Farmed Fish vs. Wild Fish

Photo: Flickr/Northwest Power and Conservation Council

What’s the difference between farmed and wild fish? Photo: Flickr/Northwest Power and Conservation Council

Fish is a lean protein that’s a major source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, important vitamins such as calcium and iron, and essential minerals like magnesium and phosphorus. Studies have shown that including fatty fish in your diet is excellent for heart health and brain health. But not all servings of fish are created equal — the provided health benefits can be dependent on where the fish spent its life swimming.

Fish farming, or aquaculture, is a practice that has become popular in recent decades due to its manageability and an increasing demand for seafood. Fish are raised commercially in enclosures, commonly in the form of net pens in offshore coastal saltwater or freshwater environments, to eventually be sold for food. Aquaculture has been a valuable innovation and is largely why fish and other seafood are consistently available for our consumption.

While farmed fish can help with the problem of overfishing and can cut down on distance traveled to your plate, they also have a greater risk of disease, larger concentrations of toxins, and the potential to negatively impact local ecology.

Pollutants like polychlorated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins are released into coastal waters by way of land runoff and thus are in highest concentrations in near-shore areas where most fish farming takes place. As a result, farmed fish commonly contain significantly higher concentrations of these harmful pollutants compared with wild fish.

Why? Imagine you’re in an airplane with one flu-ridden passenger. By the end of the flight, other passengers are likely to have caught the flu as well. Farmed fish are in a similar situation when kept in enclosures like net pens — the high density of fish in a small area keeps them in constant contact with one another, allowing disease to spread easily.

Salmon has heart-healthy benefits — but it can also have contaminants. Photo: Flickr/Gwen

Salmon has heart-healthy benefits — but it can also have contaminants. Photo: Flickr/Gwen

Farmed fish are fed pellets usually made from grain or other plant material. It turns out that the reason why fish is high in healthy omega-3s is due to their diet in the wild. Therefore, farmed fish tend to have significantly lower concentrations of omega-3s. The food pellets at these farms are also inefficient in terms of energy and resources; it takes more energy to produce enough pellets to feed farmed fish than the fish will provide as food themselves. Wild fish are easier on the environment due to their self-sustaining dietary habits and contributions to the local ecosystem.

Another problem stemming from fish farming is escapees. Individual fish have been reported escaping from net pens, exposing themselves to wild fish populations where they can spread diseases or even out-compete them. The Atlantic salmon is an example of a farmed fish that may out-compete its wild neighbors; the superior size gives it an advantage in finding food and warding off predators. Atlantic salmon are commonly farmed on the West Coast of the U.S. in coastal net pens, so an escapee could certainly be detrimental for the local wild Pacific salmon.

When you’re choosing your seafood, consider the source — for now, sustainably harvested wild fish are likely to be the best option both for your health and that of the environment.

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Reducing Red Meat

Photo: Flickr/Ronald Sarayudej

How much red meat is in your diet? Photo: Flickr/Ronald Sarayudej

If you’re like many Americans, eating healthier was one of your New Year’s resolutions. Now that 2015’s in full swing, you may have strayed from the goal, but there’s one easy way to get back on track: Cut down on your red meat consumption.

Instead of a burger at lunch, try a plant-based meal like green salad, hearty pasta, or vegetarian soup. Why? It’s good for your health — red meat is full of saturated fats and LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease — and the health of the planet.

The meat industry is responsible for a massive amount of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane are released from the industrial machinery, processing equipment, and even the animals themselves. According to the UN, raising livestock is one of the most significant contributors to global environmental issues, accounting for about 9 percent of human-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Eating animals is inefficient in terms of energy resources, too: Producing 1 pound of meat requires 16 pounds of grain. That meat could provide meals for about five people in America — however, the 16 pounds of grain could feed many more. If we skipped the meat and ate the grain instead, we would be using our resources much more efficiently. After all, consuming an animal means consuming all the food and water that animal consumed during its lifetime as well.

Not only do livestock use up food and water, but they can even degrade land. When raising livestock, it’s important to carefully manage grazing areas in order to maintain self-sustaining land. Many industrial farms don’t manage their land properly, leading to overgrazing by the livestock and, consequently, no more green grass for the animals. Once the land is overgrazed, livestock must be moved to a new area where grass is able to grow. This area, in turn, also becomes overgrazed and more and more land is degraded.

