Friday, November 6, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" Nov 6, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

US a top source of plastic pollution in coastal environmentsDNA in seawater can reveal fish diversity in the deep ocean, Location and extent of coral reefs mapped worldwide using advanced AI, Antarctic Commission rejects proposed marine sanctuaries and more.

1. Management of exploited transboundary fish stocks requires international cooperation

Marine fish species are migratory in nature and not respectful of human-made territorial boundaries, which represents a challenge for fisheries management as policies tend to focus at the national level. With an average catch of 48 million tonnes per year, and USD $77 billion in annual fishing revenue, these species support critical fisheries and require international cooperation to manage, according to UBC research. The researchers focused on fish species that cross the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of two or more coastal states which are most often targeted by fisheries operating within those EEZs. They identified over 633 exploited transboundary species worldwide and found that the catch and revenue from these fisheries had been severely underestimated and over-exploited.

Sea Save Editorial Comment: This article underscores our tagline "Oceans do not recognize international boundaries.  We must work globally if we want to see real change."

2. Antarctic Commission rejects proposed marine sanctuaries

Delegates attending an international meeting meant to protect Antarctic ocean life dashed conservationists' hopes for new marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) concluded Friday after a week of virtual negotiations among its 26 member nations. It declined to approve three proposals for marine protected areas near Antarctica. The commission, established in 1982 as part of the Antarctic Treaty System, is charged with conserving marine life around the southern continent and sustainably managing the region's fish stocks.

Read more in "Scientific American"

3. New study reveals US a top source of plastic pollution in coastal environments

A study published today in the journal Science Advances has revealed that the United States ranks as high as third among countries contributing to coastal plastic pollution when taking into account its scrap plastic exports as well as the latest figures on illegal dumping and littering in the country. The new research challenges the once-held assumption that the United States is adequately “managing” – that is, collecting and properly landfilling, recycling or otherwise containing – its plastic waste. 


4. Giant iceberg floating toward island in the Atlantic Ocean, could endanger wildlife

An iceberg about the size of Delaware could hit the island of South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean, according to the British Antarctic Survey, potentially harming local wildlife. The British government research organization said in a statement Wednesday that the exact path of the iceberg, which broke off from Antarctica in 2017, is not known.  Geraint Tarling, an ecologist at British Antarctic Survey, said in a statement that if the iceberg gets stuck against South Georgia, a U.K. territory, it could remain for 10 years. 

Read more in "The Hill"

5. Gentoo penguins are four species, not one, say scientists

Gentoo penguins should be reclassified as four separate species, say scientists at the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, after analyzing the genetic and physical differences between populations around the southern hemisphere. The researchers say that counting them as four separate species will aid in their conservation because it will make it easier to monitor any decline in numbers. Gentoo penguins, with the Latin name Pygoscelis papua, live in a range of latitudes in the southern hemisphere and are currently split into two subspecies. The researchers suggest these two subspecies should be raised to species level and two new species created.

6. Location and extent of coral reefs mapped worldwide using advanced AI

Nearly 75% of the world's coral reefs are under threat from global stressors such as climate change and local stressors such as overfishing and coastal development. Those working to understand and protect coral reefs are building the know-how to mitigate the damage but doing so requires first knowing where reefs are located. Many approaches, such as diver-based observation and satellite imagery, have been used to estimate the distribution of coral reefs around the world, but past approaches have led to inconsistent accuracy because the underlying data are derived from disparate sources and varying methodologies. Now, researchers from the Arizona State University Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (GDCS) have generated a global coral reef extent map using a single methodology capable of predicting the location of shallow coral reefs with nearly 90% accuracy.

7. 'Environmentally-friendly' tableware harms marine animals

A new Tel Aviv University study compares the effects of two types of disposable dishes on the marine environment — regular plastic disposable dishes and more expensive bioplastic disposable dishes certified by various international organizations — and determines that the bioplastic dishes had a similar effect on marine animals as regular plastic dishes. Moreover, the study finds that bioplastic does not degrade rapidly in the marine environment. 

