Did you know ?
• On average in recent years sharks have accounted for less than ten human deaths annually in all the world’s seas to
fuel the growing demand for shark fins, man has been killing up to 100 million sharks each year. (The underwater channel)
• Did you know Polar bears actually have black skin? The polar bear’s hair appears white to us because the rough inner surfaces of the hollow hairs reflect visible light. Ultraviolet light from the sun travels down the core of each hair where it is soaked up and stored by the bear’s black skin.
•Many people think that Mount Everest, at 8,848m, is the tallest mountain on Earth. However, Mauna Kea, an inactive volcano off the island of Hawaii, is actually taller. Although only 4,205m (13,800ft) of Mauna Kea stands above sea level, it is in fact over 10,000m (6.2 miles) tall if measured from the ocean floor to its summit. (bbc – Blue Planet)
• The oceans cover 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water. Less than 1 per cent is fresh water, and 2-3 per cent is contained in glaciers and ice caps. (bbc – Blue Planet)
• Earth is the only planet in our solar system to have oceans.
• At least 123 freshwater species became extinct during the 20th century. These include 79 invertebrates, 40 fishes, and 4 amphibians. (There may well have been other species that were never identified.)
• At the deepest point in the ocean the pressure is more than 8 tons per square inch, or equivalent to one person trying to support 50 jumbo jets. (Ocean Planet)
• If all the land in the world was flattened out, the Earth would be a smooth sphere completely covered by a continuous layer of seawater 2,686 metres deep.
• If the ocean’s total salt content were dried, it would cover the continents to a depth of 5 feet. (Ocean Planet)
• The deepest known point in the ocean is the Mariana Trench which reaches depths of over 36,000 feet (11,000 meters).oxfam.org.uk
• The 2nd deepest known point in the ocean is the Tonga Trench in the western part of the Pacific Ocean reach depths in excess of 10,000 metres (32,800 feet).
• The speed of sound in water is 1,435 m/sec – nearly five times faster than the speed of sound in air.
• Ocean water and ice make up almost 98 percent of all the water on Earth.
• Each year, three times as much rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans as the weight of fish caught.
• The valley glaciers of Greenland produce some 12,000 to 15,000 sizable icebergs every year.
• The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean, containing more than twice the volume of water as the Atlantic Ocean.
• Hydrothermal vents, fractures in the sea floor that discharge hot seawater laden with hydrogen sulphide, support the only ecosystem known to run on chemical energy rather than energy from the sun, including mussels, large bivalve clams, and huge tube worms.
• Sound travels five times faster in water than in air. For example, in 1960, scientists set off depth charges off the coast of Australia and 2-1/2 hours later the explosion was heard under the water in Bermuda. (ocean98.org)
• 80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface. (ocean98.org)
• The average depth of all oceans is about 2.3 miles.
• The average temperature of all oceans is about 39 degrees F (3.8 degrees C).
• The oceans provide the biggest source of wild or domestic protein in the world. Each year some 70 to 75 million tons of fish are caught in the ocean. Fish (fin and shell) are the world’s largest single source of animal protein, exceeding production of beef, sheep, poultry or eggs.
• Algae, the first plants on earth, developed in the sea 3.5 million years ago and give off oxygen as they produce food, as other plants do. Today, algae produce over half of the oxygen that we breathe. (ocean98.org)
• The largest ocean is the Pacific, followed by the Atlantic and the Indian.
• More than half of the world’s animal groups are found only in the sea.
• There are more species of fish than mammals, reptiles and birds combined.
• Scientists estimate that 80 percent of all life on earth is found under the ocean’s surface.
• Life in the sea developed more than three billion years ago. Land dwellers appeared comparatively recently – 400 million years ago.
• Seafood accounts for the largest percentage of human protein consumption – 83 million metric tons/91 million tones consumed annually.
• The ocean contains the largest biological structure on earth – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
• Coral reefs support 4000 species of fish, 700 species of coral and thousands of plants and animals. (Project AWARE Foundation)
• Marine animals have a highly developed system of chemical communication – many featuring receptors which enable them to detect food or predators from a considerable distance.
• 98 per cent of species found in the oceans live on or in the bottom.
• Seaweed is used in many household items: photographic film, cotton thread, medicines, paint, face creams, soup, and ice cream.
