Ascension Island green turtles good news

This 24 September 2019 video says about itself:

A Hunting Ban is Finally Helping Green Sea Turtles Thrive

For five centuries, hunters would camp out on the beaches of Ascension Island to hunt green sea turtles. Today, with a hunting ban in place, the island has become a haven for these majestic sea creatures.

Green turtle video

This video says about itself:

Green Turtle‘s Battle For Survival – Planet Earth – BBC Earth

From the moment they are born, these plucky Green Turtles from Ascension Island will face a huge battle to survive. Those that do survive, like their mothers did before them, will return to exactly same beach where they hatched.

Ascension Island becomes marine reserve

This is an Ascension frigatebird video.

From the BBC:

Ascension Island to become marine reserve

By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst

3 January 2016

The government is to create a marine reserve almost as big as the UK in the Atlantic waters of Ascension Island.

Just over half of the protected area will be closed to fishing.

The fishery in the other half will be policed under a grant of £300,000 from the Louis Bacon Foundation, a charitable body.

It is the latest marine reserve to be declared around remote islands, which will increase marine conservation zones to about 2% of the ocean.

That remains a far cry from the 30% recommended by scientists to preserve species and expand fish stocks, but is much more than just a few years ago.

Governments have designated marine parks at Palau in the North Pacific, Easter Island and Pitcairn in the South Pacific, and New Zealand’s Kermadec islands, in what has become a landmark year for ocean conservation.

The latest reserve at Ascension Island is said to hold some of the largest marlin in the world, one of the largest populations of green turtles, big colonies of tropical seabirds and the island’s own unique frigate bird.

Conservation commitment

The reserve totals 234,291 sq km, slightly less than the size of the United Kingdom. It could be ready for formal designation as soon as 2017, once further data has been collected and analysed.

Dr Judith Brown, director of fisheries and marine conservation for Ascension Island government, said: “The economic benefit from the fishery has provided much-needed income for the island.

“This donation will help fund the enforcement to protect the closed area from illegal fishing.”

The Great British Oceans Coalition, which includes the Blue Marine Foundation and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, has been campaigning since 2014 for the designation of all or part of Ascension’s waters.

Charles Clover, Blue Marine Foundation chairman, said: “Ascension has been at the frontiers of science since Charles Darwin went there in the 19th Century, so it is entirely appropriate that it is now at the centre of a great scientific effort to design the Atlantic’s largest marine reserve.”

An accident of colonial history has left the UK and France with huge potential to safeguard marine life around remote oceanic islands.

Good green turtle news from Ascension island

This video is called Hawaii Green Sea Turtle Eating.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wildlife reaps huge benefits from Ascension Island’s new conservation legislation

The remote UK overseas territory of Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, has achieved remarkable results in conserving its green turtle populations.

Scientists from the University of Exeter and the Ascension Island Government Conservation Department report that the number of green turtles nesting has increased by more than 500 per cent since records began in the 1970s.

As many as 24,000 nests are now estimated to be laid on the island’s main beaches every year, making it the second largest nesting colony for this species in the Atlantic Ocean, according to a paper in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.

Lead author Dr Sam Weber said: “The increase has been dramatic. Whereas in the 1970s and 80s you would have been lucky to find 30 turtles on the island’s main nesting beach on any night, in 2013 we had more than 400 females nesting in a single evening.”

The Ascension Island’s government has announced that it is committing a fifth of the territory’s land area to biodiversity conservation.

New legislation enacted by the island’s governor, Mark Capes, has created seven new nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries that include the island’s three main turtle nesting beaches, along with globally important seabird colonies that are home to more than 800,000 nesting seabirds.

The legislation was developed as a result of a two-year project run by the Ascension Island Government and the University of Exeter to develop a national biodiversity action plan for the territory.

Dr Nicola Weber, Ascension Island Government’s Head of Conservation, said: “The decision to give legal protection to our most iconic wildlife sites follows extensive public consultation and has received a high level of support from across of the community.

