Dr. Gerry
Science

Dr. Gerry

Dr. Gerry Goeden

is a Malaysian based marine ecologist, Research Fellow and Adviser to the National University of Malaysia, and marine consultant to the Andaman Resort, Langkawi. Born in the USA he migrated to Australia where he worked on the Great Barrier Reef in fisheries research and marine park management. He is now 'semi-retired' and leads conservation projects in S.E. Asia.




Latest by Dr. Gerry

  • Antarctic Ice Collapsing; Sea To Rise

    The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, pictured here is collapsing. Early predictions are for a 3 metre rise in sea-level.

    Just over a month ago I was sitting somewhat bewildered at my desk and rereading two research papers about the antarctic ice collapsing. I had known about sea level rise for many years now but this was big news; the enormous West Antarctic ice shelf was melting and breaking up on a slow slide into the ocean.

    As it turns out glaciologist Terence Hughes had foreseen the disaster when he published “Is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Disintegrating?” back in 1973 (Journal of Geophysical Research). Hughes, now retired, was ‘old school’ and worked on the ice. Because access to this frozen continent is so difficult it has been nearly impossible to collect enough data to test his prediction.

    It was …


  • Shark Attacks; The Australian Story

    Andrea Lynch was one of the lucky survivors of a Florida shark attack. She required 100 stitches to repair the damage done by a Bull Shark.

    I’ve spent the last 40 years in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef and shark attacks were always a big concern. During the ‘early days’ I saw so many sharks that I included them in my census work just because they were all around me. In many places, sharks of all species averaged about 15 individuals per hectare of reef slope.

    I was always concerned about them following behind me as I was towed along the reef edge. I saw myself as an overgrown fishing lure and Australia’s reputation as the shark capital of the world didn’t settle my nerves during those long hours underwater.

    So how real is the case against sharks?

    According to the Australian Shark Attack …


  • World Ocean Day and eight kids

    With bamboo from the rainforest and grim determination, eight children set out to show the rest of the world what Ocean Day was all about.

    Another year had passed and concerned people were celebrating World Ocean Day on June 8th. We all depend on a healthy and clean ocean for our very survival and the latest scientific research is painting a dismal picture of things to come. Most of us know we need to act to turn around the damage caused by unwise use, pollution, and over fishing. But few of us do anything.

    This year’s World Ocean Day theme is, “Together we have the power to protect the ocean” and all over the globe small groups of people set out to make a difference.

    Perhaps the smallest but most well meaning effort was on the tiny island of Langkawi just a few kilometers from …


  • Shrimp Farming; Recipe for Disaster

    Shrimp trawling is one of the most destructive fisheries in the world.

    In my last post I was talking about one of the world’s most destructive fishing methods; bottom trawling for shrimp. This is the way most wild shrimp are caught and it has created an environmental disaster in terms of destruction of the seabed and what lives there. Bottom trawling has to end if we are to have sustainable fisheries in the future.But what about shrimp farming?

    Because catching shrimp has become more difficult, the world has quickly turned to shrimp farming as a way of meeting the accelerating demand. Today, about 90% of American shrimp is imported from Bangladesh, China, Thailand, and Vietnam where shrimp farming has become an art and environmental protection is almost non-existent.

    Commercial marine shrimp farming …


  • Should we stop shrimp fishing?

    I can still remember the excitement of running down the dock to buy a bucket of shrimp when the shrimp fishing boats returned.

    I grew up in Miami and the Florida Keys where shrimp fishing was ‘king’. I can still remember the excitement of running down the dock to buy a bucket of shrimp when the shrimp fishing boats returned (shrimp only came in buckets). My Mom seemed to have a hundred ways to cook shrimp and I loved all of them.

    I wasn’t alone. Forrest Gump’s friend “Bubba” had spent hours relating the uses of shrimp during the critically acclaimed 1994 movie starring Tom Hanks.

    Shrimp is highly valued and fished for in all the places I have lived. It’s a very popular food. In fact the world catch is about 3.4 million tonnes and much of this from Asia.

    But shrimp …


  • Thomson Reuters Coral Reef Rescue

    Where reefs are healthy, species diversity and fisheries production is high.

    It’s just on a month ago that staff at The Andaman Resort were preparing for the arrival of their biggest ever CSR group to join our coral reef rescue. Community and Social Responsibility (CSR) has become the latest team activity of concerned businesses around the world who realize that they do owe something to the environment and community that has contributed in part to their success.

    The group was the CEO Circle from the huge Thomson Reuters Corporation and the participants were all about getting things done and moving ahead. What was wonderful is that they had chosen the location for its incredible natural setting and geological history and, perhaps most significantly, the coral reef rescue program. They wanted to …


  • Sharks, whales, ivory, and drugs

    Tens of thousands of sharks are now being killed every hour of the day. Photo by Shawn Heinrichs.

