Sea turtles appear to fly as they swim beneath ocean waves. With long, gray-green flippers that move like slow wingbeats, they glide through the water as birds do through the sky. Actually flying through the air, though, at 10,000 feet above the ground, the reptiles seem anything but graceful.
Inside the airplane, 120 sea turtles, 118 of which are juvenile Kemp’s ridleys (Lepidochelys kempii), shift uncomfortably among beach towels inside stacked Chiquita banana boxes, their crusty eyes and curved pearlescent beaks peeking through slot handles. The windowless metal cabin vibrates with the sound of propellers as the pilots work to keep the plane aloft and the internal air temperature at a turtle-friendly 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s December 2020, and outside, the cold air above New England slowly gives way to balmier southern temperatures. The pilots are taking the turtles on a 2,900-kilometer (1,800-mile) trip from Massachusetts to Texas’s Gulf Coast.
Eight hours later, they’re nearly there. “We’re coming into Corpus Christi,” says Mike Looby, a pilot with a sea turtle rescue organization called Turtles Fly Too, as airport runways come into view among the sprawling buildings below. Looby and co-pilot Bill Gisler, both from Ohio, will visit four different locations in Texas to offload the animals. This is the largest number of turtles the organization has transported to date.
Charles Yanke, a volunteer pilot with Turtles Fly Too, helps load boxes of recovering sea turtles onto his plane in Marshfield, Massachusetts, for transport to rehabilitation centers outside the state.
Once the plane is on the tarmac, staff and volunteers from several aquariums and marine rescue facilities crowd around. The pilots gently slide each box of turtles toward the cargo door, and the group lines up to carry them to vans parked nearby.
“What happened to these guys?” someone asks.
“They were found stranded on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts,” says Donna Shaver, chief of the division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery at Padre Island National Seashore, as she grabs a box.
In the summer months, the waters in the Gulf of Maine where Cape Cod is located are warm, calm, and full of food, serving as a natural nursery for 2- to 4-year-old Kemp’s ridleys, the smallest and most endangered sea turtle in the world. Migrating loggerheads (Caretta caretta), green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), and the occasional leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) also visit Cape Cod Bay. But as water temperatures plummet in November, December, and January, the cold-blooded turtles must migrate out or perish. Many lose their way and wash up, cold-stunned, on the inside edge of the hook-shaped Cape, which curls into the ocean like a flexing arm, forming what some locals call “the deadly bucket.”
The phenomenon is the largest recurring sea turtle stranding event in the world. While it’s natural — local records of sea turtle bones date back centuries — the scale is new and may, paradoxically, be a product of successful efforts to recover Kemp’s ridley populations, in addition to the effects of climate change.
The hook at the outermost tip of Cape Cod spirals back into the bay toward the cape’s southern coastline, creating a challenging obstacle for young sea turtles seeking the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico when fall temperatures plummet. Photo made possible by LightHawk
“This area is increasing in water temperature faster than 99 percent of water bodies in the world,” says Kate Sampson, sea turtle stranding and disentanglement coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who helps coordinate turtle transport. “Because of that, it seems like it’s drawing more sea turtles.”
Fortunately for the turtles, hundreds of volunteers and several staff members organized by the nonprofit Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary stand at the ready to patrol every inch of the 105-kilometer (65-mile) stretch of beach lining the inner Cape, twice a day, from November through December, no matter the weather. When they find a turtle, the animal begins a logistically complex journey from rescue to rehabilitation and, eventually, to release. Saving each flight’s worth of little lives involves approximately five vans, 1,000 miles, four organizations, and 50 people. Without this monumental collaboration across North America’s Eastern Seaboard, other efforts to save the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle from extinction might be futile.
Why turtle strandings are on the rise
Three weeks before Looby and Gisler’s departure with their precious herpetological cargo, Nancy Braun and her border collie Halo walked a stretch of Great Hollow Beach, near Cape Cod’s outermost tip. The unrelenting wind blew hard and Braun’s cheeks were rosy with cold, her hair frantically trying to escape from beneath a fuzzy winter hat. Every so often, she raised binoculars to her eyes to scan the sand and any promising-looking lump of seaweed. A resident of nearby Truro and a Mass Audubon volunteer, Braun was on the lookout for turtles.
Walking quickly, she passed small cottages in the dunes with window shutters closed tightly against the elements. Brightly colored beach chairs lined the shore like memorials to summers past. Along the way, Braun saw a group of people gathered around something in the distance, and she broke into a run in their direction, Halo bounding by her side. When she arrived, there they were: four sea turtles, clearly in need of care. As the group waited for the arrival of a Mass Audubon vehicle to take the turtles for initial processing, Braun and the others covered them with seaweed to protect against the wind chill.
Truro resident Nancy Braun, her dog, and a few others stand watch over four stranded sea turtles on Great Hallow Beach on Cape Cod in November.
“This is so cool,” said Richard Lammert, a visitor from New York. “We were just walking the beach and came across these turtles. I had no idea that sea turtles even came up this far. I’ve never seen one up close, let alone helped to rescue it.”
While the mood was light, there was also a sense of urgency among the group. “I called Mass Audubon to let them know what we found,” said Michael Weinstein, another Truro resident. That’s exactly the type of response turtle rescuers hope for and why rescuers prioritize educating the community in addition to recruiting and training volunteers, according to Carol “Krill” Carson, president and founder of the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance and a volunteer with Mass Audubon. Without a clear understanding of why the turtles are stranded in the first place, some well-intentioned people might think they should throw the animals back into the ocean. “Anyone can walk the beach and find a sea turtle,” Carson says. “It’s what that person does when they find a turtle that is critical.”
Former director of Mass Audubon Bob Prescott started the sea turtle rescue program back in 1979. At the time, Prescott says he would find only a handful of turtles each year. The number has since skyrocketed. In 2014, volunteers found a record-breaking 1,242 turtles stranded on Cape Cod beaches. In 2020, there were 1,045, the second-highest number on record.
Carol “Krill” Carson, president and founder of the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance and a volunteer with Mass Audubon, drags a sled as she searches for stranded sea turtles along a Cape Cod beach near her home.
The most common species found is Kemp’s ridley, which nests in only two places in the world: a stretch of beach in Mexico and one in Texas. Between the late 1940s and the mid-’80s, Kemp’s ridley populations plummeted from more than 40,000 nesting females to fewer than 300, due to entanglement in fishing gear and the harvesting of adults and eggs for human consumption. Today, Kemp’s ridleys still face a wide variety of threats, including habitat loss, coastal development, ship strikes, plastic waste, and climate change. With so few ridleys left, “every life counts in the survival of this species,” says Prescott, which makes the turtle rescue effort that much more important. “It’s all hands on deck.”