Becoming a vegetarian isn’t the only solution, though. By choosing a plant-based lunch, you can save 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, 133 gallons of water, and 24 square feet of land, according to data from the PB&J Campaign. If you’re a born-and-bred brisket eater or hog wild about hot dogs, start with Meatless Monday, a global movement encouraging everyone to skip meat one day a week — even that makes a big difference.

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Dolphin Facts from Dolphin Blue

As the namesake of Dolphin Blue, here are a few fun facts about dolphins:

  • They can jump up to 30 ft.
  • They can have between 80 – 250 teeth
  • Dolphins can consume up to 30 lbs of fish per day
  • They have the ability to hear 10 times better than humans
  • Dolphins live in social groups from five to several hundred
  • Their pregnancies can last from 9-17 months depending on species
  • They can live up to 60 years
  • Dolphins communicate using clicks, whistles, and other vocalizations

To get an idea of how all of these skills work together in tandem, take a look at southern Africa’s sardine run that occurs every year between May and July. Each summer hoards of sardines swim north along the African coast where dolphins, sharks, and other wildlife wait to feed on them. Earth-Touch created this infographic to visually illustrate how dolphins hunt during this unusual phenomenon, employing all of their many talents with great efficiency.

With all of these offensive capabilities, Dolphins are also able to successfully defend and kill attacking sharks. For instance, killer whales are the largest member of the dolphin family and routinely defend their pods from sharks, with sometimes only one whale versus several sharks. However, dolphins use their skills for more than their own gain; they seem to have a remarkable capability for altruism. There are several widely publicized stories of dolphins taking heroic action to save humans and even dogs.

But there’s more! It is theorized that dolphins have very high intelligence with their brain mass to body ratio rivaling that of humans. For instance, dolphins, elephants, and apes are the only animals tested that can recognize a reflection in a mirror by demonstrating preening behaviors. What divas!

It is important for us to keep the earth and the oceans clean to promote such fascinating aquatic wildlife. Check out our products for new ways to stay eco-friendly.

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Infographic Friday: March for Elephants

Elephants are being poached for their ivory at the highest rate ever recorded. Current estimates put the figure at 36,000 elephants killed annually, equating to one elephant dying every 15 minutes.

The International March for Elephants organized by iworry, a campaign by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, was created to sound a warning that the future survival of elephants is in serious jeopardy.

Elephants share the same emotions as humans. They have a strong sense of family and mourn the deaths of their loved ones, just as we do. Elephants have unique personalities like us, too! They can be playful or mischievous; they can even hold grudges.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has learned the beauty of elephants first hand and they have also witnessed the terrible impact of the renewed ivory poaching that we are seeing today. In just 18 days in September, they were called on to rescue 14 orphaned elephants. To date, they have arrested 1,406 poachers and their veterinary teams have successfully treated over 500 wounded elephants.

The International March for Elephants is demanding stronger laws and penalties associated with wildlife crime in countries where poaching and ivory trafficking occurs; increased levels of investment in anti-poaching initiatives by international governments; increased diplomatic pressure on countries where elephants live; and pressure on those nations that fuel the demand.

Learn more about The International March for Elephants and join the digital march to help protecting elephants now!

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A Whale’s Tale of Friendship

This past Sunday, Christina Callaghan shared a touching story. She is a guide for the Pirate’s Cove Whale Watch in Tiverton, Long Island and was out on her cruiser when she spotted a whale nearby. As she and her crew approached they realized that the whale was entangled in fishing ropes and lobster traps and was having trouble breathing. It’s a common and heartbreaking situation that whale watchers often come across, except this time it was a little different; this whale had a friend by her side!

The tangled female Humpback whale named Foggy was being kept company by her male Humpback friend Grommet. Foggy had ropes all over her body and was listing to one side because of the weight of lobster traps she was dragging beneath her. Grommet was swimming next to Foggy, popping his head in and out of the water as if he were calling for help. He never left Foggy’s side. “I will challenge anyone who claims that humans are the only intelligent, empathetic animals”, Christina wrote.

Christina’s crew notified a whale disentanglement crew to free Foggy and waited for the fast rescue craft (FRC) to arrive. The FRC assessed the situation and carefully cut away the ropes that had trapped Foggy with their specially designed equipment. Foggy allowed the team to approach her and let them work to cut her free.

As the last rope was cut away from Foggy’s head, releasing her to freedom, Grommet dove deep into the ocean and then burst from the water in a beautiful breach. “Tell me that wasn’t a celebration”, wrote Christina.

