Friday, September 21, 2018

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" September 21, 2018: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

Salesforce CEO Leads by Example, California Holds Global Climate Summit, Extinction in Australia, Shark Fin Battle, Jamaica Ditches Plastic, Straws Suck in California and More.


1. Salesforce CEO Leads with the "Benioff Ocean Initiative": Corporations Can Lead

Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, is fond of saying that "the business of business is improving the state of the world."  Benioff and Salesforce have put these words into action. At last week's Global Climate Action Summit, Salesforce led the Step Up Declaration, a series of commitments by several businesses (including Lyft, Cisco, and Bloomberg) to engage in actions that will greatly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. 

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2. Ocean Issues Top Issue at California Global Climate Action Summit

The Ocean-Climate Agenda debuted at the ongoing Global Climate Action Summit earlier today, with a focus on the role oceans play in adapting to and mitigating the consequences of climate change. "We need a safe ocean for economic reasons, cultural reasons, and for our children to have a place to grow up in and thrive in," said Mark MagaƱa, founding president and CEO of GreenLatinos. By absorbing  30% of the carbon dioxide that humans produce each year and over 90% of human-generated heat, the world's oceans have demonstrated their irreplaceable capacity for buffering the effects of climate change. 

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3. Australia's First Recorded Marine Extinction

We see the surface of the sea: the rock pools, the waves, the horizon. But there is so much more going on underneath, hidden from view. The sea's surface conceals human impact as well. Today, I am writing a eulogy to the Derwent River Seastar (or starfish), that formerly inhabited the shores near the Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Tasmania. It is Australia's first documented marine animal extinction and one of the few recorded anywhere in the world. Scientists only knew the Derwent River Seastar for about 25 years. It was first described in 1969 by Alan Dartnall, a former curator of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

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4. Appetite for Shark Fin Drives Threatened Shark Population Decline

Hong Kong Study - Global shark catch levels have more than doubled since 1960 and populations of some threatened species, such as hammerhead and oceanic whitetip, have declined by over 90 percent in recent years, according to a new paper published in Marine Policy. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Hong Kong, the Sea Around Us Initiative at the University of British Columbia and WildAid, reveals that fishing pressure on threatened shark populations has increased dramatically, and it is now more urgent than ever that consumers reject shark fin products.
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5. Secret Lair of Great White Sharks Discovered in Mystery Void of Pacific Ocean


Researchers may have unraveled an enduring mystery of why a population of great white sharks off the coast of California appears to migrate en masse to a large, seemingly barren stretch of ocean in the middle of the Pacific every winter and spring. A team from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Stanford University traveled to the 160-mile-wide region halfway between Baja California and Hawaii, which has come to be known as the “White Shark Cafe,” in order to understand why this annual pilgrimage occurs, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

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6. Mosquitoes Contaminating Global Ecosystems by Carrying  With Tiny Bits of Plastic from Water to Land

Mosquito larvae are remarkably unfussy eaters. They glide through the ponds and puddles they live in, creating currents that draw tiny particles of food into their mouths—but minuscule plastic morsels can easily slip down the hatch as well. New research shows these “microplastics” stick around in the mosquitoes’ bellies even after they emerge from the water as flying adults, putting their land predators in danger of ingesting the contaminants. 

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7. Jamaica to Ditch Single Use Bags, Plastic Straws and Styrofoam in 2019

Daryl Vaz, the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, said the ban will take effect from 1 January 2019 and will be part of an international effort to reduce pollution. The ban extends to the import, manufacture and distribution of plastic bags smaller than 24x24 inches (60x60cm), including black “scandal bags”, common in Jamaica and apparently named because the color prevents others from seeing the scandalous contents within.

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8. Mexico Stops Hotel Project at Sea Turtle Nesting Beach

Environmental authorities in Mexico say they have denied permits for a proposed hotel near one of Mexico's most important sea turtle nesting beaches on the Caribbean. The 520-room hotel project would have erected 23 buildings and an artificial lake on property just inland from the Xcacel beach, north of the resort of Tulum. The federal Environment Department said in a statement late Xcacel, Monday the project could threaten Xcacel, and called it "the site with the largest observed nesting of sea turtles on the entire Yucatan Peninsula."

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9. Florida Keys' Corals are Growing but have Become More Porous

Researchers have long questioned what impact climate change has on the rate at which corals are growing and building reef habitats in the Florida Keys. A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explored this topic, finding both good and bad news. The rate of coral skeletal growth in the Florida Keys has remained relatively stable over time, but the skeletal density of the region's corals is declining, possibly due to ocean acidification.
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10. Paris Global Warming Projections Could be Exceeded Sooner than Expected because of Melting Permafrost
The world is on course to exceed global warming limits set out in the Paris climate agreement much earlier than previously thought, scientists have warned, following the first comprehensive study of the impact of melting permafrost. Experts said dangerous climate change was almost “inevitable” and the planet was on the brink of a “tipping point” as thawing permafrost releases large volumes of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise and more permafrost to melt.