Read more in "Tel Aviv University"

8. DNA in seawater can reveal fish diversity in the deep ocean

A new study demonstrates the effectiveness of a novel method for using DNA in seawater samples to determine which fish species are present in a given part of the deep sea. A team of scientists from eDNAtec Inc. and colleagues from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Memorial University present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on November 4. The ability to monitor deep-sea fish diversity is necessary for implementing sustainable management efforts and understanding the impacts of commercial fishing and climate change. However, existing methods such as baited camera traps, trawling, and acoustic monitoring, have limited detection capabilities and are difficult to use in much of the ocean.

Read more in ""

9. Sea-level rise will have complex and unpredictable effects on coasts and human societies 

Rising sea levels will affect coasts and human societies in complex and unpredictable ways, according to a new study that examined 12,000 years in which a large island became a cluster of smaller ones. Researchers reconstructed sea-level rise to produce maps of coastal changes at thousand-year intervals and found that today's Isles of Scilly, off the UK's south-west coast, emerged from a single island that only became the current configuration of more than 140 islands less than 1,000 years ago. The study, led by the University of Exeter in partnership with Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Cardiff University and 14 other institutes, found that changes in both land area and human cultures happened at variable rates, and often out of step with the prevailing rate of sea-level rise.

Read more in "University of Exeter"

10. Genomic data ‘catches corals in the act’ of speciation and adaptation

A new study led by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) revealed that diversity in Hawaiian corals is likely driven by co-evolution between the coral host, the algal symbiont, and the microbial community. As coral reef ecosystems have rapidly collapsed around the globe over the past few decades, there is widespread concern that corals might not be able to adapt to changing climate conditions, and much of the biodiversity in these ecosystems could be lost before it is studied and understood. Coral reefs are among the most highly biodiverse ecosystems on earth, yet it is not clear what drives speciation and diversification in the ocean, where there are few physical barriers that could separate populations.

11. Coral reef taller than the Empire State Building discovered near Australia

Scientists have discovered a massive detached coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef–the first to be discovered in over 120 years, Schmidt Ocean Institute announced today. Measuring more than 500m high–taller than the Empire State Building, the Sydney Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers–the reef was discovered by Australian scientists aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Falkor, currently on a 12-month exploration of the ocean surrounding Australia. The reef was first found on Oct. 20, as a team of scientists led by Dr. Robin Beaman from James Cook University was conducting underwater mapping of the northern Great Barrier Reef seafloor. The dive was live-streamed, with the high-resolution footage viewed for the first time and broadcast on Schmidt Ocean Institute’s website and YouTube channel.

Read more in "Schmidt Ocean Institute"

12. Light pollution at night severely disrupts the reproductive cycle of corals

Studying the reproductive cycle of two coral species from the Indo-Pacific Ocean over the course of three months, researchers found that light pollution caused delayed gametogenesis and unsynchronized gamete release. To shed light on the findings, they created a first-of-its-kind global map that highlights areas in the world most threatened by nighttime artificial light. This light pollution impact assessment can help incorporate an important variable in coral reef conservation planning near areas of human activity.

13. Sea turtle nesting season winding down in Florida, numbers unexpectedly high

Florida’s sea turtle nesting surveying comes to a close on Halloween and like everything else in 2020, the season was a bit weird. The number of green sea turtle nests on central and southern Brevard County, Florida beaches monitored by University of Central Florida biologists were way up during a year they should have been down based on nearly 40 years of historical data. “Usually, green turtles alternate between high years and low years, but this year they defied expectations,” says Chris Long, a doctoral candidate and research assistant with UCF’s Marine Turtle Research Group. “Green turtles had the fifth highest year on the Archie Carr Refuge that we’ve recorded since 1982. There is no evidence pointing to high nesting as a result of fewer people on the beaches or anything pandemic-related like that.  It’s difficult to know why nesting differed from expectation.”

Read more in "University of Central Florida - Today"


Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" Oct 30, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

New study reveals shark fins originated mostly from species in coastal waters rather than the open ocean, Oil tanker stranded at sea carrying 1.3 million barrels, Critically endangered beluga whale population, The uncertain future of the oceans and more.

