded to include these. We urge further research into how coral mortality affects bioerosion by coral endoliths.
It is well-established that phytoplankton growth can be limited by the vanishingly low concentrations of dissolved iron found in large areas of the open ocean. However, the availability of iron is not typically considered an important factor in the ecology of marine animals, including fish. Here, we compile observations to show that the iron contents of lower trophic level organisms in iron-limited regions can be an order of magnitude less than the iron contents of most fish. Although this shortfall could theoretically be overcome if iron assimilation rates were very high in fish, observations suggest this is not the case, consistent with the high recommended iron contents for mariculture feed. In addition, we highlight two occurrences among fish living in iron-poor regions that would conceivably be beneficial given iron scarcity: the absence of hemoglobin in Antarctic icefish, and the anadromous life history of salmon. Based on these multiple lines of evidence, we suggest that the iron content of lower trophic level organisms can be insufficient to support many fish species throughout their life cycles in iron-poor oceanic regions. We then use a global satellite-based estimate of fishing effort to show that relatively little fishing activity occurs in high nitrate low chlorophyll (HNLC) regions, the most readily identified iron-poor domains of the ocean, particularly when compared to satellite-based estimates of primary production and the observed mesozooplankton biomass in those waters. The low fishing effort is consistent with a low abundance of epipelagic fish in iron-limited regions, though other factors are likely to contribute as well. Our results imply that the importance of iron nutrition extends well beyond plankton and plays a role in the ecology of large marine animals.
Passive acoustics is a tool to monitor behavior, distributions, and biomass of marine invertebrates, fish, and mammals. Typically, fixed passive acoustic monitoring platforms are deployed, using a priori knowledge of the location of the target vocal species. Here, we demonstrate the ability to conduct coastal surveys of fish choruses, spatially mapping their distributions with an autonomous surface vehicle. For this study, we used an autonomous Liquid Robotics Wave Glider SV3 equipped with a Remora-ST underwater acoustic recorder and hydrophone. The exploratory 15-day deployment transited through three marine reserves, resulting in approx. 200 h of passive acoustic recordings, and revealed five distinct fish choruses from La Jolla to Capistrano Beach, CA (approx. 80 km separation), each with unique acoustic signatures. Choruses occurred in the evening hours, typically in the 40 to 1000 Hz band. There was a lack of both temporal and frequency partitioning amongst the choruses, but some choruses exhibited distinct spatial niches by latitude and water temperature. These results suggest that the mobility of the Wave Glider allows for persistent surveys and studies that otherwise may be too challenging or costly for stationary or ship-based sensors; a critical consideration for documenting biological activity over large spatiotemporal scales, or sampling of nearshore marine reserves.
We recently demonstrated the rapid adaptation of Red Sea phytoplankton to ocean warming, with associated constraints on physiological performance. However, the possible tradeoff between thermal adaptation and the organism's tolerance to other environmental drivers in a warmer future remains understudied. Here, we designed an evolutionary selection environment where the Red Sea diatom Chaetoceros tenuissimus was adapted to ambient (26°C) and warming (30°C) temperature scenarios for over 2,000 generations. These strains were subsequently exposed to a range of copper (Cu) dose over three assay temperatures (26, 30, and 35°C), to assess whether adaptation to experimental warming is accompanied by a reformed tolerance to toxic pollutants. Most previous studies on Cu toxicity in marine phytoplankton were conducted within a smaller range of temperature (20–25°C), indicating the need for further assessments to reveal the potential complex interactive effects between pollutants and more significant warming in the future. The acute Cu toxicity was estimated in terms of reduction in cell abundance (cells mL−1), growth rate (μ) and PSII photosynthetic efficiency (Fv/Fm), with 48 h median effective concentration values (EC50) ranging from 2.22 to 20.19 μg L−1. We found a statistically significant interaction between assay temperature, selection temperature, and Cu doses in all the criteria tested. However, under the extreme warming scenario (35°C), the Cu sensitivity was significantly reduced, indicating cumulative antagonistic effects between these factors. Adaptation of phytoplankton to higher temperatures may help maintain their heavy metal tolerance, although a shift in temperature during the tests clearly altered their sensitivities. We conclude that selection for warming had made cells more resistant to Cu at the selection temperature in comparison to ambient-adapted population tested at 26°C. However, in warming-adapted cells, this response was traded off against cupper resistance at 26°C.
