Book Review: The Wind Riders #1-Rescue on Turtle Beach

Wind Riders #1 by Jen Marlin, illustrated by Izzy Burton

The Wind Riders #1: Rescue on Turtle Beach by Jen Marlin and illustrated by Izzy Burton

This is a chapter book for ages 6-10 years old. The series’ premise is that Max and Sofia come across a magical boat that takes them places where they can help animals.

In this book, Max and Sofia end up in Hawaii. They help newly hatched baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean. They do this during the day. After helping one hatchling make it to the ocean, Max, Sofia and their new friend Laila figure out the best way to help the babies is to turn on the lighthouse light. 

That’s because baby sea turtles usually hatch at night to avoid predators. They use the moonlight shining off the ocean to figure out which way to go. But the hotel on the beach is having a party that will confuse the baby turtles.  Will Max, Sophia and Laila make it on time to help the hatchlings? Read Wind Riders #1 to find out!

I really liked the premise of this chapter book series. I liked having a magical boat to take them on adventures around the world. No time passed back home, just like the Magic Treehouse series. But this book has an animal and ocean theme. The characters are likable and believable. The story is well-paced and includes accurate scientific facts in the text and backwater.

Fans of the Magic Treehouse, Magic Schoolbus, and Zoey & Sassafras books will like this science adventure series, currently at 4 books. They’ll be eager to read Wind Riders #2: Search for the Scarlet Macaws, Wind Riders #3: Shipwreck in Seal Bay and Wind Riders #4: Whale Song of Puffin Cliff. I encourage you to buy through your favorite independent bookstore at bookshop.org and here is a list of all the books I’ve reviewed: https://bookshop.org/lists/ocean-of-hope-blog-books-reviewed/            

Turtles of the Midnight Moon: Book Review

“Turtles of the Midnight Moon” by Maria José Fitzgerald is an enchanting middle grade eco-mystery about two 12-year-old girls who form a friendship despite being from different countries and cultures. Sea turtle lovers will rejoice to see their beloved animals take center stage. Those who know nothing about sea turtles will come away with a boatload of information about the largest of the 7 species of sea turtles, the leatherback sea turtle.

Abby, from the U.S., and her doctor father go visit his homeland in Honduras. Abby is still grieving after her best friend moved away, and she doesn’t fit in at school. But she loves taking pictures and that keeps her involved in school.

Her counterpart in Honduras, Barana, has a moon-shaped scar that perfectly matches the scar on the shell of Luna, a leatherback sea turtle. She shares a special bond with this turtle, and her scar hurts when Luna is nearby (i.e. laying eggs on the beach near where she lives).

Barana loves the sea turtles and helps an adult in charge of them, Maria, patrol the nesting beach and guard nests. Both girls are wary of each other at first-Barana just wants to protect the sea turtles and get out of her chores, and Abby want to explore on her own with her camera. But they bond over their shared creativity-Barana draws and writes poetry while Abby is a photographer.

Abby and Barana also bond over concern for the sea turtles. One of Luna’s nests survives a storm, but her other nests are no match for poachers. The girls need solve the mystery of who the poachers are and bring them to justice if they’re going to save any of Luna’s eggs.

“Turtles of the Midnight Moon” is written from a dual point-of-view. It is engaging and kept my interest. I’m a marine biologist and I found it to be scientifically accurate. I’m glad I’m studying Spanish but there were phrases here and there that weren’t translated fully in the context of the story. The gist of the Spanish is there, but footnotes or a glossary would be nice. But there’s always google translate (though that takes away from the flow of the story).

Otherwise, it’s well-paced with the right amount of mystery and magic to keep you reading. Besides being an eco-mystery, it’s also a book about friendship and family as well as the complications that those relationships bring.

Budding conservationists will love this book, and those who aren’t (yet!) will come away with an appreciation of our ancient sea turtles.

For more on sea turtles, see https://oceanofhope.net/10-fabulous-facts-about-sea-turtles/

Meet Bumpy the Leatherback Sea Turtle

leatherback sea turtle
Bumpy the Leatherback Sea Turtle was re-caught!

Hello, I’m Bumpy, a Western Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle. The largest of all the 7 species of sea turtles, I migrate across the Pacific Ocean (from Asia to California, USA, over 6,000 miles!!) feasting on jellies.

