- Florida Bans Removal of Giant Caribbean Sea Anemones
- Deforestation in Madagascar is Smothering Reefs
- Seals Need Lovin’ Too
In part due to their surging popularity in the aquarium trade, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FFWC) voted yesterday to implement a 3-year ban on removing giant Caribbean sea anemones from the waters of its rocky coastlines down to 300 feet below the surface. These graceful, brightly colored beauties can be found all throughout the Caribbean down through South America, and can grow to be 12 inches wide at their peak. Though the anemones themselves are predators, they also provide crucial habitat for shrimp and other small marine organisms, which indicates their decline directly affects other species. The ban culminated from requests made by the Florida Marine Life Association (FMLA), an organization of commercial divers that actively participates in the harvest and trade of this species worldwide, who began to notice a sharp decline of giant Caribbean sea anemones in the early 2000s. Commercial divers are permitted to take up to 200 individuals in just one trip, a quota that has been increasingly difficult to meet in recent years. According to data compiled by the FFWC, population numbers of the giant Caribbean sea anemone have fallen dramatically, from 227,238 in 1994 to just 28,656 in the last year. The ban will take effect November 1, 2012, and it will be revisited in 3 years to determine the next step in their conservation.
New studies conducted on Madagascar’s coral reefs have shown that deforestation activities are contributing to disease and death of the country’s reef ecosystems. Sediment from deforestation is being carried on to the reefs via rivers and other waterways, effectively smothering them. Deforestation has been widespread in Madagascar, as forests are increasingly being cleared to make way for rice cultivation and cattle grazing, while intact forests suffer the ravages of illegal rosewood and ebony logging. The studies are the first to directly link changes in land use with coral degradation, with corals near rivers that flush sediment into the ocean clearly showing signs of disease and distorted growth patterns.
They might be public enemy #1 to fisheries all over the world, but this seal is playing a darned good ambassador to his species: