Saturday, November 18, 2017

Week in Review November 17, 2017: Trump Dines on Shark Fin Soup in Vietnam, Creation of the International Wildlife Conservation Council Announced and More

1. Trump Dines on Shark Fin Soup in Vietnam


Trump, Vietnamese President, Tran Dai QuangAlthough he is a picky eater, President Donald Trump ate shark fin soup in Vietnam during a dinner with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang. More than 70 million sharks are caught every year to support the shark fin trade.  This practice is unsustainable and in addition to being inhumane will result in global fisheries collapse and widespread human starvation. Many U.S. states have banned the sale and possession of shark fins, and a national shark fin ban bill has been introduced into Congress. 

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2.  
Creation of an International Wildlife Conservation Council Announced

Ryan Zinke, U.S. Secretary of the InteriorU.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has created the International Wildlife Conservation Council. The council will “focus on increased public awareness domestically, regarding conservation, wildlife law enforcement, and economic benefits that result from U.S. citizens traveling abroad to hunt.” According to an Interior Department press release, “The Council will advise the Secretary of the Interior on the benefits that international recreational hunting has on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation, anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking programs, and other ways in which international hunting benefits human populations in these areas.”
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3. Plastics Found in Animals from the Deepest Point in the Ocean

synthetic fiber, synthetic fibers, deep sea crustaceanA new study found that animals from the nearly 7-mile-deep Mariana Trench and other Pacific Ocean trenches are "contaminated with fibers that probably originated from plastic bottles, packaging and synthetic clothes.” The lead scientist, Dr. Alan Jamieson, said, “There is now no doubt that plastics pollution is so pervasive that nowhere – no matter how remote – is immune.” Between 50 and 100 percent of the 90 crustaceans analyzed contained synthetic fibers.
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4.  2016 Mass Coral Bleaching off of Western Australia Most Severe Ever Recorded

coral bleaching, Western Australia, coral bleaching KimberleyIn 2016 a mass coral bleaching caused by an El Nino heat wave affected up to 93 percent of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Research published this week reveals that the event impacted some 57 to 87 percent of the coral at the Kimberley site, an area that was thought to be resistant to bleaching. This is the first time that "Kimberley's famously tough inshore coral reefs have been affected by a mass bleaching event."
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5.  Rare Seahorses Found in River Thames

short snouted seahorse, River ThamesShort-snouted seahorses have been found thriving in London's Thames River. Seahorses are “sticklers for clean water,” so their appearance is a testament to the cleanup of the river once declared biologically dead.  Short-snouted and spiny seahorses were first spotted in 2008 and then legally protected. Surprisingly, the restored Thames is now also home to harbor seals, porpoises, otters, and wild salmon.  
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6. Dinosaur-Age Shark with 300 'Frilled' Teeth Caught off Portuguese Coast

frilled shark, deep sea sharkA frilled shark, a creature dubbed a “living fossil,” was caught accidentally off of Portugal. The rare find gives researchers a chance to study a species that hasn't changed in 80 million years. The individual was caught at a depth of 2,300 feet. The frilled shark has a gestation period of between one and two years. The frilled shark is not considered endangered, but it is protected in some areas of Australia and Europe.
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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, November 10, 2017

Week in Review November 10, 2017: Bonn Climate Change Conference This Week, Half of Hawaii’s Coral Reefs Bleached, Congressman Close to Invalidating the Endangered Species Act, and More


1. Bonn Climate Change Conference This Week

Even though Trump has vowed to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement by 2020, powerful world leaders are coming together (November 6-17) to discuss climate change.  The U.S. has its governors, major corporations and advocacy groups present. The goal is to keep climate change to under 2 degrees Celsius, but industrialized nations are on track to heat up the atmosphere 3 degrees Celsius or more.  Pledges from countries made at the Paris conference were vague, and now it’s up to the countries to come up with more transparent plans.

