Thursday, October 15, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" Oct 23, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

A study of Palau's coral reefs, A quadrillion plastic fibers discovered in California's environment, Burger King moving towards zero-waste, Sponges as biomonitors of micro pollution, and more.

1. Shark fishing thrives in Myanmar due to lack of alternatives

Achieving fisheries compliance is challenging in contexts where enforcement capacity is limited and the incentives for rule-breaking are strong. This challenge is exemplified in Myanmar, where an active shark fishery exists despite a nationwide ban on targeted shark fishing. We used the Kipling method (5W1H) to gather a complete story of non-compliance in five small-scale fishing communities in the Myeik Archipelago. Among 144 fishers surveyed, 49% were aware of the nationwide ban. Shark fishers (24%) tended to be younger individuals who did not own a boat and perceived shark fishing to be prevalent. Compliant fishers were motivated by a fear of sharks and lack of capacity (equipment, knowledge), whereas food and income were cited as key motivations for non-compliance. The results of our study emphasize that in resource-dependent communities, improving compliance for effective shark conservation may require addressing broader issues of poverty, food security and the lack of alternatives.

2. New marine animal deaths discovered off Russia’s Kamchatka coast

New mass deaths of marine animals have been discovered off the coast of Russia’s Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula where an unexplained event recently killed off up to 95% of seabed life, authorities said Monday.  Scientists and witnesses reported seeing dead marine animals along the seabed south of the initial discovery last week, Kamchatka region governor Vladimir Solodov said on Instagram. Neighboring beaches, he said, were not affected. “The evidence shows that the scale of the occurrence is extremely large,” Solodov said. He said that the deaths were “almost certainly linked to climate change and other polluting effects we as humankind cause to the Pacific Ocean.” 

3. Palau's coral reefs: a jewel of the ocean

Scientists at the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) [based in Annapolis, Maryland] have released their findings on the state of coral reefs in Palau. Their research, based on extensive underwater surveys, found Palau's reefs had the highest live coral cover of all the reefs studied on the Global Reef Expedition, a scientific research mission to assess the health and resiliency of coral reefs around the world. Published today, the Global Reef Expedition: The Republic of Palau Final Report summarizes the Foundation's research on the status of coral reefs and reef fish in Palau and provides conservation recommendations that can help preserve these outstanding coral reefs for generations to come.

Read more in "EurekAlert!"

Read original study

4. Newly discovered gene may give 'sea pickles' their glow

In 2017, a group of scientists in a submersible off the coast of Brazil were testing the ability of a soft robotic hand to collect delicate marine life when they grabbed a selection of gelatinous and glowing “sea pickles.” These sausage-sized pyrosomes Pyrosoma atlanticum are actually colonies of thousands of tiny animals—each with a heart and a brain—that work together to move, eat, breathe, and reverberate in blue-green light. Although they are widely known for their gigantic blooms and spectacular light—“pyrosoma” means “fire body” in Greek—many of the most basic facts about their bioluminescence remain elusive. So the expedition’s scientists began a second journey to determine the cause of these pyrosomes’ unique bioluminescent displays, which, unlike many bioluminescent animals, can be triggered by light. They found a new gene that could be the reason that pyrosomes and a number of other bioluminescent animals glow. If confirmed, it would be the first bioluminescent gene identified from a chordate—the group that includes all vertebrates as well as a couple types of invertebrates.

Read more in "American Museum of Natural History"

5. Groundbreaking study finds 13.3 quadrillion plastic fibers in California’s environment

A study in California has laid bare the staggering scale of pollution from plastic microfibers in synthetic clothing – one of the most widespread, yet largely invisible, forms of plastic waste. The report, whose findings were revealed exclusively by the Guardian, found that in 2019 an estimated 4,000 metric tons – or 13.3 quadrillion fibers – were released into California’s natural environment. The plastic fibers, which are less than 5mm in length, are primarily shed when we wash our yoga pants, stretchy jeans and fleece jackets and can easily enter oceans and waterways. “The findings were nothing short of shocking,” said Alexis Jackson, fisheries project director at the Nature Conservancy in California, which commissioned the study from a research team at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The study, which the authors describe as the first of its kind, has not yet been peer-reviewed or published.

