Vaquita day 2014!

I hope to have something in Denver for next years Viva Vaquita day. But, you can go here to find out about what is going on this Saturday (July 12th) in California and other places.

vaquita
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Made this at the library

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Review

I read The Extreme Life of the Sea by Stephen and Anthony Palumbi.

Book Cover

If you would like to read about ocean life that lives in the deepest parts of the ocean, the coldest and hottest parts of the ocean and learn about ocean creatures large and small, then read this book. I liked reading about bowhead whales, they can live longer than we thought. Imagine a whale that has seen canoes and rowboats, then sees battleships and submarines. I wonder what the whale would say about living so long, do they like it? What changes in 100 years, 150 years, 200 years? A lot! I loved the color photos in the book, even of things that were not whales. There were some scary things like blind zombie worms on a whale fall, it’s what they do that scares me, tendrils that drill into the whale bone. Sometimes tiny can be scary, but big things can be scary too; like the giant isopod (think a 20 pound doodle bug), the colossal squid and whale sharks (I put that one in, I just watched an IMAX movie with them in it.) There are things in the ocean that live in hot water like the rift shrimp that lives near deep sea vents and things that live in the cold water like: narwhals and sea otters. This book was very interesting and introduced me to sea creatures that I hadn’t known about before, plus some that know and love.

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Ice Whale

Ice whale by Jean Craighead George

Recently, I heard a interview on NPR with Mrs. George’s son and daughter. They were talking about their mother’s last book. When I heard ‘bowhead whale’, I perked up my ears. When I heard that her son was a marine biologist and bowhead expert, I knew I had to read this book.

book
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What do Inupiat, Yup’ik and Yankee whalers have in common? A bowhead whale that lives for 200 years, surpassing the generations who try to hurt him and protect him. The book starts off with the encounter of a boy, Toozack, and a whale, Siku. Toozack was kayaking and saw the ice whale being born. Some Yankee whalers come up to him and they get him to tell them where the whales are. The whalers start killing the whales and since he had led them to the whaling ground, Toozack was cursed. He was charged with protecting the ice whale and the ice whale with protecting him. Since bowhead whales can live for 100-200 years, Toozack had to name his son Toozack and charge him with protecting the whale. At the same time, the whalers were also having generations born and passing down whaling secrets to their children. The ice whale, Siku, is given a voice in the book by translating whale sounds heard over the hydrophones into lines and squiggles in the book.

What I loved about this book – the bowhead Siku has a voice, by translating the lines from an electronic device, Jean George gives the whale a voice, personality and brings the reader closer to the action. I liked how the book switched back and forth from hunting the whales to protecting them, to the whale protecting the humans. I think this book is a good read for anyone who likes whales or has read other books by Jean George.

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Going live

Here is a link to my fundraiser for a trip to CA to see STW and Alex at San Diego SU.

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Weeks 6, 7, and 8

I am done! This was my second Coursera class I’ve had and it was hard! I didn’t like most of the lectures, I just didn’t like the way the professor talked. But, I did learn a lot about all kinds of marine mammals. Here are some of the things I learned in weeks 6, 7 and 8 (the last week.) These are just some of the questions on the test, not all of them.

Week 6-

Which of the following best describes the effects of upwelling and convergent fronts on phytoplankton? Upwelling supports the growth of phytoplankton while convergent fronts aggregate phytoplankton.

Surface waters are often nutrient limited while deeper waters are usually more nutrient rich. True.

Marine megafauna can be used for oceanographic in situ sampling. True.

Which of the following submarines traveled to the bottom of the deepest part of the Mariana Trench? DeepSea Challenger.

What stage of a whale fall succession can persist for up to 100 years? Sulphophilic.

Week 7-

Which of the following options are an example of a marine species that went extinct rapidly due to direct effects of human actions? Select the two best options. Great auk, Dodo.

Which of the following individuals is NOT an example of a terrestrial natural philosopher? Rachel Carson.

Sound frequencies greater than 20,000 Hz are: Ultrasonic.

Sea turtles hear best at what range of sound? 200 – 750 Hz.

What was one solution implemented to successfully reduce the bycatch of harbor porpoises in the North Atlantic Closed areas with high harbor porpoise bycatch rates.

Echolocation sounds of Blainville’s beaked whales give information regarding where the whale is foraging and the distance from the seafloor. True.

Week 8-

After 1850, which whale species was rarely observed in the North Pacific? Sperm whales.

A map of all observations of the five species of whales shows that right whales were mostly seen in what area? High latitudes.

What factor is important for the successful breeding of Emperor penguins? Fast ice.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has limited power to enforce a total moratorium on commercial whaling. True.

Which of the following options describe the blue whale unit? It is a management unit established to control whale harvest.

Which of these practices predates commercial whaling? Arctic aboriginal whaling.

What is the oldest known practice of commercial whaling? Basque whaling.

What effect does a permanent threshold shift have on marine animal hearing? The marine animal becomes insensitive to the specific frequency bands to which it was exposed.

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Fish art

I made this for a state fish art contest. I also had to write an essay. Here is the typed version, I had to write it out by hand….ugh.

Victim: Greenback cutthroat trout

Identification: Greenish colored trout with red gills and black spots on back and sides with more black spots on tail fin; coloring goes from green at the top to yellowish to orange or white on the belly. Grows to about 18 inches.

Habitat: Streams and rivers in Colorado.

Other identification: Became the state fish of Colorado in 1994.

Threats: The trout was on the verge of extinction due to pollution and human introduced trout species that vied for competition of food and habitat.

Help for victim: The CO. division of wildlife has taken steps to protect the fish and help it propagate. It hopes that these actions promote the fish species and bring it up from the threatened level that it is now at.