In 2012, California completed its marine protected area (MPA) planning and designation process, yielding a network of 124 MPAs from the Mexican border to Oregon. The management effort that has followed is comprehensive and strategic, with a focus on scientific monitoring, interagency coordination, public education and outreach, and enforcement. Initial monitoring results show more and bigger fish, especially in older MPAs where the benefits of limiting fishing have had longer to accrue. Today, California state agencies increasingly acknowledge and contemplate MPA protections in their permitting decisions, as regional and statewide outreach and education efforts enhance public awareness, social capital and stewardship. While enforcement remains challenging in a marine region as large and populous as California, the state has taken important steps to promote compliance with new MPA regulations and—with the support of the state legislature—has strengthened laws to address poaching. As new MPAs are established throughout the world in accordance with global targets, California's post-designation efforts provide a valuable and educational case study for local, national and international MPA managers.
Small-scale fishing communities are increasingly connected to international seafood trade via exports in a growing global market. Understanding how this connectedness impacts local fishery systems, both socially and ecologically, has become a necessary challenge for fishery governance. Market prices are a potential mechanism by which global market demands are transferred to small-scale fishery actors. In most small-scale fisheries (SSF) this happens through various traders (intermediaries, middlemen/women, or patrons). By financing fishing operations, buying and selling products and transferring market information, traders can actively pass international market signals, such as price, to fishers. How these signals influence fishers’ decisions and the consequent fishing efforts, is still poorly understood yet significant for future social-ecological sustainability. This paper uses an economic framed field experiment, in combination with interviews, to shed light on this. It does so in the context of the Philippine patron-client “suki” arrangement. Over 250 fishers in Concepcion, Iloilo were asked in an economic experiment, to make decisions about fuel loans in light of changing market prices. Interviews with participants and their patrons gathered additional information on relevant contextual variables potentially influencing borrowing. They included fisher characteristics and socio-economic conditions. Contrary to our hypotheses, fishers showed no response in their borrowing behavior to experimental price changes. Instead, gender and the previous experiment round were predictive of their choice of loans in the experiment. We explore possible reasons for this and discuss potential implications for social-ecological sustainability and fishery governance.
Seafood mislabeling is a widely documented problem that has significant implications for human and environmental health. Defined as when seafood is sold under something other than its true species name, seafood fraud allows less-desired or illegally caught species to be marketed as one recognizable to consumers. Red snapper is one of the most frequently mislabeled species, with previous studies showing mislabeling rates as high as 77%. We assessed whether red snapper mislabeling rates varied among states or vendor type. We also determined the IUCN Red List designation of substituted species to assess whether frequently substituted stocks were more or less at-risk than red snapper stocks. We used standard DNA barcoding protocols to determine the identity of products labeled as “red snapper” from sushi restaurants, seafood markets, and grocery stores in the Southeastern United States. Overall, 72.6% of samples (out of 62) were mislabeled, with sushi restaurants mislabeling samples 100% of the time. Out of 13 substituted species (including samples that were indistinguishable between two species), seven (53.8%) were not native to the United States of the 12 substituted species assessed by the IUCN Red List, 11 (91.6%) were listed as less threatened than red snapper. These results contribute to a growing body of mislabeling research that can be used by government agencies trying to develop effective policies to combat seafood fraud and consumers hoping to avoid mislabeled products.
Citizen science is a rapidly growing field with well-designed and run citizen science projects providing substantial benefits for conservation and management. Marine citizen science presents a unique set of challenges and lags behind terrestrial citizen science, but also provides significant opportunities to work in data-poor fisheries. This paper analyses case studies of citizen science projects developed in collaboration with small-scale fishing communities in Mexico’s Pacific Ocean, Gulf of California and Caribbean Sea. The design and performance of these projects were evaluated against the previously published Ten Principles of Citizen Science, and Scientific Stages of Inquiry. Our results suggest that fisheries monitoring, submarine monitoring of no take zones, oceanographic monitoring, and the use of species identification apps by fishers meet the requirements of the published guidelines and are effective tools for involving the small-scale fishing community in science. Translating effective citizen science projects in to effective fishery management, however, is still at an early stage. Whilst citizen science data have been used locally by communities to adapt fishing practices, calculate recommendations for total allowable catches, establish and evaluate no take zones and detect range extensions of species affected by climate change, challenges remain regarding how to garner official recognition for the data, incorporate these growing sources of data into national policy, and use the data for adaptive management regimes at the national level.
Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) is a globally mandated approach with the intention to jointly address ecological and human (social-cultural, economic and institutional) dimensions. Indicators to measure performance against objectives have been suggested, tested, and refined but with a strong bias towards ecological indicators. In this paper, current use and application of indicators related to the human dimension in EBFM research and ecosystem models are analysed. It is found that compared to ecological counterparts, few indicators related to the human dimension are commonly associated with EBFM, and they mainly report on economic objectives related to fisheries. Similarly, in the most common ecosystem models, economic indicators are the most frequently used related to the human dimension, both in terms of model outputs and inputs. The prospect is small that indicators mainly related to profitable fishing economy are able to report on meeting the broad range of EBFM objectives and to successfully evaluate progress in achieving EBFM goals. To fully conform with EBFM principles, it is necessary to recognise that ecological and human indicators are inter-dependent. Moreover, the end-to-end ecosystem models used in EBFM will need to be further developed to allow a fuller spectrum of social-cultural, institutional, and economic objectives to be reported against.
The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a real-time network of transmitters and receivers that allow vessel movements to be broadcast, tracked, and recorded. Though traditionally used for real-time maritime applications related to keeping track of vessel traffic for collision avoidance, there is increasing interest in using AIS data and the AIS platform for maritime safety planning, resource management, and weather forecasting. AIS data are being made tractable for alternative non-real-time applications like determining trends and patterns in vessel traffic and helping to prioritize where modern bathymetric surveys are needed to ensure safe maritime transit. The AIS is also being used for widespread transmission of critical environmental conditions information, such as sea state and weather, to mariners, forecasters, and emergency response providers. Several pilot projects are underway that demonstrate the capacity and promise of AIS data and the AIS platform to serve multiple purposes, providing overall maritime domain awareness while maintaining its most important objective of tracking vessels to aid safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sound maritime operations.
Sea surface temperature (SST) is a fundamental physical variable for understanding, quantifying and predicting complex interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere. Such processes determine how heat from the sun is redistributed across the global oceans, directly impacting large- and small-scale weather and climate patterns. The provision of daily maps of global SST for operational systems, climate modeling and the broader scientific community is now a mature and sustained service coordinated by the Group for High Resolution Sea Surface Temperature (GHRSST) and the CEOS SST Virtual Constellation (CEOS SST-VC). Data streams are shared, indexed, processed, quality controlled, analyzed, and documented within a Regional/Global Task Sharing (R/GTS) framework, which is implemented internationally in a distributed manner. Products rely on a combination of low-Earth orbit infrared and microwave satellite imagery, geostationary orbit infrared satellite imagery, and in situ data from moored and drifting buoys, Argo floats, and a suite of independent, fully characterized and traceable in situ measurements for product validation (Fiducial Reference Measurements, FRM). Research and development continues to tackle problems such as instrument calibration, algorithm development, diurnal variability, derivation of high-quality skin and depth temperatures, and areas of specific interest such as the high latitudes and coastal areas. In this white paper, we review progress versus the challenges we set out 10 years ago in a previous paper, highlight remaining and new research and development challenges for the next 10 years (such as the need for sustained continuity of passive microwave SST using a 6.9 GHz channel), and conclude with needs to achieve an integrated global high-resolution SST observing system, with focus on satellite observations exploited in conjunction with in situSSTs. The paper directly relates to the theme of Data Information Systems and also contributes to Ocean Observing Governance and Ocean Technology and Networks within the OceanObs2019 objectives. Applications of SST contribute to all the seven societal benefits, covering Discovery; Ecosystem Health & Biodiversity; Climate Variability & Change; Water, Food, & Energy Security; Pollution & Human Health; Hazards and Maritime Safety; and the Blue Economy.