The last they saw of the two whale friends, they were heading side by side up the Bay of Fundy. The whale watch guides and rescue crew were left with huge smiles on their faces. “I, and anyone who was there, will always remember Foggy’s rescue this afternoon”, Christina said.

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Dallas Zoo Creates Unlikely Trio

The Dallas Zoo has just become the new home to two male cheetah cubs named Kamau and Winspear. Some day they’ll be able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds but today they’re meeting their new best friend. To calm the naturally nervous and rambunctious cheetahs, animal care specialists are employing an effective tactic used by zoos; they’re pairing the cheetah cubs with a black labrador puppy.

The two month old lab puppy is named Amani, meaning peace in Swahili, and he will live with the cheetahs 24/7. According to the animal care specialists supervising their introduction, eventually the cheetahs will see the puppy as one of their own, or part of their “coalition”. The dog will be a calming influence on the big cats insuring that they are relaxed enough to be taken into public.

The cheetah cubs are now part of the Dallas Zoo’s Animal Adventures program designed to educate the public about highly endangered species. The traveling outreach program exposes audiences to 30 different animals including a variety of birds, mammals and reptiles. Cheetahs could use the exposure. With less than 10,000 cheetahs in the wild, it is extremely important to educate the public on the beauty of the cheetah and to inspire communities to help protect them.

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Sea Otters Saving the Coastlines

According to a recently published study from the University of California, Santa Cruz, endangered sea otters are playing an important role in protecting many vital aspects of the marine ecosystem. Sea otters feed on crabs, crabs who would otherwise eat the marine animals that clean sea grass of algae caused by agricultural run-off from farm pollution.

Thanks to the sea otters, those sea grass cleaning animals stay hard at work counteracting the harmful agricultural run-off affecting the health of costal ecosystems. The otters keep the crab numbers low allowing the sea grass to thrive, according to the UC Santa Cruz researchers. Species like herring, cod, and salmon use sea grass as nurseries, therefore the more sea grass they have access to the more their numbers will thrive.

The appetite of the sea otter is also helping to keep sea urchin numbers low. Sea urchins prey on giant kelp, but since the giant kelp has been able to grow, it is able to act as a shelter to many marine species and also help combat global warming by absorbing 12 times more carbon dioxide than if it was not being protected from sea urchins.

Southern sea otters were nearly hunted to extinction from the 18th to early 20th century when they were sought after for their thick fur. A small population survived in the Big Sur area of California and now their numbers have slowly recovered to approximately 2,800 in the area. Sea otters are just one of the many vital aspects of our marine ecosystem and one more reason it is so important to protect our endangered animals and assist in their recovery with federal protections and activism.

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6 Natural Ways to Keep Your Home & Garden Pest Free

Catnip

Most cats adore catnip but this herb has been found to be very effective in repelling mosquitoes.

There are many ways to keep your home and garden pest free this summer without the use of harmful chemicals found in common pesticides. Check out Dolphin Blue‘s eco-friendly solutions below and let us know what you think!

  • Basil. Keep flies away by planting this great smelling herb in small pots along windowsills and doorways. Don’t forget to keep some of your basil in the kitchen in case you need to add some to your next meal.
  • Catnip. Add some of your cat’s favorite plant to your garden to keep mosquitoes away. Studies have shown that catnip can repel mosquitoes more effectively than the controversial pesticide DEET. You can also crush the leaves and rub them directly on your skin for added protection.
  • Citrus. Mix fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice with water and spray along your windowsills and doorways to keep out pesky spiders. Spread the remaining citrus peels out in your garden to keep spiders at bay.
  • Vinegar. Fill a small dish with vinegar, a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap, and water to trap and kill fruit flies. You can also use vinegar to create a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water to wipe along surfaces in order to destroy the scent trails that ants use to navigate.
  • Cinnamon Bark Oil. Mix several drops of this essential oil in a 1:1 solution of water and denatured alcohol to help control dust mites in your home. Spray the mixture wherever dust collects.
  • Irish Spring Soap. You can hang, spike or sprinkle this soap near the areas of your yard that fall prey to hungry deer. They don’t like the smell and will stay away from your tasty lettuce, beans, and pansies.

Dolphin Blue’s lawn and garden section is ripe with sustainable products for your indoor and outdoor garden. Check them out on DolphinBlue.com!

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Shark Facts to Sink Your Teeth Into

Megalodon

Dr. Jeremiah Clifford holds the jaws of a large great white shark while standing in the reconstructed jaws of a megalodon.