    The Guardian reported (4TH April, 2014) that Japan’s biggest online retailer, Rakuten, will stop their whale meat and dolphin meat sales by the end of April after the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to immediately halt its annual whale hunts in the southern ocean.

    Rakuten said it had asked sellers to cancel sales of whale meat products on its website “in accordance” with the ICJ ruling. Monday’s verdict in the Hague. It should be pointed out that it did not cover whale meat sales within Japan, which are legal, or the country’s slaughter of whales in the north-west Pacific and in its own coastal waters.

    The decision by Rakuten comes soon after the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) exposed …


  • Deep Sea Mining; Digging a Hole We Can’t Get Out Of

    This weird deep sea angler fish lives at abyssal depths that exert pressures of 11,000 pounds per square inch.

    In May, 2013 the United Nations published its first plan for deep sea mining saying companies could apply for mining licenses as soon as 2016. To date the UN’s International Seabed Authority has issued 17 exploration permits with 7 more pending.

    “We are at the threshold of a new era of deep sea mining” said Michael Lodge, legal counsel for the ISA. An assessment of the Pacific Ocean has estimated more than 27 billion tonnes of rocks could be lying on its floor, including 290 million tonnes of copper and 340 million tonnes of nickel.

    The extraction of the rock ‘nodules’ – small mineral-rich rocks from the seabed, has been around as a concept for decades but deep sea mining …


  • Saving the World One Artificial Reef at a Time

    Mini-artificial reef modules become home for juvenile fish, crabs, and small invertebrates within days of being put in the sea.

    Ten years ago on December 26 the third largest earthquake in recorded history created a lethal tsunami that tore through Asia leaving behind an estimated 280,000 dead. It also reached far into the future by destroying coral reefs that are the ‘bread-basket’ of nearly 200 million people in this part of the world. Now artificial reef construction is turning the tide.

    My first blog with Epoch Times was August 3rd last year when I reported on the exciting work being done at Langkawi’s Andaman Resort. Titled “We’re Building a Reef for Our Children” the Epoch Times blog tracked the progress of the resort’s investigation into coral reef damage and their environmentally responsible response.

    First, they initiated a “coral clearing” program …


  • Leatherback Turtle Slips Toward Extinction

    A huge Leatherback drags itself ashore to lay eggs in a nest of sand it hopes will protect the young from predators.

    I saw my first Leatherback turtle in the Florida Keys long before that string of gorgeous islands became the foundation of endless high-rise buildings. It reminded me of a flattened car; it was huge!

    Leatherback turtles can grow to over 3 m long and weigh nearly 1,000 kg. Its front flippers can reach an amazing 2.7 m. They dive to depths of more than 1,000 m and can make trans-Pacific migrations from Indonesia to the U.S. Pacific coast and back again. Surprisingly, they are no larger than other sea turtles at hatching weighing in at only 46 g.

    More amazing is that these ancient giants that evolved about 110 million years ago feed almost exclusively on jellyfish. They follow their …


  • Climate Change, Me and Polar Bears; A Final Entry

    Am I watching the curtain call for the bears or an apocalypse in the making?

    In my last report about climate change I was looking at the plight of polar bears as their frozen habitat shrinks into oblivion. It’s all very sad but it is after all half a world away. I’m still OK, right?

    Actually it’s bad news for all of us. I live only a few hundred kilometres from the equator and will be among the hardest hit by this change to the Arctic Ice.

    Here’s why.

    Scientists say that the pattern of ocean circulation was radically altered in the past when climates were warmer. Ancient warm periods offer insights into future warming. The mid-Pliocene, 3 million years ago, was a period of global warmth that is often considered as an analogue for …


  • Global Warming, Me and Polar Bears

    As the Arctic ice cap shrinks the entire ecology of this fragile part of the world is shifting. Polar bears face an uncertain future as their habitat literally melts away.

    As the Arctic sea ice disappears due to global warming, so too will Polar Bears and the climate we know today.

    Sea ice scientists working in the Arctic say it’s not a question of “if” there will be nearly ice-free summers, but “when.” The news is that “when” is sooner than we thought — before 2050 and possibly within the next decade or two. Using three different modelling techniques they came up with an ice free Arctic by 2020, 2030, or 2050.

    James Overland and Muyin Wang, both of NOAA, published their extraordinary results in Geophysical Research Letters April 12, 2013.

    In another study from the Bjerknes Centre (January14, 2013) it was confirmed that Arctic sea ice is shrinking in …


  • Tipping Points and Shark Fin Soup

    This photo shows the most dangerous species on the planet. The other animal is the harmless whale shark, largest fish in the sea.

    I’ve spent most of my life working close to sharks. They were always a concern and I certainly have had a few moments when I doubted the sense in what I was doing. But now I’m concerned about what’s happening to sharks on a global scale. I’m concerned about tipping points and the shark fin soup industry.

