Friday, January 19, 2018

Week In Review January 19, 2018: National Park Board Revolt, 136,000 Ton Oil Spill, and More

1. National Park Board Members Resign in Protest


Sea Save Note: Writer and historian Wallace Stegner called national parks "the best idea we ever had. We have marine national parks and also national parks that with an oceanic border. For that reason, we believe this news is critical to Sea Save “Week in Review” A majority of the members of a National Park Service advisory board (nine of twelve) resigned their posts Monday in protest of how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has treated them, according to a new report. The board is made up of “citizen advisors chartered by Congress to help the National Park Service care for special places saved by the American people so that all my experience our heritage.”
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2. Belize Ends National Oil Drilling Activity - Recognizes Economic Risk to Lucrative Tourism

In a move to protect the fragile Belize Barrier Reef, UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Belize government has announced bold legislation to end oil activity in all of its waters. This new law will protect the second-largest reef in the world. It is home to 1,400 species, including endangered hawksbill turtles, manatees, rays and six threatened species of shark. “Legislation to stop offshore oil drilling in Belize is an extremely wise decision,” said Ralph Capeling, co-owner of Splash Dive Center in nearby Placencia. “The economic potential of the reef clearly exceeds the value of any potential discoveries.”
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3. China Oil Spill Threatens Marine Life
oil spill, oil tanker. light crude oilAn Iranian tanker collided with a Hong Kong cargo ship on January 6, catching on fire and then sinking off the coast of Shanghai. The Sanchi tanker caused a massive spill of condensate, a light crude oil. “The condensate that leaked into the water could potentially wreak havoc on local fish spawning grounds, and the Sanchi sank in the migratory path of the humpback whale, according to Greenpeace.” This latest spill raises alarms about the potential risks of new drilling proposed by the Trump administration off formerly protected U.S. coasts.

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4. Switzerland Deems Lobster Boiling Inhumane - World First to Recognize Crustacean Pain

Switzerland's ban against boiling lobsters alive is one of the world's first. The law, which takes effect in March, requires that lobsters be stunned before they are cooked. Lobsters and other crustaceans must also be kept in a natural environment rather than on ice or in ice water. Animal rights groups applaud the move, which follows years of debate about whether lobsters can actually feel pain. A 2013 study in the Journal of Experimental Biology seems to put that notion to rest.
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5. Thorny Debate Over Australia’s Starfish Control Program




Australia, crown-of-thorns-starfishThe voracious crown-of-thorns starfish is gobbling up coral on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The starfish is devastating a reef already reeling from two mass bleaching events in recent years. Now a review of the government’s starfish control program asserts “a serious case of negligence” in a program that will likely fail.

The government disputes that charge. "Managing the crown-of-thorns starfish is a significant challenge given the Great Barrier Reef covers an area larger than the size of Italy," says federal environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg. “He adds that ‘solid progress’ had been made in tackling the natural predator with more than 500,000 of the starfish killed by divers.”

Udo Engelhardt, who conducted the review, is calling for an immediate halt to the $14.4 million program until a full review is completed. “We've suspected for a long time there's no hope that we can control the population level of the crown-of-thorns starfish by killing them one at a time," he says.
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6.  Ringed Seals Adopt Landlubber Survival Strategy

The ice on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago is shrinking—and some areas are now completely devoid of ice. Conservationists are concerned about the effect on ringed seals, who depend on sea ice to rest and molt. The seals also build lairs on the ice to shelter their pups until they grow enough blubber to survive the icy waters. Now a new study reveals a seal survival strategy: they are spending more time on land. The adaption is a good sign, but time will tell how ringed seals will survive the rapid changes transforming their world.
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7. Say Goodbye to Seagrass?


