All aboard for National Marine Week
Friday 7 August 2009
As it’s National Marine Week, here’s your chance to dip your toes into the work ZSL is doing to protect all things aquatic at home and abroad.
Marine and freshwater ecosystems cover approximately 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and are essential for supporting life on our planet.
They play a vital role in climate regulation and nutrient cycling, and we are fundamentally dependent on them for drinking water and for food.
Despite this, aquatic habitats are less understood than their terrestrial counterparts and are faced with increasing threats.
Seahorses are extraordinary fishes that have been the focus of Project Seahorse, an international conservation programme that ZSL co-founded over ten years ago.
It was during routine ZSL Thames conservation surveys that a number of short-snouted seahorses (Hippocampus hippocampus) were discovered.
These extraordinary fish are now protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 with the other species found in UK waters, the long-snouted seahorse (H. guttulatus). Both species are being studied at the Aquarium at ZSL London Zoo .
Project Seahorse also works in the Visayas, the centre of marine biodiversity in the Philippines. This incredible double barrier reef, known as the Danajon Bank, is sadly depleted and degraded due to overfishing and habitat destruction.
New marine protected areas
The Project Seahorse team have worked with communities across the Danajon Bank and have now established over 30 marine protected areas. These help fish and coral to recover, benefitting both the environment and the people who depend on the ocean for their livelihood.
Dr Heather Koldewey, Curator of Aquarium Projects and Associate Director of Project Seahorse, attended the ceremony for the newest guardhouse (a base for community members to prevent poaching) in Busali-an.
Dr Koldewey said: 'This is particularly remarkable because the community were previously renowned for their destructive, illegal fishing activities. Also remarkable was the bright pink colour that was selected for the guardhouse!'
What lurks in the Thames?
Bottlenose dolphins, common and grey seals and harbour porpoises have been spotted in the Thames, according to data provided by members of the public to ZSL’s Thames Marine Mammal Survey.
The aim of this project is to build up a comprehensive picture of marine mammal life in the UK’s most famous river. Members of the public are asked to help address the information gap in Thames species by reporting any sightings to ZSL.
Putting mangroves back
Unfortunately, to most people a mangrove looks like a muddy, smelly swamp that couldn't possibly be home to such a wealth of wildlife.
Panay Island, Philippines, used to be home to over 12,400 hectares of lush mangrove forests. However for decades they have been cleared for other purposes, with the most common reason for fish ponds.
ZSL has joined forces with governmental bodies and organisations in the region to implement a demonstration project for successful mangrove rehabilitation.
After a recent visit, Dr Heather Koldewey said:'It was great to see that the local communities have established nurseries and begun planting. The results so far are very positive, with 80-90% survival rates of planted mangroves.'