Ahoy, mateys! Welcome aboard the good ship Something Fishy, a biweekly blog column focused on all things, um, fishy, and oceanic, and marine biological, and whatnot. It’s sure to shiver your timbers … if you know what I mean. (Should I have stopped at “ahoy”? Methinks the eye patch is on a bit tight. Aarrr!) Pirate lingo aside (for now … there may be mention of a “poop deck” later on), this first column will focus on the theme of buried treasure — from new species to new reefs to an ocean-centric issue of Mother Jones. Read on … or I’ll make you walk the plank!The ivory-billed woodpecker may have had its moment of fame last year, but this year, it seems, news has focused on the ocean’s undiscovered species. Researchers studying the Saba Bank Atoll in the Caribbean found the area to be home to about 200 species of fish — including two new species — possibly making it the most diverse habitat in the Atlantic Ocean region. Scientists also discovered at least 12 new species of algae living among the vast seaweed beds. Saba Bank is the third largest atoll (a ring of coral reef surrounding a lagoon) in the world, but had not been previously studied in such detail. Now, the biodiversity hotspot may be eligible for protection, as traffic from a nearby petro-shipment depot could be causing damage to the reef.
A world away, in the Indian Ocean, a team of World Wildlife Fund divers has discovered a previously unknown and healthy coral reef off the coast of Thailand. The discovery is especially important for the area, which was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. WWFer Songpol Tippayawong says the reef is accessible to local dive operators and could be a prominent SCUBA site, if managed properly. It is believed that there may be other undiscovered reefs in the area as well.
Speaking of undiscovered treasures, check out the newest issue of progressive mag Mother Jones. They’ve got a major cover story on “The Fate of the Ocean” as well as an impressive online package with many more stories. Peruse lists of ocean enemies, failing fish, and environmental nonprofits working on related issues. Read about sport fishermen who are conservative — but also conservationists. And then, perhaps over dinner, learn how to eat fish without fear. MoJo’s got all the issues covered — there’s sure to be something to reel you in.
Not yet hooked on “Something Fishy”? Stay tuned. I’ll be back in two weeks with more fishy clichés and pirate jokes, and I’ll make an ocean lover out of you yet, you landlubber you. See ya on the poop deck?