seagrass, climate change, carbon sink
Seagrass, along with mangroves and salt marshes, stores “up to 100 times more carbon than tropical forests at 12 times the speed. Vast prairies of sea grasses stretch for kilometers along the seafloor, storing enough carbon to rival the world’s forests.” But warming oceans threaten that critical carbon sink. “We can see that the coasts of Australia, Polynesia, and Hudson Bay will lose seagrass if ocean temperatures rise 1.5°C,” says Orhun Aydin, a researcher at the Environmental Systems Research Institute in California. “The species Zostera marina only grows in these areas and will become extinct.” That's bad news for all of us. “Global warming is actively destroying mechanisms for storing carbon dioxide. This means increasing temperature will not be a linear process; intuitively, I’d say it will be exponential.”
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8. Venomous Sea Snake Found Off California- Signaling Warming Waters


The yellow-bellied sea snake has the widest range of any snake on the planet. And if the last few years are any indication, its range might be getting even bigger—thanks to climate change.
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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, January 12, 2018

Week in Review January 12, 2018: California Gears Up to Fight Coastal Drilling, The Big Apple Takes Aim at Big Oil and More

1. California Emerges as Leader in National Outcry Against Coastal Drilling

In response to the Trump administration’s plans to open nearly all U.S. coastlines to oil and gas exploration, Sea Save Foundation has joined politicians and other conservation groups to oppose the effort. California leaders are extremely vocal in their dissention. “It’s more important than ever that we send a strong statement that California will not be open for drilling along our coast, which could devastate our multi-trillion dollar coastal economy, our coastal waters and marine life,” says Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara. Legislators will introduce a bill to protect the waters up to 3 miles off California’s coast, beyond which the federal government has jurisdiction. “Nothing galvanizes bipartisan resistance in California like the threat of more offshore drilling, said Coastal Commission chair Dayna Bochco.
You can register your official comment with Department of Interior here.

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2. The Big Apple Takes Aim at Big Oil

power plant, black and white photoThis week New York City took aim against the fossil fuel industry. The city filed a lawsuit against the top five oil companies for their contribution to global warming--joining three California cities that have already filed suit. “We’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits,” says New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. The city also announced plans to divest the $5 billion currently invested in fossil fuel from its pension fund.
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3. Zinke Removes Florida from Drilling Plans


A few days after the Trump administration announced plans to open nearly all U.S. coastlines to oil and gas drilling, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke exempted Florida from the decision. The move set off a bipartisan uproar among politicians in other coastal states. Many echoed the sentiments of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who tweeted, “We’ve been clear: this would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment, and our coastal communities.” According to Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, the move may have put the whole drilling plan in legal jeopardy. He said the decision fits the definition of “arbitrary and capricious,” which contradicts the Administrative Procedure Act.
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4. U.K Microbead Ban Takes Effect


microbeads, scrub, microbead banThe United Kingdom has joined the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand in banning microbeads from bath and beauty products. Microplastics are a huge problem for the oceans, where they are eaten by marine organisms and move up the food chain to humans. Although microbeads comprise only a small part of microplastic pollution, “a single shower can flush as many as 100,000 microbeads,” according to a 2016 British environmental report. Consumers don’t need to worry, though: Beauty experts say that women can achieve the same exfoliating results with, well, a washcloth.
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5.  Cold Snap Threatens Sea Turtles and Manatees


manatee, FloridaFrozen sharks washing up on Cape Cod shores made headlines this week, and marine species are feeling the effects of severe cold weather as far south as Florida. Nearly 100 “stunned” sea turtles have been rescued, and manatees are also at risk. In 2010 a severe cold snap “killed hundreds of turtles, manatees and untold fish statewide.”
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6. Small Fishermen Ask That Pulse Fishing Be Banned Again  

fishing boats, sunsetIn 2006, the EU lifted a ban on a fishing method in which electrical pulses are sent into the seafloor to “coax” fish into nets. Now groups that represent “small-scale fishing fleets across Europe have asked the European Union to reinstate” the ban. Although some argue that pulse fishing is less destructive than bottom trawling, others say that doesn’t justify the method. They argue that pulse fishing has increased fishing in the Greater Thames, "because the technology allowed vessels to fish in softer ground for valuable species such as sole."
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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, January 5, 2018