Further notes: The Greenback cutthroat trout occupies less than 1% of the range in which it was known to be. There is only one section of a tributary of the Arkansas river in which the true Greenback cutthroat now lives.

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Owls

So, owls have nothing to do with whales, but this is cool. I entered an owl coloring contest for the Pueblo owl festival and I won 2nd place! I didn’t get to pick my adopt a raptor, but now my homeschool group is the proud adopter of Guffey the great horned owl. Guffey lives at the raptor center. Guffey flew into a car near the town of Guffey, Colorado. He was admitted to the center as a youngster with mild head concussion. Further examination revealed an old wing injury that had left him with poor flight ability. The wing was probably injured while he was in the nest., possibly one of his older siblings stepped on him. After Guffey recovered from his head injury, he was placed in our flight cage for several months to see if exercise would help his flight ability. Time revealed no improvement and it was determined he would not be able to return to the wild.

Here is my picture I colored.

Here I am getting my award.

And here is Guffey.

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Thanks

I recently had many e-mails from friends telling me all kinds of courageous stories and stories about how they overcame fears. This is because I felt a little afraid when swimming in the ocean on our cruise. I wasn’t scared of swimming, I swim a lot. I wasn’t scared of the fish, there were a lot of them and even some barracuda. I wasn’t even scared of the sea urchins and there were some really big ones. I think I was just overwhelmed with the ocean. I live in Denver and though I’ve been to the ocean, I don’t get to see it that much.

So, thank you for all the stories about how when you were little (or not so little) you were scared of something and you overcame that fear. I can’t wait for our next trip near water so that I can snorkel and swim again. But, I love the water, so don’t be afraid that I am never going near it.

This is me swimming, diving and loving the water.

This is my favorite diving spot, I can’t wait for it to get warm to go there again (even in the middle of summer, the water is about 68 degrees.)

I live next to a river, so we spend a lot of time in the summer tubing, swimming and just being in the water.

One time we caught a HUGE crawfish.

Sometimes we take our dog with us, but she’s not very smart and can’t swim very well (and she stinks afterward.)

None of the water here is warm, it all comes from the mountains, so it’s usually cold.

But, when the temperature is 100, 65-70 feels nice. This spot neat Grand Junction was COLD when we went swimming in May.

Our river and the crick that runs into it gets a little warmer than that in the summer, but Clear creek (my diving spot) is always cold.

At this spot the bottom is about 9 feet down and there are cutthroat and brown trout swimming with you.

You can find a lot of stuff on the bottom on a clear water day, people who fall off their tubes in the chutes lose sunglasses, keys, and other things.

So, don’t worry about me, I love the water and everything in it. I may not get to swim with whale sharks like Alex, but I do get to swim with fish! (And I am going to see an IMAX movie about swimming with whale sharks and other marine animals, so that counts.) My Mom is going to get an underwater camera so the next time we swim you can see what it looks like.

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The Case of the Vanishing Vaquita

The Victim:

vaquita

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Vaquita. Illustrations courtesy of Brett Jarrett.

The Vaquita whose name means ‘little cow’ and is known as the ‘panda of the sea’, is a small porpoise that is in danger of becoming extinct. Gillnets used for fishing kill more porpoises than are born annually. The Vaquita is now the most endangered species of marine mammal. They are down to about 200 left in 2011 from 245 in 2008. The habitat of the Vaquita of the coastal waters of the Eastern Pacific ocean, but in this area they are continually threatened by over-fishing, gillnets and lack of education among the fishermen.

The Scene of the Crime:

vaquita
(Source)
Vaquita caught in fishing net. Courtesy – Alejandro Robles

The range of this problem is in the Gulf of California near Baja. This is where the porpoises live out their lives. Fishermen who are trying to earn a living are capturing and killing the porpoises when they haul in their catches for the day. The area that the fishermen fish in is the main area where the Vaquita live and breed.
In fact the Latin name Phocoena sinus, tells us that the Vaquita has a limited range and lives in a pocket or bay.

Facts About the Victim:

The species is the Vaquita, the smallest of the 7 species of true porpoises.

Class – Mammalia
Order – Cetacea
Suborder – Odontoceti
Family – Phocoenidae
Genus -Phocoena
Species – Phocoena sinus

It lives in the warm coastal waters of the Pacific in a tiny area in the Gulf of California near Baja, Mexico. The Vaquita was listed as Vulnerable in 1978, Endangered in 1990, and Critically Endangered in 1996. This is based on the less that 250 mature population count.

Study of the Victim:

Conservation of the vaquita Phocoena sinus

A study that shows the history of the Vaquita, the area where they live and the problems they face, mainly gillnets from fishermen. They focused on conservation and education to help the Vaquita survive. Through petitions and pressure from non-governmental organizations, the Mexican government started making changes to help the Vaquita. The International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) was developed to promote and develop a recovery plan for the Vaquita. The article goes on to describe what has come of this intervention, things that worked and were put into place and things that are still in the planning stages. It also discusses the cultural and political obstacles of trying to help the Vaquita make a comeback and not become extinct during our lifetime.
Link to article.

An Expert on the Plight of the Victim:

Dr. Armando Jaramillo is a marine biologist for the University of Baja California Sur and he has a Doctorate in coastal oceanography from the University of Baja California. He has studied marine mammals for 22 years, focusing mainly on aspects of population ecology and dynamics. He has been researching the vaquita population for the last 13 years and is in charge of the project to monitor the species with acoustic methods.

Further Reading to Enhance Your Knowledge About the Victim, the Perpetrator, the Crimes and the Resolutions to Help:

http://www.iucn-csg.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Whalewatcher-Porpoises-2010.pdf

http://www.vivavaquita.org/

http://www.vivavaquita.org/PDF/CEDOVaquitaBooklet.pdf

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