Recently I had a strange adventure. I was happily swimming along looking for jellies to eat when bam! I couldn’t swim any longer. Something was tied behind my shoulders. Soon I was pulled out of the water. I hadn’t been out of the water since I was a hatchling racing towards the ocean after busting out of my egg shell! The water usually buoys me up, but man have I put on some weight (1,419 pounds to be exact).

Then again, maybe I have been out of the water since. Scientists recognized me from when they pulled me out of the water in 2016 to weigh and measure me. They named me Bumpy for the marks on my carapace (soft-shelled back) that I got from some ship strikes. Now that’s a story for another time.
I’m probably 20-25 years old, but who’s counting? I’m only halfway through my life, assuming I survive the perils ahead of me. Ships can strike leatherback sea turtles at the surface because we’re hard to see (I’m case in point).

We can get tangled in fishing gear, be illegally poached (our eggs especially) or have reduced nesting sites in places such as Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Don’t get me started on all the plastic in the ocean, especially because I can’t tell the difference from a plastic bag full of water or a jelly full of water.

Like most large animals in the ocean, we can be by-catch from different fisheries. Gill nets are very thin nets made of almost transparent monofilaments that are stretched out for miles. Big fish, like swordfish are targeted but any animal that runs into the net including sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and seabirds get caught. They drown because they can’t get to the surface for air (like me) or because they can’t swim anymore to breathe (like sharks).

After taking biological samples from me (ow!) the scientists fitted me with new acoustic and satellite tags. They’re a drag, so to speak, but worth it to my kind if scientists can learn enough about us to help save our remaining population.

Unfortunately I’m endangered and our Western Pacific population has declined by 80% in the last 30 years. Scientists estimate that only 55 leatherback sea turtles return to the coast of California now.

My ancestors are 100 million years old—older than the dinosaurs but alas, we cannot contend with all the problems humans throw our way.

Fortunately in California (but not the rest of the world) there are rules that protect us from getting potentially entangled in fishing gear. The Dungeness crab fishery is “delayed indefinitely” due to our presence. Sorry to all you crab-eating humans out there, but I appreciate your patience as we feast on jellies in the area!

This post was inspired by this San Francisco Chronicle article, “Researchers encountered a 1,419 pound leatherback sea turtle off California coast. Turns out they’ve met him before.”

For more on sea turtles, check out 10 Fabulous Facts about Sea Turtles

Duffy the Sea Turtle: Children’s Picture Book Review

Duffy's Lucky Escape children's book
Duffy’s Lucky Escape children’s picture book

“Duffy’s Lucky Escape,” by Ellie Jackson and Liz Oldmeadow, is a children’s picture book about a sea turtle. She lives on a colorful coral reef. Duffy was minding her own business when a storm came and washed her out to sea. There her adventure with trash in the ocean began…unknown to her she eats some plastic (sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellies). Fortunately she is rescued, rehabilitated, and eventually released back where she belongs.

“Duffy’s Lucky Escape” is based on real events. It is a charming children’s book that gently teaches kids about garbage in the oceans and the dangers that it poses to wildlife.

The illustrations are beautiful and colorful. They are realistic, but still cartoony as you’d expect from a children’s picture book. There are facts about sea turtles at the end as well as ways children can help ocean wildlife such as Duffy. For instance, everyone can use less plastic by using a reusable water bottle instead of single use water bottles and also not use plastic straws.

I highly recommend this book for any school-aged child—it would make a great addition to any library. It teaches in a gentle way, and it has actionable tips so children feel empowered to help ocean wildlife.

There are other Wild Tribe Heroes books. “Marli’s Tangled Tale” is about a puffin who gets tangled in a balloon from a balloon release. Another is “Nelson’s Dangerous Dive” about a whale who gets trapped in fishing nets. A newly released book is “Buddy’s Rainforest Rescue” about an orangutan and palm oil.

For more information, visit Wild Tribe Heroes

Children’s Book Review: On Kiki’s Reef by Carol L. Malnor and illustrated by Trina L. Hunner

Children's book On KIki's Reef by Carol L. Malnor and illustrated by Trina L. Hunner
On KIki’s Reef by Carol L. Malnor and illustrated by Trina L. Hunner

On Kiki’s Reef (Dawn Publications, 2014) is a delightful children’s picture book about the life cycle of a sea turtle.