Week in Review January 5, 2018: Trump Administration Proposes to Open Coasts to Drilling and Kill Rules on Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and More

1. Trump Administration Plans to Open U.S. Coastlines to Drilling


offshore drilling rig, oil drilling rig, offshore drilling, oil rigOn Thursday the Trump administration announced plans to open "nearly all" U.S. coastlines to oil and gas drilling, "giving energy companies access to leases off California for the first time in decades and opening more than a billion acres in the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard." Offshore drilling is opposed by the governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington, who are concerned that drilling could threaten fishing and tourism. Read More...   
2. Trump Administration Proposes to Kill Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling Safeguards

oil spill, oil rig, offshore oil and gas drillingThe Trump administration proposes to “rewrite or kill" Obama-era safeguards on offshore oil  and gas drilling. These rules were put in place after the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration said the rules are "an unnecessary burden on industry and rolling them back would encourage more energy production.” Environmentalists say the changes would leave U.S. coasts vulnerable to more devastating oil spills.

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3. Frozen Sharks Found on Beach During US East Coast Freeze

frozen shark, frozen thresher sharkFour frozen thresher sharks have washed ashore in Cape Cod during an Arctic freeze hitting the area this week. They didn’t freeze in the water but froze after being washed ashore.  “It's likely that the colder temperatures triggered a rapid migration south, and that some sharks got trapped in Cape Cod Bay and washed ashore. Turtles and some fish also get stranded on the shores of Cape Cod Bay during winter months,” according to Greg Skomal, senior marine fisheries scientist at Massachusetts Marine Fisheries.
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4. Will Jellyfish Take Over the Oceans?


sea nettle jellyfish, sea nettle, jellyfishIn this Atlantic article, find out if jellies will indeed take over the changing oceans.  “Their delicacy notwithstanding, in recent decades jellyfish species have come to be thought of as the durable and opportunistic inheritors of our imperiled seas. Jellyfish blooms—the intermittent, and now widely reported, flourishing of vast swarms—are held by many to augur the depletion of marine biomes. They are seen as a signal that the oceans have been overwarmed, overfished, acidified, and befouled.”
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5.  Oceanic and Oxygen-Starved Dead Zones Have Quadrupled

dead zones, dead fishLike a plot out of a bad horror film, "dead zones" are spreading across the world's oceans. "At least 500 of these dead zones have now been reported near coasts, up from fewer than 50 and 1950." Few sea creatures can survive in these zones, triggered by coastal runoff and made worse by climate change, because a warmer ocean holds less oxygen. That's bad news for all of us: microbes the growing dead zones produce nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
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6. Phytoplankton, Source of Half the World's Oxygen, Threatened Due to Climate Change

phytoplankton, climate change, Thalasiosira ritual
Phytoplankton, the plants of the sea, bloomed following Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. But with climate change, the producers of half the oxygen we breathe are in danger. Warmer sea temperatures lead to less phytoplankton growth than in cooler areas.  “Gradually warming ocean waters have killed off phytoplankton globally by a staggering 40 percent since 1950.” "They're tremendously important.  They're at the very bottom of the food chain, and what happens at the bottom impacts everybody," says Andrew Barton, oceanographer and associate research scholar at Princeton University.

                                                 
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7. Rare Intersex Shark Found Off Taiwan Coast


intersex shark, TaiwanA rare intersex shark, with both male and female reproductive organs, has been found off of Taiwan. The Pacific spadenose shark is only 1.6 feet long and weighs 0.79 pounds.  Only a handful of intersex sharks have been found, and none of this species. Unlike some fish species that can change gender, sharks are born permanently with either male or female sex organs. Sharks in captivity have given birth without mating--could intersex sharks be one reason why?
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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.