Editor's Note: Anything affecting climate on a global scale also affects the oceans.  Melting permafrost will significantly cause a rise in COlevels, causing more permafrost to melt leading to ocean temperatures increasing and ocean levels rising.

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11.  With Ocean Noise Increasing, Scientists Explore Relief for Marine Life

Each year, the level of sound caused by humans increases in the world’s oceans. This noise—from a host of sources, including shipping, military exercises, and oil and gas industry activity—disturbs marine life, including fish, sea turtles, invertebrates, and mammals. Rob Williams—a 2015 Pew marine fellow who is a marine conservation scientist with Oceans Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to researching and protecting marine life—studies how noise affects ocean animals and what can be done to lessen that impact. 
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12. Heartache in the San Juan Islands: Locals Grieve as Resident Orcas Face Extinction


The orca calf lived for only half an hour, but the mother spent 17 days carrying its body on her nose this summer, crossing the Salish Sea from the San Juan Islands into Canadian waters and back in a visceral display of animal grief that captivated whale watchers around the globe. Tahlequah, also known as J35, was far from the first mother to grieve. Her population of southern resident orcas hasn't seen a successful birth in three years. Over the last two decades, three-quarters of their calves have died.

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13.  California Bans Plastic Straws at Dine-In Restaurants Except by Request

Gov. Jerry Brown says California needs to eliminate plastic that people use once and throw away, and on Thursday he took a step in that direction — signing a bill that makes the state the first in the U.S. to ban restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless a customer asks for one. Brown and other supporters acknowledged that the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, is limited in its scope. It applies only to dine-in restaurants and exempts the biggest sources of straw pollution — fast-food restaurants, delicatessens, coffee stores and any other outlet that supplies takeout orders.

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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 n

Friday, September 14, 2018

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" September 14, 2018: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

Plastic Killing 40% Baby Sea Turtles, Japan's Attempt to Remove Whaling Ban Fails, Oil Drill Battle Continues and More.


1. Plastic is Killing 40% of Baby Sea Turtles


Plastic is killing 40 percent of young sea turtles, shocking new research has shown. Baby turtles are almost four times more likely to be killed by ingesting plastic waste compared to adults. Not only do these animals have weaker bodies, but they also feed in offshore waters closer to the surface, which are more likely to be contaminated with large plastic items that can accumulate in their digestive tracts. Post-mortems on almost 1,000 dead turtles found more than half of the babies – and about a quarter of juveniles – had swallowed plastic, compared to just one in seven adults.

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2. Japan's Attempt to Overturn Commercial Whaling Ban Fails


An attempt to overturn the decades-old global ban on commercial whaling has failed, to the relief of conservationists. Anti-whaling nations defeated by a decisive margin proposals from the Japanese government that would have allowed for the return of whale hunts. The vote, on the last day of this year’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Brazil, was hailed by campaigners as a sign that pro-whaling nations will not be allowed to weaken global resolve to protect threatened species.

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3. Governor Brown Signs Bills to Block Trump's Offshore Oil Drilling Plan

Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed two bills that would block new offshore oil drilling in California by barring the construction of pipelines, piers, wharves or other infrastructure necessary to transport the oil and gas from federal waters to state land. This locks into law the vows of Brown and other state officials who declared earlier this year they would do whatever it takes to stop the Trump administration from opening California waters to drilling on an unprecedented scale. “Today, California’s message to the Trump administration is simple: Not here, not now,” Brown said in a statement. “We will not let the federal government pillage public lands and destroy our treasured coast.

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4. How Far Will the Trump Administration Go to Loosen Offshore Drilling Rules?

It is no secret that the Trump administration is pushing to vastly expand offshore oil and gas drilling. In early January Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a new five-year plan for offshore leasing that would potentially open up more than 90 percent of federal coastal waters to energy development and include the largest number of lease sales in the program’s history. From Alaska’s Chukchi Sea and the rugged shores of the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast, nothing was off the table. Zinke described it as one more step on the path to “achieving American Energy Dominance.”
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5. U.N. Chief Says World Must 'Put the Brake' on Emissions by 2020 to Slow Climate Change

(UNITED NATIONS) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that the world is facing “a direct existential threat” and must rapidly shift from dependence on fossil fuels by 2020 to prevent “runaway climate change.” The U.N. chief called the crisis urgent and decried the lack of global leadership to address global warming. “Climate change is moving faster than we are,” Guterres said. “We need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action.”