“It speaks volumes as to how seriously environmental stewardship is currently taken on the Island”.

Dr Annette Broderick, who is leading the project for the University of Exeter and who has been researching sea turtles on Ascension Island for the past 15 years, said: “Green turtles were an important source of food for those on the island and passing ships would take live turtles onboard to ensure fresh meat for their voyage.

“Ships returning to the UK would stock up with turtles for the Lords of the Admiralty, who had a penchant for turtle soup.

“Records show a dramatic decline in the number of turtles harvested each year as fewer and fewer came to nest and since the 1950s no turtles have been harvested.

“We are now seeing the population bounce back, although our models suggest we have not yet reached pre-harvest levels.”

Turtles were legally protected on Ascension Island in 1944 and the population began its slow climb back.

“Because sea turtles take so long to reach breeding age, we are only now beginning to see the results of conservation measures introduced decades ago,” said Dr Weber.

“It just goes to show how populations of large, marine animals can recover from human exploitation if we protect them over long enough periods.”

See also here. And here.

This video is called Conservation on Ascension.

Endangered Green Sea Turtles Return to Florida in Record Numbers. Thousands of the enormous animals showed up to nest at a favorite beach last year: here.

Worldwide conservation, crabs, apes, trees …

Land crab with eggs. Credit: Sam Weber

From Fauna & Flora International:

Flagship Species Fund supports eight conservation icons in 2013

Posted on: 22.04.13 (Last edited) 22nd April 2013

Fauna & Flora International’s Flagship Species Fund announces eight grants to be given to species conservation projects in 2013.

Flagship species are those iconic, charismatic species that capture public admiration and may be used as figureheads to promote broader conservation action.

The Flagship Species Fund is a partnership between Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the UK Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra). In 2013, the Fund will support the conservation of some of the most endangered, yet best loved, species as well as promoting new and emerging flagships for conservation.

The eight grants will cover a range of species (from mammals, reptiles and birds to invertebrates and plants), with projects working towards:

Last, but by no means least, the fund will be supporting the conservation of the land crab (Johngarthia lagostoma) on Ascension Island. The land crab’s relationship with the inhabitants of Ascension Island has come a long way since the first permanent settlements were made on the island in 1815, when a British naval garrison was built. The admiralty saw the crabs as pests and rewarded sailors from the garrison with rum for killing them.

Today, the crabs enjoy a much more favourable relationship with the islanders, with images of them appearing on postage stamps and guide books. However they still face severe threats as they are now locked in competition with introduced species including rats, mice and rabbits.

Land crab. Credit: Sam Weber

Land crab. Credit: Sam Weber

Mass spawning of thousands of land crabs only occurs at a few locations around the island, and on just a couple of nights each year. Dr Sam Weber, who will be leading the conservation efforts, remembers the first time he experienced this spectacle: “The bright orange of thousands of crabs moving over the black volcanic coastline is really striking and stopped me in my tracks. I particularly remember laughing at the little ‘hula dance’ they do as they release their eggs into an approaching wave. Now I can’t help wondering how much more impressive it would have looked at the time the first ships landed at Ascension and before species introductions and harvesting began.”

The Operation Land Crab team will be using the Flagship Species Fund grant to tag spawning crabs with coloured claw bands and microchips. This will allow the team to identify individual crabs in the future and study their migrations, growth rates and age.

Land crab. Credit: Sam Weber

Land crab. Credit: Sam Weber

FFI looks forward to following the progress of these interventions through the year, and wishes the project teams every success as they strive to conserve these iconic species.

Looking back- the rise of new icons for conservation

Since its establishment in 2001, the Flagship Species Fund has awarded 151 grants, which have in turn provided support for the conservation of 101 threatened species. This has included household names like the mountain gorilla, African elephant and hawksbill turtle.