1. Illegal trade of shark fins from coastal species, not open ocean

The new study, published October 28th in Biology Letters, helps shed light on the intricate shark fin trade in two main ways. First, the team used DNA barcoding techniques to analyze 500 shark fin samples from four market locations — Hong Kong, Vancouver, San Francisco, and northern Brazil — and identify which species they belonged to. While many samples came from oceanic species such as thresher sharks and hammerheads, most were identified as “requiem” shark species, such as reef sharks and silky sharks, which tend to live closer to the coast. Second, the team generated species distribution models to show where many of these shark fins were likely coming from. The study showed that the majority of shark fins came from the coastal regions of five countries: Australia, Indonesia, the United States, Mexico, and Brazil.


2. A Venezuelan vessel carrying 1.3 million barrels of oil is tilting and stranded at sea

A vessel filled with 1.3 million barrels of crude oil is floating 24 miles off Venezuela in the Gulf of Paria, a region home to economically important fisheries and vulnerable marine life. The FSO Nabarima, a stationary storage facility, has been pictured listing, rusting, and taking on water, sparking fears that it will spill its contents. The Nabarima holds five times more oil than what was spilled during the 1989 Exxon-Valdez disaster in Alaska. If even a fraction of it spilled, it would create an environmental disaster that extends into the Caribbean Sea and could last for years. As of late last week the Maduro government has reportedly begun the process of taking the crude back to Venezuelan soil, a process that may in itself present an environmental hazard.

Read more in "National Geographic"

3. Study sheds light on critically endangered beluga whale population

A team of scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and NOAA Fisheries are collaborating to help stem the decline of a critically endangered population of beluga whales in the Cook Inlet, Alaska. A study recently published in Animal Microbiome outlines important first steps in understanding epidermal microbial communities in beluga whales, as well as their role in beluga health. This study is one piece of a larger puzzle for researchers looking at everything from social structure to acoustic interference and contaminants, all with the shared mission to reverse the dire decline of this vulnerable population.

4. Genome and satellite technology reveal  impacts of climate change on southern right whales

After close to a decade of globe-spanning effort, the genome of the southern right whale has been released this week, giving us deeper insights into the histories and recovery of whale populations across the southern hemisphere. Up to 150,000 southern right whales were killed between 1790 and 1980. This whaling drove the global population from perhaps 100,000 to as few as 500 whales in 1920. A century on, we estimate there are 12,000 southern right whales globally. It's a remarkable conservation success story, but one facing new challenges. The genome represents a record of the different impacts a species has faced. With statistical models we can use genomic information to reconstruct historical population trajectories and patterns of how species interacted and diverged.

Read more in "The Conversation"

5. Leaving big fish in the sea reduces CO2 emissions

An international team of scientists has found leaving more big fish in the sea reduces the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the Earth's atmosphere. When a fish dies in the ocean it sinks to the depths, sequestering all the carbon it contains with it. This is a form of 'blue carbon'—carbon captured and stored by the world's ocean and coastal ecosystems. "But when a fish is caught, the carbon it contains is partly emitted into the atmosphere as CO2 a few days or weeks after," said Gaël Mariani, a Ph.D. student at the University of Montpellier in France. Mr. Mariani led a world-first study showing how ocean fisheries have released at least 730 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere since 1950. An estimated 20.4 metric tons of CO2 was emitted in 2014—equivalent to the annual emissions of 4.5 million cars.

Read more in ""

6. Metals from Chinese coal plants are ending up in Pacific Ocean, consequences uncertain

Emissions from coal-fired power plants in China are fertilizing the North Pacific Ocean with a metal nutrient important for marine life, according to new findings from a USC-led research team. The researchers believe these metals could change the ocean ecosystem, though it’s unclear whether it would be for better or worse. The study shows that smoke from power plants carries iron and other metals to the surface waters of the North Pacific Ocean as westerly winds blow emissions from Asia to North America. Peak measurements show that up to nearly 60% of the iron in one vast swath of the northern part of the ocean emanates from smokestacks.