Connie Merigo, executive director of the National Marine Life Center, in Bourne, Massachusetts, agrees. “You hear a lot in biology, ‘Why are you interfering? Shouldn’t you just let nature run its course?’ In this case, a lot of these threats are not under control. So, if we let thousands of these turtles die every year in a cold-stunning event, the population is that much smaller.”
Interestingly, though, the success of ongoing conservation efforts is likely one of the factors driving the increased need for rescues. That’s because there are simply more turtles around to strand. Conservation efforts on nesting beaches in Mexico, strict regulations on pollution, and new technological advancements in fishing equipment have all helped, as have new nest sites developed in Texas since the 1970s. Today, there are an estimated 5,500 Kemp’s ridley females nesting in Mexico and 55 in Texas.
Although this is a good sign, the current population is still critically low. According to NOAA, the number of nests grew steadily until 2009 but has fluctuated since then, underscoring the importance of ongoing monitoring and conservation. “Endangered species recovery is the long game,” says Shaver, who leads the Kemp’s ridley nesting program in Texas. “It’s so heartwarming to work with people who have the same mission at heart to try and give back to preserve and sustain this population.”
Boxes of cold-stunned sea turtles sit in a cool room at Mass Audubon in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Rehabilitators slowly bring the turtles’ body temperatures back up to normal to avoid shocking the animals.
The other likely factor contributing to turtle strandings is the warming of the Gulf of Maine. Climate change has caused the water here to warm earlier each year and to stay warm for longer, keeping young Kemp’s ridleys in the fertile shallows of Cape Cod Bay later each fall. But the temperatures of the outer Cape and the North Atlantic still plunge as summer comes to a close. When fall arrives and the turtles attempt to navigate northward around the cape’s hook, they hit a disorienting wall of cold and turn around in search of the warmer water of their southerly ocean habitats.
This leads them back to the shallow flats inside the bay, where they encounter land instead of the open ocean. When the waters inside the cape reach a consistent 50 degrees Fahrenheit, any turtles still there will become hypothermic and eventually die unless they get help. Given the compounding factors, there’s no obvious end in sight to the trend.
“We are going to continue to see an increase of cold-stuns on Cape Cod,” says NOAA’s Kate Sampson.
New England Aquarium interns Kristen Luise, right, and Lauren Jaeger listen to the heartbeat of a hypothermic Kemp’s ridley sea turtle at the aquarium’s rehabilitation center in Quincy, Massachusetts.
That increase has only heightened the need for collaboration. In 2010, the New England Aquarium built a sea turtle rehabilitation facility in Quincy, Massachusetts, to meet demand. And with the high stranding numbers in 2020, breaking the record for live admitted turtles at 754, and limited staff due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Marine Life Center in Bourne, Massachusetts, also opened its doors to help with triage of incoming turtles, on top of the rehab services it already provided.
In addition to being hypothermic, Kemp’s ridleys usually arrive at these facilities with pneumonia or develop the condition within the first week or two of their arrival. Turtles also sometimes show up with traumatic injuries like broken bones and cracked shells from ocean waves tossing their bodies repeatedly into rocks, jetties, and seawalls when the animals are too cold to swim out of the surf.
Initially, when the turtles arrive, the goal is simply to assess their injuries through physical examinations and X-rays and to stabilize them. Rehabilitation staff members give the turtles fluids to rehydrate them and antibiotics to treat infections. They also work to slowly bring the animals’ internal body temperatures back up.
Gabbie Nicoletta, a coordinator at the National Marine Life Center, watches a previously stranded sea turtle as it continues its recovery in a tank at the rehabilitation center in Bourne, Massachusetts, in December.
Still, the two Massachusetts facilities can only care for so many turtles. At some point, the animals, including those that Braun and the others found on Great Hollow Beach, must be transported to other aquariums and facilities to complete their rehabilitation and ready them for release back into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In total, 29 additional rehab facilities are prepared to take in sea turtles for long-term rehabilitation. And flying, it turns out, is the fastest, least stressful, and safest way to transport the animals. That’s where Turtles Fly Too and its team of dedicated volunteer pilots come in.
The first — and only — US operation permitted to airlift sea turtles
On a frigid, clear December day, the early morning sun peeks over the horizon as four vans pull onto the tarmac at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts. Yawning, their breath turning into clouds before them, Kate Sampson of NOAA, Connie Merigo of the Marine Life Center, and a handful of other turtle rescuers from the New England Aquarium, pour out of the vehicles to meet with pilots Looby and Gisler. They strategize about the loading process to get dozens of turtles into the air as quickly and safely as possible. And that’s just one phase of the process.
Among the myriad details that must be worked out are how many turtles the rehabilitation facilities need to move, what planes are available and their capacity, where the pilots are coming from, where they’re going, and who will be on hand for pickup — all right up to the moment when the turtles arrive at their destination.
Adam Kennedy, a biologist at the New England Aquarium, closes the lid on a container holding one of many previously stranded sea turtles bound for rehabilitation facilities outside New England.
The service that Turtles Fly Too provides is unique. Besides the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which has the authority to move any endangered animal, “we have the first and only permits in the nation to fly sea turtles,” says Leslie Weinstein, the organization’s president. Turtles Fly Too got its start in 2014, the record-breaking year of strandings. Weinstein was running an aviation parts manufacturing company full time and had just transported a green sea turtle successfully to a facility in Dubuque, Iowa, that summer. In November, when cold-stranded sea turtles began washing up, turtle rescuers put Weinstein in touch with Sampson and Merigo, who was then directing the New England Aquarium’s Rescue Rehab Program. And thus, Turtles Fly Too was born.
Weinstein found the organization’s first pilot through a volunteer group called Pilots N Paws that transports domestic animals. A full-time dentist in New York, Ed Filangeri’s assignment was to fly eight turtles from Massachusetts to Baltimore, Maryland. Filangeri was immediately hooked, and the two joined forces. These days, Filangeri doesn’t hesitate to cancel dental appointments, because, he says, “the turtles can’t wait” and the clients understand. The organization now counts more than 350 pilots among its ranks and provides emergency transport to other species too, including sea otters, pelicans, and seals.
The flights vary in cost from $1,500 to $100,000 depending on the plane used, the number of drop locations, and the number of turtles on board. According to Weinstein, the average ticket price comes in at about $1,000 per turtle. Public contributions to Turtles Fly Too help cover that, as do airfields that waive landing fees or provide discounts on fuel. One Christmas Eve, when Filangeri had a mission to Virginia, he showed up in a Santa hat, and he and the crew named each of the eight traveling turtles after a flying reindeer. “I thought it was funny that they were flying with a man with a white beard on Christmas Eve,” Filangeri laughs. But, joking aside, “We do what’s necessary. We are the turtle movers,” adds Weinstein. “You can’t put a value on one Kemp’s life.”