• Although the different species of sea horses can range in size from less than an inch to over a foot, in most species, the males and females are strictly monogamous and form a bond by repeating a greeting dance every morning. Sea horses are unique because it is the male that gives birth to hundreds of live young after 10 days to 6 weeks of brooding them in a pouch on his belly. seahorse.mcgill.ca
• Tuna are the fastest swimming fish in the ocean. An adult southernbluefin tuna can achieve speed bursts of up to 70 kilometres per hour to 55 miles per hour and may weigh up to 1,500 pounds. Prized for sushi in Japan, bluefins can bring as much as $20,000 each at U.S. docks.(ocean98.org)
• The oceans contain an estimated 1370 million cubic kilometres of water.
• Albatrosses have been recorded flying at a speed of 115 kilometres per hour.
• Recently it has been proved that some albatrosses circumnavigate the world in forty-six days:
• To match the blue’s tremendous size would take about 20 full-grown elephants. The record for the largest creature on the planet that has ever lived was a female Blue Whale killed off South Georgia in 1923. (sgisland.org)
• The surface of Venus – millions of kilometres away and hidden by clouds of sulphuric acid – has been better mapped than the Earth’s sea bed.
• It’s been estimated that the deep sea may contain as many as 10 million species that have not yet been described or named.
• Six out of every 10 humans live in coastal regions.
• The blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived. Feeding on euphausiids, small shrimp-like species, blue whales grow to a length of 40 meters (131 feet) and a weight of 94,000 kg (103 tons). At birth, blue whale calves reach 24 feet long. (ocean98.org)
• After turtle hatchlings emerge from their nests, the only time a sea turtle returns to land is for the female to lay her eggs. Once male sea turtles emerge from their nests and scamper down the beach as hatchlings, they never again return to land. (NMFS Biological Opinion)
• An estimated 10,000 marine species are transported in ships’ ballast water between bio-geographic regions at any given moment worldwide.
• Commercial whaling during the last century decimated most of the world’s whale population. Estimates suggest that between 1925, when the first whaling factory ship was introduced, and 1975, more than 1.5 million whales were killed. Whalers hunted one whale population after another, moving from species to species as populations declined from exploitation. After repeated requests from the world community, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) agreed to a moratorium on commercial whaling that came into effect in 1986.
• Several types of reef fish, such as snappers and groupers, are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means that are born as females and change sex, to become males, later in life. Therefore, during their life span of anywhere between 25 and 50 years, each fish has the opportunity to be both a male and a female. (fisheries.org)
• Antarctica is the 5th biggest continent and 10% of the earth’s land area.
• Antarctica’s total area is 14 million km_. In summer, there is another 2.5 million km_ of sea ice, which increases to 19 million km_ in winter, more than doubling the size of Antarctica!
• Only 2% of the land is not covered in ice.
• Ice slowly builds up over millions of years at the rate of 50 to 900 mm/year. There are about 24 000 000 km_ of ice altogether.
• Antarctic ice which at its thickest reaches 5 km in depth, comprises almost 70% of the earth’s fresh water. If it all melted, sea levels would rise between 50 and 60 m.
• Antarctic glaciers are giant rivers of ice that flow slowly towards the sea.
• Due to its ice cap Antarctica is the highest continent, averaging 2300 m above sea level.
• The highest peak is Vinson Massif at 4900 m.
• Antarctica has the lowest recorded temperature; -90°C at Vostock in 1983. Inland, temperatures range from -70°C in winter to -35°C in summer. Corresponding figures for coastal regions are -30°C and 0°C.
• Antarctica is so cold because up to 80% of incoming solar radiation is reflected back into space by ice and snow. The other 20% is largely absorbed by the atmosphere or reflected by clouds.
• Antarctica is the windiest place on earth with gusts up to 327 km/hr having been recorded.
• Antarctica is the driest place on earth. In some places like the Dry Valleys, it has not rained for thousands of years.
• 270 million years ago, Antarctica was part of Gondwanaland and probably covered with tundra, marsh and forests, explaining why coal and petrified wood can still be found today. There are also likely to be reserves of oil.
• Antarctica is the least known of the earth’s land masses; fewer than 200 000 people have ever been there.
Antarctica is the world’s finest laboratory. Scientists from all over the world come to study, among others, such things as the organisms that live in this unspoiled ecosystem, the consequences of climate change and clues to the origins of the universe.
