21 April 2015

Vegetarians of the Sea

Dugong feeding in sediment, photo from: www.arkive.org

Dugongs (Dugong dugon) commonly known as sea cow, can be found in at least 48 countries along the coasts of the western Pacific and Indian oceans. They can grow up to an average of 3 meters and can weigh at around 2,200 lbs [1]. Being the only marine herbivorous mammal, they mostly feed on seagrass as they are highly low in fiber and nutrients such as nitrogen and starch and it’s easily digestible [2]. Other herbivorous mammals would be its close relative, the Manatees which are commonly found in coastal waters and rivers such as the Amazon River

Dugongs can consume an average of 77lbs of sea grass per day [5]. About 97% of their diet consists of different species of seagrass as the remaining are algae. These numbers however can change depending on the abundance of food species and its ecological distribution [4]. As much as they prefer to be at shallow waters, they can also be found in depths up to 37 meters because of the presence of some deepwater seagrass habitats [3]. There are still a lot of threats that this animal faces. Because of human activities such as development, pollution and some cases of by-catch, the dugong population is decreasing. Another threat is food availability, and it causes a delay in breeding. These threats make habitat conservation a critical issue [3]. Dugongs are now classified as Vulnerable (VU) according to the IUCN red list [6].

To know more about dugongs, visit SeaLifeBase.

[1] Reeves, R. R., Stewart, B. S., Clapham, P. J., and Powell, J. A. (2002) Guide to Marine Mammals of the world. New York, NY: Chanticleer Press, Inc. 527p.

[2] Marsh, H. (2009) Dugong Dugong dugon. In pp. 332-335, Perrin, W.F., Wursig, B., Thewissen, J.G.M. (2009) Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals Second Edition. Academic Press: London. 1316pp.

[3] Marsh, H. (2002) Dugong: Status Report and action plans for countries and territories Early warning and assessment report series. UNEP: Nairobi. 162p.

[4] Johnstone, I.M., and Hudson, B.E.T. (1981) The Dugong Diet: Mouth sample analysis. Bulletin of Marine Science, 31(3):681-690

[5] Gaus, C., Donohue, M.O., Connell, D., Mueller, Jochen., Hynes, D., and Paepke, Olaf. (2004) Exposure and potential risks of Dioxins to the Marine Mammal Dugong. Organohalogen Compounds. 66:1159-1166

[6] Marsh, H. (2008). Dugong dugon. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. [Accessed 16/04/2015].

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17 April 2015

Collaborator of the Week: Dr. Bertrand RICHER de FORGES

“There’s no real retirement for a marine biologist, we have so many things to do.” [1]

A core statement from a retired marine biology expert, Dr. Bertrand Richer de Forges. His words emphasized an aspect of a man’s character that is very strong and unchangeable with regards to his profession.

Dr. Richer de Forges was born in France and studied marine biology in Paris VI University. He finished his first thesis in biological oceanography on the crab of Kerguelen Island, Halicarcinus planatus in 1976 and eventually, his second PhD thesis in Marine Biology from the Museum in Paris in 1998.  He is known as a taxonomist of deep-sea crabs from tropical zones and author of extensive publications including several books on the Coral reef fauna. His career has been ceaseless for the past 40 years, 5 years of which were spent at sea, sampling the deep sea benthos of the Indo-Pacific.

In 2008, he retired from French Institute of Research for Development (ex-ORSTOM), a public research institute sharing its best in development, policy, practice and research [2]. He also became a member of Census of Marine Life in several groups, mainly in CenSeam, and as well as in the Tropical Deep-Sea Benthos (ex-MUSORSTOM). Certainly, even in retirement he still links himself in global networks of researchers and experts dedicated to assess fauna of the world’s oceans.

[1] Chua, G. Biodiversity expert on board S’pore marine expedition. The Strait Times. 25 September, 2012.

[2] Institut de recherche pour le développement, IRD (ex-ORSTOM). www.eldis.org.

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15 April 2015

Dr. Pauly's latest updates: Global marine fisheries true catch

Do you want to get updated about the reconstruction efforts on the annual global fish harvests?

On April 17, Dr. Daniel Pauly, Principal Investigator of the Sea Around Us and the SeaLifeBase Project, will be presenting:

"Reconstructing the global marine fisheries catch: the main findings so far"

Time: 11am
Location: AERL 120, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada

This will be the last Fisheries Centre Seminar talk this semester. Don’t miss this chance. Everyone is very much welcome to attend.