Read more in "University of Southern California News"

7. Study reveals complex effects of CO2 on marine ecosystems

The ocean plays a key role in the current climate change, as it absorbs a considerable part of the atmospheric carbon dioxide emitted by mankind. On the one hand, this slows down the heating of the climate, and on the other hand, the dissolution of CO2 in seawater leads to acidification of the oceans. This has far-reaching consequences for many marine organisms and thus also for the oceanic carbon cycle. One of the most important mechanisms in this cycle is called the biological carbon pump. Part of the biomass that phytoplankton forms in the surface ocean through photosynthesis sinks to the depths in the form of small carbonaceous particles. As a result, the carbon is stored for a long time in the deep sea. The ocean thus acts as a carbon sink in the climate system. The study, which has now been published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is one of the most comprehensive studies so far on the effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems.

Read more in "GEOMAR"

8. Critically endangered vaquita remain genetically healthy even in low numbers

The critically endangered vaquita has survived in low numbers in its native Gulf of California for hundreds of thousands of years, a new genetic analysis has found. The study found little sign of inbreeding or other risks often associated with small populations. 
Gillnet fisheries have entangled and killed thousands of vaquitas in recent years and scientists believe that fewer than 20 of the small porpoises survive today. The new analysis demonstrates that the species’ small numbers do not doom it to extinction, however, and so gives hope for the small remaining population. Vaquitas have long survived and even thrived without falling into an “extinction vortex,” the new study showed. That’s a scenario in which their limited genetic diversity makes it impossible to recover.

Editorial Note: The vaquita dolphin is considered the most endangered marine mammal and estimates project that there are only 6 - 22 individual left.

9. First ever recording captured of remora fish hitchhiking on blue whales

Sticking to the bodies of sharks and other larger marine life is a well-known specialty of remora fishes (Echeneidae) and their super-powered suction disks on their heads. But a new study has now fully documented the “suckerfish” in hitchhiking action below the ocean’s surface, uncovering a much more refined skillset that the fish uses for navigating intense hydrodynamics that come with trying to ride aboard a 100-foot blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). In a study published Oct. 28 in the Journal of Experimental Biology, an international team of researchers studying the unique fluid environments of blue whales traveling off the coast of Palos Verdes and San Diego, CA has reported capturing the first-ever continuous recording of remora behavior on a host organism, using advanced biosensing tags with video recording capabilities.  

Read more in "New Jersey Institute of Technology"

10. Coastal Greenland reshaped as ice sheet loss accelerates

Ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet has accelerated significantly over the past two decades, transforming the shape of the ice sheet edge and therefore coastal Greenland, according to scientific research led by Twila Moon, deputy lead scientist of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). These changes to the ice sheet could have far-reaching impacts on ecosystems and communities, as the flow of water under the ice sheet as well as nutrient and sediment flow are altered. Results of the research were published on October 27th in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. “The speed of ice loss in Greenland is stunning,” said Moon. “We can now see many signs of a transformed landscape from space. And as the ice sheet edge responds to rapid ice loss, the character and behavior of the system as a whole is changing, with the potential to influence ecosystems and people who depend on them.”

Read more in "National Snow & Ice Data Center"


Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" Oct 23, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

A study of Palau's coral reefs, A quadrillion plastic fibers discovered in California's environment, Burger King moving towards zero-waste, Sponges as biomonitors of micro pollution, and more.

1. Shark fishing thrives in Myanmar due to lack of alternatives

Achieving fisheries compliance is challenging in contexts where enforcement capacity is limited and the incentives for rule-breaking are strong. This challenge is exemplified in Myanmar, where an active shark fishery exists despite a nationwide ban on targeted shark fishing. We used the Kipling method (5W1H) to gather a complete story of non-compliance in five small-scale fishing communities in the Myeik Archipelago. Among 144 fishers surveyed, 49% were aware of the nationwide ban. Shark fishers (24%) tended to be younger individuals who did not own a boat and perceived shark fishing to be prevalent. Compliant fishers were motivated by a fear of sharks and lack of capacity (equipment, knowledge), whereas food and income were cited as key motivations for non-compliance. The results of our study emphasize that in resource-dependent communities, improving compliance for effective shark conservation may require addressing broader issues of poverty, food security and the lack of alternatives.