FORMATION: Every year the sea ice in Antarctica increases and decreases in a dramatic, ancient cycle. As much as 7.7 million square miles (20 million square kilometers) of ice forms every winter. The formation is the greatest seasonal phenomenon on Earth and it may double the size of Antarctica each winter.
KRILL: In the winter vast swarms of krill feed on the algae that grow under the sea ice. Researchers are studying this in detail on this voyage.
CLIMATE: Antarctic sea ice has a huge effect on world climates. It reflects solar heat back into space, making Antarctic air colder, while reducing heat loss from the water below the ice.
Forms of Sea Ice
GREASE ICE: Grease ice forms as winter approaches, when the sea begins to cool. Ice crystals form in plates, giving the water an oily sheen.
PANCAKE ICE: As the temperature lowers, the grease ice connects and forms a crust, which is then broken up by winds or waves into pancake ice—separate floating disks.
PACK ICE: Eventually the pancake ice disks crowd together and thicken. Waves break the mass into pack ice.
ICEBERGS: Icebergs calve off from ice shelves that float along the continent shores.
Types of Icebergs
Tabular – A flat-topped iceberg. Most show horizonal banding. Usually width is greater than 5 times height.
Domed – An iceberg which is smooth and rounded on top.
Pinnacled – An iceberg with a central spire, or pyramid, may have additional spires.
Wedged – An iceberg with flat surfaces steep on one side and gradually sloped to the water on the other forming a wedge shape.
Drydocked – An iceberg which is eroded such that a U-shaped slot is formed near, or at, water level with two or more pinnacles or columns.
Blocky – A flat-topped iceberg with steep sides.
• Japan’s expanded programme will result in annual catches that are more than half the total cumulative catches for scientific research by all nations in the past half century. (Nature, Vol.435/16 June, 2005)
• Japan’s scientific whaling now targets Minkes, Brydes, Sei, Sperm, Fin and Humpback whales. The program has vastly expanded since JARPA 1 commenced in l987-88 Antarctic season.
• Humpback whales are listed internationally as vulnerable.
• Fin whales are listed as endangered. Very little is known about the status of Fin whales in the Southern Ocean.
• There is major scientific concern over the targeting of species that were subject to massive over-exploitation during earlier whaling which remain well below their pre-exploitation levels.
• There is no valid estimate of Southern Hemisphere Minke Whales ((IWC) In fact, this whale population may have suffered a precipitous decline over the past decade. (IWC).
• The implications of this decline in abundance for ecologically related species, in particular other cetaceans and the state of the Antarctic marine ecosystem have not been examined. (IWC Res. 2003-3)
• Humpbacks targeted by Japan come from small, highly depleted populations that breed in the tropical South Pacific. Their demise will impact on small Pacific nations, which rely on whale watching for a major input to their economies. (Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga)
• Whales caught in Japan’s special permit operations provide over 3,000 tonnes of edible products per year that are sold for commercial purposes; Revenue from the commercial sale of whale meat is estimated to be around $US 50 million annually. Increased whaling as proposed under JARPA 2 will see a significant rise in this figure.
• There is little doubt that the planet is warming. Over the last century the average temperature has climbed about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 of a degree Celsius) around the world.
The spring ice thaw in the Northern Hemisphere occurs 9 days earlier than it did 150 years ago, and the fall freeze now typically starts 10 days later.
The 1990s was the warmest decade since the mid-1800s, when record-keeping started. The hottest years recorded: 1998, 2002, 2003, 2001, and 1997.
• The multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report recently concluded that in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia, average temperatures have increased as much as 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) in the past 50 years. The rise is nearly twice the global average. In Barrow, Alaska (the U.S.’s northernmost city) average temperatures are up over 4 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 to 3 degrees Celsius) in 30 years.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that global temperatures will rise an additional 3 to10 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 to 5.5 degrees Celsius) by century’s end.
• Over the last million years the Earth has fluctuated between colder and warmer periods. The shifts have occurred in roughly 100,000-year intervals thought to be regulated by sunlight. Earth’s sunlight quota depends upon its orbit and celestial orientation.
But changes have also occurred more rapidly in the past—and scientists hope that these changes can tell us more about the current state of climate change. During the last ice age, approximately 70,000 to 11,500 years ago, ice covered much of North America and Europe—yet sudden, sometimes drastic, climate changes occurred during the period. Greenland ice cores indicate one spike in which the area’s surface temperature increased by 15 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius) in just 10 years.
