Friday, December 5, 2014

Week in Review: Warm Water Speeds Antarctic Melting, New Protections for Seals and Bluefin, and More

1. Warm Water Speeds Antarctic Melting

Antarctic glaciers are melting faster than expected because of warm water washing up against the Antarctic ice sheet, which contains about 70% of the world's fresh water. The result of this process could be the release of a vast quantity of water, triggering a significant jump in global sea levels and endangering coastal populations. If the ice sheet were to melt completely, sea level is estimated to rise 16 feet. Read more...


2. 2014 a Bad Year for Coral Reefs - and 2015 Could Be Worse

Coral bleaching was particularly severe in the Pacific and Caribbean this past summer, possibly due to a brewing El Nino. The Hawaiian Islands experienced their worst bleaching on record. Bleaching occurs when corals lose their food-producing algae due to extended heat stress. The corals' vibrant colors fade, and they become vulnerable to disease and starvation. With El Nino expected next year, many corals could be facing a significant threat. Read more...


3. No Prosecution Over Grand Cayman Coral Reef Damage By Cruise Ship

No one will be held accountable for an incident that led to severe damage of an untouched coral reef by a Carnival cruise ship anchor in Grand Cayman earlier this year. The damage occurred when a Carnival Magic cruise ship was directed by a shipping agency to anchor outside the public port anchorage. Although it's impossible to put a value on the reef, damage is estimated at between $1.3 million and $14 million. Environment officials "hope" the entities involves will help support the recovery effort that is underway.  Read more...


4. Conflict at UN Climate Talks in Lima

U.N. climate talks achieved little this week, with developing nations demanding that rich nations do more to cut emissions, while developed nations, led by the U.S., claimed they were doing enough. The lack of consensus and progress comes as crucial evidence continues to pile up on the increase in global warming. Read more...


5. Arctic Ringed Seals Could Get New Protected Habitat

The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed new rules that would provide endangered Arctic ringed seals with critical habitat more than twice the size of California. These seals are threatened by the loss of sea ice, which they need for molting and raising their pups. Read more...


6. Federal Rule Will Extend Protection of Bluefin Tuna

Atlantic bluefin tuna, threatened by overfishing, gained additional federal protections that restrict the use of longline fishing gear in the Gulf of Mexico. The long lines, set to catch swordfish, fatally snare high numbers of bluefin, which are then dumped overboard.  Read more...


7. Suez Canal Expansion Threatens Mediterranean Ecosystem

Egypt's development of a second "lane" in the Suez Canal and widening of the existing channel could cause an influx of invasive species, resulting in serious harm to the marine ecosystem. About 350 non-indigenous species have entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal already, including the destructive silver-cheeked pufferfish. Read more...


8. Record Number of Dead Endangered Sea Turtles Seized

Vietnamese police have seized more than 1,000 dead sea turtles that were being illegally exported to China. Hunting, trading, and storing of any marine turtle is illegal under Vietnamese law. Whether the raid will be followed by legal penalties remains to be seen. Vietnam is considered one of the world's worst countries for trade in endangered species. Read more...


9. Soaps and Sunscreens Found in Antarctic Waters and Wildlife

Traces of personal care products have been detected in the waters around two Antarctic research stations, as well as in clams, fish, and sea urchins in the area. The study by New Zealand scientists suggested that predatory species like seals could be affected if they eat the contaminated fish. Waste from these research stations is released directly into Antarctic waters, some of it untreated. Read more...


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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.