Measuring ocean physics and atmospheric conditions at the sea-surface has been taking place for decades in our world’s oceans. Enhancing R&D technologies developed in Federal and academic institutions and laboratories such as WHOI’s Vector Averaging Current Meter (VACM, 1970s) and NOAA – PMEL’s: Autonomous Temperature Line Acquisition System (ATLAS, 1980s) as example, in situ ocean measurements and real-time telemetry for data processing and dissemination from remote areas of oceans and seas are now common place. A transition of this “ocean monitoring” technology has occurred with additional support from individual and group innovative efforts in the field of ocean instrumentation. As a result, long-term monitoring of ocean processes and changes has become more accessible to the research community at large. Here; we discuss a “Hybrid” air-sea interaction deep-sea monitoring system that has been developed in the private sector to mirror ocean-climate community data streams and has been successfully deployed on three basin-scaled programs in the Indian Ocean (RAMA, First Institute of Oceanography, FIO, China), the Andaman Sea (MOMSEI, Monsoon Onset Monitoring, FIO) and the Pacific Ocean (China’s Institute of Oceanology, Academy of Sciences (IOCAS) research in the western tropical Pacific). This application is a base to build upon as new sensors are developed and increased sampling at higher resolutions is required. Surface vehicles measure the surface, with some profiling available. Water column density sampling is still a much-needed measurement within the Ocean Climate Monitoring community. The “Hybrid” is a multidisciplinary tool to integrate new biological and biogeochemical sensors for continued interaction studies of the physical processes of our oceans. This application can also be used at FLUX sites to enhance the Argo Program, telemetry applications and docking stations for autonomous vehicles such as sail-drones, gliders and wave riders for enhancement and contribution to the Global Tropical Moored Buoy Array (GTMBA), Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), and the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOS).
The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and its partners have worked together over the past decade to break down barriers between open-ocean and coastal observing, between scientific disciplines, and between operational and research institutions. Here we discuss some GOOS successes and challenges from the past decade, and present ideas for moving forward, including highlights of the GOOS 2030 Strategy, published in 2019. The OceanObs’09 meeting in Venice in 2009 resulted in a remarkable consensus on the need for a common set of guidelines for the global ocean observing community. Work following the meeting led to development of the Framework for Ocean Observing (FOO) published in 2012 and adopted by GOOS as a foundational document that same year. The FOO provides guidelines for the setting of requirements, assessing technology readiness, and assessing the usefulness of data and products for users. Here we evaluate successes and challenges in FOO implementation and consider ways to ensure broader use of the FOO principles. The proliferation of ocean observing activities around the world is extremely diverse and not managed, or even overseen by, any one entity. The lack of coherent governance has resulted in duplication and varying degrees of clarity, responsibility, coordination and data sharing. GOOS has had considerable success over the past decade in encouraging voluntary collaboration across much of this broad community, including increased use of the FOO guidelines and partly effective governance, but much remains to be done. Here we outline and discuss several approaches for GOOS to deliver more effective governance to achieve our collective vision of fully meeting society’s needs. What would a more effective and well-structured governance arrangement look like? Can the existing system be modified? Do we need to rebuild it from scratch? We consider the case for evolution versus revolution. Community-wide consideration of these governance issues will be timely and important before, during and following the OceanObs’19 meeting in September 2019.
Nares Strait is the northern most outflow gateway of the Arctic Ocean, with a direct connection to the remaining multi-year ice covered central Arctic Ocean. Nares Strait itself flows into the historically highly productive North Water Polynya (Pikialasorsuaq). Satellite data show that Nares Strait ice is retreating earlier in the season. The early season surface chlorophyll signal, which was a characteristic of the North Water, has also moved north into Nares Strait. However, given the vast differences in the hydrography and physical oceanographic structure of the North Water and Nares Strait there is no a priori reason to assume that the species assemblages and overall productivity of this region between Greenland and Canada will be maintained in the face of ongoing sea ice decline. The North Water’s high marine mammal and bird populations are dependent on seasonally persistent diatom dominated phytoplankton productivity, and although there have been several studies on North Water phytoplankton, virtually nothing is known about the communities in Nares Strait. Here we investigated the microbial eukaryotes, including phytoplankton in Nares Strait using high-throughput amplicon sequencing. Samples were collected from Kennedy Channel below the northern ice edge of Nares Strait through the Kane Basin and into the northern limit of the North Water. The physical oceanographic structure and initial community rapidly changed between the faster flowing Kennedy Channel and the comparatively wider shallower Kane Basin. The community changes were evident in both the upper euphotic zone and the deeper aphotic zone. Heterotrophic taxa were found in the deeper waters along with ice algae that would have originated further to the north following release from the ice. Although there was a high proportion of pan-Arctic species throughout, the Nares Strait system showed little in common with the Northern North Water station, suggesting a lack of connectivity. We surmise that a direct displacement of the rich North Water ecosystem is not likely to occur. Overall our study supported the notion that the microbial eukaryotic community, which supports ecosystem function and secondary productivity is shaped by a balance of historic and current processes, which differed by seascape.
