News Alert -- California Sea Lions Pups in Trouble

News Alert -- California Sea Lions Pups in Trouble

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Massive Marine Reserve Down Under

As of mid-June, a countless number of Australia’s sea creatures will find protection in an unusual place--a proclamation.  Australian Federal Environmental Minister, Tony Burke, has announced that 1.2 million square miles of ocean will be incorporated into a network of marine reserves.

The addition of famous locations such as the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Unesco World Heritage Site to Australia’s protected areas will contribute to the largest network of marine reserves to date in the world. These protections are set to go into effect by the end of this year, raising the total number of marine reserves in Australia from 27 to 60.

Marine reserves are a type of marine protected area, or MPA.  In marine reserves, extractive uses are almost always prohibited, as is the case with the new Australian reserves.

Fishing and oil and gas exploration will be banned within the newly protected areas.  Australia’s taxpayer dollars will be used to offset financial losses incurred by the fishing industry as a result.   It’s anticipated that the fishing industry will receive monetary compensation in an amount upwards of 100 million USD. 

Despite a largely positive review, some environmental groups have raised an eyebrow at the plan. Specific areas are certainly being sheltered from human meddling, but what about other sites that are rich in oil and natural gas, and are not decreed a reserve?  The coast of Western Australia—home to an established offshore oil and gas industry—has less environmental regulation than other areas.  Coincidence, or case in point?

Environmentalists, such as the Australian Greens Party, have noted that if extraction and energy exploration continue next to the reserves, habitats will still be threatened by oil spills.

Oceans still face threats of pollution, oil extraction, overfishing, and species extinction; these issues present short-term and long-term threats to the planet.  Australia’s decision to take a stand for its surrounding ecosystem is a step in the right direction and deserves to be met with clapping flippers.

--Lucy Anne Higgins, OPS Contributor

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Operation Organic

Why I SHOULD start eating organic and STOP eating McDonalds

Let me introduce myself:  My name is Taylor Fraser and I am on a mission.  For the first time in my life I’m going to make a conscious effort to reduce my carbon footprint in honor of National Oceans Month (June 2012). Why is this shocking?  Well, if you knew me, you would know that I grew up in a small, mountain town where there was no *gasp* Whole Foods, no recycling, and road kill was considered a proper meal by some. The word “compost” did not exist in my vocabulary, and I’d never met a vegan. 

THINGS HAVE CHANGED: I may be behind the curve, but as the saying goes, it’s never too late.  About a year ago I started interning with OPS (the Oceanic Preservation Society), and I realized that people here don’t think or act like the people from my hometown.

Here, you have 2 trashcan options: Recycle OR Guilt - literally, the regular trash can here is labeled “Guilt”!  Here, my coworkers ride their bikes to work, do yoga on their lunch breaks, and eat vegan meals. Here, OPS cares about the impact they make on the environment--so it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.

I began the first of many personal challenges on World’s Ocean Day (June 8, 2012).  For 30 days, I will make the switch to eat only organic, vegetarian foods.  Every month I will take on a new GREEN challenge that I will share with you through a personal video blog.   It won’t be easy for a McDonald’s loving, mountain raised gal, but if I can take small steps to reduce my impact on the environment, ANYONE CAN.

So, why start with the organic initiative?  I’m not an expert on “being green,” but here is what I know so far about why eating an organic/vegetarian diet is a good idea: 

1.  Organic foods are healthy (with more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants), and there are terrifying chemicals in many of the pesticide ridden foods we eat. Living Downstream - Trailer. 

2.  Cows release huge amounts of methane gas into the environment contributing to climate change.

(Argentinian researcher at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology, Guillermo Berra, measures methane emissions from flatulent cows, 

3.  Supporting local farmers, and growing your own food is cool! I am determined, but THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY.  The world of organic foods is foreign to me, and thus intimidating.  I have a lot to learn.

