Why are creatures like electric rays, which prefer warmer southern California or Baja waters, turning up with greater frequency further north? Unlike land temperatures, which constantly fluctuate, ocean temperatures are usually stable, with virtually no daily changes, little seasonal differentiation and only minor shifts over decades.
It's encouraging that our newly elected federal government has agreed to improve efforts to safeguard Canada's oceans. Ocean protection here is shamefully deficient, currently at around one per cent. Weak ocean protection hinders our coasts' ability to remain resilient in the face of many challenges.
Canada was one of many countries at the 2010 UN Convention on Biological Diversity to commit to protecting 10 per cent of its marine areas by 2020. As a marine nation bordering three oceans with over seven million square kilometres of ocean area and the longest coastline of any country, Canada has a responsibility to lead on ocean stewardship. We have acts, policies and departments to support strong positions to safeguard ocean ecosystems. Yet the reality is that more has been said than done.
We don't need to look any further than the collapse of Newfoundland's northern cod fishery to be reminded of how communities are impacted when resources are overexploited. For centuries, the cod stocks in this region seemed inexhaustible. But when the fishery collapsed in 1992, over 40,000 people lost their jobs.
A growing body of research confirms the health benefits of getting outside. Kids who spend time in nature every day are healthier, happier, more creative, less stressed and more alert than those who don't. As parents, grandparents, caregivers and educators, it's our responsibility to raise kids with healthy nature habits.
June 8 is World Oceans Day. In Canada, it's a time to celebrate the rich marine life in three great oceans off the longest coastline of any nation -- trillions of plankton, billions of fish, millions of seabirds, thousands of whales and myriad other creatures great and small. Yet, we have little to celebrate when it comes to looking after this natural legacy
When carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted into the atmosphere it doesn't just stay there -- about 25 per cent of emissions are absorbed into the ocean, increasing the acidity of the ocean. An ocean increasing in acidity is not a very friendly place for its creatures, many of which play critical roles in marine food webs and are vital sources of human food. I recently travelled to Italy and across North America investigating how ocean acidification could impact marine life. While I like to remain hopeful in most things, what I learned has made me very worried about the future of the ocean.
I used to eat a lot of shrimp, but based on my travels examining foreign shrimp farms and various unsustainable and sustainable fishing practices, now I am much more selective. Supporting more sustainable options is a good start but with the vast majority of the global shrimp industry based on destructive harvesting methods, widespread change will take a long time.
Almost everyone who has seen the gruesome videos of sharks having their fins cut off and their mutilated bodies dumped back into the ocean, barely alive but doomed to drown, is outraged by this barbaric practice. Even more so upon learning that there is no nutritional value in shark fin soup or any shark fin products.
Don't cue the theme from Jaws for 20-year-old Madison Stewart, A.K.A. the "Shark Girl." Madison has been diving with the sharks since the age of 12 in the Great Barrier Reef and she loathes the hype propagated in movies from Jaws to Sharknado that these mysterious beasts are "mindless blood thirsty killers."
Although the conservation challenge is daunting, nurturing functioning ecosystems offers hope. Healthy oceans ensure we can continue to enjoy seafood -- and they're more resilient to increasing human impacts. If the global fishing industry wants to ensure its survival, it should advocate for marine ecosystem conservation.
In Canada, we have every reason to take an international leadership position on this issue. There are deep cultural connections between whales and our coastal communities -- and economic ones too. Whale watching has grown exponentially in recent decades, part of a global $2.1 billion (U.S.) industry.
Improving the way we fish and grow seafood is critical to the survival of some of our planet's most threatened marine and freshwater species and environments. But a national sustainable seafood day is also a critical reminder that even through our everyday choices in what food we buy, we can have a profound impact on the future of life on our planet. And nowhere is that more true than at our fish counters.
Many of us cannot wait for Mother Nature and journey to one of a plethora of pleasant places famous for their warmth. Amongst the most popular destinations, including Florida, California and the Caribbean, exist some of the most desirable beaches where millions congregate to take in the joys of sun, sea, sand, and unfortunately germs.
The record decline in sockeye returning to the Fraser River in 2009 provided the initial push for a federal judicial inquiry. Now, four years later, the offspring of those salmon are returning to spawning grounds in dismally low numbers -- so low that sockeye salmon fishery closures are widespread. What happened to Justice Bruce Cohen's 75 carefully crafted recommendations to rebuild Pacific salmon?