Corals and sponges in rocky deep-sea environments are foundation species postulated to enhance local diversity by increasing biogenic habitat heterogeneity and enriching local carbon cycling. These key groups are highly vulnerable to disturbances (e.g., trawling, mining, and pollution) and are threatened by expansive changes in ocean conditions linked to climate change (acidification, warming, and deoxygenation). Once damaged by trawling or other disturbances, recolonization and regrowth may require centuries or longer, highlighting the need for stewardship of these deep-sea coral and sponge communities (DSCSCs). To this end, the sustainability of DSCSCs may be enhanced not only by protecting existing communities, but also repopulating disturbed areas using active restoration methods. Here, we report one of the first studies to explore methods to restore deep-sea coral populations by translocating coral fragments of multiple coral species. Branches of deep-sea corals were collected by ROV from 800 to 1300 m depth off central California and propagated into multiple fragments once at the surface. These fragments were then attached to “coral pots” using two different methods and placed in the same habitat to assess their survivorship (n = 113 total fragments, n = 7 taxa, n = 7 deployment groups). Mean survivorship for all translocated coral fragments observed within the first 365 days was ∼52%, with the highest mortality occurring in the first 3 months. In addition to an initial temporal sensitivity, survival of coral fragments varied by attachment method and among species. All coral fragments attached to coral pots using zip ties died, while those attached by cement resulted in differential survivorship over time. The latter method resulted in 80–100% fragment survivorship after 1 year for Corallium sp., Lillipathes sp., and Swiftia kofoidi, 12–50% for the bamboo corals Keratoisissp. and Isidella tentaculum, and 0–50% for the bubblegum corals Paragorgia arborea and Sibogagorgia cauliflora. These initial results indicate differences in sensitivities to transplanting methods among coral species, but also suggest that repopulation efforts may accelerate the recovery of disturbed DSCSCs.
Ship strikes of whales are a growing concern around the world and especially along the U.S. West Coast, home to some of busiest ports in the world and where ship strikes on a number of species including blue, fin, and humpback whales have been documented. This trial program examined the feasibility, logistics, industry cooperation, and effectiveness of placing an observer on board a commercial ship. An experienced marine mammal observer went on five voyages, spanning over 8 days on ships operating between U.S. West Coast ports. Daylight observations were conducted over 68 h and covered over 1300 nm as ships transited between three ports [Seattle, Oakland, and LA/Long Beach (LA/LB)]. Sightings of large whales were reported on all (n = 42), totaling an estimated 57 individuals that included humpback, blue, fin, and beaked whales. Close encounters of large whales occurred (on one occasion a near miss, estimated at 40 m, of two humpbacks), and on another, a ship chose to alter course to avoid whale sightings in its path identified by the observer. All ships personnel cooperated and voluntarily aided in the observations even after initial skepticism by some crew about the program. While most effort on mitigating ship strikes along the U.S. West Coast has focused on shipping lanes, the vast majority of these sightings occurred outside these lanes and on the transit routes, emphasizing the need for added attention to these areas. This experiment demonstrates the effectiveness and promise of observations from ships providing critical information on whale locations at risk to ship strikes.
Effective marine park management and protection of coral reefs can only happen if managers have adequate knowledge of reef health and area. However, obtaining such information is labor intensive and difficult with limited funding and time. Reef Check Malaysia was engaged by Department of Marine Parks Malaysia to map the coral reefs surrounding Tioman Island Marine Park and document health status and site specific threats. To achieve this, we utilized the Reef Check survey method, a simple, rapid and holistic standardized reef monitoring protocol based on scientific principles. This method is suitable where funds and time are limited. A total of 95 sites surrounding Tioman Island were surveyed with the assistance of certified Reef Check EcoDiver volunteers and representatives from local stakeholders. This citizen science approach proved successful and generated a baseline map revealing a difference in the health of coral reefs between the west and east sides of Tioman Island, where the West had <25% live coral cover as compared to >50% on the East. Combined with data on indicator fish and invertebrates, as well as human and natural impacts, the results suggest that Tioman Island should be separated into three distinctive conservation priority zones to enhance management strategies of this marine park. This is an example of an innovative way to engage and involve local stakeholders in planning conservation and management strategies.