Last time I was in a Whole Foods I left in an angry stupor, because FOR SOME REASON there was no white bread anywhere in that gigantic store!  There wasn’t any salt in the mayonnaise, and the eggs were as expensive as 6 McDoubles.  Fat free milk, salt-less butter, and vegan cream (WHAT IS THAT!!) are not on the grocery list, so where does this confusing predicament leave me?

I took a deep breath, and realized that I needed to get creative.  I needed to go to the Boulder farmer’s market (where I could find the incredible foods that I love), I needed to check out vegan restaurants in Denver, I needed to go to local farms, I needed to chat with people who live the organic lifestyle and learn their tricks!  

I want to learn what realistic changes I can make in my life, and part of that self discovery is experiencing the difficult aspects along with the fun parts of going GREEN for the first time. Anytime someone starts something new, it can be difficult, BUT we can start the revolution.  If we can change on an individual level, we can shift the system.  

It starts with a ripple
.  Join me on my journey and watch my video blog next month as I work my way into the world of GREEN

--Taylor Fraser

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Help Support OPS' Critical Ocean Work - Donate Today!

The OPS team is completely immersed in our next project - inspiring millions of everyday heroes to take action to save the oceans and its species.  Our good friends at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC) want to help us get the funds we need to accelerate this important work because cycling enthusiasts, like millions of people, are passionate about our oceans and our planet. 

UPCC is extending a special, limited-time “gift with donation” offer outlined below to help us raise $40,000 between now and July 31st, while making new friends and supporters along the way. 

DONATE today to help support OPS' critical work to protect the oceans!

Photo by Doug Pensinger/USA Pro Challenge

The most important benefit of supporting us is the knowledge that our planet will be better off if we can inspire and educate people about what is going on with ocean acidification, habitat destruction and mass species extinction.  Our work is urgent and saving the oceans isn’t a spectator sport.

The UPCC is America’s toughest bike race.  From August 20th - 26
th, 135 of the world’s best riders will race through the Colorado Rockies. As they make their way out of the rigorous terrain of the Rocky Mountains, they’ll spend their last night in Boulder, Colorado (home of OPS) before crossing the finish line in Denver the next day.

Photo by Doug Pensinger/USA Pro Challenge

If you financially support OPS during this UPCC promotion you will get a special thank you gift from UPCC/OPS:

  • Donations of $100 or more will receive an official UPCC race cap with an OPS pin.
  • Donations of $1,000 or more will receive the cap and pin as well as an official race jersey.
  • Donations of $7,500 or more will receive the cap and pin, race jersey, and the ultimate VIP package! You and a guest will spend the day (August 25th) with Academy Award winning movie director Louie Psihoyos and OPS team members/supporters including watching the Boulder leg of the race from our VIP tent near the finish line followed by an intimate dinner at one of Boulder’s finest restaurants.

DONATE today!

Please help us help the oceans by considering donating and/or encouraging your friends to support us.  Please repost this blog or write your own to get the word out.  We are building an army of activists for the oceans and we need your help to continue our important work.  Thank you on behalf of all the creatures of the sea.  

The Team at OPS

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Underwater robots can now patrol the oceans on our behalf

Started first as an attempt to capture underwater songs of humpback whales, Joe Rizzi founded Liquid Robotics, which grew to develop ocean-patrolling, wave-propelled and solar-powered robots.

With no use of fuel and no emissions, they can travel up to 2000 miles using wave power alone. These amazing robots are called Wave Gliders and they have great and helpful functions:

1) Predict tsunamis

Image credit:

2) Track fish

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3) Detect oil spills

4) Watch for national security threats

Image credit:

Rizzi initially used a pickle jar, hydrophone (an underwater microphone), a kayak and a cable to attempt to capture the beautiful sounds of the whales.

