Welcome to Ocean Talk Friday! Today, Andrew and I discuss three stories in the news this past week that affect our oceans. As always, if there’s something we missed that you’d like us to cover, let us know in the comments section below.
We started off by discussing the prospect of seaweed farms becoming a viable fishery throughout the United States. An article in National Geographic recently shed light on how kelp farming is widely becoming a popular business in New England. As the Gulf of Maine rapidly warms and acidifies, folks up north have turned to growing and harvesting sugar kelp as an alternative to traditional fishing. This algae has become way for fishermen and women to live off of the sea even as many Pollock, plaice, and flounder have migrated elsewhere. Kelp not only freezes exceptionally well, it also contains a lot of essential nutrients that our bodies need. Kelp farming can also help mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, since kelp is able to absorb and trap carbon. There are still some questions that will need to be addressed before kelp farming becomes a major industry, like how kelp farming could impact the rest of our coastal ecosystems. Still, it’s nice to think that with all of the disheartening news out there regarding our oceans there is still reason to hope.
Next up, Andrew and I talked about a massive sea turtle stunning event that happened off the coast of North Carolina just last week. Aquariums all along the coast rescued and cared for more than 600 stunned green, loggerhead, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles over the course of two days. About 200 were scheduled for a beach release last week, while the remaining turtles will remain at the aquariums for further monitoring. While it’s not unusual for a few turtles to wash up onshore due to a stunning event, it’s very unsual for this many to turn up so late in the season. Many sea turtles migrate south from the Northwest Atlantic, along the eastern coast of the U.S., throughout the fall and early winter. Since sea turtles are cold blooded, it’s important that they don’t spend too long of a time in cooler waters. If they hit a cold patch and their body temperature drops, they’re at risk of hypothermia and death. In many of these stunning events, sea turtles will lose the ability to swim and float to shore or wash up along the beach.
Finally, we wanted to end our own little shark week with a note on sharks in aquariums. It’s important to say, first off, that there are some shark species that seem to do perfectly well in captivity. However, there are many larger species that appear to suffer the same behavioral and physical symptoms that marine mammals like orcas and whales do in captivity. Though large sharks do not possess the same level of intelligence and social behavior as marine mammals, they do posses a relatively similar size and habitat range. Many large sharks, like white sharks, migrate thousands of miles throughout the year. White sharks have also been known to suffer from stress when transported from the ocean to a captive tank, often showing signs of depression, aggression, or starvation. Though these factors don’t completely exclude the future possibility of keeping sharks in captivity for educational purposes or for rehabilitation, it does mean that until an organization can thoroughly research and prepare for a suitable large shark exhibit, they should probably hold off on introducing one.
Enjoy the Podcast!