But the Fund has also supported some little known, but engaging, species that have become new champions for the conservation of their habitats. These have included the cowboy frog, freshwater crayfish, Cebu cinnamon tree and Indian tarantula. The success of these projects proves that a species doesn’t need to be furry, act like a human, or be a candidate for a child’s cuddly toy, to enlist widespread interest and spearhead conservation action.

Through these projects, FFI has supported the work of 109 local NGOs or agencies, across 40 developing or transitional countries and five UK overseas territories.

In 2012, the Fund supported 11 locally developed and delivered projects, which resulted in meaningful change on the ground. These include:

  • Direct habitat management – 20,000 endemic hardwoods were planted in a re-greening agreement with villages in northern Sumatra
  • Association establishment and empowerment – around the Budongo Forest Reserve, Uganda, ex-hunters associations were established, which led to the willing surrender of 1,400 snares from ex-hunters
  • Awareness raising – through agro-theatre performances and poster display competitions in Tajikistan
  • Alternative livelihoods – The Lamu Marine Conservation Trust, working along the northern coast of Kenya, reported increased local revenue from turtle tourism and the reintroduction of 5,102 baby turtles to the sea

By supporting a wide range of species and approaches, FFI has continued to explore what makes a locally-powerful conservation symbol, and promoted the conservation of the world’s most iconic and threatened species.

Frigatebirds back on Ascension Island after 180 years

This video about Ascension Island is called Nesting Frigate Birds and Turtle Babies – Planet Earth – BBC.

From Wildlife Extra:

Frigate birds reappear on Ascension Island after 180 year absence

A UK bird has been found breeding again on a remote island, almost 180 years since it was last recorded there.

December 2012. Two Ascension frigatebirds were spotted sitting on nests on Ascension Island, a UK Overseas Territory. The species has previously been confined to the outlying Boatswain Bird Island, which is just 1km², for decades after taking refuge there when feral cats overran the main island of Ascension.

Millions killed by cats

The seabird population on the tropical UK Overseas Territory, previously numbering into the tens of millions, was devastated by the cats which were introduced onto the island in the early 19th Century to control introduced rats and mice. The RSPB began a project to remove feral cats on Ascension Island in 2002. The project was supported by funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the island was formally declared feral cat free in 2006.

Globally threatened

The Ascension frigatebird is a globally threatened species found nowhere else in the world. It is one of the 33 Globally Threatened British Birds found in the UK’s Overseas Territories, and is considered Vulnerable to Extinction by the IUCN.

Dr Tim Stowe, the RSPB’s International Director, said: “This is the news we have been waiting for since starting the project more than a decade ago. Many species on the UK Overseas Territories are threatened by non-native species and this project marks a landmark in conservation. Ascension is the largest, inhabited island where feral cat removal has been attempted and proved successful. What a wonderful Christmas present.”

The discovery was made by members of the Army Ornithological Society, together with members of the Ascension Island Government’s Conservation Department.

Ascension Frigatebirds

Ascension frigatebirds are sometimes called Man O’War birds or Pirate birds because they steal other birds’ food in flight. They are almost as big as albatrosses, and although seabirds, they can’t swim.

The adult male Ascension frigatebird is black overall, with a glossy green and purple sheen, but during courtship it develops a bright red gular (a flap of skin) that inflates to form an impressive heart-shaped balloon. The adult female is more rusty-brown, particularly around the collar and breast, and some individuals have patches of white on the breast and abdomen.

Ascension Island birds

Ascension Island is a small, remote, volcanic island in the South Atlantic. It is rich in unique flora and fauna. At the time of its colonisation by Europeans in 1815, it was thought to host 20 million individual seabirds, including the Ascension Frigatebird

Derren Fox from Ascension Island Conservation, said: “We were out with the Army Ornithological Society to work on some other seabirds in the area when Andrew Bray from AOS came up to us with a photograph of the bird on a nest. We were all incredibly excited and went to see the site and survey for further nests in the area. It’s a great moment for Ascension conservation and a superb example of collaborative work between the FCO, RSPB and Ascension Island Conservation.”