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6. Three Bizarre New Species of Fish Discovered in One of The Pacific Ocean’s Deepest Parts


Three new species of fish have been found living in the pitch-black waters of the Atacama Trench, one of the deepest parts of the ocean. An international research team used baited camera traps deployed in the south-east Pacific Ocean to reveal the mysteries of this largely unexplored region. Despite the freezing cold and extreme pressures 7,500m (24,606 feet) down, the scientists found the trench was teeming with life. Among the creatures, they observed flocking around their bait were three new species of snailfish, animals with soft, translucent bodies well adapted to life in extreme conditions.
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7. Plastic Straws Only for Those Who Ask in California? It’s Up to Jerry Brown

California restaurants could only provide plastic straws to customers upon request if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a measure now headed to his desk. Assembly Bill 1884 — which covers full-service dining, but not takeout establishments like fast-food restaurants — was approved 45-20 in the Assembly on Thursday. It aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution, according to Assemblyman Ian Calderon, a Whittier Democrat who carried the legislation. “This is a small step that isn’t a ban that can help us curb the issue of single-use plastics in our environment — the getting in our ocean, our waterways, and our landfills,” Calderon said on the Assembly floor. “These are not easily recyclable materials.”

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8. Toxic Red Tide Algae Moves North Near Tampa Bay, Killing Hundreds of Thousands of Fish

The toxic algae bloom that has carved a trail of dead animals and triggered a putrid stench along western Florida's coastline has drifted further north, killing hundreds of thousands of fish in the Tampa Bay region. The legions of dead fish were reported in a 20-mile stretch of coastline from Clearwater to St. Petersburg, environmental officials with Pinellas County told the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday. County workers roamed beaches and trawled offshore to collect the fish carcasses to head off decomposition as some beachgoers turned back. Rotting fish and the strong odor of the algae has previously repelled locals and imperiled Florida's vital tourism sector for much of the summer.

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9. Coastal Erosion in the Arctic Intensifies Global Warming

Today, the exact magnitude of the future increase in greenhouse gas concentrations remains unknown. This is partly due to the fact that carbon dioxide is not only produced by humans burning gas, coal, and oil; it can also find its way into the atmosphere as a result of natural environmental processes. The positive feedback between warming and the release of ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from natural sources is a particular threat. In order to enable a better assessment of whether, and how, such developments are possible, climate researchers study records from the past to find evidence of these events.

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10. Wait, So How Much of the Ocean Is Actually Fished?

How much of the world’s oceans are affected by fishing? In February, a team of scientists led by David Kroodsma from the Global Fishing Watch published a paper that put the figure at 55 percent—an area four times larger than that covered by land-based agriculture. The paper was widely covered, with several outlets leading with the eye-popping stat that “half the world’s oceans [are] now fished industrially.” Ricardo Amoroso from the University of Washington had also been trying to track global fishing activity and when he saw the headlines, he felt that the 55 percent figure was wildly off. 

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11. Why The Discovery Of The Deep Sea Coral Reef Near South Carolina Matters


Scientists recently discovered an 86-mile-wide deep-sea coral reef off the coast of South Carolina as part of the "Deep Search 2018" expedition. These expansive mounds have likely existed for hundreds of thousands of years (since the arrival of modern humans), with new corals growing atop the skeletal debris of older ones. While four different coral species were collected at this site, the "stony" coral, Lophelia pertusa, was the dominant species. With their complex, three-dimensional structure, these corals create a protective habitat for a wide variety of marine creatures and are considered biodiversity hotspots. Deep-sea corals also assist in nutrient cycling throughout the world's oceans.

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12. Proposal to Create Whale Sanctuary in South Atlantic Defeated

FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — A proposal to create a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic was defeated Tuesday at a meeting in Brazil of the International Whaling Commission, amid a clash between countries that think whales can be hunted sustainably and others that want more conservation measures. Opponents of the plan argued the science didn't support the case for a sanctuary and said that it wasn't necessary because there isn't any commercial whaling occurring in the South Atlantic.

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13. How Far Will the Trump Administration Go to Loosen Offshore Drilling Rules?

It is no secret that the Trump administration is pushing to vastly expand offshore oil and gas drilling. In early January Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a new five-year plan for offshore leasing that would potentially open up more than 90 percent of federal coastal waters to energy development and include the largest number of lease sales in the program’s history. From Alaska’s Chukchi Sea and the rugged shores of the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast, nothing was off the table. Zinke described it as one more step on the path to “achieving American Energy Dominance.”
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14. Great Barrier Reef Definitely Not Dead: Experts Announce Significant Signs Of Recovery After Mass Bleaching


Experts in Australia have reported that corals affected by mass bleaching events are showing significant signs of recovery in what is a rare piece of good news for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The non-profit Reef & Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC), based in the city of Cairns, Queensland, says that milder summers in 2017 and 2018 have helped the reef to bounce back in several locations. In 2016 and 2017, many parts of the GBR—and other reefs around the world—experienced severe coral bleaching, which occurs when the organisms are placed under too much stress from high water temperatures, poor water quality, or other triggers.

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15. Noisy Fish Farms ‘Harm Other Marine Life’

Campaigners say that electronic underwater devices used to scare seals away from fish farms are causing distress to whales and dolphins more than 30 miles away. The acoustic deterrent devices (Adds) are said to have a detrimental effect on cetaceans including minke whales and the European Union protected harbor porpoises. Campaigners want the Scottish government and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to include in the UK’s Marine Noise Registry the “loud and pervasive” noise pollution that comes from salmon farms using Adds. This would lead to more scrutiny over their operation.

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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.