Saturday, May 20, 2017

Week in Review: New Offshore Drilling in Atlantic, Four Chinese Airlines Ban Fin Shipments, Deep Cuts to NOAA Budget and More...

1. Offshore Oil Drilling May Start Soon in the Atlantic Ocean


offshore oil drilling rigSeismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean are being moved forward by the Trump administration.  Seismic surveys use loud airguns to search for oil deposits under the ocean floor.  The sounds can injure or kill wildlife.  Six energy companies are seeking permits, all who had been rejected by the Obama administration.
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2. Four More Chinese Airlines Ban Shark Fin Shipments


shark fins in jars

Joining the 60 worldwide shipping companies that have banned shipments of shark fins are four airlines in China; China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, China Cargo Airlines and China United Airlines.  Each year an estimated 73-100 million sharks are caught for their fins.  The only major airline in China not to ban shark fin shipments is Hainan Airlines.
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3. Costa Rican Market Open to Shark Fin Exports?


hammerhead shark with fins cut off, shark finning

Costa Rican conservationists say that an executive decree will open their markets to shark fin (particularly hammerhead) exports.  “The (conservation) groups decried the Costa Rican President’s decree that grants sole mandate to authorize exports to the Costa Rican Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute (Incopesca), saying the agency is controlled by commercial fisheries and fishermen interests.”
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4. 37 Million Pieces of Plastic Found on Remote South Pacific Island


plastic pollution on remote Pacific Island, Henderson IslandHenderson Island, in the South Pacific, is thousands of miles away from any human communities, yet thirty-seven million pieces of plastic were found along its shores.  “It's the highest density of debris reported anywhere in the world, scientists say.”  It is estimated that the plastic trash weighs seventeen tons.  Plastic pollution is a major issue facing our oceans today and finding so much of it on a remote island proves it.
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5. Yellow-eyed Penguins On Verge of Extinction Due to Climate Change

yellow-eyed penguin, penguins

New Zealand’s yellow-eyed penguins could become extinct on their mainland by 2060.  This is due to many factors, including rising sea temperatures which reduce spawning in the fish they eat.  They also get caught as bycatch in fishing nets, have habitat destruction due to humans, and die from unknown toxins.
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6. Steep Budget Cuts Proposed to NOAA



ocean and earth from space, ocean, earthBudget cuts of 17 percent are proposed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), the leading agency of climate science.  “Research funding, satellite programs, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas” will all be on the chopping block.
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7. Attack the U.S. Shark Fin Trade, Not the Sharks


dried shark fins, shark finningDue to shark finning, many shark populations are down 90 percent worldwide.  Shark finning is banned in U.S. waters, but fins of legally caught sharks can be sold.  Fins can still be imported into certain states.  Congress has introduced the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act, which would ban the buying and selling of shark fins nationwide.
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8. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mexican President Team Up to Save the Vaquita


vaquita porpoise, vaquita, vaquita marinaThe most endangered marine mammal in the world, the vaquita porpoise, is estimated to have only 30 individuals left in the wild.  Fortunately actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto have teamed up to help this animal. In a series of tweets, DiCaprio brought the vaquita issue to his many fans, and in return the President tweeted facts about the vaquita’s plight.
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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Week in Review: Current Administration Threatens World's Largest Marine Protected Area, China's Insatiable Appetite for Fish, Seamounts Marine National Monument On Course to Be Used for Oil Drilling, and More!!

1. Current Administration Threatens World’s Largest Marine Protected Area


Papahanaumokuakea Marine National MonumentThe Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument’s status as a national monument, as well as 24 others, is under review by the Trump administration.  Those that supported the expansion of the monument (created in 2006 by President George W. Bush) say that it is a sacred space.  “Our number one priority for us as people of Hawaii is taking care of that which feeds us, we take care of the environment and second we take care of the people that use it, and then thirdly we look at commercial development.”
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2. China’s Insatiable Appetite for Fish Causing Fisheries Collapse

African fish market
“Overfishing is depleting oceans across the globe, with 90 percent of the world’s fisheries fully exploited or facing collapse, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.”  China has an insatiable appetite for seafood and as fisheries collapse around China, they are seeking fish in waters all around the world.  “Increasingly, they are heading to the waters of West Africa, where corruption and weak enforcement by local governments have drawn China’s growing armada of distant-water fishing vessels.”
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3. Seamounts Marine National Monument - On Course to Be Used for Oil Drilling