2. New marine animal deaths discovered off Russia’s Kamchatka coast

New mass deaths of marine animals have been discovered off the coast of Russia’s Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula where an unexplained event recently killed off up to 95% of seabed life, authorities said Monday.  Scientists and witnesses reported seeing dead marine animals along the seabed south of the initial discovery last week, Kamchatka region governor Vladimir Solodov said on Instagram. Neighboring beaches, he said, were not affected. “The evidence shows that the scale of the occurrence is extremely large,” Solodov said. He said that the deaths were “almost certainly linked to climate change and other polluting effects we as humankind cause to the Pacific Ocean.” 

3. Palau's coral reefs: a jewel of the ocean

Scientists at the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) [based in Annapolis, Maryland] have released their findings on the state of coral reefs in Palau. Their research, based on extensive underwater surveys, found Palau's reefs had the highest live coral cover of all the reefs studied on the Global Reef Expedition, a scientific research mission to assess the health and resiliency of coral reefs around the world. Published today, the Global Reef Expedition: The Republic of Palau Final Report summarizes the Foundation's research on the status of coral reefs and reef fish in Palau and provides conservation recommendations that can help preserve these outstanding coral reefs for generations to come.

Read more in "EurekAlert!"

Read original study

4. Newly discovered gene may give 'sea pickles' their glow

In 2017, a group of scientists in a submersible off the coast of Brazil were testing the ability of a soft robotic hand to collect delicate marine life when they grabbed a selection of gelatinous and glowing “sea pickles.” These sausage-sized pyrosomes Pyrosoma atlanticum are actually colonies of thousands of tiny animals—each with a heart and a brain—that work together to move, eat, breathe, and reverberate in blue-green light. Although they are widely known for their gigantic blooms and spectacular light—“pyrosoma” means “fire body” in Greek—many of the most basic facts about their bioluminescence remain elusive. So the expedition’s scientists began a second journey to determine the cause of these pyrosomes’ unique bioluminescent displays, which, unlike many bioluminescent animals, can be triggered by light. They found a new gene that could be the reason that pyrosomes and a number of other bioluminescent animals glow. If confirmed, it would be the first bioluminescent gene identified from a chordate—the group that includes all vertebrates as well as a couple types of invertebrates.

Read more in "American Museum of Natural History"

5. Groundbreaking study finds 13.3 quadrillion plastic fibers in California’s environment

A study in California has laid bare the staggering scale of pollution from plastic microfibers in synthetic clothing – one of the most widespread, yet largely invisible, forms of plastic waste. The report, whose findings were revealed exclusively by the Guardian, found that in 2019 an estimated 4,000 metric tons – or 13.3 quadrillion fibers – were released into California’s natural environment. The plastic fibers, which are less than 5mm in length, are primarily shed when we wash our yoga pants, stretchy jeans and fleece jackets and can easily enter oceans and waterways. “The findings were nothing short of shocking,” said Alexis Jackson, fisheries project director at the Nature Conservancy in California, which commissioned the study from a research team at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The study, which the authors describe as the first of its kind, has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.

Read more in "The Guardian"

6. Burger King testing reusable food packaging in zero-waste effort

Burger King plans to test reusable food containers beginning in 2021 as part of its efforts to reduce waste. The trial will partner with TerraCycle's zero-waste delivery platform Loop, a program that allows consumers an alternative to recycling that still diminishes overall waste and environmental impact, according to an official press release. Customers at Burger King will be able to choose reusable packaging for menu items including food, soft drinks coffee. Those who choose the reusable option can return the containers to Burger King restaurants to be cleaned.

Read more in "The Hill"

7. Sponges as potential biomonitors of micropollution

Sponges are sometimes referred to as the ocean's vacuum cleaners. They feed on tiny particles suspended in the currents, by filtering them from the seawater that passes through their highly porous tissues—which are supported by mineralized skeletons in many species. Sponges are filter feeders that live on particulate matter—but they can also ingest microscopic fragments of plastics and other pollutants of anthropogenic origin. They can therefore serve as useful bioindicators of the health of marine ecosystems. Researchers found that particle-bearing sponges have a strong potential to biomonitor microparticulate pollutants, such as microplastics and other degraded industrial products. 