After months spent healing from injuries, being treated for their illnesses, and regaining their strength, the turtles that Looby and Gisler transported in December are ready for release. “These guys come in chronically ill, and it takes time to get them healed,” says Joe Flanagan, senior veterinarian at the Houston Zoo. On the appointed day in March 2021, the beaches of Galveston, Texas, are warm, and the spring sun reflects off the light-colored sand. Boxes filled with Kemp’s ridley sea turtles gathered from the New England coastline sit in the shade of a small tent. Several beach-goers line up behind strips of bright pink tape wafting in the wind, marking a safe corridor for the turtle parade. Aquariums and rehabilitation centers coordinate with each other to combine their releases and allow the public to attend. “We’ll probably not see these guys ever again, I hope. But if we do it would be nice to see them nesting,” says Flanagan.
A rehabilitator with the Sea Life Aquarium holds one of approximately 85 endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles released at Galveston Beach in Texas in March.
Staff and volunteers carefully grasp the small Kemp’s ridleys just behind their front flippers and carry them one by one down the sandy strip toward the ocean. The people gathered to watch cheer, clap, take selfies, smile, and wave as the animals complete the final leg of their strange, human-assisted migration. “Goodbye, little one! Good luck!” someone yells. “Look at how cute they are,” says another bystander. The sea turtles seem equally enthusiastic, waving their flippers wildly as if in anticipation of the swim, longing for the embrace of warm water, at last, eager to once again fly beneath the waves.
“Oh my god, he is so ready to go!” says one of the turtle rehabilitators as she places a small pale-green Kemp’s, named Hagrid, slowly into the water. With several fast pumps of his flippers, the young turtle disappears into the Gulf of Mexico.
This story originally appeared in bioGraphic, an online magazine about nature and solutions powered by the California Academy of Sciences.
Black-footed Albatross map, NatureServeThe Black-footed Albatross is the only one of its kind commonly seen off the North American coastline. It’s rather small as albatrosses go, but still impressive, with a six-foot wingspan. Its species name, nigripes, derives from two Latin words, niger meaning “black,” and pes meaning “foot.”
Although drift nets and longline fisheries remain constant threats, the Black-footed Albatross faces a gauntlet of newer challenges: invasive predators and introduced plants on nesting islands, ingestion of plastics, and climate change.
More than 95 percent of the world’s population of Black-footed Albatross nests in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with the largest colonies on Midway Atoll and Laysan Island. (Laysan is also home to the recently introduced Millerbird.) Although these islands are protected, they are vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise and increased storm intensity.
Life over the Ocean
Black-footed Albatrosses are beautifully adapted for a life at sea and can remain airborne for hours, landing only on the water to rest or feed. Their specialized tubular noses (found among many seabirds, including Hawaiian Petrel and Newell’s Shearwater) filter salt, allowing the birds to drink seawater and giving them an excellent sense of smell.
This keen sense helps the albatross locate its prey over vast expanses of ocean. Favored foods include flying fish (both eggs and adults), squid, crustaceans, and offal thrown from ships.
They forage by seizing prey at the surface, up-ending to reach underwater, or diving short distances with wings partly spread.
Sign up for ABC’s eNews to learn how you can help protect birds Faithful Partners, Devoted Parents
Like other albatross species, including Laysan and Waved, this bird is slow to mature, not breeding for until five years or older. It also has a low reproductive rate and mates for life.
Males are the first to arrive on the breeding grounds, where they re-claim the nest site that the bird and its partner may have used for many years. The strong pair bond shared by these birds is established and maintained through elaborate displays, including bowing, mutual preening, and head-bobbing.
The Black-footed Albatrosses’ nest, rebuilt each year, is a simple scrape in the sand, usually at or above the high-tide line in an open or sparsely vegetated area. Both birds build the nest and take turns incubating their single egg. If this egg is lost—whether to a predator or some other threat—the birds will not attempt to breed again until the following year.
Black-footed Albatross, Greg Lavaty
Black-footed Albatross in flight, showing its impressive six-foot wingspan. Photo by Greg Lavaty
For about 18 to 20 days after hatching, one parent broods and guards the nestling while other forages for food, switching off every day or two. The chick is fed by regurgitation by both parents until it fledges, at four to five months old. Advocating for Black-footed Albatross
The Black-footed Albatross is included on the Watch List in the State of North America’s Birds 2016 report, which highlights species most in need of immediate conservation action.
ABC continues to advocate for Black-footed Albatross and other seabirds impacted by commercial fisheries. We also support legislation to ratify the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) by the United States. And we recently launched an interactive web-based tool to help fisheries avoid accidentally catching seabirds: fisheryandseabird.info.
ABC has also collaborated with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners to secure predator-free breeding habitat for seabirds on islands in Hawaii.
Donate to support ABC’s conservation mission!
Our weekly bird profiles provide an inside look at captivating species with video, birds calls, and fast facts dashboards.
A couple hundred pebble-size diamonds, plucked from Brazilian mud, sit inside a safe at Northwestern University. To some, they might be worthless. “They’re battered,” said Steve Jacobsen, a mineralogist at Northwestern. “They look like they’ve been through a washing machine.” Many are dark or yellow, far from the pristine gems of jewelers’ dreams.
Yet, for researchers like Jacobsen, these fragments of crystalline carbon are every bit as precious — not for the diamond itself, but for what is locked inside: specks of minerals forged hundreds of kilometers underground, deep in Earth’s mantle.
These mineral flecks — some too small to see even under a microscope — offer a peek into Earth’s otherwise unreachable interior. In 2014, researchers glimpsed something embedded in these minerals that, if not for its deep origins, would’ve been unremarkable: water.
Not actual drops of water, or even molecules of H20, but its ingredients, atoms of hydrogen and oxygen embedded in the crystal structure of the mineral itself. This hydrous mineral isn’t wet. But when it melts, out spills water. The discovery was the first direct proof that water-rich minerals exist this deep, between 410 and 660 kilometers down, in a region called the transition zone, sandwiched between the upper and lower mantles.
Since then, scientists have found more tantalizing evidence of water. In March 2018, a team announced that they had discovered diamonds from Earth’s mantle that have actual water encased inside. Seismic data has also mapped water-friendly minerals across a large portion of Earth’s interior. Some scientists now argue that a huge reservoir of water could be lurking far beneath our feet. If we consider all of the planet’s surface water as one ocean, and there turn out to be even a few oceans underground, it would change how scientists think of Earth’s interior. But it also raises another question: Where could it have all come from?
Without water, life as we know it would not exist. Neither would the living, dynamic planet we’re familiar with today. Water plays an integral role in plate tectonics, triggering volcanoes and helping parts of the upper mantle flow more freely. Still, most of the mantle is relatively dry. The upper mantle, for instance, is primarily made of a mineral called olivine, which can’t store much water.