• Where do scientists find clues to past climate change? The tale is told in remnant materials like glacial ice and moraines, pollen-rich mud, stalagmites, the rings of corals and trees, and ocean sediments that yield the shells of microscopic organisms. Human history yields clues as well, through records like ancient writings and inscriptions, gardening and vintner records, and the logs of historic ships.
• Rising temperatures have a dramatic impact on Arctic ice, which serves as a kind of “air conditioner” at the top of the world. Since 1978 Arctic sea ice area has shrunk by some 9 percent per decade, and thinned as well. Over the very long term, Greenland’s massive ice sheet holds enough melt water to raise sea level by about 23 feet (about 7 meters). ACIA climate models project significant melting of the sheet throughout the 21st century.
• Vast quantities of fresh water are tied up in the world’s many melting glaciers. When Montana’s Glacier National Park was created in 1910 it held some 150 glaciers. Now fewer than 30, greatly shrunken glaciers, remain. Tropical glaciers are in even more trouble. The legendary snows of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro 19,340-foot (5,895-meter) peak have melted by some 80 percent since 1912 and could be gone by 2020.
• Sea levels have risen and fallen many times over the Earth’s long geological history. Average global sea level has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20cm) over the past century according to the IPCC.
The IPCC’s 2001 report projects that sea level could rise between 4 and 35 inches (10 to 89cm) by century’s end. Such rises could have major effects for coastal dwellers. A 1.5-foot (50-centimeter) sea level rise in flat coastal areas would cause a typical coastline retreat of 150 feet (50 meters).
• Worldwide some 100 million people live within 3 feet (1 meter) of mean sea level. Rises of just 4 inches (10 centimeters) could promote flooding in many South Sea islands, while in the U.S. Florida and Louisiana are at risk. The Indian Ocean nation of Maldives has a maximum elevation of only 8 feet (2.5 meters). Construction of a sea wall around the capital, Male, was driven by vulnerability to the rising tides.
• The ocean’s circulation system, known as the ocean conveyor belt, moderates global temperatures by moving tropical heat around the planet. Global warming could alter the balance of this system, via an influx of freshwater from melting ice caps for example, creating unforeseen and possibly fast-paced change.
• Climate models suggest that global warming could cause more frequent extreme weather conditions. Intense hurricanes and storm surges could threaten coastal communities, while heat waves, fires and drought could also become more common.
• Since the 1860s, increased industrialization and shrinking forests have helped raise the atmosphere’s CO2 level by almost 100 parts per million—and Northern Hemisphere temperatures have followed suit. Increases in temperatures and greenhouse gasses have been even sharper since the 1950s.
• Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide also contain heat and help keep Earth’s temperate climate balanced in the cold void of space. Human activities, burning fossil fuels and clearing forests, have greatly increased concentrations by producing these gases faster than plants and oceans can soak them up. The gases linger in the atmosphere for years, meaning that even a complete halt in emissions would not immediately stop the warming trend they promote.
• In the Arctic the impacts of a warming climate are being felt already. Coastal Indigenous communities report shorter periods of sea ice, which fails to temper ocean storms and their destructive coastal erosion. Increased snow and ice melt have caused higher rivers while thawing permafrost has wreaked havoc with roads and other infrastructure. Some communities have had to move from historic coastline locations.
• Sea ice loss is devastating for species that have adapted to the environment, such as polar bears and ringed seals in the Arctic and Antarctic penguins.
• Studies show that many European plants now flower a week earlier than they did in the 1950s and also lose their leaves 5 days later.
• Biologists report that many birds and frogs are breeding earlier in the season. An analysis of 35 nonmigratory butterfly species showed that two-thirds now range 2 to 150 miles (3.5 to 240 kilometers) farther north than they did a few decades ago.
• By 2050, rising temperatures exacerbated by human-induced belches of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could send more than a million of Earth’s land-dwelling plants and animals down the road to extinction, according to a recent study.
• Coral reefs worldwide are “bleaching”. losing key algae and resident organisms, as water temperatures rise above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.5 degrees Celsius) through periods of calm, sunny weather. Scientists worry that rapid climate change could inhibit the ability of many species to adapt within complex and interdependent ecosystems.
