Category News

Fish Form Social Networks—and They’re Actually Good

A school of fish swims in the Coral Sea

Among the many egregious scientific inaccuracies of  Finding Nemo – fish can talk, sharks form support groups, turtles wax their shells – perhaps none is more glaring than the conceit of fish maintaining friendships. As many a marine biologist has noted, fish aren’t in it to make friends – they’re in it to survive and reproduce.

But scientists are uncovering a fascinating exception in coral reefs, not unlike the one Nemo called home: Here fish of various species band together, developing social networks exactly to survive and reproduce...

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Has the world started to take climate change fight seriously?

Antarctica protected zone

A surprise announcement at this year’s UN General Assembly has transformed the politics of cutting carbon, says the BBC’s chief environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt. As the meeting of the so-called “global parliament” comes to an end, he asks whether it might just signal the beginning of a global rush to decarbonise.

You probably missed the most important announcement on tackling climate change in years. 

It was made at the UN General Assembly.

It wasn’t the big commitment to protect biodiversity or anything to do with the discussion about how to tackle the coronavirus pandemic – vitally important though these issues are.

No, the key moment came on Tuesday last week when the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, announced that China would cut emissions to net zero by 2060.

Th...

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New MPA’s connect hundreds of kilometres of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast

Three hundred and fifty square kilometers of Turkey’s coastline has been brought under environmental protection in a recent announcement by the Turkish government. This new area represents a significant expansion of the existing marine protected area network along the country’s Mediterranean coast and firmly establishes Turkey as a leader in marine conservation in the most overfished sea on the planet.

The announcement comes amid a growing global push to expand ocean protection through coalitions such as the UK’s 30by30 alliance, which calls for the protection of 30% of the global oceans by 2030.

Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline is under pressure from multiple sources—overfishing, coastal development and tourism all have an impact on the region, which is home to a number of threaten...

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Maldives adds Parrotfish to list of protected species

Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture added Parrotfish to list of protected marine species in Maldives. The new Maldives General Fisheries Regulation (2020/R-75), prohibits the capture, killing, harming or transporting of any species of parrotfish. Additionally, trading and displaying parrotfish or items produced from its parts in in shops and public places will be prohibited from March 1, 2021 onwards.

The Maldivian government last granted protection status to a coral reef fish, the napoleon wrasse, in 1995.

Maldives Project Manager at Blue Marine Foundation, Shaha Hashim stated that “abundant and diverse populations of parrotfish are critical to allow our reefs to recover from threats that compromise their health such as coral bleaching”.

“Our reefs have weake...

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Deep Dive Record Smashed

A little known, shy whale has surprised scientists by staying submerged for almost four hours. Cuvier’s beaked whales are known for their abilities to dive deep and they average around an hour under water. But researchers were astounded when they recorded one animal diving for three hours and 42 minutes.

They believe that it is the longest dive yet recorded for any whale and almost certainly a record for all mammals as well.

Beaked whale species are a bit of mystery to scientists, spending much of their time far from shore. 

The Cuvier’s beaked whale has a stout body, a small sloping head and short beak...

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China aims for ‘carbon neutrality by 2060’

China's President Xi Jinping addressing the UN via video link

China will aim to hit peak emissions before 2030 and for carbon neutrality by 2060, President Xi Jinping has announced. Mr Xi outlined the steps when speaking via videolink to the UN General Assembly in New York. The announcement is being seen as a significant step in the fight against climate change. 

China is the world’s biggest source of carbon dioxide, responsible for around 28% of global emissions.

With global climate negotiations stalled and this year’s conference of the parties (COP26) postponed until 2021, there had been little expectation of progress on the issue at the UN General Assembly.

However China’s president surprised the UN gathering by making a bold statement about his country’s plans for tackling emissions. 

He called on all countries to achieve a green re...

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Arctic sea-ice shrinks to near record low extent

This summer’s Arctic sea-ice shrank to its second lowest ever extent in the era of satellite observation. The floes withdrew to just under 3.74 million sq km (1.44 million sq miles) last week, preliminary data indicates. The only time this minimum has been beaten in the 42-year spacecraft record was 2012 when the pack ice was reduced to 3.41 million sq km. Shorter autumn days and encroaching cold mean the floes are now starting to regrow.

It’s normal for Arctic sea-ice to expand through the winter each year and then melt back again in the summer, but the September minima, accounting for some variability, are getting deeper and deeper as the polar north warms.

The downward trend since satellites started routinely monitoring the floes is about 13% per decade, averaged across the month...

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How coral transplants could rescue Turkey’s threatened reefs

Transplanting coral is difficult work. “You only have 20 minutes to dive down 30 metres and transplant the coral to the correct part of the rock, where hopefully it will live for hundreds of years,” explains Serço Ekşiyan, one of a small group of volunteers who have taken on the huge task of saving the corals around the Princes’ Islands (Adalar), a picturesque archipelago in the Marmara Sea about a 40-minute boat ride from Istanbul.

The Marmara Sea, made up of water from the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, is home to 24 Alcyonacea coral species whose existence is threatened by the onslaught of nearby property development. Among those disappearing are sea whips, sea pens, sea fans and some types of red and yellow soft corals.

“Most of these corals you would never find outsid...

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Scientists Race Against Time To Save Coral Off Florida Keys

Scientists reached a major breakthrough recently in their efforts to restore coral off the coast of the Florida Keys. Researchers in South Florida have figured out a way to get coral to spawn more rapidly, which is notable because much of the coral in the Florida Reef Tract is dying. Over the last 40 years, nearly 90% of the live corals that once covered those reefs have died off.

Scientists are using a technique called microfragmentation or reskinning to get coral to reproduce, says Sarah Fangman, superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which is leading a 15-year, $100 million project to restore the coral.

“The Florida Reef Tract is the only barrier reef system that we have in the United States. The only one,” Fangman says...

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Pollution wreaks havoc on corals’ immune systems

Fighting infections is hard. It’s even harder for corals also grappling with pollution.

Katherine Dougan, a Ph.D. student in the FIU Institute of Environment, found high levels of nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorous—caused by fertilizer, sewage and other human sources—are actually making it harder for corals to defend themselves against infections. And this is something they have to do a lot to stay healthy and survive.

A normal day on the reef usually results in corals getting roughed up. Fish slam into them while hunting. Sometimes, corals will become prey and get bitten. This is bad, because fish have pretty dirty mouths. Bacteria that’s left behind can get into the wound, causing an infection. Corals are usually capable of recovering, though...

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