Read more in "The Guardian"

6. Burger King testing reusable food packaging in zero-waste effort

Burger King plans to test reusable food containers beginning in 2021 as part of its efforts to reduce waste. The trial will partner with TerraCycle's zero-waste delivery platform Loop, a program that allows consumers an alternative to recycling that still diminishes overall waste and environmental impact, according to an official press release. Customers at Burger King will be able to choose reusable packaging for menu items including food, soft drinks coffee. Those who choose the reusable option can return the containers to Burger King restaurants to be cleaned.

Read more in "The Hill"

7. Sponges as potential biomonitors of micropollution

Sponges are sometimes referred to as the ocean's vacuum cleaners. They feed on tiny particles suspended in the currents, by filtering them from the seawater that passes through their highly porous tissues—which are supported by mineralized skeletons in many species. Sponges are filter feeders that live on particulate matter—but they can also ingest microscopic fragments of plastics and other pollutants of anthropogenic origin. They can therefore serve as useful bioindicators of the health of marine ecosystems. Researchers found that particle-bearing sponges have a strong potential to biomonitor microparticulate pollutants, such as microplastics and other degraded industrial products. 

Read original study

8. NOAA report reveals condition of world's largest marine conservation area

Located northwest of the main Hawaiian islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is virtually unpopulated. Because of its isolation, scale, and high degree of protection, the monument provides an unrivaled example of reef ecosystems still dominated by top predators such as sharks. This is not seen in most other island environments due to human activity.  Some marine habitat has been impacted by derelict fishing gear, large storms, aggressive nuisance algae, and coral bleaching. Most marine areas of the monument have not been significantly affected and are in relatively good to fair condition. The report states that terrestrial habitats have been affected by past human activities that altered soils and vegetation, introduced alien species, and left behind contamination on many of the islands. Without active management efforts to restore habitat, remove invasive species, abate contaminants and enhance the resilience of endangered species, resources would be in significantly poorer condition.

Read more in "PHYS.org"

9. Sand mining and development approved in Bali conservation area 

A year ago, Bali’s environmentalist community was cautiously celebrating the cancellation of a massive land reclamation project planned for Benoa Bay. The permit for the 30 trillion rupiah ($2 billion) development plan to build 12 artificial islands — complete with a golf course, theme park, and even a Formula One race course — expired before the project could obtain government approval. On Oct. 10, 2019, the Bali governor designated Benoa Bay a conservation area for religious and cultural activities and artisanal fisheries, protected from reclamation of any kind. For a brief moment after five years of relentless protests, it appeared that Benoa Bay would remain untouched. 
Barely 11 months later, the Balinese legislature gathered discreetly during the COVID-19 pandemic and approved a zoning plan for the area that would permit sand mining and an expansion of the harbor and airport.

Read more in "Monga Bay"

10. Cleaning volunteers asked to record plastic PPE found on UK beaches

Volunteers in this year’s Great British Beach Clean are being asked to record the personal protective equipment (PPE) they find, to get a clearer picture of the volume of plastic masks and gloves discarded during the coronavirus pandemic and their impact on the environment. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which organizes the annual September event, is urging people to organize their own surveys with smaller groups of friends, family, and “bubbles”, in line with government guidance.

Read more in "The Guardian"

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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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

Monday, October 5, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" Oct 5, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

COVID vaccines could decimate shark populations, Nations commit to reverse nature loss,  Attenborough calls for global $500 billion a year investment in nature and more.

1. Could COVID protection trigger shark eradication?

The race to develop a safe and effective COVID Vaccine to save human lives is an international priority.  However, we do not need to create a new crisis as we address another. Plant-derived squalane has been proven to be just as effective as shark-derived squalene in vaccine studies and in the skincare industry. COVID vaccines will be needed by virtually everyone. With the pandemic, climate change, and economic disruption, this is no time to create a new ecological crisis.

2. World leaders pledge to halt Earth’s destruction ahead of UN summit

There are 64 leaders from five continents warning that humanity is in a state of planetary emergency due to the climate crisis and the rampant destruction of life-sustaining ecosystems. To restore the balance with nature, governments and the European Union have made a 10-point pledge to counteract the damage.


3. France bans wild animals in circuses, marine parks

France will phase out the use of animals in traveling circuses and orcas and dolphins in marine parks, the country’s environment minister announced Tuesday. Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili said during a news conference that a ban on animals like tigers, lions, and elephants in circuses will take effect in “coming years,” according to The Associated Press. A separate ban on breeding or bringing in dolphins or killer whales to France’s three marine parks will take effect immediately. The government will begin implementing the circus regulation “as soon as possible,” she said.