But below 410 kilometers, in the transition zone, high temperatures and pressures squeeze the olivine into a new crystal configuration called wadsleyite. In 1987, Joe Smyth, a mineralogist at the University of Colorado, realized that wadsleyite’s crystal structure would be afflicted with gaps. These gaps turn out to be perfect fits for hydrogen atoms, which could snuggle into these defects and bond with the adjacent oxygen atoms already in the mineral. Wadsleyite, Smyth found, can potentially grab onto lots of hydrogen, turning it into a hydrous mineral that produces water when it melts. For scientists like Smyth, hydrogen means water.
Deeper in the transition zone, wadsleyite becomes ringwoodite. And in the lab, Jacobsen (who was Smyth’s graduate student in the 1990s) would squeeze and heat bits of ringwoodite to mimic the extreme conditions of the transition zone. Researchers doing similar experiments with both wadsleyite and ringwoodite found that in the transition zone, these minerals could hold 1 to 3 percent of their weight in water. Considering that the transition zone is a roughly 250-kilometer-thick shell that accounts for about 7 percent of Earth’s mass (by comparison, the crust is only 1 percent), it could contain several times the water of Earth’s oceans.
These experiments, however, only gauge water capacity. “It’s not a measurement of how wet the sponge is, it’s a measurement of how much the sponge can hold,” said Wendy Panero, a geophysicist at Ohio State University.
Neither were the experiments necessarily realistic, since researchers could only test lab-grown ringwoodite. Apart from a few meteorites, no one had ever seen ringwoodite in nature. That is, until 2014.
While soccer fans converged on Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, a small group of geologists headed to the farmlands around Juína, a city almost 2,000 kilometers west of Brasilia. They were on the hunt for diamonds that had been panned from local rivers.
As diamonds form in the heat and high pressure of the mantle, they can trap bits of minerals. Because diamonds are so tough and rigid, they preserve these mantle minerals as they’re blasted to the surface via volcanic eruptions.
The researchers bought more than a thousand of the most speckled, mineral-filled crystals. One of the scientists, Graham Pearson, took several hundred back to his lab at the University of Alberta, where, inside one particular diamond, he and his colleagues discovered ringwoodite from the transition zone. Not only that, but it was hydrous ringwoodite, which meant it contained water — about 1 percent by weight.
“It’s an important discovery in terms of plausibility,” said Brandon Schmandt, a seismologist at the University of New Mexico. For the first time, scientists had a sample of the transition zone — and it was hydrated. “It’s definitely not crazy, then, to think other parts of the transition zone are also hydrated.”
But, he added, “it would also be a little crazy to think that one crystal represents the average of the entire transition zone.” Diamonds, after all, form only in certain conditions, and this sample might come from a uniquely watery place.
To see how widespread hydrous ringwoodite could be, Schmandt teamed with Jacobsen and others to map it using seismic waves. Due to convection, hydrous ringwoodite can sink, and as it drops below the transition zone, the rising pressure wrings water out, causing the mineral to melt. Just beneath the transition zone where mantle material is descending, these pools of molten minerals can abruptly slow seismic waves. By measuring seismic speeds under North America, the researchers found that, indeed, such pools appear common below the transition zone. Another study measuring the seismic waves under the European Alps found a similar pattern.
Abundant mantle water got yet another boost in March when a team led by Oliver Tschauner, a mineralogist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, discovered diamonds that contain actual pieces of water ice — the first observation of freely existing H2O from the mantle. The samples might say more about the wet conditions that formed the diamond than the existence of any ubiquitous reservoir. But because this water — a high-pressure form called ice-VII — was found in a variety of locations across southern Africa and China, it could turn out to be relatively widespread.
“A couple years from now, we’ll find ice-VII is much more common,” said Steve Shirey, a geologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. “It’s telling us we have the same story that hydrous ringwoodite is telling us.”
But if the story is that the mantle is brimming with water, the cliffhanger leaves us wondering how it all got there.
According to the standard tale, Earth’s water was imported. The region around the sun where the planet formed was too hot for volatile compounds like water to condense. So the nascent Earth started out dry, getting wet only after water-rich bodies from the distant solar system crashed into the planet, delivering water to the surface. Most of these were likely not comets but rather asteroids called carbonaceous chondrites, which can be up to 20 percent water by weight, storing it in a form of hydrogen like ringwoodite.
But if there’s a huge stockpile of water in the transition zone, this story of water’s origin would have to change. If the transition zone could store 1 percent of its weight in water — a moderate estimate, Jacobsen said — it would contain twice the world’s oceans. The lower mantle is much drier but also voluminous. It could amount to all the world’s oceans (again). There’s water in the crust, too. For subduction to incorporate that much water from the surface at the current rate, it would take much longer than the age of the planet, Jacobsen said.
If that’s the case, at least some of Earth’s interior water must have always been here. Despite the heat in the early solar system, water molecules could have stuck to the dust particles that coalesced to form Earth, according to some theories.
Yet the total amount of water in the mantle is a highly uncertain figure. At the low end, the mantle might hold only half as much water as in the world’s oceans, according to Schmandt and others.
On the high end, the mantle could hold two or three times the amount of water in the oceans. If there were much more than that, the additional heat of the younger Earth would have made the mantle too watery and runny to fracture the continental plates, and today’s plate tectonics may never have gotten started. “If you have a bunch of water in the surface, it’s great,” said Jun Korenaga, a geophysicist at Yale University. “If you have a bunch of water in the mantle, it’s not great.”
But many uncertainties remain. One big question mark is the lower mantle, where extreme pressures turn ringwoodite into bridgmanite, which can’t hold much water at all. Recent studies, however, suggest the presence of new water-bearing minerals dubbed phase D and phase H. Exactly what these minerals are like and how much water they might store remains an open question, Panero said. “Because it is a wide-open question, I think that the water content in the mantle remains open for debate — wide open.”
Measuring Earth’s interior water storage isn’t easy. One promising way is to measure the electrical conductivity of the mantle, Korenaga said. But those techniques aren’t yet as advanced as, say, using seismic waves. And while seismic waves offer a global view of Earth’s interior, the picture isn’t always clear. The signals are subtle, and researchers need more precise data and a better understanding of the properties of more realistic mantle material, instead of just ringwoodite and wadsleyite. Those two minerals constitute about 60 percent of the transition zone, the rest being a complex mix of other minerals and compounds.
Finding more diamonds with hydrous minerals would help, too. In Jacobsen’s lab, that job falls to graduate student Michelle Wenz. For each diamond, she uses powerful X-rays at Argonne National Laboratory to map the location of every mineral speck, of which there may be half a dozen. Then, to identify the minerals, she blasts X-rays onto each bit and measures how the rays scatter off its crystal structure. Of the hundreds of diamonds in the lab, all from Brazil, she’s gone through about 60. No water yet.
