Friday, August 11, 2017

Week in Review - August 11, 2017: Federal Agencies Concur: Climate Change Will Have Dramatic Impact, Genetically Modified Salmon, Mako Sharks Threatened, Offshore Drilling Stalled and More...

1. Multiple Federal Agencies Concur: Climate Change will have a Drastic Impact

Since 1980, the average annual temperature in the U.S. has risen quickly and “recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.”  The draft report is by scientists from 13 federal agencies.  The report notes that thousands of studies by tens of thousands of scientists all report that human activities are primarily responsible for climate change.  The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the report.
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2. Shortfin Mako Sharks Are Threatened by Overfishing

shortfin mako shark, mako shark, sharkThrough a satellite tag tracking study, scientists have concluded that shortfin mako shark mortality rate is higher in the western North Atlantic than what fishermen report. "The tracking data also showed these mako sharks entered the management zones of 19 countries, underscoring how critical it is for countries to work together closely to manage and conserve these long-distance oceanic travelers."
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3. First Genetically Engineered Salmon Sold in Canada

genetically engineered salmon, salmon
After a 25 year wait, 4.5 tons of genetically engineered salmon has been sold in Canada.  The Atlantic salmon is engineered to grow faster and reaches market in half the time (18 months) of non-genetically engineered salmon.  Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Canadian authorities have approved the salmon for sale, but neither country requires it to be labeled genetically engineered.
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4. How Will Animals React to the 2017 Solar Eclipse?

With the great American solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 on the way, many people are curious how animals will react to the total solar eclipse.  Many animals awake during the day start their night time routine during totality.  Daytime fish have been observed hiding during the eclipse while their night counterparts come out.  Whales and dolphins have been observed at the surface 5 minutes before the eclipse and they stayed to watch until 5 minutes after the eclipse.  Those who use the app iNaturalist can enter their own observations from before and after the eclipse, no matter where the eclipse is seen from.



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5. Only 100 Companies Are Responsible for 71% of Global Emissions


The Carbon Majors Reports states that only 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.  This “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988.”  Not all news is bad, as companies like Apple, Facebook and Google have committed to 100% renewable power.
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6. Genetically Engineering a Super Coral

coral reef, corals
A scientist is looking into genetically engineering the algal symbionts that corals need to survive.  Coral bleaching is a problem oceans-wide due to ocean temperatures rising.  The Great Barrier Reef between 2014-2016 lost a quarter of their coral reefs.  The scientist used a virus to deliver heat resistant genes to a symbiont.  Whether or not this method gets used in a natural ecosystem remains to be seen, as its use will be very controversial.

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7. Salmon in Danger of Losing Federal Protection

The Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association is calling the cost of saving imperiled salmon in the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest unsustainable and is turning to the Trump administration to sidestep endangered species laws. The group is encouraged by recent Trump decisions that favor development over threatened and endangered animals. The irrigators association is frustrated with court rulings they believe favor fish over people and Trump could bring stability for irrigators, power generators and other businesses that rely on the water.
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8. Grassroots Resistance and Low Oil Prices Stall Offshore Drilling 


North Carolina's Governor, Roy Cooper, announced his opposition to offshore drilling. He stated "It's clear that opening North Carolina's coast to oil and gas exploration and drilling would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment and our coastal communities – and for little potential gain," Cooper said from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. "As governor, I'm here to speak out and take action against it. I can sum it up in four words: not off our coast."
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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, August 4, 2017

Week in Review: International Talks Begin: How Should We Regulate Open Ocean?, Mexico: Dolphin Shows Banned, Largest Dead Zone in History: Gulf of Mexico and more...