Read more in "The Hill"

4. David Attenborough calls for global $500 billion a year investment in nature

British ecologist and nature documentary host David Attenborough called for a $500 billion per year global investment in nature on Wednesday. The call came during a one-day summit held by the United Nations convened to discuss the protection of wildlife on the planet.  The world spends a collective $80 billion to $90 billion on wildlife and nature conservation each year. However, according to Reuters, studies show that much more money is needed to keep ecosystems from collapsing.  Attenborough joined conservation groups Wednesday cautioning that the planet's future is in "grave jeopardy," according to the wire service. "Our natural world is under greater pressure now than at any time in human history, and the future of the entire planet – on which every single one of us depends – is in grave jeopardy," Attenborough said in a statement.

Read more in "Reuters"

5. Greenland is on track to lose ice faster than in any century over the last 12,000 years, study finds

If human societies don’t sharply curb emissions of greenhouse gases, Greenland’s rate of ice loss this century is likely to greatly outpace that of any century over the past 12,000 years, a new study concludes. “Basically, we’ve altered our planet so much that the rates of ice sheet melt this century are on pace to be greater than anything we’ve seen under natural variability of the ice sheet over the past 12,000 years. We’ll blow that out of the water if we don’t make severe reductions to greenhouse gas emissions,” says Jason Briner, PhD, professor of geology in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences. Briner led the collaborative study, coordinating the work of scientists from multiple disciplines and institutions.

Read more in "University at Buffalo"

6. Trump official stalls polar bear study that could affect oil drilling in Alaska 

A top official at the Interior Department has slowed the release of a study on the number of polar bears that give birth on land overlapping an area recently opened to oil and gas drilling, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. The study has been ready for at least three months, but has been held up by U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly, The Post reported, noting that Reilly has raised questions about it, including why it uses data from a former scientist and why polar bear dens aren’t counted individually.  The study reportedly looks at the number of bears that give birth in an area near the southern Beaufort Sea, which is part of an area the administration has moved toward opening up for oil and gas drilling.

Read more in "The Hill"

7. Sentinels of ocean acidification impacts survived Earth’s last mass extinction

Two groups of tiny, delicate marine organisms, sea butterflies and sea angels, were found to be surprisingly resilient—having survived dramatic global climate change and Earth’s most recent mass extinction event 66 million years ago, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences co-authored by Erica Goetze, oceanographer in the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. Sea butterflies have been a focus for global change research because they make their shells of aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate that is 50 percent more soluble than calcite, which other important open ocean organisms use to construct their shells. As their shells are susceptible to dissolving in more acidified ocean water, pteropods have been called “canaries in the coal mine,” or sentinel species that signal the impact of ocean acidification.

Read more in "University of Hawai‘i at Manoa"

8. New marine protected areas connect hundreds of kilometers of Turkey's Mediterranean coast

Three hundred and fifty square kilometers of Turkey's coastline has been brought under environmental protection in a recent announcement by the Turkish government. This new area represents a significant expansion of the existing marine protected area network along the country's Mediterranean coast and firmly establishes Turkey as a leader in marine conservation in the most overfished sea on the planet. The announcement comes amid a growing global push to expand ocean protection through coalitions such as the UK's 30by30 alliance, which calls for the protection of 30% of the global oceans by 2030.

Read more in "PHYS.org"

9. Coral's resilience to warming may depend on iron

How well corals respond to climate change could depend in part on the already scarce amount of iron available in their environment, according to a new study led by Penn State researchers. The study reveals that the combination of hot water temperatures and low iron levels compromises the algae that live within coral cells, suggesting that limited iron levels—which could decline with warming ocean waters—could exacerbate the effects of climate change on corals.

Read more in "Penn Stat News"

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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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

Could COVID Protection Trigger Shark Eradication

As the world battles with the devastating human and economic losses due to the Novel Coronavirus 19, sharks and oceans are in danger of being severely impacted as collateral damage.

Squalene, which is found in high concentrations in shark livers is one of the component parts of leading vaccines in trials.

Squalene and its hydrogenated derivative squalane are used in conjunction with “adjuvants” or ingredients used to create a stronger immune response, thus augmenting the strength of the vaccine. Squalene and squalane can be harvested from many other sources, however, sharks are favored by pharmaceutical companies due to its high level of purity and inexpensive pricing. If successful vaccine trials emerge that require squalene and squalene there are environmentally-friendly sources that should be used.  Olives, soybeans, and sunflowers are a few viable and proven sources of this ingredient. 