The debate about opening up the Atlantic Ocean to offshore gas and oil drilling has been going on for decades.  Trump recently signed an executive order last week that “tells the secretary of the interior to consider including the Mid- and South Atlantic areas among those in the agency’s 2017-2022 plan to sell oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf.”  Democrats have reintroduced a bill called “the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling (COAST) Act.”  The Democrats will fight for what Obama did before leaving office including banning drilling from the Canadian border to Virginia.
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4. Trump Has Been “Wrecking Ball on the Environment”


ocean waveIn Trump’s first 100 days, “planned action on climate change has been shelved, national monuments are imperiled, clean air and water rules have been eroded.”  Fossil fuel and other related industries are at the forefront of Trump’s environmental policies. Environmental activists have been filing lawsuits in the suit, and record donations are pouring in.
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5. Toxic Amounts of Pollutant Found in Dead Killer Whale



Lulu the killer whaleLulu, a killer whale that was a member of the last pod off of the United Kingdom, was found post-mortem to have the highest ever found of toxic levels of PCB’s in her blubber.  PCB’s can cause infertility, and it was also found that she never had a calf.  This is a bad sign for the future of her pod.  The PCB’s found were one hundred times higher than deemed “safe” for marine mammals.  PCB’s were banned in the 1980’s after decades of use in the electrical industry, but they persist in the environment.
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6. Trump’s Order on Offshore Drilling Facing Resistance in California



oil drilling rig
Trump’s offshore drilling “efforts could splash harmlessly against the hardened barricades that California has been fortifying for decades with regulation and legislation to prevent additional drilling along its treasured coast.”  Fortunately, the oil industry doesn’t seem to be pushing for drilling off of California with oil cheap and offshore development expensive.
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7. Noisy Shipping Lanes Can Deafen Seals


gray seal

A new study by the University of St. Andrews suggests that gray and harbor seals are being temporarily deafened by underwater vessel noise in the noisy and busy shipping lanes off of the United Kingdom.  “The UK has some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, and underwater noise has been increasing over the last 30 years.”  The noise also affects other marine mammals in the area, which include dolphins and whales.  This study will help management plans in Marine Protected Areas.
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8. California Republicans Vow to Back Climate Change Legislation



California Democrats
Even though Trump doesn’t believe in climate change and has been rolling back environmental regulations, California Republicans are backing Governor Brown’s strict emissions policies designed to combat climate change.  Republicans want to work with the Democrats on the cap-and-trade program which requires companies to buy permits to release emissions.  These are important issues in California, as a survey of California voters says that four out of five believe that climate change is a “serious threat to the state.”
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9. Nevada Considers a Bill Banning the Sale of Shark Fins

dried shark fins

A proposed ban on shark fins and ivory, as well as products from 12 other animals is in the works in Nevada.  Senate Bill 194 creates penalties for the trading of endangered animal parts.  Strict regulations from the West Coast push sales of highly trafficked species into places like Nevada.

                                                                               

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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Week in Review: Tens of Thousands "March for Science", Global Fishing Goes Unreported, Baby Humpbacks Whisper and More....

1. Tens of Thousands "March for Science" Around the World--There is No Planet B

March for Science Washington DC
This past Earth Day, April 22, 2017, tens of thousands of scientists and concerned citizens marched for science all around the world.  Over 600 cities participated. This non-partisan gathering rallied for funding for science research and celebrated science. Many clever signs were carried, including "The oceans are rising, and so are we."



                                                      
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2. A Third of Global Fishing Goes Unreported

fishing vessel

Research from the University of British Columbia’s The Sea Around Us projects suggests that up to a third of global fishing goes unreported.  The United Nations reported that 81.2 million tons were harvested from the oceans in 2015.  Researchers say fifty percent more than that is taken from the oceans each year.
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3. Baby Whales “Whisper” to Mother to Not Alert Predators


humpback mother and breaching calf
Scientists in Western Australia studied the sounds baby whales make to their mothers.  They found that the babies communicated with softer squeaks and grunts, presumably not to attract attention from predators such as killer whales. The scientists also found that the baby whales rub against their moms instead of vocalizing when wanting to nurse. Shipping noise could potentially be louder than the soft vocalizations of the mother calf pairs and be a problem now and in the future.
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4. The People's Climate March


People's Climate March
The People’s Climate March will take place on Saturday, April 29 in Washington D.C. along with sister marches in hundreds of cities around the world. Organizers are prepared for 50,000-100,000 people. This march is meant to be more political than the previous weekend’s March for Science, which was non-partisan.  It falls on Trump’s 100th day in office.  The first People’s Climate March took place in New York during the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit in September of 2014.
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5. Could Plastic-Eating Caterpillars Result in Pollution Metamorphosis?


