Environmental News March 27 - July 31, 2018

Quote for the week

"Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites."
— William Ruckelshaus

Thomas Cook turn Has Turned Up the Heat on SeaWorld Ahead of a Crucial Set of Results
July 31, 2018
By James Moore
Thomas Cook, The UK tour operator, is to stop selling tickets to marine parks that keep Orcas in captivity. This is due to the public pressure and negative feelings expressed towards keeping marine mammals in underwater confinements. Still, SeaWorld has yet to change their mindset that these animals are in no need of a seapen; but the issue won’t stop causing problems for SeaWorld and its bosses unless and until they change their approach. Even though captive killer whale breeding ceased a couple of years ago, they still seem strongly defend the practice. Thomas Cook’s welcome move is a reminder of how dated that is, if they could but see it.
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Most Endangered Marine Mammal Targeted By ‘Organised Crime’ Entering China’s Black Market
July 31, 2018
By Kimberly Richards
Greed and ‘Organized Crime’ has become the downfall of the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita porpoise. Vaquitas’ most common death is from gill nets used to catch the totoaba fish that are of value in the illegal wildlife trade. Although these types of nets are banned in Mexico permanently, that doesn’t stop poor fisherman from using them to catch the money-making fish. So how do you fight an illegal fishery that offers wealth in a climate of poverty? The issue is complicated and therefore requires a lot of attention, but it is worth it save an innocent animal that has been negatively impacted by human decisions.
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New Species of Nautilus Discovered in Savusavu Last Week
July 30, 2018
By Lena Reece
A new species of Nautilus has been discovered in Savusavu last week and have been named Nautilus Vitiensis. The four Nautiluses found have been tagged and placed back into the ocean. Up until now, the discovery of this new species in Fiji had been very rare, most likely due to the high demand for their beautiful shells. Now though, they are internationally protected and are being observed by a team of marine biologists who are studying their population.
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June 2018 Was the 5th Warmest on Record for the Globe
July 30, 2018
The persistent drumbeat of warm temperatures around the world last month made for the fifth warmest June on record and the first half of the year the fourth warmest for the planet. During this most recent year, global warming has been viewed on a global scale, from observing low polar sea ice coverage and entering warmer oceans, to record-breaking heat waves across all continents. The average global temperature in June 2018 was 1.35 degrees higher than normal which is a significant amount compared to recent warm years.
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Coral Reefs Are Being Rapidly Killed Off by Global Warming
July 27, 2018
By Tim Collins
Global warming is having a significant impact on ocean life, specifically coral. This can be directly correlated to ocean acidification and warmer water temperatures that come with increased concentrations of CO2. With this increase in carbon dioxide, there have been more frequent algae blooms that then blanket coral reefs and essentially suffocate them. In a recent scientific report, experts warned that the only way to reverse the trend is to meet global warming reduction targets. Already there is a notable shortage in areas with the present day CO2 average, whereas in unaffected areas of the ocean, there can be seen an abundance of corals and other marine species.
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An Orca Calf Died Shortly After Being Born. Her Grieving Mother Has Carried Her Body for Days
July 27, 2018
By Allyson Chiu
Southern resident killer whales have been under the careful watch of scientists for years, as there had been no known birth for the endangered population within the last 3 years. Yet there was hope when observing scientists witnessed a pregnant female give birth to a baby in British Columbia. But their celebration was short-lived, as the calf died within its first hour of being alive. It’s death was devastating to scientists who were viewing the birth as a sign of hope for future killer whale populations. Meanwhile, the mother of the dead calf demonstrated the unbreakable bond between mother and child as she refused to let her lifeless baby sink to the bottom. Scientists observing her noted the hundreds of miles she traveled with her pod, all the while pushing her baby and neglecting food and tiredness.
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Heat Wave WAS Triggered by Climate Change, According to New Research
July 27, 2018
By University of Oxford
The unprecedented temperatures seen over Summer 2018 are a sign of things to come  - and a direct result of climate change, according to new Oxford University research. Climate change already played a role in some major heatwaves, by doubling the likelihood of them happening. Dr Friederike Otto, Deputy Director of the ECI at the University of Oxford, addresses the unusually warm weather by saying it will soon become commonplace for places all around the globe.
