U.S. and Vietnam to partner to combat wildlife trafficking

Wildlife tracfficking, Gabon Ivory Classification

With the recent raid of Thailand’s so-called “Tiger Temple”, the world’s attention once again focused on wildlife trafficking. With the gruesome discovery of frozen tiger cubs and allegations of animal abuse and wildlife trafficking, it’s important to view encouraging news in this arena.

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Endangered sea turtles get their day in Costa Rica

An endangered green sea turtle

An endangered green sea turtle

According to the World Wildlife Fund, nearly all species of sea turtles are Endangered. The reasons are many – poaching for their meat or eggs, habitat destruction, boat strikes, ingesting plastic debris and “accidental” trapping in vast gill nets causing their deaths are a few of them. The Sea Turtle Conservancy is making huge strides to save these magnificent creatures.

The oldest sea turtle organization in the world, the Conservancy’s mission is to protect / recover sea turtle populations around the world, especially in Central America. Its long-term monitoring protection program, established in 1995. is in Tortuguero, on the northeastern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Continue reading

Farm Dog Naturals offers safe, cruelty-free pet products

Itching dogAs the proud owner of a newly rescued dog, I’ve been gathering the necessary supplies to help keep my new buddy healthy. While searching one of my favorite green product websites, I came across Farm Dog Naturals, whose products are geared toward helping to reduce trips to the vet naturally.

Farm Dog Naturals’ top quality herbal products are vegan, cruelty-free, nontoxic, biodegradable and can be used in conjunction with each other or individually.

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SolarReserve brings sun and salt together to light up Las Vegas

Much has been written about the anticipated large solar array in the Mojave Desert, and the unexpected problems posed by the native population of endangered desert tortoise, the official reptile of the state of California.

While that is still being sorted out, SolarReserve, a Santa Monica-based company, is working on a different type of solar project.

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Safe Omega-3 from the ocean

Approximately 2 million tons of calamari are caught each year to produce calamari rings and fillets for food markets around the world. Almost 200,000 tons of that go unused – either thrown away or used for animal feed.CardioTabs Inc. is turning this massive waste into something healthy and beneficial.

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Woodchuck Cider teams with American Forests to plant trees in California

Woodchuck Cider logoOn Earth Day 2010, Woodchuck Cider – a premier maker of handcrafted hard ciders based in Vermont – took an unusual stand. They launched a Facebook Global ReLeaf campaign, saying that by the end of the day, they would donate a tree for every Facebook fan they acquired.

The excitement streamed across social networks with fans cross-promoting the campaign via Twitter. The results were astonishing. Woodchuck had gained 8,432 fans.

Today Woodchuck announced they would plant that many trees as part of the ReLeaf program, American Forests tree planting arm. Global ReLeaf is the oldest nonprofit conservation organization in the U.S.  This year Global ReLeaf plans to plant 4.8 million trees as part of 43 projects in 14 states and 10 countries that will work to restore forests critical for endangered wildlife, clean water, and carbon Global Releaf Logosequestration.

Woodchuck and Globel ReLeaf chose California to be the recipient of these trees to help rebuild forests devastated  by numerous wildfires tover the past several years.

The tree planting will begin this summer and continue through the rest of the year.

This results of this kind of campaign just shows how amazingly integral social networks have become – and the real potential they pose for making a difference.

Are you eating endangerd tuna?

Sushi 1Seafood tracability is becoming an important factor for consumers, particularly with the steady rise in mercury and other harmful pollutants in our oceans.

Knowing where you fish came from – and how much mercury it contains – has just gotten a little easier.

DNA barcoding research conducted by the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History has shown that sushi purchased in supermarkets might actually be healthier than that from restaurants, where it’s likely you’ll end up eating endangered species of tuna.

The new research revealed that one-fourth of the tuna served on sushi menus is bluefin, while some was escolar, a waxy, buttery fish often labeled “white tuna” that’s banned for sale in Japan and Italy because it can cause gastrointestinal distress. 

Bluefin tunaNew DNA barcoading allows consumers to know what kind of tuna they’re really getting.

Jacob Lowenstein – a graduate student affiliated with the Museum and Columbia University – and colleagues used DNA barcoding to identify the kind of fishes labeled “tuna” in one Denver and 30 New York City restaurants. Almost half the restaurants did not accurately label the kind of tuna sold, and only 14 of the samples used for this study were listed on the menu by a specific name like bigeye tuna, albacore, or bluefin.

