Blog Archives

Baby sharks emerge earlier and weaker in oceans warmed by climate crisis

Baby sharks will emerge from their egg cases earlier and weaker as water temperatures rise, according to a new study that examined the impact of warming oceans on embryos. About 40% of all shark species lay eggs, and the researchers found that one species unique to the Great Barrier Reef spent up to 25 days less in their egg cases under temperatures expected by the end of the century.

The extra heat caused embryonic epaulette sharks to eat through their egg yolks faster and when they were born, the rising temperatures affected their fitness.

“This is a huge red flag for us,” said Dr Jodie Rummer, an associate professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University and a co-author on the study.

Weaker sharks were less efficient hunters, Rum...

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Warming And Acidification Form Dual Threat To Corals

A quarter of the carbon emissions that are warming the Earth dissolve into oceans, making them more acidic. Carbon emissions and warming are also causing ocean heat waves, which in turn is bleaching the world’s coral reefs.

Now, a UCLA-led study reveals how increased acidity and warming ocean temperatures can interact to threaten reef-building corals.

Acidification and warming are a one-two punch that impair corals’ ability to form exoskeletons and grow. The new study provides evidence for how both factors interact to harm the corals even more than the sum of their parts would suggest.

The paper, published in Science Advances, looked at two species: cauliflower coral and hood coral, which thrive primarily in tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans...

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Turtle mum v Chinese Developers

The breathtaking Whitsundays oasis is 34km northeast of Mackay in central Queensland, it is 80% national park. A cluster of 74 tropical islands positioned smack bang in the middle of Queensland’s iconic Great Barrier Reef.

Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea and so important to life on earth. The Whitsundays even has a natural coral reef structure in the shape of a heart.

It’s called Heart Reef

But the heart might stop beating soon.

The island of Keswick in the Whitsundays is home to green sea turtles. These beautiful creatures return to the same place each year to lay their eggs. Often it is the same place where they too hatched. Females can lay clutches of 100 – 200 eggs, laying several clutches before returning to the sea...

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How to identify heat-stressed corals

Bleached coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas on Feb. 20, 2017.

Researchers have found a novel way to identify heat-stressed corals, which could help scientists pinpoint the coral species that need protection from warming ocean waters linked to climate change, according to a Rutgers-led study.

“This is similar to a blood test to assess human health,” said senior author Debashish Bhattacharya, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “We can assess coral health by measuring the metabolites (chemicals created for metabolism) they produce and, ultimately, identify the best interventions to ensure reef health. Coral bleaching from warming waters is an ongoing worldwide ecological disaster...

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Don’t Want to Imagine an Ocean Without Coral Reefs? – You Might Have to

Coral reefs are under threat

Coral reefs across the world may disappear by the 2040s, according to a new report. While it’s tempting to blame ‘humanity’ for this crisis, the truth is that it is the social formation called capitalism that is central to global warming.

With a recent report titled “Projections of Future Coral Bleaching Conditions,” published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in November, Leticia Carvalho—head of the Marine and Freshwater Branch of UNEP—said on December 21 that coral reefs are the “canary in the coalmine for climate’s impact on oceans.” The image of the canary in the coal mine is used over and over again to refer to many aspects of the climate catastrophe: reflecting on his studies of glacier decline in Greenland, glaciologist Ian Howat said that “Gr...

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UNEP ‘Caribbean Could Lose Coral Reefs By End Of Century’

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned that the Caribbean, among other places, could lose its coral reefs by the end of the century unless there are drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. 

“In the face of inaction, coral reefs will soon disappear,” said Leticia Carvalho, head of UNEP’s Marine and Freshwater Branch. 

“Humanity must act with evidence-based urgency, ambition, and innovation to change the trajectory for this ecosystem, which is the canary in the coal mine for climate’s impact on oceans before it’s too late,” she added. 

UNEP said coral reefs are “incredibly important and sustain a wide variety of marine life.”

They also protect coastlines from erosions from waves and storms, sink carbon and nitrogen, and help recycle...

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Atlantic discovery: 12 new species ‘hiding in the deep’

Epizoanthus martinsae lives on black corals at depths of almost 400m

Almost five years of studying the deep Atlantic in unprecedented detail has revealed 12 species new to science. The sea mosses, molluscs and corals had eluded discovery because the sea floor is so unexplored, scientists say. Researchers warn that the newly discovered animals could already be under threat from climate change. 

Carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean is making it more acidic, causing coral skeletons in particular to corrode.

The scientists involved stressed it was “not too late to protect these special species” and the important habitats they occupied. 

Some key Atlantic discoveries from the mission:

  • New species: “At least” 12 new deep-sea species. The team also found approximately 35 new records of species in areas where they were previously unknown
  • Climate chang...
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For world’s oceans, a year of distress, discovery

Dolphin looking at camera

Nature saw its ups and downs in 2020, and Conservation News was there for it all. This month, we are revisiting some of the most interesting and significant stories and issues we covered in the past year. 

To read headlines about the ocean is to be subjected to a litany of bad news, with research showing that large swaths of the ocean are becoming increasingly hotlifeless and acidic as climate change accelerates. Avoiding the worst climate impacts, scientists say, means protecting the ocean — and the people who depend on it — on a massive scale. 

From groundbreaking research into mysterious deep-water coral reefs, to helping fishers to (sustainably) weather a pandemic, Conservation International was at the leading edge of marine science and policy in 2020...

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Covid drives record emissions drop in 2020

Close up on Baltic Sea

The global response to the Covid-19 pandemic has driven the biggest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War Two, say researchers. Their study indicates that emissions have declined by around 7% this year. France and the UK saw the greatest falls, mainly due to severe shutdowns in response to a second wave of infections. 

China, by contrast, has seen such a large rebound from coronavirus that overall emissions may grow this year. 

The decline in carbon in 2020 has dwarfed all the previous big falls. 

According to the Global Carbon Project team, this year saw carbon emissions decline by 2.4 billion tonnes.

In contrast, the fall recorded in 2009 during the global economic recession was just half a billion tonnes, while the ending of World War Two saw emissions fall b...

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‘Dog kennel’ satellite returns first ocean observations

Sentinel-6 carries an altimeter to measure the elevation of water surfaces

The new satellite that will become the primary orbital tool for tracking sea-level rise is in excellent shape. Sentinel-6 “Michael Freilich” was only launched three weeks ago, but already it is mapping ocean features in exquisite detail. The dog kennel-shaped spacecraft is a joint endeavour between Europe and the US.

It is the latest iteration in a series of missions that have been measuring sea-surface height going back to 1992.

These earlier satellites have shown unequivocally that the oceans globally are rising at a rate in excess of 3mm per year over the 28-year period, with an acceleration apparent in the last decade.

Space agency officials released sample data on Thursday to illustrate the progress in commissioning Sentinel-6 and its main observation payload, an altimeter.

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