Breaking Waves: Ocean News

07/07/2016 - 10:19
From mid-June onwards, ice cover disappeared at an average rate of 29,000 miles a day, about 70% faster than the typical rate of ice loss, experts say The summer sea ice cover over the Arctic raced towards oblivion in June, crashing through previous records to reach a new all-time low. The Arctic sea ice extent was a staggering 260,000 sq km (100,000 sq miles) below the previous record for June, set in 2010. And it was 1.36m sq km (525,000 sq miles) below the 1981-2010 long-term average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Continue reading...
07/07/2016 - 10:13
Ocean Leadership ~ (Click to enlarge) Kelp (Credit: Berni Andrew / Flickr) A team of scientists is investigating whether growing kelp can reduce carbon-dioxide levels in the inland marine waters of Puget Sound. They also want to find ways to market that harvested kelp for food, fuels or fertilizers. (From The Seattle Times / by Phuong Le)– HOOD CANAL — Scientist Joth Davis unspooled 150 feet of line holding thousands of tiny spores of kelp into Hood Canal, while Brian Allen dived underwater and affixed the line to a buoy. Submerged about 10 feet underwater, the bull-kelp seedlings will eventually form thick, slimy ribbons of brown seaweed and, in the process, take up carbon dioxide and other nutrients. Researchers hope it could offer a local strategy to ease the effects of ocean acidification — when seas absorb carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activity, a phenomenon that raises acidity and threatens marine life. Davis and a team of scientists are investigating whether growing kelp can reduce C02 levels in the inland marine waters of Puget Sound. They also want to find ways to market that harvested kelp for food, fuels or fertilizers. “We know that kelp plants take up carbon dioxide and incorporate that carbon into their plant tissues. So we’re very hopeful that not only carbon but nutrients can be taken up and essentially removed from the water column,” said Davis, a senior scientist with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. To test that hypothesis, a team led by Davis and Betsy Peabody will grow sugar and bull kelp over the next two years in Hood Canal, a fjord west of Seattle. The five-year project, involving many partners, is paid for by a $1.5 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Scientists from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and University of Washington will monitor seawater chemistry in and around those farms and measure whether and how much CO2 the marine macro algae take up. “We know the reactions. But we don’t know if they scale to be significant in nature,” said Jan Newton, a UW oceanographer who codirects the Washington Ocean Acidification Center and is on the team assessing the project. Read the full article here: The post Studies Testing Kelp To Ease Effects Of Ocean Acidification appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
07/07/2016 - 09:34
Campaigners welcome decision to turn down National Farming Union’s application for ‘emergency’ use of neonicotinoids for oil seed rape, reports ENDS An application to use neonicotinoid pesticides to protect winter oilseed rape has been refused by government for the second time. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) concluded that the request did not meet the criteria for emergency use of two seed treatment agents to fight cabbage stem flea beetle, according to a statement issued by the National Farming Union (NFU) on 5 July. Continue reading...
07/07/2016 - 09:27
Ocean Leadership ~ (Click to enlarge) Coral reef (Credit: Kevin Gessner / Flickr) Scientists have known for a while that coral reefs around the world are dying, and in a worst-case scenario they were counting on large, healthy-looking corals to repopulate. (From Science Daily)– But a new study presented at the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium in Honolulu today shows that these seemingly healthy colonies are “Coral Zombies” with no reproductive ability, which makes them useless in a recovery effort. “It’s pretty discouraging,” said University of Central Florida biologist John E. Fauth, one of the researchers who sampled 34 sites across the Caribbean for the study. “This is not good news.” Cheryl M. Woodley, a marine biologist with NOAA’s National Ocean Service led the study, which sampled 327 coral colonies off the coasts of Florida, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix in the US. Virgin Islands. The researchers analyzed the samples to determine the reproductive ability of elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), which is a threatened species. In some places — including two sites in the Florida Keys — the coral had no eggs or sperm. The study suggests that with no ability to propogate, elkhorn corals in those spots will eventually die out — like zombies, they essentially are walking dead. Two samples from a more remote area in St. Croix found the coral had 100 percent reproduction ability. “Basically the places with the heaviest tourism had the most severe damage,” Fauth said. He dove and took samples from all of the Puerto Rican sites in the study, along with marine biologists Michael Nemeth and Katie Flynn. This study adds to growing evidence that coral reefs frequented by divers are in peril. Last year a study found that oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound in sunscreen, is in high concentrations in the waters around the more popular coral reefs in Hawaii and the Caribbean. The chemical not only kills coral, it causes DNA damage in adult corral and deforms the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists. Fauth was a co-investigator of that 2015 study, which was published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Oxybenzone also causes coral bleaching, which is a prime cause of coral mortality worldwide. Corals bleach when they lose or expel the algae that normally live inside them, thus losing a valuable source of nutrition. Read the full article here: The post ‘Coral Zombies’ May Spell Doom For Coral Reefs Around World appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
07/07/2016 - 09:15
UN’s former climate change chief, who was a key architect of the Paris climate agreement, joins long list of candidates to succeed Ban Ki-moon One of the chief architects of the global accord on climate change signed last year in Paris has been nominated for the post of secretary general of the United Nations. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), won plaudits from around the world at the successful conclusion of the Paris talks in December. The summit saw all of the world’s nations agree for the first time to a binding commitment to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. Continue reading...