1. Nations Start Talks Aimed at Protecting the High Seas


bluefin tuna, tunaThe United Nations diplomats have started talks to protect the high seas.  The high seas equate more than half of our oceans and are beyond the jurisdiction of any one country.  After two years of talks, diplomats are taking steps to negotiate a treaty creating marine protected areas.  They will have to negotiate how much to protect and how to enforce the new rules.  Many would like 30 percent set aside as reserves, and the U.N. nations have already agreed to at least 10 percent.
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2. Mexico City Bans Dolphin Shows


“Mexico City just passed a set of laws that prohibits performances, therapy and scientific research involving captive dolphins.”  Fines will be 113,000 to 300,960 pesos.  Those housing dolphins have three months to comply with the new laws. Dolphin Discovery Six Flags Mexico is rated “sixth worst dolphinarium in America.”
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3. Largest Ever Dead Zone Found in Gulf of Mexico


dead fish, fishThe meat industry is being blamed for the largest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Toxins from fertilizer and manure from companies like Tyson Foods are causing algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico.  When the algae dies, it uses up the oxygen in the water column and the animals there flee or die from lack of oxygen.  NOAA is going to announce that at least a 8,200 square mile area (the size of New Jersey) dead zone has been found.
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4. Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments - Open Call for Public Comment

national marine sanctuaries logo

The Department of Commerce has extended the public comment period to August 15, 2017 for the review of our National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine Monuments.  There are 11 marine protected areas in the U.S. and 5 marine monuments including the vast Hawaiian Papahānaumokuākea area of 582,578 square miles. Comment here



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5. Arctic Iceberg is Troubling for Sea Level Rise

Petermann glacier, glacier, iceberg, Greenland ice sheet
Researchers are more worried about the iceberg the size of 3 Manhattans that broke off of an Arctic glacier than the Delaware-sized iceberg that broke off of Antarctica recently.  “You could call it the canary in the coal mine. If that big glacier there is changing quickly, and it is, it's a worrying sign for what's happening in the rest of Greenland.”  Land-based glaciers of Greenland are responsible for global sea-level rise.  The Petermann glacier is 10 percent of the Greenland ice sheet and it alone melting could raise sea levels by one foot.
Read More...


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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.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Week in Review: Santa Barbara Passes Resolution Against Drilling, UK Microbead Ban Strongest in World, Australia to Expand Commercial Fishing in Marine Sanctuaries and More...

1. Santa Barbara - First California City to Pass Resolution Against Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling


sunset oil platform, oil platform, sunsetSanta Barbara is the first California city to ban new drilling off the California coast and to ban fracking in existing offshore wells. There is a statewide campaign for local governments to pass such resolutions since Trump urged federal agencies to open up federal waters to new oil and gas leasing on April 28. "I'm thrilled to be part of this community effort to protect natural resources, the water supply, and community health," said Santa Barbara City Council member Jason Dominguez, who sponsored the resolution. "At the same time, we can improve our economy, develop green markets, and bring quality jobs and living wages to the area."
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2. U.K. Ban on Microbeads to be the ‘Strongest in the World’


microbeads in toothpaste, microbeads, toothpasteThe U.K. is planning to ban microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and personal products like toothpaste.  “Microbeads are one of the most pervasive forms of marine pollution and prevention at source is far more effective than clean-up at sea. Action also needs to be taken by everyone in the supply chain to reduce, reuse and recycle, including (by) us consumers.”
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3. Australia Proposes to Expand Commercial Fishing in Marine Sanctuaries

great barrier reef, national geographic, david doubiletThe percent of Australia’s marine reserves open to commercial fishing is proposed to go up from 64 to 80.  Australia would be the first nation “to wind back its ocean protection measures.”  The proposal is open to public comments and could be implemented as early as 2018.  The Australian government is also considering cutting down funding for marine protected areas and “introducing blue zones to permit underwater oil and gas mining.”
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4. Whales Learn New Songs Like Humans


humpback whale, humpback whale breaching
“Humpback whales learn songs in segments – like the verses of a human song – and can remix them, a new study involving University of Queensland research has found.”  The humpback whales learn new songs through social learning, i.e. from other whales rather than through genetically from one generation to another.  "All the males in a population sing the same complex song, but the pattern of song changes with time, sometimes quite rapidly, across the population," Dr. Noad said.
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5. Rarely Seen Megamouth Shark Spotted

megamouth shark

Just in time for the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, 2 divers caught a glimpse of the elusive megamouth shark off of Komodo Island of Indonesia.  Despite its size, the megamouth shark only feeds on microscopic plankton.  It was first discovered in 1976 and since it has only been seen 60 times.
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6. Alaskan Sponge Can Help Fight Cancer



green deep-sea sponge, NOAA

A small, deep-water Alaskan sponge “has molecules that selectively target and kill pancreatic tumor cells.”  The golf ball-sized green sponge, Latrunculia austini, was discovered in 2005 by a NOAA research mission.  “The structures of the (sponge) molecules are not related to anything you would find on land or even in tropical shallow-water marine environments.” Research is promising, but the sponge can live as deep as 720 feet so getting them could prove problematic.
Read More...