Read original study

8. NOAA report reveals condition of world's largest marine conservation area

Located northwest of the main Hawaiian islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is virtually unpopulated. Because of its isolation, scale, and high degree of protection, the monument provides an unrivaled example of reef ecosystems still dominated by top predators such as sharks. This is not seen in most other island environments due to human activity.  Some marine habitat has been impacted by derelict fishing gear, large storms, aggressive nuisance algae, and coral bleaching. Most marine areas of the monument have not been significantly affected and are in relatively good to fair condition. The report states that terrestrial habitats have been affected by past human activities that altered soils and vegetation, introduced alien species, and left behind contamination on many of the islands. Without active management efforts to restore habitat, remove invasive species, abate contaminants and enhance the resilience of endangered species, resources would be in significantly poorer condition.

Read more in ""

9. Sand mining and development approved in Bali conservation area 

A year ago, Bali’s environmentalist community was cautiously celebrating the cancellation of a massive land reclamation project planned for Benoa Bay. The permit for the 30 trillion rupiah ($2 billion) development plan to build 12 artificial islands — complete with a golf course, theme park, and even a Formula One race course — expired before the project could obtain government approval. On Oct. 10, 2019, the Bali governor designated Benoa Bay a conservation area for religious and cultural activities and artisanal fisheries, protected from reclamation of any kind. For a brief moment after five years of relentless protests, it appeared that Benoa Bay would remain untouched. 
Barely 11 months later, the Balinese legislature gathered discreetly during the COVID-19 pandemic and approved a zoning plan for the area that would permit sand mining and an expansion of the harbor and airport.

Read more in "Monga Bay"

10. Cleaning volunteers asked to record plastic PPE found on UK beaches

Volunteers in this year’s Great British Beach Clean are being asked to record the personal protective equipment (PPE) they find, to get a clearer picture of the volume of plastic masks and gloves discarded during the coronavirus pandemic and their impact on the environment. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which organizes the annual September event, is urging people to organize their own surveys with smaller groups of friends, family, and “bubbles”, in line with government guidance.

Read more in "The Guardian"


Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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

Monday, October 5, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" Oct 5, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

COVID vaccines could decimate shark populations, Nations commit to reverse nature loss,  Attenborough calls for global $500 billion a year investment in nature and more.

1. Could COVID protection trigger shark eradication?

The race to develop a safe and effective COVID Vaccine to save human lives is an international priority.  However, we do not need to create a new crisis as we address another. Plant-derived squalane has been proven to be just as effective as shark-derived squalene in vaccine studies and in the skincare industry. COVID vaccines will be needed by virtually everyone. With the pandemic, climate change, and economic disruption, this is no time to create a new ecological crisis.

2. World leaders pledge to halt Earth’s destruction ahead of UN summit

There are 64 leaders from five continents warning that humanity is in a state of planetary emergency due to the climate crisis and the rampant destruction of life-sustaining ecosystems. To restore the balance with nature, governments and the European Union have made a 10-point pledge to counteract the damage.

3. France bans wild animals in circuses, marine parks

France will phase out the use of animals in traveling circuses and orcas and dolphins in marine parks, the country’s environment minister announced Tuesday. Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili said during a news conference that a ban on animals like tigers, lions, and elephants in circuses will take effect in “coming years,” according to The Associated Press. A separate ban on breeding or bringing in dolphins or killer whales to France’s three marine parks will take effect immediately. The government will begin implementing the circus regulation “as soon as possible,” she said.

Read more in "The Hill"

4. David Attenborough calls for global $500 billion a year investment in nature

British ecologist and nature documentary host David Attenborough called for a $500 billion per year global investment in nature on Wednesday. The call came during a one-day summit held by the United Nations convened to discuss the protection of wildlife on the planet.  The world spends a collective $80 billion to $90 billion on wildlife and nature conservation each year. However, according to Reuters, studies show that much more money is needed to keep ecosystems from collapsing.  Attenborough joined conservation groups Wednesday cautioning that the planet's future is in "grave jeopardy," according to the wire service. "Our natural world is under greater pressure now than at any time in human history, and the future of the entire planet – on which every single one of us depends – is in grave jeopardy," Attenborough said in a statement.

