Apr 242008

I had heard about Sharkwater on the film festival circuit for a year, but wasn’t ever in a place where it was showing. It came out on dvd last week and I finally watched it last night. Sharkwater is really three movies in one. Part nature documentary on sharks, part educational documentary on shark finning (mostly for sharkfin soup aka fishwing), and part docu-drama. Rob Stewart has some beautiful underwater footage in the movie, and one could see how that was how the movie started out. But the hook of the film is the drama they encounter in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Ecuador.

That drama ties into explaining the sharkfinning industry, and just how dangerous it is to the ocean – our lungs. The movie doesn’t hold back in terms of imagery. In addition to finning sharks, the viewer is shown exactly what longlines are, and just how wasteful and brutal they are for large fish species. Today, it is estimated 90% of shark populations are gone from our seas. The removal of this top predator from the oceans will have a huge impact on an already off-balance ecosystem.

Though parts of the movie are hard to watch, I think it is a very important film to get into the public consciousness. Unless laws and enforcement change, most species will be gone within a decade.

Watch the Sharkwater trailer here:

Oct 182007

As anyone who has driven through OC to the California central coast knows, there are lot of offshore oil rigs out there. The UT has a great article on the debate over what to do about the California oil rigs once their life span is up. Some want them dismantled, but as the article shows, they currently support a huge amount of life – the support structures essentially act as artificial reefs.

Among their proposals: Cutting down platforms 80 feet or more below the sea’s surface so that ships can safely pass over the remaining structure, or simply toppling whole platforms onto the ocean bed.

These options, say proponents, would preserve at least portions of the platforms as artificial reefs for fish and other marine life. Indeed, CARE estimates that the 27 Southern California platforms provide 4.1 million square feet of living space for marine invertebrates, such as mussels, barnacles, anemones, scallops, sponges, corals and crabs.

As for fish, several surveys in recent years have found that some of the platforms attract greater numbers and varieties of fish at times than do nearby natural reefs.

Assuming there were minimal heavy metal issues, I’d vote for keeping them around. Our oceans need all the help they can get, and these artificial reefs are great nurseries. They would probably be great spots for diving as well, in better shape than San Diego’s NOS tower.