Water or not, she said, these capsules from the deep are still amazing. “Each one is so unique,” she said. “They’re a lot like snowflakes.”
Marcus Woo is a science journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The solid waste division of Pinellas County, where Tampa Bay is located, said they had picked up 600 tons of dead marine life since late June, as NPR reported.
“The bay is really hurting right now,” Pinellas County resident Maya Burke told NPR. “It’s significant numbers of dead fish all up and down the food chain, from small forage fish all the way up to tarpon, manatees, dolphins… If it’s swimming in the bay, right now it’s washing up dead.”
The devastation prompted more than 100 protestors to march along the St. Petersburg waterfront on Saturday, as The AP reported. The demonstrators called on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency in order to provide funds to address the problem.
“This is not political,” protest organizer Aimee Conlee said at the demonstration, as The AP reported. “This is life. This is water, and water is life.”
The St. Petersburg City Council backed the call with a resolution passed last week, but DeSantis has said there is enough funding available from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection without a declaration.
Red tides are caused by an overabundance of the algae Karenia brevis, The Smithsonian explained. This algae is naturally occurring in the Gulf of Mexico, but is made worse by nutrient pollution, according to The AP. It is unusual for these blooms to occur in Tampa Bay during the summer months, NPR reported. Instead, they typically begin in the fall and end by January. The last serious summer red tide was in 2018, and this year’s outbreak looks to be worse.
“This is not normal,” NOAA oceanographer Richard Stumpf told NPR. “The fact that it’s been three years since the last one is not good.”
The outbreak comes around three months after a major leak at a phosphate plant wastewater pond located in a Piney Point reservoir near Tampa Bay. Experts say pollutants from the leak could be worsening the tide, but are unlikely to be its original source.
“I don’t think that the red tide was originated as a consequence of Piney Point,” Tom Frazer, Florida’s former chief science officer and a professor and dean at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, said in a public discussion reported by WUSF. “One of the things that we saw with the red tide early on was that it was south of the discharge area, with the red tide continuing to kind of migrate or move northward into lower Tampa Bay.”
He said that other sources of the outbreak could be runoff from septic tanks, stormwater systems and agricultural or lawn fertilizer.
The number of fish washing up dead on the beach could also have been increased by winds from Tropical Storm Elsa earlier this month, according to NPR. Pinellas County and St. Petersburg officials said they removed nine tons of fish in a 24-hour period following the storm, according to The Independent.
Red tides can also harm human health by worsening the effects of asthma and other respiratory conditions. Scientists warn these events may get even worse because of the climate crisis, since warmer waters favor the algae and more extreme precipitation events increase runoff and nutrient pollution.
“Because of climate change, we are at a crossroad with regard to control of harmful algal blooms, and must aggressively tackle the problem before it becomes so difficult that in many ecosystems we are faced with the option of allowing these micro-organisms to go unchecked,” experts warned in a 2015 letter published in Environmental Science & Technology.
The Navy will explode bombs near its new USS Ford aircraft carrier as soon as next year to assess the new platform’s ability to operate in high-threat, major-power warfare on the open seas. They are called Shock Trials, a specific combat preparation exercise wherein Navy testers fire a wide range of weapons against or near the ship in a variety of different sea states.
Service weapons testers will detonate a wide range of bombs, including a variety of underwater sea mines to assess the carrier’s ability to withstand enemy attacks. “Shock Trials,” as they are called, are typically one of the final stages in the Navy process designed to bring warships from development to operational deployment.
A report from USNI states that USS Ford Shock Trials are slated for 2021. Having Shock Trials as soon as next year is considered a major milestone as the ship nears its anticipated operational service several years from now. For instance, the Shock Trials may help move preparations along for the USS Ford, which has been experiencing some maintenance and technical delays.
Interestingly, an essay on Shock Trials from several years ago explains that detonating bombs near the ship closely approximates the kinds of serious threats the ship might face in full combat. A 2007 Department of Defense-directed Shock Trials analysis by the non-profit MITRE corporation explains that many of the expected or most probable threats to warships come from “non-contact explosions where a high-pressure wave is launched toward the ship.”
MITRE’s report, interestingly, also identifies the inspiration for Shock Trials as one originating from World War II.
“During World War II, it was discovered that although such “near miss” explosions do not cause serious hull or superstructure damage, the shock and vibrations associated with the blast nonetheless incapacitate the ship, by knocking out critical components and systems,” the MITRE assessment, called “Navy Ship Underwater Shock Prediction and Testing Capability Study” states.
The MITRE analysis further specifies that, following a nearby explosion, the bulkhead of a ship can oscillate, causing the ship to move upward.
“Strong localized deformations are seen in the deck modes, in which different parts of the decks move at different frequencies from each other,” MITRE writes.
The first-in-class USS Ford has been specifically engineered for expanded air attack, being built with a larger deck space than the Nimitz-class to enable a greater sortie rate. Navy developers explain that the Ford configuration was developed to increase the air mission rate by as much as 33%, with a mind to creating a new dimension of air power projection. This strategy, initiated years ago, did seem to anticipate what could be described as a modern threat environment. More air power would be needed in any kind of major-power engagement, carriers need to have an ability to operate the first-of-its kind carrier-launched F-35C5 stealth fighter, and perhaps of equal or greater significance, modern carriers need to have longer attack reach.
Kris Osborn is the new Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
On September 29th, the first messages appeared on the Internet, drawing people’s attention to the state of the Khalaktyrsky Beach (Kamchatka Krai). Witnesses stated that the shore was covered with dead animals’ bodies. In addition, surfers complained about vision problems, symptoms of poisoning, and fever after contact with water. In a number of cases, after visiting a doctor, people were diagnosed with ocular chemical injuries.
On September 30th, the Acting Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of Kamchatka Krai reported, based on results of water sampling and quality assessments, that «… in one of the samples an excess of almost 4 times was found for oil products, in two samples – an excess of 2 times for phenols. During the extraction of samples, the glass of the chemical glassware was covered with an oily substance of a bright yellow color, which, may indicate the presence of a pollutant that is similar in properties to industrial oil.»
On October 1st, Kamchatka Interdistrict Environmental Prosecutor’s Office initiated investigation of the information spreading on media concerning pollution of ocean water in the area of Khalaktyrsky beach.
On October 2nd, the updated data of the chemical analysis of water samples confirmed an increase of approximately 2.5 times for phenols and 3.6 times for oil products.
On October 3rd, Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of Kamchatka Krai posted on Instagram the following statement: «The color of the water is normal, the smell of the air is normal, the beach is completely clean», which contradicts the testimony of divers claiming thousands of dead animals.
The fact that this pollution has been continuing for more than two weeks, despite the past two storms, may indicate that this is a leakage and not a one-time release of substance. Mass mortality of animals suggests that it can be an effect of a potent toxin.