Read more in "Reuters"

5. Greenland is on track to lose ice faster than in any century over the last 12,000 years, study finds

If human societies don’t sharply curb emissions of greenhouse gases, Greenland’s rate of ice loss this century is likely to greatly outpace that of any century over the past 12,000 years, a new study concludes. “Basically, we’ve altered our planet so much that the rates of ice sheet melt this century are on pace to be greater than anything we’ve seen under natural variability of the ice sheet over the past 12,000 years. We’ll blow that out of the water if we don’t make severe reductions to greenhouse gas emissions,” says Jason Briner, PhD, professor of geology in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences. Briner led the collaborative study, coordinating the work of scientists from multiple disciplines and institutions.

Read more in "University at Buffalo"

6. Trump official stalls polar bear study that could affect oil drilling in Alaska 

A top official at the Interior Department has slowed the release of a study on the number of polar bears that give birth on land overlapping an area recently opened to oil and gas drilling, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. The study has been ready for at least three months, but has been held up by U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly, The Post reported, noting that Reilly has raised questions about it, including why it uses data from a former scientist and why polar bear dens aren’t counted individually.  The study reportedly looks at the number of bears that give birth in an area near the southern Beaufort Sea, which is part of an area the administration has moved toward opening up for oil and gas drilling.

Read more in "The Hill"

7. Sentinels of ocean acidification impacts survived Earth’s last mass extinction

Two groups of tiny, delicate marine organisms, sea butterflies and sea angels, were found to be surprisingly resilient—having survived dramatic global climate change and Earth’s most recent mass extinction event 66 million years ago, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences co-authored by Erica Goetze, oceanographer in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. Sea butterflies have been a focus for global change research because they make their shells of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate that is 50 percent more soluble than calcite, which other important open ocean organisms use to construct their shells. As their shells are susceptible to dissolving in more acidified ocean water, pteropods have been called “canaries in the coal mine,” or sentinel species that signal the impact of ocean acidification.

Read more in "University of Hawai‘i at Manoa"

8. New marine protected areas connect hundreds of kilometers of Turkey's Mediterranean coast

Three hundred and fifty square kilometers of Turkey's coastline has been brought under environmental protection in a recent announcement by the Turkish government. This new area represents a significant expansion of the existing marine protected area network along the country's Mediterranean coast and firmly establishes Turkey as a leader in marine conservation in the most overfished sea on the planet. The announcement comes amid a growing global push to expand ocean protection through coalitions such as the UK's 30by30 alliance, which calls for the protection of 30% of the global oceans by 2030.

Read more in ""

9. Coral's resilience to warming may depend on iron

How well corals respond to climate change could depend in part on the already scarce amount of iron available in their environment, according to a new study led by Penn State researchers. The study reveals that the combination of hot water temperatures and low iron levels compromises the algae that live within coral cells, suggesting that limited iron levels—which could decline with warming ocean waters—could exacerbate the effects of climate change on corals.

Read more in "Penn Stat News"


Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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

Could COVID Protection Trigger Shark Eradication

As the world battles with the devastating human and economic losses due to the Novel Coronavirus 19, sharks and oceans are in danger of being severely impacted as collateral damage.

Squalene, which is found in high concentrations in shark livers is one of the component parts of leading vaccines in trials.

Squalene and its hydrogenated derivative squalane are used in conjunction with “adjuvants” or ingredients used to create a stronger immune response, thus augmenting the strength of the vaccine. Squalene and squalane can be harvested from many other sources, however, sharks are favored by pharmaceutical companies due to its high level of purity and inexpensive pricing. If successful vaccine trials emerge that require squalene and squalene there are environmentally-friendly sources that should be used.  Olives, soybeans, and sunflowers are a few viable and proven sources of this ingredient. 

Squalane can also be synthesized using one of two pathways. The first method is via petrochemical origin and this holds its own environmental challenges.  The second synthetic recipe is new, involves the genetic manipulations of microorganisms, and has not been well tested, thus rendering it a poor option.

The world awaits a vetted vaccine that will allow us to return to our lives, protected from this deadly virus. When we find this solution, we must move forward swiftly but not at the expense of shark populations and overall ocean conservation.

The time is now to look ahead and communicate that any vaccine must be both safe for public consumption and environmentally viable.

By: Georgienne Bradley MA
and Lawrence Stock MD

Friday, September 25, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" September 25, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

Florida SB 680 - Shark fin ban is signed into law, 40% of Hawaii beaches could soon be lost, China pledges to be carbon neutral by 2060, How we can eradicate plastic pollution by 2040, and more...

