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SustainAbility Newsletter

Bermuda Triangle to Become Humpback Whale Haven

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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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The International Sustainability Council
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Toyota
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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
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SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

GCSAA Research Examines Nutrient Use on Golf Courses

Golf Swing

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) has released the results of a nationwide survey of golf courses examining nutrient use and management on golf facilities. The results indicate that superintendents apply fertilizers at rates that fall within the guidelines recommended by university scientists.

These findings are contained in the article “Golf Course Environmental Profile Measures Nutrient Use and Management and Fertilizer Restrictions, Storage, and Equipment Calibration” published in the December 2009 edition of Applied Turfgrass Science. The article was authored by GCSAA Director of Research Clark Throssell, Ph.D.; Director of Environmental Programs Greg Lyman; Senior Manager of Environmental Programs Mark Johnson; Senior Manager of Market Research and Data Greg Stacey; and National Golf Foundation Director of Research Clark Brown.

“Nutrient use and its impact on water quality is a hot topic across many industries,” Throssell says. “Those who are familiar with golf course management have long felt the industry has been a good steward when it comes to the management of fertilizers. With this study, we now have a much better picture of nutrient use across all regions of the country and how superintendents make application decisions. The report indicates where improvements can be made, but by and large the information is positive.”
Among the key findings:

  • For all golf courses in 2006, a total of 101,096 tons of nitrogen were applied to 1,311,000 acres (154 pounds of nitrogen per acre); 36,810 tons of phosphate were applied to 1,131,000 acres (65 pounds of phosphate per acre); and 99,005 tons of potash were applied to 1,260,000 acres (157 pounds of potash per acre).
  • Of 18-hole golf facilities in the U.S., 49 percent had a written nutrient management plan or written fertilizer program in 2006, but only 6 percent of facilities were required by government or tribal authorities to have such a plan. A higher maintenance budget correlates with the likelihood that a golf facility would use a written nutrient plan or fertilizer program.
  • For 18-hole golf facilities nationally, slow-release nitrogen sources accounted for 64 percent of the nitrogen applied, and quick-release nitrogen sources accounted for 36 percent. Organic nutrient sources were applied to 66 percent of 18-hole golf facilities in 2006. Organic sources of nutrients comprise 24 percent of the total annual amount of nutrients applied on 18-hole golf facilities.
  • In 2006, 43 percent of 18-hole facilities did not use soil amendments. The highest use of soil amendments was in the Southwest, where it's common for soil and irrigation water to have high sodium content. A much larger percentage of respondents, 74 percent, use a turfgrass supplement such as biostimulants, humates and amino acids/proteins.
  • Nationally, only 9 percent of 18-hole golf facilities reported restrictions on fertilizer applications. Restrictions were most likely in the North Central (16 percent) and Pacific (10 percent) agronomic regions. Sixty-two percent of 18-hole golf facilities in the U.S. with restrictions report restrictions on phosphorus either in the total yearly amount applied or the amount per application.
  • Superintendents consider multiple factors when making nutrient application decisions. Integrating many variables into their decisions leads to effective applications for the turfgrass while protecting the environment. The most common factors superintendents used to make decisions about nutrient applications and the percentage of 18-hole golf facilities using that factor were: visual observations of turfgrass (85 percent), previous product performance (84 percent), soils/soil analysis (84 percent), precipitation/temperature/weather (83 percent), turfgrass species (81 percent) and disease pressure (79 percent).
  • From 2002 to 2006, 95 percent of 18-hole golf facilities performed soil testing on greens, 75 percent on tees, 80 percent on fairways and 26 percent on rough.
  • On average, superintendents at 18-hole golf facilities calibrated their fertilizer application equipment before 67 percent of applications, thereby improving the accuracy of their fertilizer applications. Nationally, 91 percent of 18-hole golf facilities stored fertilizer on site for three consecutive calendar days or more in 2006. Half of those golf facilities used a dedicated storage area. 

To see a copy of the full report:
http://www.eifg.org/programs/GCSAAnutrientsurvey_fullreport.pdf


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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE NEWSLETTER IN PDF FORMAT

 

References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles
www.audubonlifestyles.com
 
The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org 

General Motors
www.gm.com

Toyota
www.toyota.com

Fisker Automotive
www.fiskerautomotive.com

Golfpreserves
www.golfcourseproject.com 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Partnership
www.cmhp.org

Chesapeake Bay Foundation
www.cbf.org 

University of Alaska Fairbanks
www.uaf.edu 

Taylor Properties Group
www.taylorpropertiesgrp.com  

Urbana University
www.urbana.edu 

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA)
www.gcsaa.org 

American Society of Golf Course Architects
www.asgca.org

The United States Golf Association (USGA)
www.usga.org

 

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