Breaking Waves: Ocean News

06/20/2018 - 07:00
On the small Welsh island of Skomer, puffin numbers are booming. But in former strongholds in Scotland, Norway and Iceland, the picture is ever more worrying Bryony Baker lies spreadeagled at the edge of a cliff and reaches her hand deep into a hole in the ground that is almost entirely hidden beneath a clump of grass. She pushes futher in and her arm disappears up to the shoulder. It is a little like watching a vet getting up close and personal with a labouring cow. “Ouch!” she exclaims suddenly, her face creasing in pain. She pulls her arm out and inspects her fingers, already covered in scars. “That one’s definitely a puffin. They look sweet, but they can be pretty aggressive.” She presses her lips together in anticipation of another nip and pushes her hand in again. A large, dirty white egg emerges from the burrow – “warm, good” – and she places it safely on a cushion of moss. She reaches into the ground again. When she withdraws it, a second later, she’s holding an irritated puffin by its orange beak. She rings it, notes its number – this is now Bird EZ88918 – then gently replaces it and its precious egg in the burrow. Continue reading...
06/20/2018 - 04:29
Off the tip of Cape Cod, pods of humpbacks return every summer to feed. For the past 18 years, Philip Hoare has been joining them to witness this incredible display At the tip of Cape Cod, a sandy spit reaches out into the Atlantic, like an arm, towards a vast underwater plateau where humpbacks gather each summer to feed. This is the US marine sanctuary of Stellwagen Bank, where for the past three weeks I’ve been a guest on the Dolphin Fleet whalewatch boats, working out of Provincetown. Continue reading...
06/20/2018 - 04:08
Former PM could join Craig Kelly, who has also threatened to oppose national energy guarantee The former prime minister Tony Abbott has flagged crossing the floor to oppose the national energy guarantee, joining fellow conservative Craig Kelly, who telegraphed a similar threat three weeks ago in an interview with Guardian Australia. Conservative critics of the policy are attempting to ratchet up internal pressure on the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, before a critical meeting with his state and territory counterparts at the beginning of August. Continue reading...
06/20/2018 - 03:00
The Kilauea eruption has wiped out rare sites and whole ecosystems. As the island mourns a tragedy, it also accepts the brutal cycle of nature In Puna, the area of Hawaii island that’s been hardest hit by the Kilauea volcano eruption, those who lived nearest to the lava flows watched the forest around their homes begin to die first. They said the fruit trees, flowers and ferns began turning brown, languishing in the noxious, sulfur-dioxide-filled air. Then the lava came. Now large swaths of formerly verdant forest has been replaced by rough and barren volcanic terrain. “Before the eruptions, that area was probably the best forest left in the state of Hawaii,” said Patrick Hart, a biology professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. “There were areas where the native Ohia forest extended right up to the ocean, and you just don’t see that in the rest of Hawaii,” he said. Now it’s covered with 20 to 30ft of lava. Continue reading...
06/20/2018 - 01:15
Could a plan to turn the West Midlands into a national park transform the Black Country’s unlovely reputation, asks Wolverhampton native Stuart Jeffries “I think we have an extraordinary landscape here waiting to be discovered by millions,” says landscape architect Kathryn Moore, unrolling a jauntily coloured map of her visionary new park in a Birmingham City University office. The professor isn’t talking about of Cumbria, Umbria, Snowdonia or Amazonia. She’s talking about the touristic potential of the West Midlands plateau, the heart of England that threw itself into the fiery crucible of the Industrial Revolution and still bears sacrificial scars. It is here that Professor Moore wants to create the United Kingdom’s 16th national park. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria would lower the blinds on the royal train so she didn’t have to see the smokestack hell of the Black Country. Tolkien was inspired to create Mordor from nocturnal visions of its blast furnaces. If Moore has her way, though, in a decade or so Queen Kate will raise the blinds as the HS2 train passes the reconfigured Tame Valley between Birmingham and Coventry. “Look!” she’ll exclaim to King William. “What a vista of allotments, fisheries, fields, orchards, forests, hi-tech agriculture, green industries, creative hubs and cycle paths!” She’ll gaze in admiration at how the Tame has been rerouted using water from Birmingham city centre’s aquifer, all crisscrossed by new footbridges linking together suburbs long isolated by the city’s motorised arterial routes. Continue reading...
06/20/2018 - 01:00
There are limited opportunities to support farmers who are using less, so the most important thing is to make your voice heard Diversion tactics: how big pharma is muddying the waters on animal antibiotics How much does big pharma make from animal antibiotics? Farm antibiotic use rarely features on food labels or marketing in the UK, so it’s very hard for shoppers to know how to support farmers who are using less. For whole meat and butchered cuts, there are some rules of thumb for the conscious shopper: Continue reading...
06/20/2018 - 01:00
It is easier to buy a tiger in some states than to adopt a rescue dog – and only 6% of the animals are housed in approved facilities. This is bad for the big cats – and for humans According to estimates, the population of tigers in people’s back gardens in the US outnumbers those in the wild. Seven thousand of the big cats live in US captivity, whereas, despite increases, there are as few as 3,890 wild tigers worldwide. Most of the captive animals are kept in unregulated conditions, as the BBC reported last week. Only 6% are housed in zoos or facilities approved by the US Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The rest live in private breeding facilities, back yards, even urban apartments. In some states, it is easier to buy a tiger than to adopt a rescue dog. Leigh Henry, a species policy expert at the World Wildlife Fund, says the situation threatens the work that has been done to conserve wild populations in Asia. “A patchwork of regulations governs these tigers, meaning no agency can say how many there are, when they are born, when they die and what happens to their valuable parts when they do. Illegal trade in tiger parts remains the primary threat to tigers in the wild, and the last thing we want is parts from captive tigers helping sustain or even fuel this black market.” Continue reading...
06/20/2018 - 00:30
Calls by joint inquiry to bring forward UK car sales ban have been resisted by government The government has been accused of dragging its feet on air quality improvements by a cross-party group of MPs. A partnership of four committees said serious concerns remained about the UK’s commitment to cutting pollution and its impact on public health. Continue reading...
06/19/2018 - 23:12
Inquiry will look at what the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is capable of delivering A parliamentary inquiry will examine how a $444m grant for work on the Great Barrier Reef was awarded to a small not-for-profit charity, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, with no competitive tender process. Labor, Greens and crossbench senators have backed the inquiry, which was moved by a Greens senator, Peter Whish-Wilson. Continue reading...
06/19/2018 - 20:23
Brindabellaspis had nostrils in its eye sockets and a long bill with jaws • Sign up to receive the top stories in Australia every day at noon Palaeontologists have reconstructed an ancient Australian fish that swam on the sea floor like a stingray and had the long bill of a platypus. Fossils that date back 400m years have allowed scientists to piece together a revealing picture of the strange fish, which had nostrils coming from its eye sockets and a long bill or snout with jaws. Continue reading...