News & Events

Regional e-Notes: May Letter from the Director

May 30, 2019


As we begin the development cycle for the FY19 CTSA Plan of Work, my thoughts are focused on how we can best utilize our program to address serious issues that impact our planet, from food security to critical species restoration.

Earlier this month, several government agencies participated in Endangered Species Day, which is intended to bring awareness to the importance of protecting endangered species. This is a significant issue that we all need to consider because, as cautioned in a recent UN report, the extinction of various species may have serious consequences for human beings and the rest of life on Earth. The report discussed in the May 6 National Geographic article “One million species at risk of extinction, UN report warns,” is a wakeup call for all humans. We must do what we can to mitigate the major drivers of these extinctions, including overfishing and climate change.
As reported in another National Geographic article, “ocean species are disappearing faster than those on Land” (Christina Nunez, April 24, 2019). This is likely because marine animals are far more vulnerable to extinctions than their earthbound counterparts, according to a study of more than 400 cold-blooded species. With fewer ways to seek refuge from warming, ocean-dwelling species are disappearing from their habitats at twice the rate of those on land. The study, led by researchers from New Jersey’s Rutgers University and published in the journal Nature, is the first to compare the impacts of higher temperatures in the ocean and on land for a range of cold-blooded wildlife, from fish and mollusks to lizards and dragonflies. While previous research has suggested warm-blooded animals are better at adapting to climate change than cold-blooded ones, this study clarifies the heightened risk for sea creatures.

I am pleased to see community and industry leaders in Hawaii paying more attention to the importance of preserving our natural resources. Recently, the Directors and General Managers from Maui Ocean Center, Waikiki Aquarium, and Sea Life Park approached me to discuss how they can continue educating the public at their facilities without having any impact on natural populations. They would like to use aquaculture to close the life cycles of the aquatic species in their exhibitions, with the ultimate goal of achieving a sustainable supply chain. I applaud this group, who represent some of the largest aquarium-style facilities in the State of Hawaii, for taking the initiative to create positive solutions that can benefit the ocean as well as the entire aquarium industry. CTSA is pleased to assist them in putting together a strong team to achieve their goal. As the seas continue to absorb heat trapped in the atmosphere from carbon dioxide pollution, bringing waters to their warmest point in decades, we must develop innovative and realistic solutions to help retain and protect their biodiversity. I look forward to reading your ideas in this year’s Pre-Proposals!

Cheng-Sheng Lee, Ph.D.
Executive Director, CTSA