Dead ringed seals, giant octopuses thrown out of the water were found on the shore, along with perished fish, mollusks, and sea urchins underwater. If the leakage does not stop, more animals of various species, from numerous invertebrates to large mammals such as killer whales, whose migratory routes pass close to the contaminated waters, could be affected.
Despite ongoing water quality assessments, the source and cause of the leakage remain unknown. Until it is detected and eliminated, the situation may worsen, and the destruction of the Kamchatka ecosystem will continue. In addition, with further development, the tragedy may spread to the water areas of the adjacent regions and/or the open sea, which lay beyond the territorial borders of Russian Federation.
We demand the measures to be taken to identify and eliminate the causes of the accident!
Earth’s oceans, covering two-thirds of the planet, are so vast and so deep that it’s easy to take their importance for granted.
They provide us with oxygen and regulate our climate by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — important functions for both humans and wildlife. Unfortunately, the world’s oceans — home to whales, sea otters, seals and sea lions, dolphins, manatees, seabirds, sea turtles, sharks, fish, corals, and countless other species of marine life — are in a sea of trouble. The oceans are overworked; they cannot remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere quickly enough to keep up with how much we create, leading to ever-increasing ocean acidification.
The Arctic Sea is now warming at twice the rate than in past years, reducing sea ice — a growing threat to threatened marine mammals such as polar bears and ice seals. Over a third of the Great Barrier Reef is dead, harming commercial and recreational fish stocks and impoverishing Australia’s iconic biodiversity. We are killing off marine mammals, sharks and rays, and fish stocks faster than they can replenish themselves. The health of the Earth’s oceans are indicators of our planet’s overall health; when they’re in trouble, so are we. It’s important to keep our oceans healthy not just for marine life, but also for the future health of the entire planet.
Myriad threats face our oceans and marine wildlife. Climate change causes ocean acidification, warming temperatures, changing ocean currents, sea level rise, and stronger storms. A warming planet makes it more likely for temperature-dependent species like sea turtles and manatees to face cold stress or venture past their usual habitats. Increased shipping traffic and offshore seismic blasting and drilling also increase noise pollution, threatening marine mammals and species at every level of the food chain. Shark finning, bycatch, overfishing and fisheries entanglements endanger sharks and rays, marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, and many other species. Contamination from pollution and plastics and the toxic effects of red tide and other harmful algal blooms caused by fertilizer runoff sicken and kill vulnerable marine species. To top it off, habitat loss and the loss of protected areas reduce the spaces already-vulnerable marine species need to forage and reproduce.
Defenders is fighting for ocean habitats and ocean protection off all our national shores and around the globe. We defend marine national monuments and national marine sanctuaries from administrative attacks. We are opposing seismic blasting and offshore drilling in the courts and in Congress.
We are working to develop best management practices for responsible wildlife-friendly offshore wind siting, construction and development. We defend the Marine Mammal Protection Act from legislative and regulatory rollbacks and work to protect individual marine species through the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act. We worked to gain international protections for sharks and rays and have worked to translate those protections into protections at the domestic level through the ESA.
In Washington State, we are actively engaged in the governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force, working to protect the dwindling southern resident orca population and restore the Salish Sea.
In 2017, Defenders joined forces with the National Marine Fisheries Service, state agencies, local and national organizations and hundreds of local residents to redirect community science efforts into a new program called ‘Belugas Count!’ to help monitor Cook Inlet beluga whales in Alaska.
We advocate for North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales as a conservation member of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team, a stakeholder group under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that advises NMFS on how to implement fishery management measures to minimize or avoid the risk of deadly entanglements.
Tropical Western Pacific and Indian Oceans
Echosystem/ Habitat soft sediments associated with coral reefs
Feeding Habits Active Predator
Conservation Status Unknown
Subphylum Crustacea (Crabs, Shrimps, and Relatives), Order Stomatopoda (Mantis Shrimps)
The Peacock mantis shrimp is a brightly colored crustacean that lives on Indo-Pacific coral reefs and associated sand flats. Its common name reflects the brilliant greens and blues that adorn the male’s exoskeleton (shell).
Females are also brightly colored but are mostly red. Peacock mantis shrimp are powerful hunters, feeding on hard-shelled invertebrates of all kinds and even some fishes. They are well known for the extremely fast punching motion that they do with their front appendages to kill and break apart their prey. This punch is one of the fastest movements in the animal kingdom and is strong enough to break through an aquarium’s glass wall. Peacock mantis shrimp use this behavior to break open snails and other mollusks and to completely dismember crabs, shrimps, and other crustaceans.
Peacock mantis shrimp are known to have extremely complex eyes, and can see in more wavelengths of color than even mammals. Under special lights/cameras, scientists have demonstrated that the already colorful exoskeletons of this species are actually even more elaborate when viewed by each other. Peacock mantis shrimp dig U-shaped burrows in the sand near the reef’s edge from which they venture out to hunt and to attract mates. They reproduce via internal fertilization, and after laying the eggs, the females carry them around on their front appendages until they hatch, protecting them and keeping them clean. Some peacock mantis shrimp may form monogamous pair bonds.
Peacock mantis shrimp are one of the largest and most colorful species of mantis shrimp and are therefore desirable for the private aquarium industry. However, individuals will often eat many of the other fishes and invertebrates in a tank, so some aquarists actively avoid this species. There is also a small market for eating peacock mantis shrimp in some Asian countries. Scientists do not have sufficient data to determine this species’ population trends, but as residents on coral reefs, human induced changes to this vulnerable ecosystem may also threaten the peacock mantis shrimp and other species.
An environmental crisis continues in the Solomon Islands as for more than month, a cargo ship off the coast of Rennell Island in the Kangava Bay has been leaking oil into the waters. This site also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site as it is the world’s largest raised coral atoll.
The ship, a 740-foot-long ship called the Solomon Trader ran aground on February 5, 2019 where it was carrying more than 700 metric tons of oil according the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said Tuesday. So far, CNN affiliate Radio NZ has reported that the wreck has released more than 100 tons of oil into the sea that holds one of the most important coral atolls in the world.
While a large amount of the oil still remains in the ship, there is a high risk that the remaining oil on board could leak into the sea. According to the DFAT, the oil had spread about three and half miles and has begun to wash up onshore.
Speaking to the New York Times, Simon Albert, a marine ecologist at the University of Queensland explained that the spill is likely to cause long therm damage to the coral and local ecosystem.
When coral comes in contact with oil, it can either kill the coral polyps direct or significantly impact reproduction, growth, and behavior over the a long period of time. What this means is that this coral, which is already struggling to survive due to bleaching events and ocean acidification, will be impacted for generations of coral to come.
While the future will be problematic, there are already environmental impacts occurring according to Radio NZ. Loti Yates, the director of the Solomon Islands Disaster Management Office, told them that dead fish have been washing up on beaches.
