MARINE LIFE

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1994:

Earth Island Institute and
Public Citizen on September 14 sued
the Commerce Department, alleging
non-enforcement of the requirement
that Gulf of Mexico shrimpers use tur-
tle excluders to keep endangered sea
turtles from getting caught in their
nets. The Commerce Dept. says the
excluders cut shrimp catches by 5%;
the Texas Shrimp Association says it’s
more like 20%. Irate shrimpers are
blamed for killing more than 270 tur-
tles whose mutilated remains have
been found since March. The National
Marine Fisheries Service has posted a
$10,000 reward for information bring-
ing the arrest of the culprits.

Of the rarest sea turtle,
the Kemp’s ridley, only about 500
breeding females survive––but a six-
year study of painted turtles on a
Mississippi River island published in
August by the National Academy of
Sciences indicates that global warming
could tilt the sex balance of turtles,
alligators, and some lizards so far
toward females as to cause their
extinction. Nest temperature deter-
mines sex selection in these species;
males hatch from cooler eggs.
According to Canadian
expert David Raindall, 2,600 fish
species inhabit the Amazon basin––
30% of all freshwater species––but
only 14 of them are under study.
Boat-caused manatee
deaths doubled this summer over
last, Florida governor Lawton Chiles
announced September 10. Of 138
known manatee deaths this year, from
a wild population of about 1,800, 39
were caused by speedboats. Only 498
Florida peace officers police the activi-
ty of more than a million boaters, so
the offenders are rarely caught.
The Biodiversity Legal
Foundation, Friends of the Alabama
Sturgeon, and conservationist Edward
W. Mudd Jr. on September 15 filed a
60-day notice of intent to sue Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt for failing to
add the Alabama sturgeon to the fed-
eral endangered species list.
Catalina Bob, an ailing
dolphin who was twice rescued from
Monterey Bay in April, was success-
fully treated at Sea World in San
Diego, was released on August 25,
and is now being tracked with a satel-
lite-monitored radio transmitter
clipped to his dorsal fin, announced
marine mammologists at the Long
Marine Laboratory in Santa Cruz,
California, on September 14.
Nootka, a 13-year-old
orca , died September 13 at Sea
World of Florida, apparently from
complications related to the delivery
of a stillborn calf on August 18.
Nootka was one of three orcas
involved in the 1991 drowning of
trainer Keltie Byrne at the Sealand
aquarium in Victoria, British
Columbia. They were sold to Sea
World after Sealand closed in 1992.
Sea World/Australia, un-
related to the U.S.-based Sea World,
recently took two bottlenose dolphins
from the wild and plans to capture
pseudorcas as well, according to
Australians for Animals, which has
called a boycott of Warner Brothers
films in protest. Warner Brothers
owns the Australian Sea World––and
is distributor of the film Free Willy!
Early Australians for Animals protest
materials mistakenly linked the two
Sea World companies, and added the
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to
a list of boycott backers, then claimed
Sea Shepherd had withdrawn from a
boycott coalition that Sea Shepherd
spokesperson Carla Robinson said
they didn’t know they’d been part of.
Staff at the San Francisco
Bay National Wildlife Refuge are
perplexed by the September 13 find of
a dead harbor seal pup in a well-craft-
ed pine coffin, ornamented with a
cross and a silver bracelet inscribed
with the motto “E pluribus
unum,” meaning “Out of many,
one.” Rangers later buried the
pup on the mud flats where the
coffin was found.
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