1. Florida SB 680 - Shark fin ban is signed into law

Florida SB 680, a Shark Fin Ban Bill, was signed by the governor and is now law in the Sunshine State  This is a game-changer because Florida had become the shark fin trade hub of the United States. Kristin Jacobs introduced SB 680 to the Florida House of Representatives on October 28th, 2019. SB 680 is a great victory, but it came with a cost.  The bill was diluted due to the successful efforts of a strong fishing lobby.  We had the option to abandon the bill but strategically decided to take this opportunity to begin strengthening shark conservation in Florida. But we will not rest until the senseless and unsustainable shark fin practice has been stopped completely. 

Read more on the Sea Save Foundation Blog

2. China pledges to become carbon neutral by 2060

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, announced Tuesday it would seek to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. It’s a notable pledge from a nation frequently targeted by Republicans, who argue the U.S. should not move ahead on more ambitious climate action without stronger commitments from other major emitters. In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping said China would scale up its commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

Read more in "The Hill"

3. 40% of O'ahu, Hawai'i beaches could be lost by mid-century

The reactive and piecemeal approach historically used to manage beaches in Hawai'i has failed to protect them. If policies are not changed, as much as 40% of all beaches on O'ahu, Hawai'i could be lost before mid-century, according to a new study by researchers in the Coastal Geology Group at the University of Hawai'i (UH) at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). In an era of rising sea level, beaches need to migrate landward, otherwise, they drown. Beach migration, also known as shoreline retreat, causes coastal erosion of private and public beachfront property. 

Read more in "University of Hawai‘i at Manoa"

4. Pilot whales Tasmania: Almost 400 die in Australia's worst stranding

About 380 whales have died in what is suspected to be Australia's largest stranding on record, officials say. Since Monday, hundreds of long-finned pilot whales have been found beached on Tasmania's west coast. Rescuers had managed to save 50 by late on Wednesday, and they were trying to help the remaining estimated 30 whales. Tasmanian government officials said the rescue effort would continue "as long as there are live animals". 

Read more in "BBC"

5. 2020 Arctic sea ice minimum at second-lowest on record

NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado - Boulder shows that the 2020 minimum extent, which was likely reached on Sept. 15, measured 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers). In winter, frozen seawater covers almost the entire Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas. This sea ice undergoes seasonal patterns of change -- thinning and shrinking during late spring and summer, and thickening and expanding during fall and winter. The extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic can impact local ecosystems, regional and global weather patterns, and ocean circulation. 

Read more in "NASA"

6. "Science" - Analysis of plastic pollution eradication

A new analysis published in the journal "Science" shows that the business-as-usual approach to tackling ocean plastic pollution isn’t working. Even worse, should we continue down the current trajectory, the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean is set to triple by 2040? But what’s unique about this study is that it focuses on the solutions that can stop this crisis in its tracks. Using all the technology that exists today, we can reduce ocean plastic flows by 80% – and with additional investment channeled into innovation, we can get closer to 100%. 

Read more in "World Economic Forum"

7. Ocean heat waves are directly linked to climate change

Six years ago, a huge part of the Pacific Ocean near North America quickly warmed, reaching temperatures more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Nicknamed “the blob,” it persisted for two years, with devastating impacts on marine life, including sea lions and salmon. The blob was a marine heatwave, the oceanic equivalent of a deadly summer atmospheric one. It was far from a solitary event: Tens of thousands have occurred in the past four decades, although most are far smaller and last for days rather than years. The largest and longest ones have occurred with increasing frequency over time.

Read more in "New York Times"

8. Rapid onsets of warming events trigger mass mortality of coral reef fish

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Israel and one in Greece has found
evidence that suggests sudden ocean warming can lead to mass fish deaths. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of mass fish death events and what they learned about them. As Earth continues to grow warmer due to emissions of greenhouse gasses, scientists are trying to understand what it could mean for the future of the planet and its inhabitants. In this new effort, the researchers looked at the impact of abrupt ocean warming events on fish populations. These events are predicted to occur more often as the planet warms.

Read more in ""


Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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