• The effects of a warming globe may not be entirely negative. Heating costs could decline for those in colder climates, while vast marginal agricultural areas in northern latitudes might become more viable. Arctic shipping and resource extraction operations could also benefit—summer sea ice breakup in Hudson Bay already occurs two to three weeks earlier than it did half a century ago. (national geographic).
Australia’s marine environment
• Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Australia has rights and responsibilities over some 16 million km2 of ocean – more than twice the area of the Australian continent.
• Australia’s unique marine environments contain: the world’s largest areas and highest species diversity of tropical and temperate seagrasses; some of the largest areas of coral reefs; the highest diversity of mangrove species; exceptional levels of biodiversity for a wide range of marine invertebrates; and high levels of endemism in our temperate and sub-Antarctic waters.
• More than 1500 new species have been discovered in Australian waters in the past 10 years.
• Australia is home to more than half of the shark and ray species in the world.
• Australia’s marine environments are under increas-ing pressure from threats such as unsustainable fishing; introduced marine pests and diseases; unsustainable tourism and recreation; climate change; pollution and sedimentation; and some forms of mining.
• 80 per cent of Australians live and work within 50 kilometres of the coastline.
• The Great Barrier Reef extends for 2000 kilometres and is visible from the Moon.
• An estimated 3.36 million Australians, aged 5 years or older, went recreational fishing at least once during the year 2001-2002, representing a national recreational fishing participation rate of 19.5%.
• Between 200 and 400 introduced marine species, including the Northern Pacific seastar, European shore crab and Japanese kelp, are believed to inhabit Australian waters.
• A new introduced species becomes established every three to six months in Australia’s busy Port Phillip Bay in Victoria.
• Between 1997 and 1999, Port Phillip Bay’s Northern Pacific seastar population increased from negligible to 30 million and is now estimated at around 100 million.
• In 2002 the Great Barrier Reef experienced a mass bleaching event that was more severe than the event of 1998, making the bleaching event of 2002 the worst ever recorded for the GBR.
• Australia has one of the largest marine jurisdictions in the world: an area more than twice that of our land mass.
•An enormous range of economic and recreational opportunities exist, while the oceans around Australia play a major role in controlling world and regional climate.
•Extending from the tropics to the Antarctic, only about 20 per cent of Australia’s seafloor has been physically mapped (CSIRO – Oceans department)
The 5 oceans.
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the world’s five oceans
Location: the body of water between the Southern Ocean, Asia, Australia and the western hemisphere
Area: 155.6 million square km, or about 15 times the size of the US. The Pacific Ocean covers about 28 per cent of the global surface – larger than the total land area of the world
Terrain: the ocean floor in the eastern Pacific is dominated by the East Pacific Rise, while the western Pacific is dissected by deep trenches, including the Mariana Trench, which is the world’s deepest place
Deepest point: Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench – 11,022m
The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world’s five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean, but larger than the Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, and Arctic Ocean)
Location: the body of water between Africa, Europe, the Southern Ocean, and the western hemisphere
Area: 76.8 million square km, or just under 6.5 times the size of the US
Terrain: the ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a rugged north-south underwater mountain range stretching down the entire Atlantic basin
Deepest point: Milwaukee Deep in the Puerto Rico Trench – 8,605m
The Indian Ocean remains the third largest of the world’s five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, but larger than the Southern Ocean and Arctic Ocean)
Location: the body of water between Africa, the Southern Ocean, Asia, and Australia Area: 68.6 million square km or about 5.5 times the size of the US
Terrain: the ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge and subdivided by the Southeast Indian Ocean Ridge, the Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge and Ninetyeast Ridge
Deepest point: Java Trench – 7,258m
The Southern Ocean is the fourth-largest of the world’s five oceans
Location: body of water between 60 degrees south latitude and Antarctica
Area: 20.3 million sq km, or slightly more than twice the size of the US
Terrain: the Southern Ocean is deep, 4,000-5,000m over most of its extent with only limited areas of shallow water. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (21,000km in length) moves perpetually eastward. It is the world’s largest ocean current, transporting 130 million cubic meters of water per second – 100 times the flow of all the world’s rivers
Deepest point: 7,235m at the southern end of the South Sandwich Trench
The Arctic Ocean remains the smallest of the world’s five oceans
Location: body of water mostly north of the Arctic Circle
Area: 14.1 million square km, or slightly less than 1.5 times the size of the US
Terrain: the ocean floor is about 50 per cent continental shelf (the highest percentage of any ocean) with the remainder a central basin interrupted by three submarine ridges (Alpha Cordillera, Nansen Cordillera and Lomonosov Ridge)
Deepest point: Fram Basin – 4,665m
A Global Conveyor Belt:
Then immense system of deep ocean currents distributes heat throughout the globe. Unlike surface currents such as the Gulf Stream, which are driven by winds and the Earth’s rotation, this “ocean conveyor belt” is powered by cold, salty water sinking, and deep water rising to replace it. In addition to transporting heat, this cycle also carries oxygen down to deep-dwelling animals and brings sunken nutrients up from the depths. (www.amnh.org)
• The living marine environment is like a chain with many links – if one is broken, an entire species may disappear. Every species plays an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity weakens the entire natural system.