Squalane can also be synthesized using one of two pathways. The first method is via petrochemical origin and this holds its own environmental challenges.  The second synthetic recipe is new, involves the genetic manipulations of microorganisms, and has not been well tested, thus rendering it a poor option.

The world awaits a vetted vaccine that will allow us to return to our lives, protected from this deadly virus. When we find this solution, we must move forward swiftly but not at the expense of shark populations and overall ocean conservation.

The time is now to look ahead and communicate that any vaccine must be both safe for public consumption and environmentally viable.

By: Georgienne Bradley MA
and Lawrence Stock MD

Friday, September 25, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" September 25, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

Florida SB 680 - Shark fin ban is signed into law, 40% of Hawaii beaches could soon be lost, China pledges to be carbon neutral by 2060, How we can eradicate plastic pollution by 2040, and more...

1. Florida SB 680 - Shark fin ban is signed into law

Florida SB 680, a Shark Fin Ban Bill, was signed by the governor and is now law in the Sunshine State  This is a game-changer because Florida had become the shark fin trade hub of the United States. Kristin Jacobs introduced SB 680 to the Florida House of Representatives on October 28th, 2019. SB 680 is a great victory, but it came with a cost.  The bill was diluted due to the successful efforts of a strong fishing lobby.  We had the option to abandon the bill but strategically decided to take this opportunity to begin strengthening shark conservation in Florida. But we will not rest until the senseless and unsustainable shark fin practice has been stopped completely. 

Read more on the Sea Save Foundation Blog

2. China pledges to become carbon neutral by 2060

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, announced Tuesday it would seek to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. It’s a notable pledge from a nation frequently targeted by Republicans, who argue the U.S. should not move ahead on more ambitious climate action without stronger commitments from other major emitters. In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping said China would scale up its commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

Read more in "The Hill"

3. 40% of O'ahu, Hawai'i beaches could be lost by mid-century

The reactive and piecemeal approach historically used to manage beaches in Hawai'i has failed to protect them. If policies are not changed, as much as 40% of all beaches on O'ahu, Hawai'i could be lost before mid-century, according to a new study by researchers in the Coastal Geology Group at the University of Hawai'i (UH) at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST). In an era of rising sea level, beaches need to migrate landward, otherwise, they drown. Beach migration, also known as shoreline retreat, causes coastal erosion of private and public beachfront property. 

Read more in "University of Hawai‘i at Manoa"

4. Pilot whales Tasmania: Almost 400 die in Australia's worst stranding

About 380 whales have died in what is suspected to be Australia's largest stranding on record, officials say. Since Monday, hundreds of long-finned pilot whales have been found beached on Tasmania's west coast. Rescuers had managed to save 50 by late on Wednesday, and they were trying to help the remaining estimated 30 whales. Tasmanian government officials said the rescue effort would continue "as long as there are live animals". 

Read more in "BBC"

5. 2020 Arctic sea ice minimum at second-lowest on record

NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado - Boulder shows that the 2020 minimum extent, which was likely reached on Sept. 15, measured 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers). In winter, frozen seawater covers almost the entire Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas. This sea ice undergoes seasonal patterns of change -- thinning and shrinking during late spring and summer, and thickening and expanding during fall and winter. The extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic can impact local ecosystems, regional and global weather patterns, and ocean circulation. 

Read more in "NASA"

6. "Science" - Analysis of plastic pollution eradication

A new analysis published in the journal "Science" shows that the business-as-usual approach to tackling ocean plastic pollution isn’t working. Even worse, should we continue down the current trajectory, the amount of plastic waste entering the ocean is set to triple by 2040? But what’s unique about this study is that it focuses on the solutions that can stop this crisis in its tracks. Using all the technology that exists today, we can reduce ocean plastic flows by 80% – and with additional investment channeled into innovation, we can get closer to 100%. 

Read more in "World Economic Forum"

7. Ocean heat waves are directly linked to climate change

Six years ago, a huge part of the Pacific Ocean near North America quickly warmed, reaching temperatures more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Nicknamed “the blob,” it persisted for two years, with devastating impacts on marine life, including sea lions and salmon. The blob was a marine heatwave, the oceanic equivalent of a deadly summer atmospheric one. It was far from a solitary event: Tens of thousands have occurred in the past four decades, although most are far smaller and last for days rather than years. The largest and longest ones have occurred with increasing frequency over time.