It failed, of course, and many other attempts too. But after three years, Rizzi found a solution with Roger Hine, the former director of robotics at semiconductor equipment maker Asyst Technologies: A floating surfboard powered by a fin 20 feet below the water. The fin would act like a whale's tail and propel the craft using the motion of waves for energy.

Rizzi and Hine refined their model so that it could survive in severe weather conditions, work in salt water, massive winds and strong waves. They also equipped the new model with the ability to propel even without power from the waves!

What about the costs? These robots provide a cheaper, but still expensive alternative to traditional methods of ships and buoys.

Liquid Robotics now sells its robots for $200,000 each, or rents them for data collection at $1,500 to $3,000 per day.

When Alan Salzman, CEO of a venture film that invested in Liquid Robotics, saw it, he said,

“Oh my god, this is brilliant.”

Now don’t we all agree? :)

Watch the video on the Wave Gliders by CNNMoney:

-Cassandra Sim, OPS Intern

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Notes From The Field: Sea of Cortez

OPS welcomes team member Adrienne Hall as our debut OPS blogger. Followers have enjoyed our updates back at The Cove blog but we are now more than The Cove.
Check back often as this will be a robust gathering for all things relating to the new film, the campaign that we are calling OPS:The Wave......and more.

Adrienne Hall

OPS is fresh off a two-week expedition at the Sea of Cortez, off of Mexico, where we filmed blue whales.  We are all still reeling from the magic of the experience; having close encounters with the largest animal ever to live on the planet will be something I cherish for the rest of my life.

photo: Louie Psihoyos

In Mexico we stayed with close friends of OPS, Michael Fishbach, Heather Watrous & Gaelen Fishbach.  Louie met Michael in early 2011, who immediately encouraged Louie to join him on his annual trip to Loreto so that OPS could film blue whales. I started speaking with Michael in October 2011 to coordinate details of the shoot, and after months of the planning, we pulled it off! We arrived at the Fishbach compound in Loreto with a crew of seven and spent the next two weeks living and working together with one common goal: to capture amazing footage and sound recordings of the blue whales.

The team sets up for an interview with Michael Fishbach.
photo: Tom Fitz

This was my first time meeting Michael Fishbach and his family. After long days on the water and many encounters with blues, Michael kept us busy at night with card tricks and countless war stories from his years of work in Loreto and elsewhere; one of the most memorable stories was his experience with an entangled humpback whale he named Valentina. Michael was not just our host and guide, but a close ally and fellow activist in the fight to save our planet's endangered species.

OPS Camera Team films a blue whale with Red Epic, Remote Heli and a 5D. 
Photo: OPS

This was also my first experience producing in Mexico which came with its own unique set of challenges. The shoot was complex with three camera systems (EPIC/Alexa/RC Helicopter) hydrophones and three boats.

 Adrienne and Louie controlling the heli-cam in Loreto.
photo: Tom Fitz

We had no problems clearing customs in Cabo, but realized that one of the hydrophones, used to record the low frequency songs of the blues, did not make it through TSA in the U.S.  The process of having it shipped from Colorado to Loreto became a bit of a nightmare.  Our team back in Boulder picked up the hydrophone at the TSA and dropped it in the mail. Nine days went by, while we were continuously promised that the hydrophone would arrive.
 Finally, I received a call that the equipment had made it to town and that I needed to go pick it up at the local tire store. Another first! All our efforts will be more than worth it when we all can enjoy the results of the shoot on the big screen.

Tom Fitz, cinematographer and Ethan Johnson, 1st Assistant Camera with heli-cam.
Photo: Adrienne Hall

I want to give a much deserved shout-out to our amazingly talented crew-- it was an honor and a privilege to work with all of you!

Mickey Houlihan-Sound,
Devin Hedrick-RC Helicopter Pilot,
Ethan Johnson-1st AC,
Kirk Krack-UW Camera/RC Asst.,
Tom Fitz-Camera.
Louie Psihoyos-Director
Team OPS

The Great Whale Conservancy:

~Adrienne Hall~ 

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