• Nearly 58% of the world’s reefs are at risk from human impacts such as destructive fishing impacts, pollution, and coastal development, and many have already been degraded beyond recovery. Coral Reef Task Force, 2000.
• Since the 1960s, more than one million kilograms of cyanide have been injected onto coral reefs to stun and capture ornamental fish in the Philippines destined for live aquarium hobbyists in North America and Europe. Demand for the live food fish trade from Asian countries is further intensifying the use of cyanide on reefs. Poison and profits
• On some shallow Indo-Pacific reefs, 70-90% of the corals died as a result of the largest ever-recorded bleaching event, believed to be caused by abnormally high ocean temperatures, in 1998. Coral Reef Task Force, 2000.
• Hundreds of millions of tonnes of toxic chemicals, sewage, industrial waste, agricultural run-off and oil are dumped in the oceans every year – and up to 80 per cent originate on land.
• Marine fisheries throughout the world catch over 80 million tonnes of fish every year.
• Every day ships throughout the world throw 5.5 million items of waste overboard.
• Three times more rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans as the weight of fish caught annually. spinneypress.com.au
• Seahorse populations in Indo-Pacific countries have declined by 25 to 75% over the past five years largely due to habitat loss and overfishing. Coral Reef Task Force, 2000.
• From 1993-1998, cruise ships were involved in 87 confirmed cases of illegal discharges of oil, garbage and hazardous wastes and paid more than $30 million in fines. Cruise ship pollution includes sewage (a typical one-week trip generates 210,000 gallons of sewage), gray water (1,000,000 gallons), hazardous wastes (dry cleaning and photo processing waste), solid waste (8 tons), and oily bilge water. The Blue Water Network.
• The Pacific Northwest killer whale faces an 81% chance of extinction in the next 300 years. Salmon population declines, a major prey item of the killer whale, are believed to be primary threat to the killer whale. Seaweb.
• In 1978 a 3500 meter section of lost driftnet was found floating in the North Pacific. 1500 meters of the net was recovered and contained the rest remains out their.
• A 75 meter section of driftnet recently caught more than 150 rotten salmon, 99 seabirds (including albatrosses, tufted puffins, shearwaters and northern fulmars) & other assorted fish.
• In 1985, a Japanese drifnet vessel recovered four sections of lost net which were 30 to 86 meters long. All sections were found to have live and dead animals entangled, including yellowtail, pomfret, two hammerhead sharks, three blue sharks, an ocean sunfish and a fur seal.
• In the Sea of Cortez, in Mexico, it is commonplace for manta rays to die after becoming entangled in ghostnets.
• In the 1980’s it was estimated that approximately 30,000 northern fur seals die each year after becoming entangled in marine debris, which consisted mainly of lost or abandoned fishing gear.
In the Wider Caribbean Region, tens of thousands of sea turtles die each year after becoming entangled in active or abandoned fishing gear.
• During 2001, a multi-agency effort consisting of 3 ships and 18 divers removed nearly 70 tons of debris during 270 ship days at sea. clearing only two atolls in the 1200-mile Hawaiian Archipelago.
• In March and April, 2005 arial surveys over the subtropical convergence zone in the north Pacific showed around 2,000 individual pieces of debris were detected in three overflights of specific areas. These pieces included over 100 nets or pieces of net. One of these was 200-300 m of drift net with floats intact. A number were balls of net up to 10 m across.
• According to the WWF, an estimated 600km of ghostnets exist in Hong Kong. This translates into one ghostnet per 150km of the sea around Hong Kong.