Feral cat eradication

A Foreign and Commonwealth spokesperson, said: “We are delighted at the news that, after almost 180 years, the frigatebirds have returned to Ascension to breed again. The feral cat eradication project has been a real success and we are grateful to the RSPB for their skilful management of the initiative. This is great example of the practical impact of the UK’s wider commitment to working with the Territories and environmental partners to protect the bio-diversity of crucial habitats. The UK underlined that commitment with the recent launch of ‘Darwin Plus’, a £2m fund to support environmental work across the Territories. We very much hope to see more innovative projects take advantage of this and help further safeguard the extraordinary biodiversity of our Territories.”

The project to bring frigate birds back to Ascension Island has been a 10-year collaboration involving the RSPB with Wildlife Management International Ltd, the Ascension Island Government (in particular, seabird restoration fieldworkers: Raymond Benjamin, Adrian Bowers, Darren Roberts, Stedson Stroud, Anselmo Pelembe, Tara Pelembe, Dane Wade, Nathan Fowler, Richard White), many volunteers, the Army Ornithological Society, and Ascension Island Government Environmental Health (Kevin Williams and team for rodent control).

Funding for RSPB’s work on Ascension has come from the FCO, Defra’s Darwin fund, and the European Union.

A team of scientists has launched a satellite tracking program that monitors rare Ascension frigatebirds in an effort to better understand where the species goes when foraging at sea. The tracking data collected by the research project can be viewed at The project is set to run for two years and is funded by the Darwin Initiative, University of Exeter and Ascension Island Government Conservation Department.

Christmas Island Frigatebird: here.

British colonial bases for war against Iran?

This video says about itself:

6 August 2007

Chagossian refugees are appealing to Prime Minister Gordon Brown to make a decision on their right to return to their islands.

They were expelled four decades ago by Britain from their tropical archipelago. This happened during the Cold War to make way for a U.S. military base on the island of Diego Garcia. The base has since been used for military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In May, Britain’s High Court dismissed an appeal by the Foreign Office against the Chagossians’ return, saying the right to go home was “one of the most fundamental liberties known to human beings”.

Jacques Aristide takes a closer look at the Chagossians’ struggle to go back to their homeland.

By Peter Symonds:

US sought use of British bases for war against Iran

27 October 2012

The British-based Guardian newspaper reported Thursday that American diplomats have been lobbying Britain for the use of its military bases on Cyprus as well as US bases on the British territories of Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for war on Iran.

The US request points to a massive military buildup against Iran. The Pentagon has already stationed two aircraft carrier battle groups in or near the Persian Gulf, along with additional minesweepers and a specialised floating base that could be used to launch special forces operations inside Iran. A squadron of advanced F-22 fighters has also been moved to the region.

Access to the bases on Cyprus, Ascension Island and Diego Garcia would significantly boost the ability of the US air force to wage round-the-clock strikes against Iran.

The British government has, to date, rebuffed the Pentagon, significantly pointing out that an unprovoked US attack on Iran could be illegal under international law, as Tehran did not currently represent “a clear and present threat”.

British officials have cited advice drafted by the attorney general’s office that has been circulated to the Prime Minister’s office, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence. A senior government official told the Guardian: “The UK could be in breach of international law if it facilitated what amounted to a pre-emptive strike on Iran. It is explicit.”

Like the US-led illegal invasion of Iraq, the Obama administration is preparing to launch a war of aggression against Iran. This was the chief crime for which Nazi leaders were tried and convicted at Nuremberg following World War II.

That Iran is not “a clear and present threat” also punctures the steady buildup of propaganda in the US and international media about the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.

WikiLeaks reveals how West’s Iran war drive was undermined: here.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn warned the People’s Assembly that Britain could be dragged into a devastating war with Iran: here.

The Other Lobby: Newspapers of Persian Gulf Oil Monarchies Condemn US-Iran Rapprochement: here.