Friday, 28 January 2011

Channel 4's Big Fish Fight

I’m sure anyone interested caught the weeks programs that were available recently by Channel 4. They are currently running a campaign to sort out our oceans before it is too late. All programs are available to watch on 4od and they make fascinating viewing. With cookery programs looking at ways to cook sustainable fish (maybe don’t try Heston's recipes unless you have liquid nitrogen available) as well as documentaries delving deep into what is really going on in worldwide fishing industries. Channel 4 is not the only one starting to talk this issue, as the recent Bruce Parry program also looked into fishing in Alaska, which *claims* to be completely sustainable. That program is also available on bbc iplayer, so have a watch and see if you agree with their claims. It is fantastic that these broadcasters are now brining these issues to light and letting the average man know what is happening out there, so take a look and try to pick up on their tips and ideas.

Anyone who is aware of my feelings will know that I don’t agree with persecuting fishermen. Their job is incredibly hard, so we must focus on how to manage sustainable fishing hand-in-hand with fishermen to ensure a safe future for our fish, for our fishermen and for us. Without healthy activity in our world’s oceans we would not be alive so we must all work together to ensure our seas future is a happy one.

To see the programs or read more, go to channel 4's website:

To join the fight, head here:

Otters - part deux

So! It's been a long time since I last posted, over 6 months! But I promise to start updating regularly, as I have had some people ask where I've been, so I apologise.

So in this second part I am going to look at pollution - mainly oil spills, and the impact they are causing on otter numbers.

Oil spills are now considered the most significant threat to sea otters. They are very dangerous because the otter fur becomes matted and problematic; losing is properties - insulation and its ability to retain heat. Oil can cling and cause suffocation and can prevent the otter’s ability to float. Eventually, if the problem isn’t rectified, the otter will die due to low temperatures. Oil can also cause problems internally. If oil particles are in the water column, then the otters may unknowingly consume them. There is also a risk of this if the oil has been consumed by any food that the otter consumes. If the oil particles get into an otters lungs, liver or digestive system, it can cause grave damage.

Oil spills are often an issue in the marine world, with big spillages causing miles worth of damages to our oceans. We have seen many spillages and the damage it can do to all the marine species, and it can wipe out many numbers of creatures. Oil spills can leave behind very long periods of destruction. Scientists say that the Exxon Valdez oil spill is still causing problems to otters over 10 years on. Research has shown that numbers still haven’t regained to their full amount since the spill and otters were still dying due to factors the spill had produced.

In the last 10 years, scientists monitoring otter populations have noticed a decrease in numbers in certain areas. Many claim this is not due to a slow birth-rate but a high mortality rate, and the killer it seems, is the amount of toxins which are coming from the local coasts and running into the water. The problem with these toxins, is they may not always be the primary reason why the otter dies. Sometimes, a toxin can get into the system and lower or even destroy an otters immune system, so it dies or bacteria, parasite or disease that it contracts. If this cause is highly infectious then it can spread very quickly and all otters affected will not be able to combat it. In America, the parasite Toxoplasma gondii which tends to affect cats has been found in dead otters along the coast. This parasite is passed on through the faeces of the cat, and the fear is that waste dumped at sea or the coast which contains cat faeces with this parasite present is now starting to affect the otters through their food; mainly made up of mollusca. It isn’t just America who are finding that their otters are starting to display diseases which come from inland. Otters whom live amongst kelp forests are also at risk as inland pathogens are being found there, as well as in the otter systems. Otters are vital to the management of kelp forests, so scientists are trying to act to protect them in case the whole habitat collapses. River otters can also run into problems with pollution from the land. Giant River Otter's suffer from run off of local mines which effects the water going into the river. This then gets into the otter's systems and causes issues.

What can you do?

There is very little you can do about oil spills, however should one occur, you can volunteer to help with the clean up as it is often a huge job which will need lots of hands on deck. You can also ensure that you never release any rubbish or toxins into the sea, water or any bodies of water which may contain animals. You can also contact any of the organizations on the previous post whom help otters as they can direct you where to help out. Should there be any places or issues that you know about, try and raise awareness to get water pollution stopped, or lobby the government to change their ways and try to save all our species, not just the otters. Although it is very difficult, you can research the eco value of the products you buy. Many household and beauty products are part of the reason why our ecosystem suffers, so try to buy economically friendly products which try to help the environment, not cause it to suffer.