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DIRT - The Movie 27 February 2016
Badru's Story: Inside Africa's Impenetrable Forest 05 September 2014
Adapting to Sea Level Rise 18 August 2014
The Montana Heritage Act 06 August 2014
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SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Bermuda Triangle to Become Humpback Whale Haven

humpwhale.png

The Bermuda Triangle holds an often maligned and mysterious place in ocean lore, but for endangered humpback whales, it's about to get a little more welcoming.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced a letter of intent signed by the Bermuda Department of Environmental Protection to establish a sister sanctuary to NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary for the gentle giants.
 
The sister sanctuary would not be the first for Stellwagen Bank, located in the Gulf of Maine, and its humpback whales. Beginning in 2007, Stellwagen established the world's first sister sanctuary with the Dominican Republic's Santuario de Mamiferos Marinos de la República Dominicana to protect the endangered migratory marine mammal on both ends of its range.
 
Whale populations
There are five distinct populations of humpbacks in the North Atlantic, with Stellwagen Bank being the feeding grounds for one of the groups. The other four are off the coasts of Nova Scotia, Norway, Greenland and Iceland. Down in the Caribbean, the whales mingle during breeding season, and one of the largest congregation spots is off the coast of the Dominican Republic.
 
But protecting just two points in the humpbacks' range is not enough to ensure their survival. Bermuda will protect the species in its migratory corridor, rather than the furthest reaches of its range, the first marine mammal sanctuary to offer such a waypoint.
"This is a first step in putting together conservation stepping stones throughout their migration," said Nathalie Ward, coordinator of the Sister Sanctuary Program for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

When the Bermuda sanctuary is established, hopefully by the end of this year, NOAA will issue a memorandum of understanding to exchange data that will include photos of the whales and coordinate research, education and strategies for engaging locals in whale conservation. The massive creatures are threatened not only from direct human pressures, such as ship strikes or fishing net entanglement, but also indirect pressures such as pollution and ocean noise.

The goal is to grow the family of sanctuaries throughout the Caribbean, Ward told OurAmazingPlanet. NOAA is currently negotiating memorandums of understandings with the French Antilles and some Dutch territories in the eastern Caribbean.

"If we don't have protection in different parts of the humpback's range," Ward said, "it's going to impact our population."

Good for whales and humans
The sanctuaries allow for more focused research that can reap benefits for the whales. In Stellwagen Bank, renowned for its whale watching, researchers looked at more than 20 years of whale sighting reports to establish where the whales spent most of their time. The effort resulted in a proposal to shift shipping lanes northward by just 12 degrees, which scientists estimated could reduce whale strikes by 81 percent.

Information like that in other regions of the whales' migration path could help inform similar management techniques, as well as help boost local economies by establishing whale watching and other tourism that supports both the sanctuary and the people who live nearby.

"This is really a pioneering program," Ward said. "The expansion of our Sister Sanctuary Program will play a powerful role in protecting endangered humpback whales, and the opportunity for international cooperation in marine conservation is invaluable."
     


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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:
Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.org 
  
The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org 

Toyota
www.toyota.com

Ford Motors
www.ford.com

Girl Scouts of America
www.girlscouts.org

Austin Ranch
www.austinranch.com

Turf Feeding Systems
www.turffeeding.com

The University of Michigan
www.umich.edu

The Dodson Group
www.thedodsongrp.com      

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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