    Why am I so upset? It was never fun swimming around in very deep water with Oceanic Whitetip sharks. Jacques Cousteau described them as “the most dangerous of all sharks”. Since those days there are very few left of what was once the most common large predator on earth. Cousteau’s “most dangerous of all sharks” are becoming the ‘most endangered of all sharks’.…


  • Are We Overfishing The Future of Sharks?

    A large tigershark circles a boat. Many of these sharks are now caught and killed only for 'sport'.

    I was recently bemoaning the sorry state of the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks and mentioned that there was just a Conference of the Parties (CITES) meeting in Bangkok about 6 months ago to look at shark protection. What was only a few years ago the most abundant large predator on Earth is now little more than a memory.

    I also made mention of the fine work of Dr. Shelley Clarke who estimated from market surveys that between 26 million and as many as 73 million sharks were harvested each year worldwide. Her best estimate was 38 million sharks killed annually.

    We may have had that wrong. On March 1, 2013, “Global Catches, Exploitation Rates and Rebuilding Options for Sharks,” was published …


  • The Mercury is Rising and So Too the Risks of Eating Mercury in Shark

    I always associate the phrase “rising mercury” with ‘skyrocketing’ temperatures. I grew up in the tropics in an age before digital thermometers. An increase in the height of that silvery column meant more unpleasantness ahead.

    But now scientists at Dartmouth University publishing in the journal Plos One have found that rising ocean water temperatures bring about an increase in the amount of mercury in fish.

    So how does this happen?

    Mercury is released into the air through industrial pollution. It falls with the rain in the many forms including methylmercury and is extremely toxic. Mercury isn’t the kind of material we want in our bodies; it hangs around for a long time and causes a variety of problems including damage …


  • Oceanic Whitetip Sharks Are Pushed Toward Extinction by Shark Finning

    I was being towed behind a small boat 150 km from shore and counting reef fish as part of my underwater surveys on the Great Barrier Reef. On one side of me the water was about 10 metres deep, bright and colorful with coral and fish and then it plunged down to nearly 1000 metres of icy darkness just beneath me.

    I’d had company since I first dived into the inky water. Just on the edge of my visibility a pair of Oceanic Whitetip Sharks, Carcharhinus longimanus, had followed my every move.

    All I could see of them was the silvery tips of their huge pectoral fins. Growing to four metres and 170 kg and considered responsible for most open …


  • Ghost Fishing and the Staggering Cost of Rubbish

    Not many people know what ‘ghost fishing’ is. It sounds scary and in fact is; but not for the reasons you might think.

    Ghost fishing is when lost or discarded fishing equipment just keeps on catching fish. The caught fish die and attract more marine life to their death. This endless circle of destruction can go on for decades.

    In a recent report by Emily Rose Nelson of the R J Dunlop Marine Conservation Program she stated that something like 640,000 tons of fishing gear is lost or discarded at sea every year.

    I did most of my marine research in northern Australia and we had teams working in the Gulf of Carpentaria; one of the country’s most productive fishing …


  • The Sea Butterfly Effect

    Mathematicians have developed the concept of chaos theory. In a nutshell, this says that some processes are incredibly sensitive to the conditions at the time they start; things can turn out very differently with each tiny variation at the beginning.

    This lead to the term, the Butterfly Effect, coined by Edward Lorenz (1917-2008) and created the idea that much in nature is unpredictable.

    I’ve always been intrigued by the theory; fascinated with such an absurd concept that seemed beyond proof and yet so believable. Could the beating of a butterfly’s wings really start the chain reaction that eventually grows into a whirlwind that destroys us all?

    A few days ago I ran across an article in the Smithsonian Magazine about …


  • GMO Foods and the Real Cost of Salmon

    In an Epoch Times report about GMO foods,Zachary Stieber described the strong stance of Zambia in this growing debate. But Genetically modified Organisms aren’t restricted to farm crops on land.

    It’s true; about 50 percent of the fish we eat are farmed. There is good reason for this as, one by one, the world’s commercial fisheries collapse through over-fishing. According to FAO, 70 percent of the world’s large commercial fisheries have either failed or are not far from it.

    When things started to go wrong with world fisheries, fish farming was hailed as the ultimate solution. Fish could be produced cheaply and those in the ocean would be under far less threat. We were going to have our cake and …


  • Climate Change Setting a New Speed Record

    Our planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But it’s not just the change that’s the problem; it’s the speed of the change. Stanford climate change scientists warn that the likely rate of change over the next century will be at least 10 times quicker than any climate shift in the past 65 million years.

    These findings were recently published by Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh , an associate professor of environmental Earth system science and Dr. Chris Field, a professor of biology and of environmental Earth system science and the director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution. They are part of a special report on climate change in last …



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