Along the way, Kiki meets animals on a coral reef. This book is aimed at lower elementary school grades (4-8 years old). Its ample backmatter will appeal to older children, and to parents who can explain it to their young child.

This book is considered fiction, probably because Kiki has a name and the story is told from her point-of-view in the third person. I would consider it informational fiction because real facts are scattered throughout the 755 word book.

Kiki starts off as a hatchling scurrying to the ocean after hatching on the beach. A page later she is already six years old! This is okay because sea turtles’ life cycles are long (she won’t lay eggs until she’s older than 20 years old) and this is just a picture book!

She “meets” coral, clownfish and the colorful fish (tangs and wrasses) that clean her shell of algae. I won’t give away all the animals she meets, which by the way she never talks to, but she even meets a human diver.

Then the book is over when she lays her eggs on the beach where she was born.

The backmatter includes more information on all the creatures mentioned or pictured in the book, and “Carol’s Teaching Treasures,” which includes the author’s activities for kids, web links and book suggestions.

The backmatter invites repeated readings, as children will be searching for all the critters mentioned.

Overall I recommend this book to all elementary school aged children who want to be introduced to not only sea turtles, but to the other denizens of the coral reef.

What Type of Fish is Dory in Finding Dory?


What type of fish is Dory from the Finding Nemo and Finding Dory movies?

What type of fish is Dory and her parents?

Dory and her parents are Yellow Tail Blue Tangs or Blue Hippo Tangs or Pacific Blue Tangs or Palette Surgeonfish. Her Mom’s name is Jenny and her Dad’s name is Charlie.

What type of fish are Marlin and Nemo?

They are Ocellaris or False Percula Clownfish or Clown Anemonefish.

What kind of sea turtles are Crush and Squirt?

They are Green Sea Turtles, one of 7 species of sea turtles. Green sea turtles were named green for the fat on their body, not the color of their shells or skin.

What kind of ray is Mr. Ray?

He is a Spotted Eagle Ray. Fortunately he’s not the type of Stingray shown migrating in the movie or else he’d be leaving his students behind! There is a specific kind of ray known as the Golden Cownose Ray that may migrate in groups of up to 10,000!

What kind of whale is Bailey?

Bailey is a Beluga Whale. Belugas are often called the “canaries of the sea” because of their vocalizations. Their (squishy) fat-filled melons (heads) are supposed to help with echolocation, the sonar that many whales use in the ocean.

what type of fish is Dory, Finding Dory, Destiny, Dory, Whale Shark
Dory and Destiny the Whale Shark from Finding Dory Photo: © Disney Pixar 2016

What kind of fish is Destiny?

Destiny is a Whale Shark. It’s cute that she and Dory knew each other and can speak whale, but Destiny is a Shark, not a Whale! She’s the largest shark in the ocean, but only eats tiny plankton with her cavernous mouth. Whale Sharks do have poor eyesight because their eyes are so tiny compared to their bodies, but they are not clumsy. Anyone who has snorkeled with Whale Sharks know they can turn on a dime to avoid swimming into you!

What kind of octopus is Hank?

Hank is a generic octopus. Octopuses are masters of camouflage and many can turn orange like Hank. He is actually missing an arm, so he’s a “septopus.” In real life, the octopus would grow any missing arms back. There are so many neurons in a severed octopus arm that it can move and hunt on its own!

What kind of Sea Lions are Rudder and Fluke?

Sea Lions are probably California Sea Lions. I’m guessing they are California Sea Lions because part of the movie takes place off of California. If they were both male, then they could be found off of Pier 39 in San Francisco where bachelor males hang out and entertain tourists.

What kind of Sea Otters are the baby Sea Otters?

The baby Sea Otters are oh so cute! They are probably Southern Sea Otters, mainly found off the California coast. Sea otters don’t stand up on their hind legs like river otters do, and they couldn’t climb up the poles to the freeway! In some press pictures, it looks like there are baby sea otters in a group. There would never be a group of babies together because a wild Sea Otter pup stays with Mom 24/7 and they rarely socialize with other mother/pup pairs. Even surrogate Sea Otter Moms at the Monterey Bay Aquarium only take care of one pup at a time!

What type of bird is Becky?

I speculate Becky is a Pacific Loon. Loons may mate for life! They eat mainly fish, crustaceans, and insects.

