Category News

FISHTEK delivers net gains for fisheries and the oceans’ wildlife

Fishtek's pinger prevents sea life slaughter (Image: Greenhouse)

Sharks, turtles, seabirds and fishing firms will be the first in line to benefit as conservation products company Fishtek Marine nears closing a £900,000 crowdfunding round through ethical specialist Triodos Bank.

The investment will speed up product development by the UK designer and manufacturer whose deterrent technology for the global fishing industry tackles the unintended slaughter of the oceans’ wildlife, known as bycatch. This, the accidental death or capture and eventual discard of species by fleets, now involves some 300,000 dolphins, porpoises and whales, 300,000 seabirds and 250,000 turtles every year which become fatally entangled in gear.

“The toll is tragic, but our technology is to be used with equipment and stops damage to it, so it’s in the interests of the ind...

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Did Great White Sharks Wipe Out the Giant Megalodon?

Great White Shark in Guadalope

The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) may have wiped out the giant megalodon (Otodus megalodon).

Millions of years before human beings emerged, a type of shark that grew up to 60 feet (18 meters) long prowled the oceans. Based on the fossil record, scientists suspect that O. megalodon died off about 2.6 million years ago, around the time a lot of other marine species went extinct.

But scientists may have miscalculated megalodon’s time of death by about 1 million years.

For a paper published today (Feb. 13) in the journal PeerJ, researchers re-examined the fossil record of megalodons in California and Baja California, Mexico, where many examples of the huge fish have been found.

There’s clear evidence that up until about 3...

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Why do whales prefer the poles?

Life in the sea isn’t easy. Talk to most people about the ocean and they are likely to imagine a tropical scene with a stretch of golden sand and warm, clear water. The reality is often quite different – the marine environment can be a surprisingly cold place.

Water conducts heat far more effectively than air, which means that submerged animals quickly lose their body heat. It’s also harder to warm up again than on dry land, where animals often have the option of basking in the sun or on hot rocks. Finally, many aquatic animals use gills to get oxygen – great for breathing, but essentially another source of heat loss due to all the of water flowing across them and sucking away warmth. 

All this contributes to making it much harder for aquatic animals to regulate their body t...

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Fish recognize themselves in a Mirror

Labroides dimidiatus or Cleaner Wrasse

Some fish may be a little smarter than you think. In a study conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and Osaka City University, researchers have discovered that fish may, in fact, possess far higher cognitive abilities than previously thought. The fish in the study seemed to demonstrate some form of self-awareness.

The fish the, Labroides dimidiatus, was the star of the experiment. For the uninitiated  Labroides dimidiatus or the Bluestreak cleaner wrasse, is a fish commonly seen in coral reefs from Eastern Africa and the Red Sea to French Polynesia.S

As implied in the name, the Bluestreak cleaner wrasse is known for its cleaning ability. The fish has mutualistic relationships with a lot of the other much larger fish found in corals...

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Why is the ocean so cold, when summer temperatures are soaring?

Turtle stuck in a rock pool during cold weather

There is nothing quite like jumping into the cool ocean on a hot summer’s day, but this year there is a distinct chill in the water at some New South Wales coastal tourism hotspots. And it is not just swimmers feeling the effects.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the ocean temperature between Port Macquarie and Newcastle is about four degrees cooler than normal.

“The coldest place is between Seal Rocks and Crowdy Head. We’re seeing temperatures there of between 18–19 degrees [Celsius] on average,” ocean analyst Jessica Sweeney said.

“Occasionally we’ve got measurements down to 16 degrees at Crowdy Head — that’s pretty chilly.

“Comparing it to previous years for this time of year, it’s in the lowest 10 per cent of temperatures seen over the years so it’s certainly co...

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Climate change: Blue planet will get even bluer as Earth warms

As well as changes in the blue of the oceans, we are also likely to see changes in the green

Rising temperatures will change the colour of the world’s oceans, making them more blue in the coming decades say scientists. They found that increased heat will change the mixture of phytoplankton or tiny marine organisms in the seas, which absorb and reflect light. Scientists say there will be less of them in the waters in the decades to come.

This will drive a colour change in more than 50% of the world’s seas by 2100

Phytoplankton play a hugely important role in the oceans. 

As well as turning sunlight into chemical energy, and consuming carbon dioxide, they are the bottom rung on the marine food chain.

They also play an important role in how we see the oceans with our eyes. 

The more phytoplankton in the water, the less blue the seas will appear, and the more likely t...

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Are Hawaiian Corals Adjusting to Warmer Temperatures?

Co-author Keisha Bahr surveying a healthy coral colony. PC: Ji Hoon.

A team of researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum conducted a study of coral resiliency that showed some corals are better able to tolerate heat than similar corals tested in the 1970s. But scientists say it will not be fast enough to fight off rising sea temperatures.

The scientists replicated the identical experimental system, methodology, coral species, collection site, and even brought in one of the original researchers, Steve Coles, adjunct faculty at the UH Mānoa Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB)...

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The year ahead in ocean conservation

Man fishing in Sri Lanka at sunset

The year 2018 saw the world’s oceans at a crossroads. Some of the world’s most important marine areas came under new and stronger protections. At the same time, the precarious health of the oceans was never clearer, with rapidly rising sea levelscoral bleaching and overfishing.

What does the new year hold for ocean conservation? Human Nature sat down with Aulani Wilhelm, senior vice president of Conservation International’s Center for Oceans, for a look ahead.

Question: What do you see as being the biggest focus in ocean conservation in 2019?

Answer: I think in the next year, the role of oceans and the need to stabilize our oceans in order to cope with climate change is going to become increasingly inescapable...

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Celebrities call on Japan to scrap resumption of whaling

Whaling fleet

Celebrities and environmentalists are demanding Japan reverse its decision to resume whaling, condemning the “cruel and archaic practice which has no place in the 21st century”.

An open letter to the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, criticises Tokyo’s decision to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC), as campaigners plan a peaceful protest march on the Japanese embassy in London on Saturday.T

The actors Ricky Gervais and Joanna Lumley, the broadcasters Stephen Fry and Ben Fogle, and the naturalist Chris Packham are among signatories. Packham said: “To the utter disgust of the rest of the world, Japan intends to resume killing whales. We don’t need statements of disgust, we need sanctions that will hurt...

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Perfect storm of threats is destroying marine life

This turtle died after becoming entangled in fishing nets

The oceans are facing a perfect storm of threats that will destroy marine life unless the government takes urgent action, a new report has warned. Plastic pollution, climate change, and overfishing are combining to put sea creatures under intolerable stress, according to MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee.

The report, Sustainable Seas, says the UK government treats the oceans as “out of sight, out of mind” and must lead an international effort to stop the catastrophic impact of human activity.

Committee chair Mary Creagh MP told Sky News: “We only have one ocean and our children deserve to experience it in all its wonders, and to be able to see the coral reefs going into the future.

“But the ocean is under threat as never before from climate change, which is warming it, aci...

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