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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.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Week in Review: Sea Save at Animal CITES Meeting 2017, US Approves Oil Drilling in Alaskan Waters, Swimming Elephant Rescued 8 Miles Offshore and More...

1. Sea Save Joins International Community at Animal CITES Meeting


CITES, CITES Animal and Plant Committee, Lion, purple flower, hammerhead sharkSea Save Foundation is on site this week in Geneva, Switzerland to attend the animal committee CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) meeting.  “The Animals and Plants Committees provide technical support, based on sound science, to support well-informed decision-making about the sustainable management and conservation of CITES listed species.”  Check out Sea Save’s social media for updates: Twitter.com/SeaSaveTweet
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2. US Approves Oil Drilling in Alaskan Waters, Prompting Fears for Marine Mammals


alaskan oil drilling, alaska, oil drillingAn Italian oil and gas company has been given permission to drill four exploration wells in federal waters off of Alaska. Scientists say that polar bears, bowhead whales and other marine mammals are in danger of potential oil spills.  The winter only drilling will start in December and conclude in May of 2019.  It doesn’t permit oil production, which would require “submission and approval of a development and production plan.”
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3. Hagfish Spill onto Highway


hagfish, slime eels, hagfish highway, slime eels highway
An Oregon highway was slimed when a container of hagfish was overturned from a truck.  The hagfish were to be exported to South Korea, where they are a delicacy.  Hagfish produce copious amounts of slime for protection, and when stressed.  A single slime eel can fill a five gallon bucket with slime almost instantly!
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4. Peru Stops Whale Shark Fishing

whale shark
The Peruvian Ministry of Production announced that whale shark fishing has been banned in Peruvian watersas well as the landing, transportation, retention, processing and commercialization of the species. In the case of an incidental catch of this species, it must be returned to its natural habitat immediately.”
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5. Researchers Create Algorithm to Help Stop Illegal Fishing


illegal fishing boat sinking, illegal fishing, fishing boatThe illegal fishing industry is valued at $23 billion dollars and contributes to the collapse of fisheries worldwide.  Stopping hundreds of thousands of fishing vessels seems an impossible task for enforcers.  Enter researchers, who came up with algorithms to flag vessels with “fishy” behavior.  This gives enforcers clues to which vessels to board at port in different countries.  1.5 billion people around the world rely on the oceans as their primary source of protein.


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6. Elephant is Rescued From the Ocean

elephant rescued in ocean, elephant rescue, sri lankan navy
After being found swimming eight nautical miles from shore, an elephant has been rescued by the Sri Lankan Navy off their coast..  A rope was tied around the elephant, who was hauled to shore safely.  Elephants can swim up to 29 miles and use their trunk to breathe while swimming.
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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, July 15, 2017

Week in Review: How Should We Govern Open Ocean? Giant Iceberg Cleaves from Antarctica, Atlantic Ocean Oil Drilling - Green Light and More

1. Sea Save Foundation and Others at United Nations: Ocean Conference.  How Should We Govern the Open Ocean?


The open ocean is at risk from climate change, over-fishing, deep-sea mining, farm pollution, and plastics. This situation is even more dire since 60% of the ocean has no conservation rule as it's outside national jurisdiction. Representatives at a UN Ocean Conference are focusing discussions towards international agreement on how to protect and manage ocean biodiversity. Together they hope to set up legal framework for marine conservation, look more rigorously into environmental impact before industrial activities are undertaken, and develop rules around marine resources so all nations can share the wealth of the seas.
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2. A Continent Divided - Delaware Sized Iceberg Cleaves from Antarctica