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In Attempt to Save the Rarest Marine Mammal, Court Orders a Ban on Mexican Seafood Imports
July 26, 2018
By Rosanna Xia
An international trade court judge recently ordered the Trump Administration to ban all seafood harvested with gill nets— in a desperate attempt to save the world’s rarest marine mammal, the vaquita. Conservationists that have been pushing to save this species from extinction are happy and hopeful that this ban will push both governments to take action and implement efficient regulations and enforcement. From the other side, trade experts say the timing is terrible and can be negatively impact already fragile US— Mexico relations. The ban will be in effect until the case is fully argued on its merits.
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Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji Is Just What the Doctor Ordered
July 17, 2018
By Luxury Travel Magazine
Nowadays, it is a fact that Americans take shorter vacations, even when research has shown us that an educational, relaxed, and sustainable living vacation can result in an overall healthier and happier self. Fiji happens to be one of the few places on earth that allows this to be possible almost effortlessly, with its pristine ecosystems and untouched Fijian culture. The Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort happens to be located in this wondrous place, and offers various transformative experiences that make you reflect on yourself while learning about the beauty of nature and how to conserve it.
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Newly Discovered Shark Species Honors Female Pioneer
July 17, 2018
By Florida Institute of Technology
Eugenie Clark was a pioneer in shark biology, known around the world for her illuminating research on shark behavior. Not only that, but she was one of the first women of prominence in a previously male-dominated field. Now, she will be honored by being the namesake of a newly discovered species of dogfish shark: Squalus Clarkae.
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Coral Reefs Need Fewer Rats and More Bird Poo
July 12, 2018
By Jason Daley
Coral reefs have a lot of threats facing them nowadays, from rising sea temperatures to agricultural runoff. But one less known could perhaps be just as significant and impactful: bird poop. A study of rat-infested islands in the Chagos show that a lack of seabirds—and their guano—degrades surrounding coral ecosystems. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, sailors stopping in some islands brought with them black rats which decimated seabird populations. Yet there is hope in eradicating these invasive rats, as humans are fairly effective when it comes to pest control. Once the rats are gone, perhaps some of these islands can again have the same thriving coral reefs that once populated their waters.
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Pacific Northwest Orca Population Hits 30-Year-Low
July 10, 2018
By Meilan Solly
Orca populations have just hit a 30-year low, as no calves have been born over the first three years. This is dire news, as their current population holds at only 75 orcas in the Pacific Northwest. There are various causes to this sad reality, including declining salmon populations and pollution and noise disturbance. Numerous conservationists have been bringing attention to the fragility of the orca population, which has sparked some studies designed to find the main cause of the lack of births.
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Krill Companies Limit Antarctic Fishing
July 9, 2018
By Claire Marshall
Krill live in all the world’s oceans, but the majority are concentrated in the Antarctic. So it is huge news to hear that the overwhelming majority of krill companies are to halt fishing activities in vast areas of the Antarctic Peninsula. The decision to stop krill fishing off the peninsula follows pressure by campaign groups, including Greenpeace. Protecting krill is vital to protecting the ocean, as they act as the base of the marine food chain. They will also support the establishment of "buffer zones" around breeding colonies of penguins and vouch for the creation of a network of large-scale marine protected areas around Antarctica.
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Fabien Cousteau: Protecting the Roots of the Ocean
July 9, 2018
Fabien Cousteau discusses his love for the ocean, brought up by his infamous grandfather, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. He plans to visit the Tennessee Aquarium to share some of his early ocean memories and raise awareness for the aquarium’s conservation projects. Most worrisome to Fabien is the issue of plastic pollution. Micro-plastics in particular have the power to disrupt the aquatic food chain. Still, he remains hopeful that future generations will use their variety of skills to work towards a cleaner, more efficient world.
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Global Warming May Be Twice What Climate Models Predict
July 6, 2018
By University of New South Whales
Global warming may be even more prominent than what it has previously been predicted to be. Even if the world meets the 2°C target sea levels may rise six meters or more, according to an international team of researchers from 17 countries. The research also revealed how polar ice caps are in danger of collapsing and other ecosystems and prone to extreme changes.
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New Science Mission Launched to Study Unique Seamounts in the Northeast Pacific Ocean
July 5, 2018
By the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada
Seamounts are underwater mountains that act as homes to an abundance of marine species, and they are a vital component in maintaining the ocean’s health and biodiversity. The Northeast Pacific Seamounts Expedition will explore three seamounts in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. This expedition and their findings will support protection measures for these unique seamount habitats.
