Stories from the Sea: Listen here

Stories from the Sea: Listen here

My radio reports from the International Marine Conservation Congress on sharks, ocean acidification and eco-branding. A scientist recounts her under-cover foray into a black-market fin shop. And, why — cute as they are — otters aren’t for everyone.

Stories about the sea: I’ll be reporting from IMCC

So, killer whales form a pod, fish school, and sharks are said to travel in shivers*. But what do you call 1000+ marine conservation types gathered at once? A “congress,” apparently. The second International Marine Conservation Congress starts in Victoria today. Scientists, policy makers, resource managers, and NGOs are here to share science on our changing oceans, and ideas on how to save them. It’s only been held once before, 2 years ago in Washington, D.C. What I find so interesting is the goal is not just moving the conversation forward by publishing papers in the scientific literature — but also by crafting recommendations that let science inform public policy. I’m here to report for CBC Radio — you’ll hear me talking to Stephen Quinn, host of On the Coast, and Grant Lawrence, guest-hosting All Points West. I’ll be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at about 5:40 or so in the Vancouver area and 4:50-ish in the rest of B.C. Changing oceans It’s not easy to decide what to cover. The program is huge, covering invasive species, overfishing, aquaculture, planning, and many more issues. I’ll be looking for stories that mean something to a B.C. audience. One piece will be on climate change and ocean acidification — there is a lot on it at this conference, and a topic I find really interesting. We know the pH of the ocean is changing as it absorbs excess CO2 we’re dumping into the atmosphere. It seems to already be causing problems for the shellfish industry in some coastal areas. But it’s not clear just how the complex systems of the sea...
A decent year for some threatened whales

A decent year for some threatened whales

One whale story begets another, I suppose. Researching another story this week on humpbacks, I called up Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard at the Vancouver Aquarium. He’s a scientist with a gift for speaking clearly, and he studies marine mammals on our coast. He’s also the co-chair of the Killer Whale Recovery Team organized by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. I asked him about the killer whales he studies — the Northern Resident population, which can be seen in the Johnstone Strait area and further north during the summer. Last year, he had spoken out about that population starving, and described whales swimming for hours before finding fish to eat. (Their preferred food: chinook salmon). This year, what a difference. The central coast runs for chinook were abundant, he told me. So the whales seemed to have enough to eat, and it could be seen in how they act. “That basically means the whales don’t have to be making a living every minute of the day they have time to socialize,” said Barrett-Lennard in an interview on the Aquarium’s research boat, Skana. “When whales are ‘happy,’ we see a lot of social behaviour, they’re a lot like us in that respect,” he said. “We see larger groups, lots of playing, lots of pushing and shoving and jumping and rolling over on their backs.” Take a look at my CBC TV story (vid link) to see killer whales, and learn what other threats they...