2.   EPA Replacement Says “Modern Air Is Too Clean”

air pollution
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has replaced 18 of the 44-members on the Scientific Advisory Board.These experts are tasked with reviewing the scientific information the EPA uses to make key policy decisions. One of his replacements, smog researcher Robert Phalen says, modern air is a little too clean for optimum health.” The new chair of the board, Michael Honeycutt, suggests that “EPA air quality regulations and ozone limits are unnecessary because Americans spend 90% of their time indoors.”
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3. Half of Hawaii’s Coral Reefs Bleached in One Year

coral bleaching, Hawaii, Oahu, Kaneohe Bay
During heat waves in 2014-2015, nearly half of Hawaii’s coral reefs bleached. Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that 56 percent of the Big Island’s coral were bleached, along with 44 percent along West Maui and 32 percent around Oahu. Scientists predict that such bleaching events in Hawaii will become more frequent and severe, occurring in 30 to 50 percent of years in the 2030s.
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4.  Congressman Bishop Attempts to Invalidate the Endangered Species Act

polar bear, endangered species actRep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) is close to achieving his goal: to "invalidate" the Endangered Species Act. The chair of the Natural Resources Committee has sponsored five bills that would "dismantle the law piece by piece.” Republicans say that this will modernize the Endangered Species Act, but Democrats and conservationists say “the bills would whittle away the law’s ability to save wildlife from extinction.” One part of the new measure would be to consider the economic impact of saving a species in addition to the scientific evidence. Another would prevent citizens and conservation groups from filing claims in court against the government.
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5.  Hundreds of Dead Sea Turtles Found near El Salvador


sea turtle, dead sea turtle,  El SalvadorSome 300 to 400 sea turtles were found dead off the coast of El Salvador in late October. What caused the massive die-off? Red tide is the leading culprit. Similar events in 2013 and 2006 were caused by red tide, an algal bloom that can be deadly to many species. The turtles also could have drowned in shrimp trawling nets, but that is less likely because there had been a month-long moratorium on shrimp fishing prior to the die-off.
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6. Vaquita Porpoise Dies in Captivity


vaquita, vaquita porpoise, vaquita calfThe plan to capture a vaquita, the most endangered marine mammal in the world, has ended with the death of a female that was captured and put into an ocean pen. The loss occurred after a female calf had been caught and released because it showed signs of stress. The VaquitaCPR project, a desperate measure to save the 30 vaquita that remain in Mexico's Gulf of California, has been suspended, although acoustic monitoring will continue. Now it is up to conservationists to clean up gillnets in the vaquita’s habitat and stop the illegal fishing of the totoaba fish, which fetches a high price in the black market.
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7. Man Swims in Icy Antarctic Waters in Speedos

Lewis Pugh, AntarcticaA former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year swam in Antarctica in only his Speedo swimsuit. Lewis Pugh swam one kilometer in near-freezing temperatures to raise awareness about a pristine area in the Sandwich Islands that is home to abundant wildlife, including 10 percent of the world's penguins. The U.K. government plans to review protections for the 193,000-square-mile sustainable-use marine protected area. Advocates argue that full protection from fishing would prevent future large-scale commercial fishing.
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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, November 3, 2017

Week in Review November 3, 2017: Sharks Now Protected Wherever They Swim, Loss of Federal Protection Would Put Pacific Reefs in Peril, and More

1.  Sharks Now Protected Wherever They Swim


whale shark, whale shark appendix IA conservation pact has been signed by 126 countries that protects sharks no matter whose waters they swim in. Whale sharks were added to Appendix I, which means the countries are “promising to protect them domestically from killing or capture, and to safeguard their habitats." Other sharks protected include blue sharks (the most highly fished shark in the ocean—and the most migratory), dusky sharks, angelsharks, white-spotted wedgefish, and the common guitarfish.
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2.  Loss of Federal Protection Would Put Pacific Reefs in Peril


national hawaiian marine monumentsThe Trump administration is recommending that two protected Pacific reefsthe Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument and the Rose Atoll National Marine Monumentbe opened to fishing. But Pacific reefs may be in peril without federal protection from fishing. A recent survey of four Pacific seamounts, one in the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument off Hawaii, found that trawling had left a dead zone in its wake. "The devastation...was shocking," reports deep-sea submarine pilot Terry Kerby.
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3.  Plans for East Antarctic Marine Park Rejected


adelie penguin in antarctica, penguin, adelie penguin, antarcticaPlans for a 1 million square kilometer marine park in East Antarctica have been rejected. The failure increases pressure on a colony of Adelie penguins after this year's "devastating breeding season" in which only two chicks survived. The international body that oversees Antarctic waters failed to reach an agreement at their annual meeting at the end of October. China and Russia have opposed the proposed marine park due to their fishing interests there.
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4. World Trade Organization Rules in Favor of U.S. on Dolphin-Safe Labels