07/07/2016 - 09:03
Ocean Leadership ~ (Click to enlarge) Hermaphroditic chalk bass (Serranus tortugarum) (Credit: Douglas Chick / Flickr) The natural world offers many curiosities, but hermaphroditism—the presence of both male and female reproductive organs—may be among the most peculiar. (From National Geographic / by Aaron Sidder)– Take the chalk bass (Serranus tortugarum), for instance. New research published in Behavioral Ecology suggests that the small reef fish, no more than three inches long, may switch sex roles with their partner up to 20 times each day. Chalk bass use a reproductive strategy known as “egg trading,” wherein they subdivide their daily egg clutch into “parcels” and alternate sex roles with their mating partner throughout a sequence of spawning bouts. The fish demonstrated a remarkable commitment to varying their sex roles, explained Mary Hart, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Florida and the lead author on the study. Hart found that individuals would rarely produce more than two egg parcels consecutively before switching roles to ensure reciprocation from their partner. This attention to reciprocity helps to maintain cooperation among the partners and reduces the temptation of cheating. Most hermaphrodites transition from one sex to another at some stage in their development, a strategy known as sequential hermaphroditism. The transformation is usually prompted by a social or behavioral trigger, like the loss of a dominant male from the social group. The chalk bass, however, is capable of producing both male and female gametes (sperm or eggs) simultaneously. Though simultaneous hermaphroditism is not unique to chalk bass, it is rare, particularly because the fish do not self-fertilize. The frequency at which the fish switch sex roles is especially uncommon. Hart said it still remains a mystery why they switch so many times. However, she hypothesized that as long as the benefits outweigh the costs, this form of reciprocity may yield a reproductive advantage for the chalk bass. The sex switching offers each fish a return on their investment on eggs by allowing them to fertilize their partner’s eggs. Acting as both male and female improves their chances of passing on their genes to the next generation. Read the full article here: The post These Fish Swap Their Sex Up To 20 Times A Day appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
07/07/2016 - 08:08
Search is under way for two-year-old male Flaviu, who chewed through the wall of his enclosure hours after arriving at zoo Legends of big cats on the prowl have long swirled around the wild moors of south-west Britain – but there is certainly one on the loose now, after a lynx called Flaviu broke out of a zoo. Within hours of arriving at the Dartmoor zoological park, the two-year-old male chewed through a board in his enclosure and ran away. When keepers realised Flaviu was at large, the zoo was evacuated and a police helicopter, tracker dogs and teams of officers and keepers spent Thursday searching for the missing animal, which is about the size of a labrador. Traps loaded with meat have been laid in the hope they will lure the cat back. Local schools, landowners and farmers have been warned not to approach the animal. Continue reading...
07/07/2016 - 07:21
There’s good news from Antarctica, where researchers with tools like ozonesondes — pictured above — have been following the infamous ozone hole as it waxes and wanes over the seasons. The ozone hole has shrunk by 1.5 million square miles – around 4 million square kilometers — and this “healing” trend appears to be continuing.A major ecological catastrophe has been averted, and we can cite human intervention as the reason. When the globe swept into action with 1987′s Montreal Protocol, which banned a number of substances known to contribute to ozone depletion, it apparently worked.When scientists first began to observe a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, it was a cause for grave concern. Though ozone levels actually fluctuate throughout the year, they perform an important function by blocking the sun’s harmful UV radiation.
07/07/2016 - 06:41
The impact of India’s drought, a remote volcanic eruption and an oasis in the Sahara and were among the images captured by European Space Agency and Nasa satellites last month Stagnant lakes stretch east-west across the upper reaches of the Volga river delta in southern Russia. The lakes are trapped by sandy mounds, left behind after the Caspian Sea’s level rose then fell in the wake of the last ice age. Continue reading...
07/07/2016 - 06:41
Week-long foraging trip from the Channel Islands to Scandinavian waters and back is the longest recorded for the species, conservationists say A gannet has returned home after a fishing trip of almost 1,700 miles (2,700 km), the longest recorded for the species, conservationists said. Cosmo, a northern gannet which lives on Alderney in the Channel Islands, made the foraging trip up the English Channel, across the North Sea and into Scandinavian waters - and back - in less than a week. Continue reading...