News From the Ocean

Now in its sixth year, the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival returns to present more than 35 documentary, fictional, and animated films from around the world. The films, many largely not available to the public, are intended not only to entertain the audience but, more importantly to educate and encourage active participation in ocean conservation. To achieve this goal, each program is followed by in-depth discussions with filmmakers and content experts, creating a unique public forum on the environmental, social, and cultural importance of marine resources. SFOFF 2009 will attract more than 4,500 people to one of the most anticipated and inclusive ocean events of the year.

February 19th through the 22nd



Predator Jumbo Squid Feasting On NorCal Fish

In Mexico, they are called the "red devil" and "the beast" in Central America. They are jumbo squid: deadly, fast moving creatures with tentacles that can suck the life out of a human being.

The squid are devouring parts of large populations of native fish in Northern California. The jumbo squid used to be found only in the Pacific Ocean's warmest stretches near the equator. In the last 16 years, it has expanded its territory throughout California waters, and squid have even been found in the icy waters off Alaska, Zeidberg said.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has been tracking the population explosion of the squid. In just a few years, they have gone from occasional visitor to numbering possibly in the hundreds of thousands.

"It's a stout, very muscular animal, very high speed, excellent vision," said Karl Menard of the Bodega Bay Research Laboratory. "They are called the jumbo flying squid for a reason. They can actually leap out of the water and project themselves into the air into schools of nearby fish."

As incredible as it sounds, fishermen in Bodega Bay worry a squid could fly onto one of their boats, injuring someone.

Menard said many species of fish are threatened. "Anchovy populations could be affected," he said. "Herring populations could be affected. Some commercial fishermen in the salmon industry even think that salmon may have been impacted."

Nobody knows why the squid have arrived in such numbers. Perhaps it may be that other large predators such as tuna and bill fish have dropped in numbers, allowing the squid to take over.

There may be a silver lining in all this. Depending on how many of the jumbo squid decide to stay, there may be an opportunity for a commercial fishery.



Penis-eating fish introduced into New Zealand

An unusual species of fish from Australia is preying on penises in New Zealand. The Australian oyster blenny, Omobranchus anolius, which is believed to have been introduced into New Zealand from Australia, is reportedly preying on local barnacles and eating their penises.

Barker told Stuff.co.nz: "We have found a large number of penises inside their stomachs. It's not killing the barnacles but it will stop the next generation being produced."

The blenny, which often lives inside the shells of dead oysters, is most commonly found in the water in or under submerged objects such as large boulders at low tide.
The study, which revealed specimens ranging from small juveniles to large mature males (around 7cm long), concluded that the Australian oyster blenny is either breeding in New Zealand, or has managed to find its way there several times.



NOAA Releases Plans for Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA has released the final management plan, regulations, and final environmental impact statement for Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

The final plan provides a framework for the sanctuary to expand its research, education, outreach and enforcement programs, create and enhance partnerships, enhance wildlife protections, develop a water quality program, and reduce ocean impacts from vessels...

Priorities listed in the plan include expanding multicultural education, aerial monitoring of sanctuary resources, and collaborative marine research programs, and studying the social and biological effects of marine reserves.

The plan also calls for the completion a new sanctuary office building and education center on the University of California Santa Barbara campus, monitoring and inventorying maritime heritage resource sites, and “greening” sanctuary operations.

“We developed the new management plan with extensive community involvement, and we are proud that it charts a forward-looking course to protect the sanctuary’s rich marine ecosystems while allowing compatible, sustainable human uses,” said sanctuary superintendent Chris Mobley.

The result of years of study, planning and extensive public input, these detailed documents are major revisions of the sanctuary's original management plan and address key issues including resource protection, wildlife disturbance, vessel discharge, non-native species and water quality.

The final plan consists of non-regulatory actions, but some changes to sanctuary regulations clarify and strengthen protections for marine habitats, sensitive species, water quality and submerged cultural and historical resources. Highlights of the regulatory changes include:

- Protecting natural ecosystems from non-native species
- Protecting the area’s water quality by prohibiting harmful vessel discharges
- Prohibiting discharges beyond the boundary of the sanctuary that enter and damage the sanctuary’s resources
- Improving habitat protection by limiting or prohibiting activities that affect the sea floor

The final environmental impact statement analyzes potential environmental and economic impacts of the sanctuary regulation changes.

Copies of the final management plan, regulations, and final environmental impact statement are available at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary office, online, or by calling 805-884-1464.

Managed by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary was designated in 1980 to protect marine resources surrounding San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands. The sanctuary spans approximately 1,470 square miles, extending from island shorelines to six miles offshore, and encompasses a rich diversity of marine life, habitats, and historical and cultural resources.

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