I loved seeing Finding Dory and here is my review!

For more images of the movie visit Finding Dory Images at collider.com
or
side-by-side (Finding Dory image vs. real animal images) at Mother Nature Network’s Meet the Real Animals Behind Finding Dory

Click here for The Real Fish of Finding Nemo
Click here for The Real Fish (and Sharks!) of Finding Nemo Part 2

10 Fabulous Facts About Sea Turtles

green sea turtle Monterey Bay Aquarium
Green Sea Turtle at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Photo by: Cherilyn Jose

1. Sea Turtles are reptiles that breathe air.

2. There are 7 species of Sea Turtles: Kemp’s Ridley, olive Ridley, flatback, hawksbill, loggerhead, green and leatherback.

3. The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest turtle and heaviest reptile on the planet. It can grow up to 8 feet long (2.4 m) and weigh 1 ton or 2,000 pounds (907 kg).

4. Sea Turtles have been around longer than the dinosaurs (150 million years ago versus dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago).

5. The temperature of a Sea Turtle nest determines whether a Sea Turtle will be a girl or boy. The warmer part of the nest produces females, and the cooler part of the nest produces males.

6. As few as 1 in 4,000 hatchling Sea Turtles will reach adulthood to reproduce.

7. Some Sea Turtles mistake plastic bags floating in the ocean for jellyfish and eat them. Other threats to Sea Turtles include being entangled in fishing gear, disease, light and oil pollution, and habitat loss.

8. Some Sea Turtle females lay their eggs on the same beach they were born on.

9. Sea Turtles can hold their breath for up to 6 hours when resting underwater.

10. Sea Turtles can live up to 100 years old.

The 3 Most Pressing Ocean Issues for World Oceans Day

dried shark fins photo by Paul Hilton
Actress Sharon Kwok and 30,000 dried shark fins in Hong Kong: photo by Paul Hilton

This World Oceans Day I would like to reflect on the state of the oceans. There are 3 major issues facing the oceans. They are (in no particular order):

1. Overfishing
2. Climate Change
3. Pollution

1.Overfishing

*It is estimated that 90% of all large fish (and many smaller species) have been fished out of the oceans.

*According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 53% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, and 32% are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion.

Fishing can be too efficient with entire schools of fish being caught at once. Fishing can also be incredibly wasteful with by-catch such sea turtles, whales, and sharks when only one fish is being sought (like tuna).

Shark finning is a prime example of overfishing. It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed a year. They are killed mainly for their fins, which is used to make shark fin soup. Sharks are top level predators, and their naturally low numbers in the wild reflect that. As a consequence, they are slow to reproduce and cannot keep up with the current levels of fishing.


2.Climate Change

Climate change includes global warming, sea level rise, and ocean acidification.

Global warming will cause the oceans to become warmer, and may substantially change ocean circulation patterns. This may disrupt natural feeding cycles and may affect the weather. Some ocean species, like coral, only have a narrow range of temperature tolerance and will die if the oceans become too warm.

Global warming will cause polar ice caps to melt, and sea level will rise accordingly. Some island nations will be flooded out of existence.

Ocean acidification occurs when the pH of the seawater decreases and becomes more acidic (think soda pop). This is because the oceans absorb about a quarter of all carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere. Ocean acidification will make it harder for some animals to build their calcium based shells, and cause many species to go extinct. Ocean acidification has other deleterious effects that are just being discovered.

sea turtle eating plastic
Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish: photo by dep.state.fl.us

3.Pollution

Pollution can come in many forms, like untreated sewage, agricultural runoff, or sedimentation. The worst offender by far is plastic pollution. Every imaginable bit of plastic ends up in the oceans one way or another. From plastic bags, to unidentifiable microscopic bits, ocean denizens at all levels of the food chain are affected.

Possible Solutions
While the outlook for the three problems mentioned sound bleak, there is hope.

*Marine protected areas (MPAs) can help fisheries become sustainable by being a nursery for the fish caught right outside the MPA borders. Unfortunately only 1% of the oceans are protected.

*You can help by eating only sustainably caught seafood. Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide as a start.

*Curbing carbon dioxide emissions (i.e. using less fossil fuel) by using other alternative energies will help tremendously in slowing down ocean acidification.

*Driving less and using public transportation are ways to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also consider getting solar power for your home or workplace.