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Great Barrier Reef Imperiled as Heat Worsens Die-Offs, Experts Say
July 4, 2018
By Jacqueline Williams
Scientists have renewed their worry about the Great Barrier Reef and mass bleachings, which they say could reoccur every two years by the 2030s if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t drastically reduced. In the previous two years, the reef has been hit by extreme heat which resulted in many of the corals being killed. If this occurrence is not stopped, or at least slowed down, the Great Barrier Reef will have to suffer even more losses. Scientists say intermittent underwater heat waves are intensifying, occurring more often and lasting longer because of climate change. If nothing is done to save these coral reefs, they coral bleaching will become the new norm in perhaps the very near future.
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Plastic Pollution Isn’t Just a Problem in Our Oceans. It’s Also Affecting the Great Lakes
June 13, 2018
By Don Campbell
An upcoming international science conference held at U of Toronto, Scarborough will explore pressing issues affecting the Great Lakes, including pollution from plastics. Chelsea Rochman, assistant professor at U of T, points to published research that shows that the concentrations of plastics in areas of the Great Lakes are equal or greater than those reported in the ocean. Her work in Lake Ontario showed that nearly all fish collected contained micro-plastics at least 5 millimeters or smaller. Rochman is not surprised by these findings, considering 22 million pounds of plastic are discarded annually into the Great Lakes and cannot be flushed out by global currents as happens in the ocean. Research in the Great Lakes is just only beginning, but Rochman predicts there will be many more studies conducted that will further examine the issue of plastic pollution.
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Coral Adaptation Won’t Save Reefs in Time to Prevent Humanitarian Disaster
June 6, 2018
By Joshua Kruskal
Corals have been around for 500 million years and have since survived gradually shifting planetary conditions, but are now facing more extreme threats caused from human activities. Early evidence of corals adapting to changing conditions suggests that rising ocean temperatures won’t perhaps mean the end of coral reefs, although they will likely not thrive as before. For the more fragile coral species, even a small change in temperature has proven to be deadly. Coral reefs will be among the first ecosystem-scale victims of climate change. Although coral reefs occupy only a minuscule portion of the sea floor, they are home to a concentrated amount of marine life. As the climate continues to change, the rate of change will largely determine how effectively coral and coral reef ecosystems are able to adapt.
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How Liz Clark Turned her South Pacific Sailing Trip into a Memoir and Visual Voyage
June 5, 2018
By Jeremiah M. Bogert Jr.
Liz Clark, a small town girl from Southern California, describes her voyage to the South Pacific on a small boat. All her learning experiences and adventures are mentioned, but also all her realization that the marine world is a very fragile environment. From finding plastic on the beach to witnessing illegal fishing, she saw all the horrors the ocean endures daily. Because of this, she decided to produce a short film called “Steer With your Heart,” in hopes of touching a different spectrum of people that respond most to visual media. She also wrote a book that describes her ocean-filled life and her path to becoming the way she is now.
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This Is the State Where You’re Most Likely to Find Lost Pirate Treasure, According to the Cousteaus
By Marisa Spyker
Phillipe Cousteau and his wife, Ashlan, talk about their show, “Caribbean Pirate Treasure” and what it entails. They describe certain episodes in which they have made miraculous discoveries together and explored treacherous waters. They both go on to say that Florida is the state where a person is most likely to find “hidden pirate treasure.” Then Phillipe brings up how his grandfather’s legacy has influenced him throughout his life, and how his love for the ocean never failed to inspire young Phillipe. Single use plastic is very much on both Ashlan’s and Phillipe’s minds, as they say little things we do every day do indeed make a difference.
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Save the Oceans, Feed the World!
By Jackie Savitz
Marine biologist Jackie Savitz addresses the issue of world hunger by saying it can be combatted if we just work to preserve the ocean. In an eye-opening talk, Savitz tells us the terrible things happening in global fisheries right now, and offers insightful solutions to the issue. She stresses the importance of healing the ocean, which in turn will give back and perhaps provide enough food for the people that truly need it.
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Campaign Call on UK Retailers to Stop Stocking Antarctic Krill Products
March 27, 2018
By Matthew Taylor
Campaigners are calling on high street retailers to stop stocking health products containing krill caught in Antarctic waters. In mid-March, one of the UK’s biggest health retailers agreed to removed krill-based supplements from its shelves. Activists had bombarded its CEO with 40,000 emails in 24 hours and labeled krill products with stickers about their impact on the environment in stores across the country. Campaigners are now looking to other retailers to follow in those footsteps and reduce the demand for krill. Having to fight against big fishing industries and climate change, krill are struggling to maintain a stable population and therefore cannot supply their dependent predators such as penguins.
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