Category News

Coral Reefs are Changing Their Smells in a Warmer World

The aromas of a beach strewn with seaweed or a garden full of blooming flowers are more than just momentary sensory experiences. They also act as entryways into the world of ecosystem health and interspecies communication. Plants, for example, emit gases known as “biogenic volatile organic compounds” to adapt to heat stress, attract pollinators, defend against pathogens, deter predators, and more. 

Scientists have been cataloguing these gases on land for decades, but relatively little work has been done for marine ecosystems. To address this knowledge gap, a group of researchers led by marine biologist Caitlin Lawson at the University of Technology Sydney set to out to measure the full spectrum of gases that two common coral reef-building species emit...

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The Mighty Pacific Ocean Is In Serious Peril

Discarded fishing nets, or ‘ghost nets’ can entangle animals like turtles.

The Pacific Ocean is the deepest, largest ocean on Earth, covering about a third of the globe’s surface. An ocean that vast may seem invincible. Yet across its reach – from Antarctica in the south to the Arctic in the north, and from Asia to Australia to the Americas – the Pacific Ocean’s delicate ecology is under threat.

In most cases, human activity is to blame. We have systematically pillaged the Pacific of fish. We have used it as a rubbish tip – garbage has been found even in the deepest point on Earth, in the Mariana Trench 11,000 meters below sea level.

And as we pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the Pacific, like other oceans, is becoming more acidic...

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Seaweed-Munching Crabs Could Help Save Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are facing a steep decline today for many reasons, including climate change, overfishing, pollution, disease, and more. What’s taking their place is lots and lots of seaweed. But researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology now have some encouraging news: native crabs can help to combat the seaweed and restore the reef.

“Experimentally increasing the abundance of large native, herbivorous crabs on coral reefs in the Florida Keys led to rapid declines in seaweed cover and, over the course of a year or so, resulted in the return of small corals and fishes to those reefs,” says Mark Butler of Florida International University. “This opens up a whole new avenue for coral reef restoration.”

Butler and colleagues, including study first author Angelo “Jason” Sp...

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Climate change: Have countries kept their promises?

Agreed by 196 parties in the French capital in December 2015, the Paris climate deal aims to keep the rise in global temperatures this century “well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C.” We look at five key countries and how well they have kept their promises.

Every one of the signatories to the Paris climate agreement has had to lodge a climate action plan with the UN to spell out what steps they are taking to curb carbon. 

Overall, according to a new assessment from global consultancy Systemiq, low-carbon solutions have been more successful in this period than many people realise. 

The growth in coal for energy outside of China has declined significantly. 

“We have to translate what we can do into what we will d...

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Great Barrier Reef has deteriorated to ‘critical’ level due to climate change

A coral reef impacted by a severe bleaching event

The conservation status for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has declined from “significant concern” to “critical” due to increasing impacts associated with climate change, a new report has found.

The damage to the reef is a result of ocean warming, acidification and extreme weather, which has resulted in coral bleaching, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) 2020 World Heritage Outlook report, which tracks whether the conservation of the world’s 252 natural World Heritage sites is sufficient to protect them in the long term. The process of coral bleaching occurs when water is too warm and the algae the corals expel from their tissues cause them to turn completely white.

The decline of the coral has also resulted in decreasing populations of cert...

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Call for evidence on protecting endangered shark species launches

Greater protections for species of sharks will be considered through a new call for evidence to better understand the scale of the shark fin trade in the UK, as a way to help reduce the import and export of shark fins and protect the world’s sharks.

The UK has a strong track record in marine conservation and has been pressing for stronger international action to protect sharks against unsustainable fishing practices and shark finning, which is the practice of removing a shark’s fins at sea and discarding the finless body back into the water.

The government is now seeking additional evidence to ensure that appropriate protection is in place for all shark species and to inform future policy on protecting marine wildlife.

The call for evidence will help the government better und...

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The World Missed a Target To Protect 10% of the Oceans by 2020

Covering a swath of ocean larger than Peru around coral reefs, golden beaches and rocky atolls in north Hawaiʻi, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is one of the world’s largest marine protected areas — and the biggest in North America.This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi), two dozen species of whales and dolphins, and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), among thousands of other creatures.

Even as countries fall well short of meeting a UN goal to protect 10% of the world’s oceans by the end of this year, marine protected areas (MPAs) like Papahānaumokuākea show what effective conservation can look like, said Aulani Wilhelm, who worked to build and manage the MPA as an official with the US National Oceanic and A...

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India inches towards first marine ‘designated area’ off Maharashtra coast

Underwater data collection in progress near Angria Bank

The state government has sent its final proposal to the Centre to notify 2,011.43 sq km Angria Bank – located 105km (56.7 nautical miles) off the Konkan coast – as a ‘designated area’ under the Maritime Zones Act, 1976, thereby inching towards India’s first marine protected zone beyond territorial waters.

“It is a very important step towards conservation and protection of marine biodiversity,” said Milind Mhaiskar, principal secretary (forests) who wrote to central bodies, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) with a copy to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on November 25. 

Supporting coral reefs, algal habitats, and high diversity of marine flora and fauna, Angria Bank was identified among 106 important coastal and marine biodiversity ...

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Some Positive News For Nature During The Pandemic

We are going through one of the hardest times in the 21st Century. Filled with bad news, the human species is fighting for survival. As much as we need to battle the pandemic, we must resist the climate crisis and choose sustainability as our survival pathway. Amidst the pandemic, and the loss of lives, time and happiness, let’s look at some good news for biodiversity and the ecosystem.

Coral Reefs of the Red Sea surprisingly resist climate change.
Increasing temperature and marine pollution is a threat to the coral reefs — the ecosystem of the Red Sea that protects and provides a habitat to hundreds of coastal organisms. Environmental activists and scientists, for a long time, believed in the possibility of the death of coral species due to temperature rise...

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Sentinel-6: ‘Dog kennel’ satellite blasts off on ocean mission

A satellite that will be critical to the understanding of climate change has blasted skyward from California.

Sentinel-6 “Michael Freilich” is set to become the primary means of measuring the shape of the world’s oceans.

Its data will track not only sea-level rise but reveal how the great mass of waters is moving around the globe.

Looking somewhat like a dog kennel, the sophisticated 1.3-tonne satellite was taken aloft from the Vandenberg base on a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket.

The Sentinel is a joint endeavour between Europe and the US, and will continue the measurements that have been made by a succession of spacecraft, called the Jason-Topex/Poseidon series, going back to 1992.

These earlier missions have shown unequivocally that sea levels globally are rising, at a rate in ex...

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