dolphins, fishing net, dolphins fishing netA recent ruling by the World Trade Organization “means that all tuna sold in the United States under the dolphin-safe label will come from fishing fleets that do not chase down and set nets on dolphins as a way of catching the schools of tuna that swim beneath the dolphins.” The dolphin-safe label had been weakened by lawmakers until the case was seen in federal courts. Tuna can still be caught using dolphins, but such products can't be labeled “dolphin-safe.”
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5. Corals Eat Plastic Because It’s Tasty


coral polyp, coral, plastic coral plastic, coral eating plasticMicroplastics are a huge problem in our oceans. The tiny pieces of plastic are eaten by small animals and then move up the food chain. Scientists have long assumed that coral and other sea animals consume microplastics by accident, but now they may have found an unexpected reason: because it’s tasty. Researchers fed coral polyps sand, which they rejected, and plastic, which was eaten 80 percent of the time. Read More...







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6.  Killer Whales in Canadian Waters to Get 200-Meter Protection Zone From Boats


killer whale, southern resident killer whales, British Columbia, Washington stateThe 78 southern resident killer whales in waters off the coast of British Columbia now have a 200-meter protection zone from boats. ”Scientific evidence shows noise from large ships and whale-watching tour boats is one of the biggest threats to the whales as it disturbs their ability to use sound to find food.” The whales already had similar protections in waters off Washington state.  
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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, October 27, 2017

Week in Review: October 26, 2017: Gulf Oil Spill, Largest Since 2010, Endangered Vaquita Rescue Attempt Aborted, and More

1.  Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Largest Since 2010

oil spill, gulf of mexicoIn early October, up to 9,350 barrels of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s the largest spill in seven years, but is not much compared to the millions of barrels spilled in the Deepwater Horizon accident of 2010. Professor Edward Overton says, “Way offshore, the oil had time to dissipate before it could cause lots of damage.  I’m sure there’s some impact associated with this spill out in the deep water, but I don’t think there was enough for the oil to sink.”
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2.  Endangered Vaquita Porpoise Rescued and Then Released


vaquita, vaquita porpoise, calf, vaquita porpoise calf, vaquita calfAn endangered 6 month old vaquita calf has been captured by the group Vaquita CPR.  It was released due to stress after being  monitored by marine mammal veterinarians.  Scientists took tissue samples that will be analyzed for genetic sequencing.  It is estimated that only 30 vaquita porpoises are left in the Gulf of California off of Mexico.
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3.  Only Two Penguin Chicks Survive Out of Colony of 40,000


adelie penguin, penguin, penguin chickA colony of 40,000 Adelie penguins in Antarctica has suffered a “catastrophic breeding event” as only two chicks have survived the breeding season.  This is the second time in four years that such devastation has been observed.  This hadn’t happened in the previous 50 years of observation.  Many parent penguins had to travel up to 62 miles longer than usual on the sea ice to get to feeding grounds.  Many are calling for a marine protected area to be established in East Antarctica.
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4. An Eight Year Study and 250 Scientists Concur - Increased Acidity Will Affect All Ocean Life


pteropods, pteropods and ocean acidityInfant sea creatures will be especially affected.  For example the number of baby cod could fall to a quarter or even 12th of today’s numbers.  The average pH of the ocean has fallen from pH 8.2 to 8.1, an increase of 26%, since the Industrial Revolution. Professor Ulf Riebesell says, “Warm-water corals are generally more sensitive than cold-water corals. Clams and snails are more sensitive than crustaceans.
And we found that early life stages are generally more affected than adult organisms.”
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5. Can Dolphin Get Alzheimer's?  New Study Suggests they Can

dolphins, dolphins and Alzheimer's DiseaseAlzheimer’s disease has been found for the first time in wild animals.  Scientists have found signs of Alzheimer’s in dead dolphins found off of Spain.  “Scientists concluded that they (the dolphins) shared the same twisted strands and protein clusters in their brains as human patients with dementia.”
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6.  Melting Glaciers Could Raise Sea Levels In Sharp Bursts, Reef Fossils Show



glacier, greenland, greenland glacierIf all the land ice present on Earth today were to melt, it would raise the global sea levels by about 70 meters (230 feet), according to the United States Geological Survey. By studying fossil coral reefs, scientist have found that sea level rise happens in burst of decades to a century long.  Sea level rise doesn’t happen gradually.
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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.