The results of the investigation showed how misled consumers have been when ordering their favorite sushi.

  • The most prevalent tuna found in sushi is bigeye (30, or almost half, of the 68 samples collected for this study). 
  • Nearly a third of the tuna was bluefin.
  • Only eight of the 22 bluefin samples were labeled “bluefin” on menus, and nine restaurants that sold the bluefin didn’t label it as such on the menu, although restaurants that did, did so accurately and charged more for the sushi.
  • Five of the nine samples labeled in restaurants as “white tuna” were not albacore but escola.

“It is very difficult to get reliable information about the species you are eating, especially since the FDA’s approved market name for all eight species of Thunnusis simply ‘tuna’,” says Lowenstein. New requirements that would market each species under its own name would help to clarify cases of economic fraud and allow conservation-minded consumers to avoid bluefin.

Like anychange, it has to start with consumer demand. Speaking up and asking questions are the first steps to really knowing what you eat and how safe it is for you and the environment.

Santa Monica restaurant charged with serving whale meat

The Typhoon Restaurant is charged with selling illegal whale meat to customers

The Typhoon Restaurant is charged with selling illegal whale meat to customers

A Santa Monica sushi restaurant and one of its chefs have been charged with federal criminal charges of selling meat from an endangered whale.

According to the L.A. Times, a video sting was orchestrated by a producer of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove”, assisted by federal agents and animal activists.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, named Typhoon Restaurant Inc., owner of the Hump, and chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, 45, of Culver City.

The Hump, a popular hangout at Santa Monica Airport, immediately said through attorney Gary Lincenberg that it accepted “responsibility for the wrongdoing charged by the U.S. attorney” and would pay a fine and resolve the matter in court.

Santa Monica Councilman Richard Bloom, chairman of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and a recent appointee to the California Coastal Commission, said the city “will do everything in our power to make sure the situation is corrected and never happens again.”

“The first thing I would want to know is where the whale meat came from,” said Councilman Bloom.

How DID the whale meat get into this country? And, a better question, are there other restaurants that are serving it that we don’t know about?

Hope for endangered US forests – beetles songs

 

 

Beetles have decimated millions of trees throughout the U.S.

Beetles have decimated millions of trees throughout the U.S.

That’s not a type on the title. Northern Arizona University researchers may have found a way to deter tree eating bark beetles from devastating forests. 

 

Nearly 80 million ponderosa, piñon and lodgepole pines in Arizona and New Mexico and tens of millions more across the West have been killed by ravenous bark beetles over the past decade. This has left ugly scars throughout our forests, weakened the surrounding ecosystem and heightened wildfire danger.

Pine Beetle infested forests.2NAU’s School of Forestry has been working to find a viable, earth-friendly solution. Researcher Reagan McGuire suggested utilizing sound to aggravate the relentless pests. After rock music and snippets of radio talk show personality Rush Limbaugh played backward failed to deter them, the beetles were exposed to digitally altered recordings of their own calls.

The beetles immediately stopped mating or burrowing. Some fled.  Others violently attacked each other.All of them stopped chewing away at the pine tree.

Pine Beetle infested forests“Our interest is to use acoustic sounds that make beetles uncomfortable and not want to be in that environment,” said NAU forest entomologist Richard Hofstetter, who led the experiment nicknamed, without apology, “beetle mania.”

More research needs to be done and the lab will seek funding to continue this potentially forest saving  experiment into acoustic pest control. It’s hoped this could get into the field in the near future.

Tuna Companies pledge Conservation of Sea Turtles

sea-turtlesThree of the top U.S. tuna companies have pledged more than $100,000 annually to help protect sea turtles in longline tuna fisheries. These funds will be run through the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).

ISSF founding members Chicken of the Sea, StarKist and Bumble Bee are studying a variety of projects from protecting turtle nesting habitats to providing circle hooks to funding research into turtle bycatch mitigation.

“Industry must take a lead role in the stewardship of our oceans,” said Chris Lischewski, President and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods LLC who also serves as chair of ISSF.

All seven species of sea turtles are endangered or threatened throughout U.S. waters. Pollution is shrinking natural habitats while sea turtles are often accidentally ensnared in fishing nets.

“There is a science-based need to protect sea turtles,” Lischewski said. “We respect the delicate balance in marine ecosystems and part of industry’s role must be to support conservation initiatives that can help maintain that balance or rebuild where it’s been weakened.”

The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation is a global partnership among scientists, the tuna industry and WWF, the global conservation organization.