*Plastic pollution is preventable, especially by cutting down the use of single use plastic bags (bring your own bags to the grocery store!), and by supporting local plastic bag bans. We can also pressure manufacturers to use only recyclable packaging.

So this World Oceans Day, please realize that everyday each one of us can make a difference in the health of our oceans!

10 Endangered Ocean Animals: Happy Endangered Species Day!

Hector's Dolphin
Maui's Dolphin photo by WWF/Will Rayment

10 Endangered Marine Animals

1. Maui’s Dolphin: found off of New Zealand, only 55 individuals remain

2. Northern Right Whale: found in Atlantic Ocean, only 350 individuals remain

3. Vaquita: small dolphin found off of Baja Peninsula, Mexico, 500-600 remain

4. Mediterranean (less than 400 remain) and Hawaiian Monk Seals (approximately 1100 remain)

5. Sea Turtles: 6 or the 7 species of sea turtles are endangered (Green, Hawksbill, Kemp’s Ridley, Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Olive Ridley)

6. Staghorn Coral: has declined by 98% in the Caribbean since 1980

7. Beluga Sturgeon: hunted for their caviar (eggs), 1100 remain in the Caspian Sea

8. Coelacanth: an ancient order of fishes, considered the most endangered order in the world

9. Southern Sea Otter: up to 2,300 individuals remain

10. Bluefin Tuna: as few as 25,000 mature individuals remain

Disclaimer: There are hundreds of ocean species that are endangered (1,000’s if you consider the animals and plants we have yet to discover). I chose the top ten endangered species that I felt people might have heard of.

UPDATE: As of May 2015 less than 100 Vaquita remain

Sources: allaboutwildlife.com
marineinsight.com
World Wildlife Fund
wonders-world.com
Smithsonian Ocean Portal

Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day in California

pacific leatherback sea turtle is California’s official marine reptile
Leatherback Sea Turtle (photo by Mark Cotter)

I’m Tuga, and I’m a Pacific leatherback sea turtle. Today in California (October 15) is Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Conservation Day (note: it officially starts in 2013)! That is because I am now California’s official marine reptile! To boot, earlier this year 42,000 square miles of ocean off the West Coast of the United States (off California, Oregon, and Washington) was designated as a protected area for us leatherback sea turtles!

How appropriate California is celebrating my kind, as right now I am off the coast of California feasting on jellies (jellyfish). I just completed my annual 6,000 mile migration across the Pacific Ocean from my nesting beach in Indonesia.

I am one of seven species of sea turtles. I am the largest, at up to 7.2 feet (2.2 m) and 1,500 pounds (700 kg). I am the only sea turtle without a true shell. Instead I have thick leathery skin on my back, hence my name “leatherback!”

I am among the deepest diving marine animals, as I can reach depths of 4,200 feet (1,280 m), and hold my breath for over an hour! The deepest known diver is the Cuvier’s beaked whale, which can dive to 6,500 feet (2,000 m) deep. Elephant seals can dive to 5,000 feet (1,500 m) deep for over two hours.

I also challenge the notion that turtles are slow, as I can swim as fast as 21.92 miles per hour (35.28 kph)!

Six (of seven) species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered. There are only a few hundred of us leatherbacks off the West Coast of the United States. Sea turtles all around of the world are in peril because of:

1. destructive and wasteful fishing methods like long lining (we end up as bycatch)

2. poaching of sea turtle eggs from nesting beaches

3. loss of nesting beaches due to development

4. light pollution, which confuses hatchlings using moonlight to find the ocean

5. plastic pollution

Plastic pollution is the most insidious: a dead sea turtle was found with 74 pieces of trash in its stomach, most of it plastic. 260 million tons of plastic a year finds its way into the ocean, and many animals ingest it, especially us jelly loving sea turtles. Plastic bags suspiciously look like jellies to us, and we can’t help but eat it.

You can help by “precycling,” which means avoiding buying plastic to begin with. If you do buy something in plastic, please recycle it! Also bring your own reusable bags to the store in order to avoid using single use plastic bags that often end up in the ocean. All wildlife in the ocean thanks you for your help! You can make a difference everyday!

For more information on sea turtles, visit Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

For information on sea turtle ecotourism visit SEE turtles.

Sign petition to protect sea turtles from deadly drift gill nets