Read more in "New York Times"

8. Rapid onsets of warming events trigger mass mortality of coral reef fish

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Israel and one in Greece has found
evidence that suggests sudden ocean warming can lead to mass fish deaths. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of mass fish death events and what they learned about them. As Earth continues to grow warmer due to emissions of greenhouse gasses, scientists are trying to understand what it could mean for the future of the planet and its inhabitants. In this new effort, the researchers looked at the impact of abrupt ocean warming events on fish populations. These events are predicted to occur more often as the planet warms.

Read more in "PHYS.org"

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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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, September 24, 2020

 
Florida SB 680 - Shark Fin Ban is Signed into Law


Florida SB 680, a Shark Fin Ban Bill, was signed by the governor and is now law in the Sunshine State!  This is a game-changer because Florida had become the shark fin trade hub of the United States. As other states outlawed fin possession, Florida became the "loophole state". On Friday, September 18th, 2020 a giant stride forward was made for shark protection within the United States and beyond.



Sea Save Foundation has been enlisting your efforts since 2011 when we helped shepherd the California Shark bill, AB 376, through the legislative process and into law.  This strong piece of legislation has served as a template for many other states whose elected officials followed with state shark conservation/no fin laws.  Sea Save Foundation has raised awareness about the dangers of shark finning and created a pathway to engage the legislative process.  Once conservationists are armed with factual information and have easy access to their elected decision-makers, it becomes possible to advocate and impact the outcome of how elected officials vote. If legislators support shark and ocean conservation bills, these bills become law.  Our direct email tool was the platform used by thousands of concerned citizens to make their voices heard: "We must protect sharks and stop unsustainable finning." Our voices were heard and resulted in this law. 
 
Sea Save Foundation leaders have been working to stop shark fining since 1993 when our photos documenting finning at Cocos Island first appeared in newspapers across Costa Rica. Since then we have been working to stop shark finning internationally and within the United States.  Our critical work at CITES and across the United States has made a huge impact, but we are not finished.

Kristin Jacobs introduced SB 680 to the Florida House of Representatives on October 28th, 2019.  She was passionate about protecting sharks and also the long-term economy of her home state. She was the elected official who spearheaded this effort.  Unfortunately, Representative Jacobs lost her battle with cancer on April 11, 2020, just a few months shy of this victory. In deference to her leadership, this bill was renamed the Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act.

SB 680 is a great victory, but it came with a cost.  The bill was diluted due to the successful efforts of a strong fishing lobby.  We had the option to abandon the bill but strategically decided to take this opportunity to begin strengthening shark conservation in Florida. But we will not rest until the senseless and unsustainable shark fin practice has been stopped completely. 
 



Thursday, September 17, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" September 18, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

United Nations' Global Biodiversity Report: World fails to meet target to stop nature destruction,  "Scientific American" breaks 175-year tradition to make political endorsement, Climate Change denier hired for key NOAA position and more...

1. United Nations' Global Biodiversity Report: World fails to meet target to stop nature destruction

The world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to a devastating new report from the UN on the state of nature. From tackling pollution to protecting coral reefs, the international community did not fully achieve any of the 20 Aichi biodiversity targets agreed in Japan in 2010 to slow the loss of the natural world. It is the second consecutive decade that governments have failed to meet targets. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, published before a key UN summit on the issue later this month, found that despite progress in some areas, natural habitats have continued to disappear, vast numbers of species remain threatened by extinction from human activities, and $500bn (£388bn) of environmentally damaging government subsidies have not been eliminated.

Read more in "The Guardian"

2. "Scientific American" endorses Joe Biden

Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly. The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous, and more equitable future.

Read more in "Scientific American"

3. Longtime climate science denier hired At National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science, has been hired for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Legates confirmed to NPR that he was recently hired as NOAA's deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. The position suggests that he reports directly to Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the agency that is in charge of the federal government's sprawling weather and climate prediction work. Neither Legates nor NOAA representatives responded to questions about Legates' specific responsibilities or why he was hired. The White House also declined to comment.

Read more in "NPR"

4. Chinese fishing armada plundered waters around Galápagos, data shows

A vast fishing armada of Chinese vessels just off the Galápagos Islands logged an astounding 73,000 hours of fishing during just one month as it pulled up thousands of tonnes of squid and fish, a new report based on data analysis has found. The discovery of the giant flotilla off the archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution stirred controversy and outrage in Ecuador and abroad. Nearly 300 Chinese vessels accounted for 99% of visible fishing just outside the archipelago’s waters between 13 July and 13 August this year, according to an analysis by marine conservation group Oceana.