• During 2002 to 2003, an estimated 1,096 tones of marine life was killed by ghostnets in Hong Kong!
• In 2005, Approximately 40 voluntary staff members joined the WWF at Ho Hai Wan Center and helped remove a total of 2 tonnes of ghostnets from the sea. Through their efforts, at least 133 marine creatures, including 60 crabs, 21 sea cucumbers, sea stars, shrimps, etc., were saved.
• 65,000-80,000 whales, dolphins, seals and other marine mammals perish through dirty fishing methods each year.
• Each year 20 million tonnes of fish, seabirds, marine mammals and other ocean life are killed unnecessarily by indiscriminate fishing practices.
• In the U.S. shrimp fishery of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, the amount of bycatch is equal to the storage capacity of 50,000 10-ton garbage trucks. Congressional Record.
• In 1994, the Alaska fishing fleet dumped a staggering 750 million pounds of bycatch, more than was caught by the entire New England fishing fleet in each year from 1994 to 1999. NMFS’ Fisheries.
• The American Fisheries Society recently identified 82 fish species as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered in North American waters, and 22 species as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered globally. Among this list of severely depleted species are some of the world’s most prized food and game fish, including several species of shark, skates, sturgeons, groupers, Atlantic halibut, Atlantic salmon, and Pacific rockfish. Earlier this year, NMFS proposed its first-ever listing of a marine fish species—the smalltooth sawfish—in response to a petition to list the fish as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. This “living fossil,” having first appeared in the oceans nearly 60 million years ago, has been nearly extirpated throughout its range in the North and South Atlantic, and is now confined to a small region in the shallow coastal waters of Florida. Bycatch is believed to be the main culprit in the sawfish’s demise.fisheries.org
• The record for the deepest free dive is held by Jacques Mayol. He dove to an astounding depth of 86 m without any breathing equipment.
• Over 375 shark species have been identified, but only about a dozen are considered particularly dangerous. Three species are responsible for most human attacks: great white (Carcharodon carcharias), tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), and bull (Carcharhinus leucas) sharks.
• Of the 375 or so shark species, about 80% grow to less than 1.6 m and are unable to hurt people or rarely encounter people.
• The media can have a voracious appetite for “shark bites man” stories. The summer of 2001, for example, saw an explosion of shark-attack hype and was even heralded on the cover of Time magazine as the “Summer of the Shark.” Yet 2001 was statistically average: The year saw 76 shark attacks and 5 fatalities worldwide, compared to 85 attacks and 12 fatalities in 2000.
• More people die from bee stings than from shark attacks.
• More people die from coconuts falling on their heads than from shark attacks.
• The largest shark is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which can grow to 60 feet (20 meters) long. The gentle giant eats tiny plankton.
• Sharks are known as eating machines. But because many species are cold-blooded, some sharks eat only about 2 percent of their body weight each day. That’s a bit less than humans typically eat.
• The United States averages just 16 shark attacks each year and slightly less than one shark-attack fatality every two years. Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 41 people each year.
• By 2017, 20 species of shark could be commercially extinct 100 million sharks are slaughtered each year.
• While sharks kill fewer than 20 people a year, their own numbers suffer greatly at human hands. Between 20 and 100 million sharks die each year due to fishing.
• A major cause of shark mortality is “finning,” a process in which fishers kill sharks solely to remove their fins. Fins can sell for U.S. $400 per kilogram (U.S. $880 per pound) or more.
• For more than 400 million years sharks have dominated the oceans, evolving long before dinosaurs walked the earth.
• Shark fins are amongst the most valuable items taken from the sea. Consumer demand has prompted a massive surge in its demise.
• There are approximately 390 different species of shark
• Cartilage – like our noses and ears – makes up the skeleton of the shark.
• The bull shark is the only shark that can live in both fresh and salt water.
• More people are struck by lightening each year than are attacked by sharks
• Only seven species of shark are known to have ever attacked humans.
• Sharks can only swim forwards.
• Smell is so important to a shark that two thirds of its brain is devoted to processing scent information
• Whale sharks can grow up to 50 feet in length and weigh 20 tonnes.
• A huge oily liver gives sharks almost neutral buoyancy.
• Sharks may have up to 3,000 teeth at any one time.