plastic eating caterpillar

A Spanish biologist found while beekeeping that the wax moth, a type of caterpillar, ate plastic from plastic bags.  Teaming up with scientists, she found that the caterpillars were indeed digesting the plastic.  The caterpillars ate more plastic than a certain type of bacteria previously discovered. This could help the environment tremendously, as much plastic ends up in the oceans. Read More…
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6. Whale and Boat Collisions are More Common Than Thought


collision strike on whale

A study of whales in the Gulf of Maine has found that collisions with whales and boats is more common than thought before.  Fifteen percent of whales in the study had “injuries or scarring consistent with at least one vessel strike.”  Scientists believe that number is an underestimate of actual collisions, and doesn’t include whales killed by vessel strikes.
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7. Navy Re-creates Hagfish Slime for Many New Uses


synthetic hagfish slimeThe US Navy has synthetically reproduced Pacific hagfish slime for uses as varied as a shark deterrent and fighting fires.  The hagfish naturally produces slime for protection as it plugs the gills of its potential predators.  It is similar in nature to kevlar, which is used in reinforcing rubber products and for protective gear.  The slime may be used “for ballistics protection, firefighting, anti-fouling, diver protection, or anti-shark spray.”
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8. Arctic Ocean Dead End for Plastic Pollution

plastic litter in Arctic

The Greenland and Barents Seas in the Arctic are a dead end for plastics caught in a gyre.  Scientists did net tows and from that estimated that there is 110-1,323 tons or 300 billion pieces of plastic in that area of the Arctic.  All studies regarding plastic pollution are important as it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050.
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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Week in Review: Robots Culling Lionfish, Fish Larvae Eat Plastic, Indiscriminate Shark Cull and More...

1. Robots Culling Lionfish


lionfish
In Bermuda, a new robot has been unveiled that stuns and captures lionfish at depths that humans can’t dive.  “Robots in Service of the Environment” was founded in 2015 to solve the lionfish problem.  Lionfish are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but have been introduced to the Atlantic and Caribbean where they are decimating fish from local coral reefs. They eat all the native fish, who do not fear the invader, and they reproduce at a rapid rate. They have no natural predators in those locations.

                                             

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2. Proof That Fish Larvae Eat Plastic

plastic-eating fish larvaScientists from Plymouth University have proven that fish larvae eat microplastics and microfibers. Microplastics are plastic fragments that are less than 5mm in size and microfibers come from the washing of synthetic clothes.  Both are a problem in the ocean, where animals from the bottom of the food chain ingest these microplastics.  It biomagnifies on up the food chain until top level predators, including humans, ingest the plastic along with their food.
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3. Death of Young Woman Spurs Calls for Indiscriminate Sharks Slaughter

surfboard with great white shark bite

On April 17, 2017 a 17-year-old Australian woman, Laeticia Brouwer, was fatally attacked by a shark in Western Australia.  This was the third fatal attack in the last year.  This has gotten the federal and state governments interested in shark culling again.  Shark culling is the use of traps to kill sharks in an attempt to stop attacks on humans, but it has controversial and has not been shown to stop attacks.
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4. March for Science - Scientists Collectively Demanding that Research be Used in Decision Making - First Time in History


March for Science LogoThe March for Science will take place on April 22, 2017 and is based in Washington D.C. and in 400 locations all around the world.  Thousands of scientists and science supporters are expected in a non-partisan “celebration of science and part of a movement to defend science’s vital role in society.” David Kaiser, a science historian at MIT says, “It’s a cluster of issues: cutbacks in basic research across many domains, the censure and censorship regarding data collected by the government or the ability of government scientists to speak, and a range of threats to academic freedom and the research process generally.”
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5. Great Barrier Reef Tourism - Can We Have it All?  

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Reports earlier this month found back-to-back coral bleaching occurring along two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef off of Austalia.  People are still visiting the Great Barrier Reef, and tourism employs 64,000 people and brings in 5.2 billion dollars.  But “not a single reef tourism operator has been forced to seek out new ground to take visitors.”  Is the demise of the reef being overblown?  Some tourism operators think so, but the 2 million visitors a year on the reef aren’t complaining yet.
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6. New Worrisome Crack in Greenland Glacier


crack in Petermann GlacierA large crack has been found in one of Greenland’s largest glaciers, the Petermann Glacier.  A break is significant because the entire glacier melting could cause a one foot sea level rise. Pieces several times larger than Manhattan has been lost in 2010 and 2012. It is also worrisome because the crack is forming in the middle, when cracks usually form on the sides. The ice breaking off could be 50-70 square miles in size.
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7. Sawfish Mating Grounds Found



Sawfish with trackerScientists studying the smalltooth sawfish have found a mating ground in the Everglades of Florida.  The area was originally thought to be a pupping ground, but researchers caught sawfish with fresh mating injuries.  They used ultrasound and hormones to confirm the females were prepping for pregnancy.  The smalltooth sawfish is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
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8. Eels Rely Upon Electromagnetic Field to Navigate
european eel


European eels, which are born in the Sargasso Sea, use subtle differences in the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate to their adult freshwater homes off of North Africa and Europe.  They hitch a ride there using the Gulf Stream, which they find with their “sixth sense.”  Other animals that use electromagnetic fields to navigate include salmon and sea turtles.
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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.