Environmental News May 16 to May 23, 2016

Quote for the week

“We must all work together- women and men- to explore and care for the ocean as if our very lives depend on it, because they do.”
— Sylvia Earle

Yes, the World’s First Seaside Sanctuary for Whales and Dolphins is Coming
Date: May 10, 2016
By: Michael D'estries
New hope is on the horizon for captive whales and dolphins, as a new nonprofit organization known as the “Whale Sanctuary Project” has declared its intentions to construct the world’s first seaside sanctuary. The proposed large sea pen, designed by a team of over 45 biologists, engineers, former Seaworld trainers, lawyers, and scientists, aims to rehabilitate injured cetaceans. Allowing orcas, belugas, dolphins, and other marine species to interact, heal, and thrive in a natural environment, the sanctuary would offer a suitable space for these organisms to spend the remainder of their lives, with the ultimate hope of release into the wild.
Read more here.

Photographer Gets Up Close and Personal with Great White Sharks
Date: April 20, 2016
By: Brian Mastroianni
See sharks how you’ve never seen them before, as photographer Michael Muller tells of his “zen-type” experience swimming with these misunderstood ocean creatures outside the cage.
Reversing our fearful misconceptions of these vital marine predators, his collection of stunning images portrays their immense importance, highlighting their striking grace, beauty, and impressive mastery of the ocean environment.
Read more here.

Sounding the Alarm on Ocean Noise
Date: May 12, 2016
By: Rhea Suh
While the underwater world seems so full of peace and tranquility to our unadapted ears, our planet’s oceans have become a quite boisterous place, due to the relentless onset of industrial noise brought forth by human activities such as seismic blasting, sonar testing, and commercial shipping. Detrimental to whales, fish, and other marine biota, undersea noise interferes with communication and navigation, inducing immense stress on ocean dwelling organisms. Delving deeper into this critical issue, on May 19th the Discovery Channel will premiere the NRDC’s new documentary, “Sonic Sea.” Featuring input from acclaimed researcher Sylvia Earle and Jean Cousteau himself, the film brings attention to this vital issue, demonstrating how we as individuals can take steps to bring peace to our ocean’s waters once again.
Read more here.

We had all better hope these scientists are wrong about the planet’s future
Date: March 22, 2016
By: Chris Mooney
James Hansen, one of the world’s most renowned climate scientists, has published a comprehensive study that suggests the critical impacts of climate change will be more swift and catastrophic than previously thought. Featuring both old and new research, as well as input from 19 other highly esteemed experts and leaders in the field, the paper details environmental consequences far more dramatic than those commonly envisioned. Hansen’s findings regarding a phenomenon known as stratification parallel research put forth recently by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and it seems the immense urgency of climate change mitigation is quickly becoming clear.
Read more here.

Deep sea microbes may be key to ocean’s climate change feedback
Date: May 6, 2016
By: Howard Lee
Deep sea microbes, composing a significant portion of the organic matter coating our ocean’s floor, inhabit an immense part of the biosphere and therefore play a vital role in regulating the planet’s carbon cycle. However, recent studies show that warming oceans have an adverse effect on these important ocean dwellers, suggesting yet another pressing impact of our planet’s changing climate.
Read more here.

Tracking the Ghosts in Our Ocean
Date: April 20, 2016
By: Carla Pisarro and Elizabeth Hogan
Each year, approximately 640,000 tons of fishing gear are disposed into our oceans. This highly dangerous “ghost gear” sweeps ocean waters, entangling marine mammals, fish, and other organisms, while also causing immense economic damage to the fishing industry. Researchers have proposed the use of an app that divers, fishermen, beachgoers, and other members of the public can use to help track and provide data regarding ghost gear, offering coastal communities an opportunity to help mitigate this dire, but preventable, conflict.
Read more here.

Great Barrier Reef: David Attenborough ignores politics and appeals to the heart
Date: April 10, 2016
By: Gay Alcorn
“Do we really care so little about the earth on which we live that we don’t wish to protect one of its greatest wonders from the consequences of our behavior?”
Documentary filmmaker David Attenborough poses this powerful question in his 3 part documentary on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, asking us to think critically about the true impacts of our actions on this deeply beautiful and ecologically important natural wonder. Half of the reef has already disappeared due to ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures, forcing us to rise above the politics and reevaluate the deep intrinsic value of one of our planet’s most sacred sensations.
Read more here.

Do we really need a new U.N. oceans treaty? Yes, and here’s why.
Date: April 25, 2016
By: Jessica F. Green
Late April marked the end of the pre-negotiation period regarding a hopeful new international biodiversity policy called “Agreement on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.” Focusing on four key issues primarily regarding biodiversity preservation in the high seas, this promising new legal agreement would bring clarity to the ambiguous regulation of marine territory beyond national jurisdiction. The immense importance of this legal agreement lies in our current lack of international cooperation in implementing conservation of worldwide marine biodiversity. The single impacts of individuals and nations all ultimately gather to have a collective effect on the entire planet as a whole, and for that reason worldwide collaboration and cooperation is absolutely vital in ensuring the protection of our oceans.
Read more here.

Deep-sea biodiversity impacted by climate change’s triple threat
Date: April 27, 2016
By: Phys.org
While climate change is oftentimes thought of as one environmental conflict, with rising carbon dioxide levels causing uniform consequences across our world ocean, new research completed at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego has found otherwise. This new study on deep-sea biodiversity has found that responses to climate change’s “triple threat”- rising water temperatures, decreased oxygen, and dropping pH levels- vary throughout different ocean basins, with some areas displaying greater vulnerability than others. Being that the deep ocean covers 60% of our earth’s surface, the knowledge acquired from this research will play a critical role in assessing the consequences of climate change across the ocean, and help scientists determine the most susceptible locations.
Read more here.

Mr. President, save Mexico’s “Panda of the Sea”
Date: May 16, 2016
By: Omar Vidal
The vaquita- Mexico’s “Panda of the Sea,” the world’s smallest porpoise, found only along Baja Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California- is about to go extinct. Highly susceptible to unsustainable fishing practices, dwindling populations of this beautiful marine species have plummeted in the last year, threatening surrounding marine species and the local economy. CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Omar Vidal explains the dire importance of saving this endangered species, with hope that the necessary conservation efforts could lead to the establishment of sustainable fishing, use of proper equipment, and positive environmental reform in this fishing-based region.
Read more here.

Women are Needed to Help Solve the Ocean’s Biggest Problem: Ignorance
Date: May 13, 2016
By: Sylvia Earle
“When I began exploring the ocean, it was thought that the ocean was too big to fail, no matter what we dumped into it or what we extracted. Now we know.” - Dr. Sylvia Earle
Our planet’s life support system, our world ocean- the beautiful blue entity that drives climate and weather, supplies most of the oxygen we breathe, provides breathtaking aesthetic beauty to our existence- is in trouble. Dr. Earle tells of her journey as one of the first females to take bold action for our oceans, declaring that women in science are now needed more than ever, demonstrating the importance of passion and cooperation among all genders and individuals that is necessary to save our life support system.
Read more here.

Australia to Lay Off Leading Scientist on Sea Level
Date: May 17, 2016
By: Michelle Innis
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Csiro) has laid off 275 scientists, including Dr. John Church, one of the world’s leading researchers on rising global sea levels. While rising sea levels are an imminent threat as climate change progresses, Csiro has declared its decision to shift away from studying sea level change, a decision much of the scientific community has deemed disastrous to global climate science.
Read more here.