Read more in "The Guardian"

5. Rare pink dolphins return to Hong Kong thanks to coronavirus lockdown

The lull brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has led rare pink dolphins to return to the seas around Hong Kong. Sightings of the vulnerable Chinese white dolphin have risen by nearly a third - 30 percent – since boat and ferry traffic was suspended in the region in March. Scientists fear the species is in decline but say their research suggests the animals adapted more rapidly than expected to the quiet environment, offering a glimmer of hope for their populations. Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, also known as Chinese white dolphins or pink dolphins – reflecting their real color – have been hit hard by overfishing, water pollution, and numerous ferries and boats.  

Read more in "Independent"

6. Scientists baffled by orcas ramming sailing boats near Spain and Portugal

Scientists have been left baffled by incidents of orcas ramming sailing boats along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts. In the last two months, from southern to northern Spain, sailors have sent distress calls after worrying encounters. Two boats lost part of their rudders, at least one crew member suffered bruising from the impact of the ramming, and several boats sustained serious damage. The latest incident occurred on Friday afternoon just off A Coruña, on the northern coast of Spain. Halcyon Yachts was taking a 36ft boat to the UK when an orca rammed its stern at least 15 times, according to Pete Green, the company’s managing director. The boat lost steering and was towed into port to assess the damage.

Read more in "The Guardian"

7. Artificial reefs take on a towering presence as havens for marine predators

Acting like high-rise timeshares in the sea, shipwrecks and other artificial reefs can support dense populations of sharks, mackerels, barracudas, jacks and other large migratory marine predators essential to ocean health, according to a new study at 30 sites along the North Carolina coast. Predator densities were up to five times larger at the 14 artificial reefs surveyed in the study than at the 16 nearby natural reefs that also were surveyed Shipwrecks, especially those that rose between 4 and 10 meters up into the water column, were by far the fishes’ favorite. At some sites, they supported predator densities up to 11 times larger than natural reefs or low-profile artificial reefs made of concrete. “These findings tell us two important things. One is that artificial reefs can support large predators, potentially supplementing natural reefs if the design and placement of the artificial reefs are strategic,” said Avery Paxton, research associate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) in Beaufort, N.C., who led the study.

Read more in "Duke University - Nicholas School of the Environment"

8. Marine animals live where ocean is most ‘breathable,’ but ranges could shrink with climate change

As oceans warm due to climate change, scientists are trying to predict how marine animals — from backboned fish to spineless jellyfish — will react. Laboratory experiments indicate that many could theoretically tolerate temperatures far higher than what they encounter today. But these studies don’t mean that marine animals can maintain their current ranges in warmer oceans, according to Curtis Deutsch, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington. “Temperature alone does not explain where in the ocean an animal can live,” said Deutsch. “You must consider oxygen: how much is present in the water, how well an organism can take up and utilize it, and how temperature affects these processes.”

9. Two major Antarctic glaciers are tearing loose from their restraints, scientists say

Two Antarctic glaciers that have long kept scientists awake at night are breaking free from the restraints that have hemmed them in, increasing the threat of large-scale sea-level rise. Located along the coast of the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, the enormous Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers already contribute around 5 percent of global sea-level rise. The survival of Thwaites has been deemed so critical that the United States and Britain have launched a targeted multimillion-dollar research mission to the glacier. The loss of the glacier could trigger the broader collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which contains enough ice to eventually raise seas by about 10 feet.

Read more in "Washington Post"

10. Plastic pollution: Washed clothing's synthetic mountain of 'fluff'

When you add it up, the total amount of synthetic microfibres going into the wider environment as we wash our clothes is an astonishing number. US scientists estimate it to be 5.6 million tonnes since we first started wearing those polyester and nylon garments in a big way in the 1950s. Just over half this mass - 2.9 million tonnes - has likely ended up in our rivers and seas. That's the equivalent of seven billion fleece jackets, the researchers say. But while we fret about water pollution, and rightly so, increasingly this synthetic "fluff" issue is one that affects the land. The University of California, Santa Barbara, team which did the calculations found that emission to the terrestrial environment has now overtaken that to water bodies - some 176,500 tonnes a year versus 167,000 tonnes.