A one trillion ton iceberg, the biggest on record, has broken off of Antarctica sometime between July 10 and 12.  It is the size of Delaware. The interesting thing is what happens next: Will the ice shelf weaken and collapse? Will the glaciers behind this iceberg accelerate and have a direct contribution to sea-level rising? Or is this just a normal calving event? Opinions in the scientific community are divided and it is too early to blame this event on human generated climate change. Currently, it only poses an added risk to ships.
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3. U.S. Executive Order Opens Door to Atlantic Ocean Oil Drilling

breaching humpback whale, humpback whale
The executive order to open up the Atlantic Ocean to oil drilling is being followed by The National Marine Fisheries Service permitting five companies to begin seismic airgun blasting, the controversial technique for detecting reserves of oil and gas. Many scientists say that it poses an unacceptable risk of serious harm to marine life from plankton all the way up to fish and whales. Bipartisan bills have been introduced with unpolarized support in both the House and Senate that would ban seismic testing.
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4. Susan Combs Once Stated that Endangered Species Act - "Threatens to Blow Up Texas Economy" Now in Charge of the Proverbial Henhouse



Susan Combs, TexasFormer Texan comptroller Susan Combs was appointed by the Trump administration to be assistant secretary for policy, management and budget in the Department of the Interior. This department overlooks the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is therefore responsible for the Endangered Species Act, of which she has been a strong critic.  She has publicly vowed to protect Texas business interests and has “likened the endangered species listings to ‘incoming Scud missiles' that threaten to blow up the Texas...economy’.
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5. 
Stanford Study: We are Currently in Greatest Period of Extinction Since Dinosaur Eradication



Bornean Gibbon, gibbon, endangered speciesAccording to a 2015 study, earth has entered a period of mass extinction unparalleled since the dinosaurs, with 2 vertebrate species going extinct every year on average. A recent study done at Stanford found that more extreme to this 'seemingly' slow rate of extinction, 30 percent of vertebrates have declining populations and ranges, which tells the more dire story of "biological annihilation occurring globally". This loss of populations and biodiversity rob us of "crucial ecosystem services such as crop pollination, pest control, and wetlands' water purification". In addition, this reduction within intricate ecological networks leads to less resilient ecosystems. The authors of this study call for immediate action to curb the basic drivers of extinction: human overpopulation and overconsumption.


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6. USPS Celebrates "Sharks Forever" Stamps


The U.S. Postal Service will issue 'Sharks Forever' stamps on July 26, 2017.  Five species (mako, thresher, great white, hammerhead and whale shark) will be featured. A first day of issue ceremony will take place at Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky. Use #SharksStamps on social media.
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7. Deep Sea Corals Use Fluorescence to Create  "Sunlight" Required for Survival


coral fluorescent
Corals living near the sunlit surface need protection from the UV light. UV light damages their surface algae thereby interfering with the symbiotic relationship that must be maintained for their sustenance. These shallow water corals fluoresce to protect their little algae buddies from the damaging UV rays. Scientists always wondered why deep sea corals, hidden from sunlight, also fluoresce. A recent study showed that these deep sea corals have taken this trick of fluorescing and turned it to their advantage of producing their own sunlight in the deep sea darkness. This sunlight production aids their surface algae in the photosynthetic process thereby continuing to foster the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae that is observed in shallow waters.  
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8. Rising Sea Temperatures Will Have Greatest Impact on Small, Poor Developing Nations With Smallest Carbon Footprint

In contrast to their small carbon footprint, small island developing states and the world's least developed countries are facing the largest consequence of climate change's impacts on marine life. This disparity confirms the importance of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal #14 which includes a "target of increasing the economic benefits to least-developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources". The outcome of the UN Oceans Conference similarly emphasized the importance of supporting these vulnerable places.
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9. G20 Attendees Rebuke Recent Decision for US to Leave Paris Accord


At the G20 summit, participants agreed that the Paris climate accord was irreversible and they remained committed to it. Even Mr. Putin called climate change a "major issue" and commended Germany's Angela Merkel on having reached a "good compromise". The G20 summit, hosted in Germany, which was expected to focus on many global issues, conclued with Merkel announcing her sadness of the US's intention of leaving the climate agreement.
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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.