• Mako sharks have been recorded at speeds of 43mph – making them the fastest
• Hong Kong imports shark fins from 125 countries and exports them to 75 countries. (Shark and Marine Conservation)
• Sharks do not sleep. Rather, they experience alternating periods of activity and rest.
• Polar bears are the largest meat-eating animals on land!
• Polar bears have more problems with overheating than they do with cold. Even in very cold weather, they quickly overheat when they try to run.
• Polar bears have two layers of fur for further protection from the cold.
• The polar bear’s compact ears and small tail also help prevent heat loss.
• Polar bears know how to pack on the fat: A single bear can consume 100 pounds of blubber at one sitting.
• A polar bear’s body temperature is 98.6°, which is average for mammals.
• A thick layer of blubber (up to 4.5 inches thick) provides polar bears with such excellent insulation that their body temperature and metabolic rate remain the same even at -34°F.
• When curled up in a ball, polar bears sometimes cover their muzzles — which radiate heat — with one of their thickly furred paws.
• Summer Range
• Winter Range
• Denning Range
• Polar bears inhabit the shifting outer fringes of floating sea ice, which covers more of the Arctic and surrounding regions in winter than in summer. Females dig maternity dens along coastal shores in winter. (www.amnh.org)
• Colossal squid are only known from a few specimens, estimates put its maximum size at 12 to 14 metres. It is the largest known squid species and the world’s largest invertebrate. It is believed to have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom.
• It is believed that colossal squid hunt large fish, such as toothfish, and other squid.
• Analysis of sperm whale stomachs suggests the colossal squid makes up three quarters of the diet of large sperm whales and it is likely there are large numbers of them in Antarctic waters.
• There are two species of Toothfish: the Antarctic Toothfish and the Patagonian Toothfish. They are very similar in appearance and habits but the Antarctic Toothfish is found in the high latitude region close to the Antarctic continent whereas the Patagonian Toothfish is found in subantarctic waters on shelves around islands and submarine banks.
• Toothfish are bottom-living, in depths of 300m to 2500m, but move off the bottom on occasion to feed.
• The Antarctic Toothfish has antifreeze proteins in its tissues and blood because the seawater is below the normal freezing point of tissue. The Patagonian Toothfish does not have these proteins because it lives in warmer water.
• Toothfish eat small fish and squid in midwater and a range of fish, crabs, prawns etc. on the bottom.
• Toothfish reach sexual maturity when they are between 70cm and 95cm long. At this size the fish are between 8 and 10 years old.
• The maximum size of Toothfish is 2.2m in length and about 120kg in weight. The maximum recorded age is about 45 years.
• Both species of Toothfish are known to be eaten by sperm whales and elephant seals, but the extent of this is unknown. The fish are usually too large to be eaten by other types of predators.
• The biggest blue whale ever weighed was nearly 200 tonnes and over 30m (100 ft) in length. 7 meters (23 feet) at birth; adults grow to 23 to 27 m (70 to 90 ft).
• The blue whale is one of the loudest animals, with vocalizations that can travel thousands of miles underwater. (www.amnh.org)
• Southern Hemisphere “true” blue whales were reduced from around 225,000 individuals pre-exploitation to probably less than 2,000 now. In just one area, South Georgia, 30,000 blue whales were killed in the 1930-31 season alone.
• Pygmy blue whales are never found south of 50°S, and feed off the southern Australian coast in summer. They grow to “only” about 25m.
• A blue whale gulps up to 50 tonnes of water and krill in one feeding mouthful!, but swallows only the krill.
• “True” blue whales are one of the fussiest eaters in the Antarctic, usually eating only Antarctic krill.
• A new born blue whale calf weighs 2.5 tonnes and can, in the latter stages of suckling, put on 100kg a day.
• Blue whales, along with minke whales, venture further into the sea ice than other rorquals (such as the humpback and sei whales), and have been seen near 78°S in the Ross Sea.
• Blue whales off Sri Lanka have a song which consists of only four long, low notes.
• Low frequency moans of blue whales, some of them lower than human hearing, can theoretically travel several thousand kilometres, and at close range are as loud as a jumbo jet take off.
• Tho breeding grounds of Southern Hemisphere blue whales are still unknown but are thought to lie somewhere in the deep oceanic waters of the tropical South Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.aad.gov.au
The info above was gathered from many different web pages.
Special thanks goes out to all of them.