Read more in "BBC"

11. Ocean acidification risks deep-sea reef collapse

Deep-sea coral reefs face challenges as changes to ocean chemistry triggered by climate change may cause their foundations to become brittle, a study suggests. The underlying structures of the reefs—which are home to a multitude of aquatic life—could fracture as a result of increasing ocean acidity caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide. Hundreds of meters below the surface of the ocean in Southern California, researchers measured the lowest—therefore the most acidic—pH level ever recorded on living coral reefs. The corals were then raised in the lab for one year under the same conditions. Scientists observed that the skeletons of dead corals, which support and hold up living corals, had become porous due to ocean acidification and rapidly become too fragile to bear the weight of the reef above them. Previous research has shown that ocean acidification can impact coral growth, but the new study demonstrates that porosity in corals—known as coralporosis—leads to weakening of their structure at critical locations.

Read more in "PHYS.org"

12. Emissions may add 40 cm to sea levels by 2100, experts warn

Sustained greenhouse gas emissions could see global sea levels rise nearly 40 centimeters this century as ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland continue to melt, a major international study concluded Thursday. The gigantic ice caps contain enough frozen water to lift oceans 65 meters, and researchers are increasingly concerned that their melt rates are tracking the UN's worst-case scenarios for sea-level rise. Experts from more than three dozen research institutions used temperature and ocean salinity data to conduct multiple computer models simulating the potential ice loss in Greenland and Antarctic glaciers. They tracked two climate scenarios—one where mankind continues to pollute at current levels and another where carbon emissions are drastically reduced by 2100.

Read more in "PHYS.org"

13. Loss of sea otters accelerating the effects of climate change

When otters became functionally extinct in the 1990s the sea urchin population exploded. Without their primary predator to keep them in check the echinoderms proliferated unabated. The coral-like reefs were built by red algae and are now being ground down by sea urchins.  Climate change also contributes to the recovery of kelp forests and red algae.  Combined these two issues are cause a transformation of Alaskan underwater topography.


Read more in "Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences"

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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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, September 10, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" September 11, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

International shark trafficking ring dismantled, New Great Barrier Reef corals, Megalodon was much larger than previously believed and more:

1. International Crime Ring That Trafficked in Shark Fins Is Dismantled, U.S. Says


Shark fin soup, considered a delicacy in some countries, has long fueled demand forillegally 
harvested fins. But federal authorities in Georgia announced this week that they had dismantled at least one source for the ingredient: a multimillion-dollar organization they described as an international money laundering, drug trafficking and illegal wildlife trade ring. A dozen people, including Terry Xing Zhao Wu, 45, of Burlingame, Calif., and two businesses on opposite ends of the country face multiple charges, including fraud and money laundering, for their roles in what the authorities called the “Wu transnational criminal organization,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia said in a statement on Thursday.

Read more in "New York Times"

2. New corals discovered in deep-sea study of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

For the first time, scientists have viewed the deepest regions of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, discovered five undescribed species consisting of black corals and sponges, and recorded Australia’s first observation of an extremely rare fish. They also took critical habitat samples that will lead to a greater understanding of the spatial relationships between seabed features and the animals found in the Coral Sea. Using a remotely operated underwater robot to view high-resolution video of the bottom of the ocean floor, some 1,820 meters deep, the science team examined deep-sea bathymetry, wildlife, and ecosystems. The collaborative mission brought together scientists from Geoscience Australia, James Cook University, University of Sydney, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Queensland Museum Network, and Queensland University of Technology, to answer a range of questions about the geological evolution and biology of the deep-sea canyons and reefs.

Read more in "Schmidt Ocean Institute"

3. True size of prehistoric mega-shark finally revealed 

To date only the length of the legendary giant shark Megalodon had been estimated but now, a new study led by the University of Bristol and Swansea University has revealed the size of the rest of its body, including fins that are as large as an adult human. There is a grim fascination in determining the size of the largest sharks, but this can be difficult for fossil forms where teeth are often all that remain. Today, the most fearsome living shark is the Great White, at over six metres (20 feet) long, which bites with a force of two tonnes. Its fossil relative, the big tooth shark Megalodon, star of Hollywood movies, lived from 23 to around three million years ago, was over twice the length of a Great White and had a bite force of more than ten tonnes.

