The islands that make up the Lau Group have largely been unexplored. Local Fijian scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Vatuvara Foundation surveyed 35 sites on outer fringing reefs, reef flats, and lagoonal systems in the course of an 8-day expedition looking at five islands in the Northern Lau Group. While last year’s Category 5 Cyclone Winston left behind damaged areas with large boulders and upturned corals, we documented extensive areas of reef that had very little to no damage, where there was a lot of intact structural complexity to reef systems surrounding the islands.
Vatuvara supports healthy populations of several globally threatened species, including the humphead, or Maori, wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus); giant clams (Tridacna species); and a large, prehistoric-looking land crab that rules this island. Coconut, or “robber,” crabs (Birgus latro) can be found roaming the forest floor searching for dropped coconuts, which they crack open with their powerful pincers to feed upon.
We are headed to Ascension Island, a tiny volcanic island in the South Atlantic, midway between Brazil and Africa. It’s a powerful place where the deep sea and remote mountains collide, leaving the island as the small visible tip of a massive 3,200-meter mountain.
In Playa Grande, Costa Rica, more than 20 years of egg poaching consumed a generation of leatherback sea turtles, bringing the population in the Eastern Pacific to the brink of extinction. Today, scientists and volunteers are working alongside local communities to ensure there’s a future for this species. When María Teresa Koberg first arrived in…
“Underwater Wildlife New York,” an outdoor exhibit at Brooklyn Bridge Park by acclaimed underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen, showcases the region’s most fascinating marine species and highlights efforts by scientists at the WCS’s New York Aquarium to study and raise awareness of the conservation needs of local marine wildlife and their habitats.
The Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is an endemic species, but that fact doesn’t save it from being threatened with extinction in its environment. Their nests can be found on Isabela, Fernandina, Bartolome and Floreana Islands, but their habitat is shrinking though time due to climate change and other threats.
Periodic disturbances to coral reefs increase coral diversity by creating new space for new species to colonize. Shortly after a disturbance it is usually the “weedy” species like branching Pocillopora and Acropora species that come back first. Weedy species on reefs simply refers to fast growing corals that are quick to colonize a reef after a disturbance.
Lagoons have always fascinated me. The size, shape, and length of a lagoon – and the number of channels that connect inner lagoonal waters with the open ocean – influence the types of coral communities that form within. Because of the amount of sand in the lagoon that sits between the two islands of Kaibu and Yacata in northern Lau Group, I had fairly minimal expectations about what I might see. But nature has a way of surprising us, even the more seasoned coral ecologists!
Colourful corals cover steep and gentle sloping reefs. Vibrant giant clams sit embedded along the reef flats. Curious reef sharks cruise along the edge of the reef while juvenile parrotfish weave through branching coral colonies. Turtles make swift escapes and a school of barracuda hover over the deep. All with a visibility of 40+ metres. This is only a hint of what the science team has experienced in three days of surveying the coral reefs around the two islands of Kaibu and Yacata.
In a grand welcoming ceremony, over 500 third graders and college students from Mairipehe Primary School, Nuutafaratea Primary School, Matairea Primary School, and Teva I Uta College celebrated the shared malama honua vision of caring for the oceans and land for future generations in Tahitian, French and English.
On 8 May, 2017, a team of made up of fish and coral experts set off to the untouched waters and lush limestone islands of the Northern Lau Group. Vatuvara Private Islands, along with Vatuvara Foundation have partnered with WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) to conduct marine baseline surveys to assess the health of diverse coral reefs, 12 months after Category 5 Cyclone Winston passed through Fiji caused widescale damage.
Successful conservation of sharks in the Galapagos lures thousands of tourists for an evening of sharks, ice-cream and education. Shark-diving tourism generates millions of U.S. dollars for the local economy, making a shark in Galapagos the most valuable on the planet.
Small-scale or artisanal fisheries on the Galapagos are legal and impact over 60 species, several of them only found in the Archipelago and at risk of extinction. In particular, the fin-fish fishery shows clear signs of over-exploitation and tends to catch many unintended species.
Galapagos, the sharkiest place in the world–and one of the best diving destinations to see these remarkable animals! Sharks are one of the most charismatic species, but even though they have ecological and touristic importance, their bad public image remains. This is what motivates us to share the shark information we have with the Galapagos local community, to involve them in the shark world and encourage them to protect these wonderful species.
By Shelley Dearhart One of the most incredible predators in our Ocean is in danger of being lost. Pacific Bluefin tuna populations have been in jeopardy for years and new allegations of illegal and overfishing activity by Japanese fleets create a dire need for conservation measures to be taken to protect this species. Populations have…