Last week, you may have tuned in to Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week which kicked off with a two-hour documentary titled, “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives”. The megalodon, a prehistoric shark from the Miocene era, could grow more than 50 feet long and dwarf even the largest great white shark swimming in today’s ocean. Unfortunately, Discovery Channel’s megalodon documentary was more of a mockumentary in the sense that its scientist were really actors and the 67 foot long megalodon they were chasing (nicknamed Submarine) was not really terrorizing folks off the coast of South Africa because megalodons haven’t existed for millions of years.

This year’s Shark Week has sparked a bit of controversy with its Reality TV feel. So if you’ve been wanting more bite for your buck, keep reading to learn some little known facts about sharks.

  1. Sharks don’t hunt humans. Sharks are highly-specialized predators whose feeding strategies evolved long before humans entered the water. With over 350 shark species around today, fewer than 10 are considered dangerous to humans.
  2. Sharks can detect electrical fields. Special organs in their snouts enable them to pick up electrical pulses emitted from the muscle movements or beating hearts of potential prey.
  3. Female sharks can impregnate themselves. Through a form of asexual reproduction called parthenogenesis, shark embryos can grow and develop without fertilization.
  4. Sharks rarely get sick. Shark tissues have anticoagulant and antibacterial properties which scientists are studying in the hopes of discovering treatments for various medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis and forms of cancer.
  5. Humans are a shark’s most dangerous predator. Scientists have estimated that for every 1 human killed by a shark, there are 25 million sharks killed by humans.

An alarming number of sharks are killed every hour due to the gruesome act of shark finning and the harmful effects of bycatching in fishing equipment. The shark is a vital ocean predator that plays a huge part in balancing our delicate marine ecosystem. Learn how you can stop shark finning and get involved in shark conservation efforts.

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Exciting Eco-Eating: The Down & Dirty On Edible Insects

The U.N. recently released a report extolling the virtues of edible insects as an environmentally responsible alternative to meat as a source of protein and other nutrients.  With their high fat, protein, fiber, and mineral contents, edible insects certainly pack a healthy punch! What’s even better is that the cost to our environment to raise insects for consumption is far less than the impact of raising large livestock for meat.

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Even though entomophagy, or the act of eating insects, hasn’t quite caught on in the West (yet!), in many other countries around the world, bugs are eaten with gusto and are often considered a delicacy. So, why should you add bugs to your menu?

The Problem: Meat is Unsustainable
Relying on large livestock (cattle, pigs, and chickens, for example) for one’s primary source of protein means one must rely on highly inefficient, greenhouse-gas-producing, and sometimes cruel practices to obtain nutrients. Not to mention the health problems associated with consuming too much meat.  With the world’s population growing at an incredible rate and the demand for food rising along with it, having enough land to support both people and large livestock will soon become an issue, as well. All this is why many have said that producing and consuming as much livestock as we do is not sustainable.

But, you’re not willing to go cold turkey on your meat and go vegetarian? Why not try substituting meat with insects every now and then? All the nutrients, none of the burden on our environment.

Edible Insects: Less is More
Insects are an eco-friendly food option for a simple reason: they need less—less food (some insects can be raised on human/animal waste, which reduces the possibility of environmental contamination and avoids wasting food that could be eaten by humans), less water, less space. They even release fewer greenhouse gases and ammonia than cows, pigs, and chickens.

Many insects’ feed conversion rates (the amount of feed it takes to put on 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight in an animal) are much lower than traditional meat sources. The feed conversion rates of crickets, chickens, pigs, and cows are shown below:

Crickets 3.7 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Chickens 5.5 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Pigs 11 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Cows 22 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain

Large livestock create a larger toll on the earth with problems ranging from habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and contamination from livestock and feed farms and farming practices. In general, insects are more efficient to farm and their impact on the environment is much less severe.

For something we spend so much time and money trying to exterminate, insects may actually be the first step to a solution to many of our world’s burgeoning social and environmental problems. All we have to do is get past those legs.

Creepy Crawly Recipes
Looking for some yummy ways to try bugs? Check out these sites, and add some environmentally conscious treats to your plate.

http://edibug.wordpress.com/recipes/
http://www.ent.iastate.edu/misc/insectsasfood.html
http://www.insectsarefood.com/recipes.html

For other ways to add a splash of green to your life, check out Dolphin Blue for sustainable office, home, and pet supplies.

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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