Read more in "University of Bristol"

4. Ocean warming has seafloor species headed in the wrong direction

Ocean warming is paradoxically driving bottom-dwelling invertebrates—including sea scallops, blue mussels, surf clams, and quahogs that are valuable to the shellfish industry—into warmer waters and threatening their survival, a Rutgers-led study shows. In a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers identify a cause for the "wrong-way" species migrations: warming-induced changes to their spawning times, resulting in the earlier release of larvae that are pushed into warmer waters by ocean currents. The researchers studied six decades of data on 50 species of bottom-dwelling invertebrates and found that about 80 percent have disappeared from the Georges Bank and the outer shelf between the Delmarva Peninsula and Cape Cod, including off the coast of New Jersey.

Read more in "Rutgers University"

5. Blazing tanker sparks fears of a new Indian Ocean disaster

The Indian Ocean was on full alert again today as an oil supertanker caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka and began spilling oil late evening on 3 September. 23 of the crew have been evacuated from the vessel with 1 still missing. The vessel, the MT New Diamond, is a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) and was reportedly carrying 2 million barrels of oil. This is double the amount of oil that is putting the entire Red Sea region at risk with a deteriorating, abandoned Yemeni tanker. The MT New Diamond was flagged in Panama, and had been travelling from Kuwait to India when an explosion occurred and a fire broke out in the engine room of the vessel early on Thursday morning.

Read more in "Forbes"

6. Recent data show Chinese fishing fleet still near Galapagos

Satellite data indicate that a large Chinese fishing fleet remained in international waters near Ecuador's Galapagos archipelago at the beginning of this month, even as China said it would temporarily ban fishing near the UNESCO world heritage site. Vessel tracking data displayed on the public map created by Global Fishing Watch, a group that tracks commercial fishing vessels, shows that the fleet was massed until at least Sept. 1 along the southern border of the exclusive economic zone around the Galapagos, which extends 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from the islands. That is roughly where the fleet, estimated at several hundred vessels, had been since June, escalating concerns about overfishing and the threat to vulnerable marine species in the nutrient-rich waters around the archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin in the development of his theory of evolution.

7. These surfers are using sensors in their board fins to monitor ocean warming

Surfers around the world are using Smartfins to gather data about the health of oceans. The device is fixed to the tail of surfboards and contains a number of sensors. They can collect information in choppy coastal waters where traditional sensors struggle. Concerns about ocean warming are encouraging surfers to get involved. Who better to study the sea than a surfer? That’s the big idea behind Smartfin, a US-based non-profit that’s giving data-collecting “smart” surfboard fins to surfers. The fins collect a range of data, including temperature and location. The fins are needed because scientists need more data about the warming of our ocean. Since the 1970s more than 90% of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions has entered the sea.

Read more in "WeForum"

8. Study analyses impact of carbon dioxide on Earth’s climate 30 million years ago

One way to make better predictions of global warming in the coming centuries is to look at climate change in the geological past. In research published in Nature Communication (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17887-x) an international team of university experts from Germany, USA and UK – including the University of Southampton – has taken a closer look at the climate during the Eocene Epoch more than 30 million years ago, when global temperatures were around 14 degrees C warmer than present day. They discovered that the influence of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) on a warm Earth could be even greater than previously assumed.

Read more in "Mirage News"

9. Lack of visitors offers opportunity to explore human impact on Hawaiian marine ecosystems

The drastic reduction in visitors coming to Hawaii has afforded scientists a unique opportunity to see how one of the state’s most popular natural attractions fares without a human presence. Roughly 3,000 people per day were visiting the blue water and white sand of Hanauma Bay prior to the pandemic. Those 1 million annual visitors carry a major environmental footprint. The crescent-shaped inlet on Oahu’s southeast corner has been used as an example of both over-tourism and sustainably-managed tourism over the years. It was declared a marine conservation area in the 1960s, after decades of degradation from overuse. In an effort to help fund maintenance and reduce impact, visitors are now charged an entry fee and public parking is limited.

Read more in "Hawaii Public Radio"

10. There’s no catch: Legislation would have provided more protections for fish

In California and around the world, protected areas are proven to increase the number of fish available outside of the protected space. So even though certain areas are closed to fishing, we actually boost a fishery through what’s called the “spillover effect.” Beyond the direct benefits to habitats and species, marine protected areas also help create jobs, boost the economy, and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Commendably, AB 3030 went even further to “improve access to nature for all people in the state,” “with a specific emphasis on increasing access for communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities.” California is a leader in environmental protection, and moreover, California has become a leader in doing it the right way. This leadership is one of the many reasons I love California and am proud to have chosen this state as my home. 

Read more in "CalMatters"

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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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