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Climate Change: Too Hot to Handle?

Photo Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Written by Rachel Krasna and Brittany Stockman

Can museums help foster a culture of sustainability?  SeaKeepers believes that the below aquariums and zoos are doing exactly that.  Although many of the exhibits featured approach climate change cautiously, SeaKeepers expects these exceptional platforms will inspire young minds to care about our planet and generate an overall sentiment of ocean stewardship. By stimulating dialogue and encouraging reflection through interactive exhibits, the following aquariums and zoos really stepped up to the plate to raise awareness about controversial environmental issues.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

First, head over to the west coast and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium just South of San Francisco. In June, 2012, the aquarium revealed a new exhibit entitled “Play Your Part,” which directly addresses humanity’s unsustainable culture and associated effects on the marine environment.  The exhibit encourages the public to make minor changes in their everyday routine that can dramatically reduce their ecological footprint.  Additionally, the Monterey Bay Aquarium offers various volunteer programs, networking opportunities and outreach events that raise awareness about climate change, spiraling population growth and fossil fuel dependency.

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Is anyone planning a vacation in Cincinnati Ohio? The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden utilizes power generated by solar panels located in nearby parking lots.  This green energy initiative is actually the largest publically accessible urban solar array in the United States today.  Such forward thinking inspired other neighboring zoos to follow suit and offer exhibits that educate children about the importance of sustainable energy usage.

Photo Credit: The National Aquarium

The National Aquarium

Baltimore, Maryland is home to the nation’s National Aquarium. Located in Baltimore’s downtown inner harbor, the National Aquarium features all the expected exhibits including Dolphin Discovery, Upland Tropical Rainforest, and Australia: Wild Extremes.  Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance; however, tells a more cautionary tale.  The exhibit discusses the origins of nine jellyfish species and their ability to take advantage of shifts in the marine ecosystem.  To put it bluntly: Jellies are changing the balance of Earth’s aquatic habitats by dominating food webs altered by overexploitation.  Also, this past April, the Baltimore Aquarium hosted the Communicated Climate Change and the Oceans Summit along with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the New England Aquarium. The conference, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), evaluated strategies to promote climate change and ocean acidification exhibits in museums nationwide.

Chester Zoo

Now let’s head across the pond for tea and crumpets. While touring Buckingham palace and Big Ben swing over to the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo located in Chester, England. The zoo launched a climate conscious exhibit titled “Hot Pink Flamingos,” which explores numerous ways for us to reduce our carbon footprint.  By promoting alternative energy sources and even eco-cooking tips, the interactive exhibit encourages visitors to think outside the box and explore environmentally conscious practices.


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Richard Branson Lobbies to Ban Shark Finning

Photo Credit: Upwell

Thanks to collaboration between Ocean Elders, WildAid and Virgin Unite, President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica issued an Executive Decree banning the importation, exportation and transportation of fins.

In January, Costa Rica and the 7 other members of the Central American Integration System (SICA) adopted a binding resolution outlawing shark finning.  The regulation required all member countries (Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) to enact similar legislation to establish a sustainable shark fishery.

Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador  established laws prior to the SICA Regulation which banned finning in some capacity; however, all were flawed with easily manipulable loopholes and nearly impossible to enforce.

So which countries honored their commitment and succeeded in passing practicable legislation?  One.

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Obama Signs the Billfish Conservation Act into Law

On Sunday, President Obama signed the Billfish Conservation Act into law.
Written by Brittany Stockman

On Sunday, October 7th, President Obama made it illegal to import sailfish, marlin and spearfish into the continental United States.  The Billfish Conservation Act (S. 1451 & H.R. 2706) legislated the close of U.S. commercial markets to the sale of Pacific billfish in order to conserve future populations and ensure the viability of coastal economies that benefit from sportfishing.

In early June, the International SeaKeepers Society sent letters to Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in support of the Act.  We voiced our opposition to the sale of Pacific billfish in the continental U.S., Hawaii and Pacific Insular Areas and urged future legislation to protect billfish species outside of the continental U.S. The protection of both Atlantic and Pacific Billfish is economically critical in terms of eco-tourism, viability of our recreational fisheries and the health of our global marine ecosystem.

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