“There are dead fish and crabs and all that,” Yates said. “The fumes that is coming out from the oil is also affecting communities and I just had a report it’s also impacting on the chicken and birds.”
The site is the largest raised coral atoll in the world, according to UNESCO, which said in a statement this week the leak is taking place just outside the World Heritage site.
The ship ran aground when it was attempting to load cargo of bauxite in the Solomon Island when Cyclone Oma pushed in into a reef. The ship is based out of Hong-Kong and insured by a Korean company.
Thus far, the company attempted to try and use a tugboat to move the ship but this only made matters worse as it pushed it further into the reef. Since then, Australian officials are supporting the Solomon Islands in efforts to mitigate ecological damage. The DFAT said the Australian government has deployed special equipment and an eight-person response crew from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
The companies are now working on transferring the remaining 600 metric tons of fuel oil on the ship to different tanks which will be pumped onto a separate barge that is en route.
They’ve also started deploying oil spill booms to contain the spread, and have begun cleaning along the shoreline, the statement said.
Coral reefs around the world are dying off in masses as the seas temperatures continue to grow and the acidity of the oceans rise with it due to climate change. These changes cause the reefs to go through a process known as coral bleaching which happens when warmer water temperatures cause corals to expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white.
When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality.
The worst bleaching event ever recorded happened in 2016 when half the northern Great Barrier Reef died due to mass bleaching due to rising ocean temperatures. In the years spanning 2014-2017, in some areas of the reef temperatures rose as much as 10.8°F (6°C), sometimes lasting as long as eight months.
Unfortunately for the reefs, while all this coral death happened quickly and suddenly, the growth of new coral is at an extremely slow rate as they take hundred and thousands of years to grow back to what they once where and this is not good.
The best solution to save reefs is to prevent future warming of the oceans but researchers are attempting to help regrow some of the reefs that are already dead and they are using some pretty cool technology to assist them.
Researchers at two Australian universities have developed and underwater robot named Larvalbot that is designed to move autonomously along dead or damaged sections of the reef with hundreds of thousands of microscopic baby corals.
“This year represents a big step up for our larval restoration research and the first time we’ve been able to capture coral spawn on a bigger scale using large floating spawn catchers then rearing them into tiny coral larvae in our specially constructed larval pools and settling them on damaged reef areas,” Professor Harrison said whom engineered the robot.
“With further research and refinement, this technique has enormous potential to operate across large areas of reef and multiple sites in a way that hasn’t previously been possible. We’ll be closely monitoring the progress of settled baby corals over coming months and working to refine both the technology and the technique to scale up further in 2019.”
The team recently tested the bot on the outer part of the GBR. along the northeastern coast. The trial run dispersed 100,000 baby specimens that were collected from coral that survived the bleaching event of 2016-2017. This coral was specifically chosen as research as revealed that the coral that survived the mass bleaching actually adapted to become more resilient to heatwaves and rising temperatures.
The hope is the that future versions of the robot will be able to disperse millions fo baby corals to speed up the regrowth process of reefs but the team is still waiting on research to show that the coral will take hold and grow.
“We can’t actually see the results of these experiments until we start to see juvenile corals grow — so, for at least six to nine months,” Harrison said. “What we’ll be doing now is monitoring the reef over the coming months.”
Harrison hopes to eventually develop a fleet of LarvalBots that would be used to repopulate reefs around the world, though he is unsure how much such a project would cost.
While this is a great idea to try and promote growth on reefs that have already been killed, the most important thing we do today is to do everything we can to reduce coral bleaching so the bots are never needed. Due to the size and scale of coral reefs across the planet, it is essentially impossible to regrow all shallow water reefs if bleaching is to continue.
To accomplish this, we must slow the rate of climate change and protect the oceans from warming up.
Single-use plastic is one the bigger issues facing the world along with climate change and overfishing. It seems that every day, their is a new incident regarding a marine animal and discarded trash in the ocean that puts the animals life in danger. It seems like that because it is true.
The latest, a sea turtle was rescued from drowning in Oaxaca, Mexico after a plastic spoon became stuck inside the turtles mouth.
A fisherman spotted the reptile floating off the coast of Puerto Escondido and immediately called Mexico’s Civil Protection to come save the turtle
Civil Protection was able to capture the turtle and Brough it to the University of the Sea to try and rescued the damaged and sick turtle.
Specialists removed the spoon and were able to return the turtle back to the open sea after determine the turtle was healthy enough.
This incident happened shortly after Mexico’s Environment Secretariat announced an awareness workshop for Oaxaca’s 5,000 fisherman to better protect marine life and reduce bycatch particularly with sea turtles.
The workshop was put into place after the discovery of over 300 sea turtles that died on the Oaxacan coast when they were caught in the nets of tuna boats.
A recent study by researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have just uncovered a very disturbing impact humans are having on sea turtle populations. In the study, published in Nature, scientist examined data from almost 1,000 dead sea turtles and discovered that the youngest appeared to be the most vulnerable to plastic pollution.
The research revealed that plastic was found in the stomach of over half of the baby post-hatchlings and while 25% ofturtles slightly older than the hatchlings were found with plastic inside their stomach. In comparison, around 15 percent of adult turtles were affected by plastic.
The number of pieces of plastic in the reptiles’ stomachs varied greatly – from one to over 300, The Independent reports. According to a leader of the study, Dr. Britta Denise Hardesty from CSIRO, and her team, turtles have a 50 percent probability of death after consuming just 14 plastic pieces.
Turtles were among the very first species observed consuming plastic waste as the early reports of bags being discovered in their stomachs go back to the 1980s. Since that time, the amount of plastic that ends up in the oceans has grown exponentially, and now nearly 9 tons of plastic enter the oceans every year.
Turtles are not the only animals to be impacted by plastic but understand how one species is so negatively impacted may help people wrap their heads around how severe of a problem our plastic addiction has become.
The research is most concerning as the findings revealed that the most vulnerable age group of turtles, hatchlings, are actually the most impacted by plastic pollution. Sea turtles are already threatened world-wide as pollution, bycatch, overfishing and coastal development has led many species to become endangered. Turtle species and hundreds of other marine creatures are now facing a threat like no other which requires serious and lasting action – a completely reinvented approach to plastic.
We are seeing the public and governments pay more attention to plastic waste but we still have a long way to go before we get to where we need to be. To get to that goal, we will need to continue to work towards reducing total plastic usage everyday by reaching out to local business and elected officials and forcing change
Moon Jellies, which are found in Shallow Bays around the world, look like small, not entirely friendly ghosts. They have translucent bells fringed with pale tentacles, and as they pulse along, it almost seems as if the water itself has come alive.
Protect Octopuses from Ocean Plastics
Marine wildlife like our beloved octopuses are counting on us to preserve our ocean and protect their homes. The octopus may be able to escape some of the trickiest situations, but the ocean plastics villain may prove more deadly than any of its natural predators ever could.
But we can stop this. We can keep ocean plastics out of these creatures’ homes.
Make a promise to help octopuses today: make the pledge that whenever you’re able, you’ll say “no thanks” to single-use plastics like those that marine wildlife are so vulnerable to. Promise our ocean’s cephalopods that you’ll commit to being mindful and making responsible choices for the sake of all marine wildlife.
In the photo you can see what is happening on the coasts of Florida! Naples is a city on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida. Here, tons of dead crabs were washed away!
Recently, 135 turtles and dolphins and manatees died in Sarasota, Florida.
On the weekend of September 16, 2018, beach visitors at Panama City Beach made a gruesome discovery: thousands of fish had been stranded dead. Nitrates and phosphorus together with rising temperatures are ideal conditions for algae blooms.Water has been drained from a Florida lake that was full of algal blooms, and this contaminated water got into the ocean!
More and more dead sea turtles, dolphins, manatees and fish have been washed ashore on Florida beaches since the end of July. Including a 200 kg sea turtle. She had swum across the oceans for 100 years and her life ended on the beaches of…
Adopt a Plastic Straw Upon Request Policy · Change.org
Sophia and Amanda started this petition to Dunkin’ Donuts
Our names are Amanda and Sophia. One day in science class, we came upon an article on plastic straws. The article stated that Americans use more than 500 million straws a day- and throw them away. That is equivalent to 125 school buses filled with plastic straws. We also learned that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
Those numbers concern us. So when we joined the Earth Club at our school, the leader suggested using change.org, which is how we came upon this website. All 500 million of these plastic straws end up in a landfill or worse, the ocean. When plastic straws get into the ocean, the fish mistake it for food, eat it, and get sick or die. In fact, science shows that when you eat fish, you might as well be eating plastic!
We both think that Dunkin Donuts is a very tasty and an influential company. By choosing this business, we hope to make them take this issue very seriously. These shops have a lot of people coming in every day, almost all of them getting cold beverages containing plastic straws. However, those straws add up to the landfill and get into the ocean. Dunkin’ Donuts is a very successful company, so if they stopped giving out straws (and retained some available for customers with disabilities), won’t others follow their lead?
So please sign this petition and share it with your friends to help the environment, and the world we all live in. Remember, #StrawsSuck! Thank you!
by: Care2 Team
recipient: Belleair Shore town commissioners
22,265 SUPPORTERS – 25,000 GOAL
Florida is the most important nesting area for the various species of sea turtles that inhabit the United States. From loggerheads to greens and leatherback these turtles rely on the Florida beaches to survive.
Since they are all threatened or endangered you would think that most people would do all they can to help protect them. But that isn’t the case in one small Florida town who at this very moment is trying to kick turtle nests off their private beach.
In an attempt to give the this season’s sea turtle hatch a fighting chance the Clearwater Marine Aquarium relocated some 400 eggs from non-ideal beaches to a better beach within Belleair Shore.
In Florida, beaches that are rebuilt with government funds after hurricanes or other disasters are, by law, public lands. So when the affluent town of Belleair Shore was offered help, they said “no thanks!” in favor of keeping their beach private. But as David Yates, the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium suggests, the fact that Belleaire’s beach hasn’t been rebuilt is what makes it so perfect for turtle nests.
Now the locals say the cordoned off areas on their beach which are protecting the eggs from being disturbed is an eyesore and want them gone. What’s worse, is even though the eggs are due to hatch within the next sixty days, at their next meeting, the town commissioners are considering passing an ordinance that might give the eggs the boot.
One would hope that the people of Belleaire would reconsider and vote to protect these endangered creatures rather than toss them from their private beach. But we can’t be sure. Their next meeting is slated for August 21 so it’s up to us to let them know we are watching and we want them to protect the sea turtles of Florida.
Please help by signing the petition and tell the Belleair Shore town commissioners to share their private beach and do their part to help save the sea turtle.
by Keith Stewart
It’s been absolutely heartbreaking to watch (and hear).
Photograph: Michael Weiss/Hysazu Photography
For the past nine days a grieving mother orca has carried the body of her dead calf.
The calf was the first in years to be born into the endangered Salish Sea orca population, but it died within just hours. The mother Orca however refused to leave her baby behind and instead carried its body with her. She pushed it by herself for days.
When she started falling behind the rest of the pod — the pod joined her in pushing and supporting the infant’s body.
It’s a truly inspiring and heartbreaking story – watching another species mourning its loss in such a dramatic manner. It speaks to the deep love that a mother has for her child, and the importance of a community especially in a time of grieving.
Unfortunately, while we all try to deal with this immediate loss, the future of the pod is also dire.
This population of orcas is on the edge of extinction. There are only 75 Southern resident orcas left in existence. Another adolescent has already been observed as extremely emaciated and because of dwindling food supplies, and increased marine traffic, the entire population is at risk.
Add to this already bleak situation the pipeline Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just pledged to buy for $4.5 billion – the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX). TMX is a massive new tar sands pipeline that would bring a very toxic substance called bitumen from Alberta, Canada to British Columbia and right through the heart of the whales’ habitat.
Only 75 Southern Resident Orcas remain.
One of the reasons these orcas are struggling to survive is because the Chinook salmon they depend on for food are in decline. Without enough salmon to eat, the orcas are literally starving to death. They’re severely emaciated — observers can even see the ribs of some of the whales.
The TMX pipeline would cross over 1300 streams and rivers on its way to the ocean and would put this key food supply even further at risk.
If it goes ahead, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion could also turn the home of the 75 remaining orcas into a tar sands tanker superhighway – bringing over 400 tankers through their critical habitat every year.
The noise from a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic may interfere with the orca’s ability to find what little food there is left to eat. It will put them at greater risk of being struck by a tanker. And a catastrophic oil spill could be the final nail in their coffin (as the Exxon Valdez spill devastated other orca pods).
These whales can’t just move on to another area. Their home is in the Salish Sea. We can’t let it be put at risk.
Justin Trudeau promised to protect these beautiful animals (in fact it’s a Federal responsibility). Buying a pipeline that would further endanger these fragile creatures and virtually ensure their demise isn’t the way to do it.
The whales are crying out for our help. Listen to their cries.
Tell Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to protect the orcas and stop the pipeline bailout.
by: Nova Covington, Founder, Garden Goddess
target: Hawaii Governor David Ige
In an impressive commitment to protect Hawaii’s cherished coral reefs, the state legislature has passed a bill to ban two chemicals in common sunscreens that are toxic to corals.
The bill is now sitting on the desk of Hawaii’s governor, David Ige. Unfortunately, many companies and business interests have been lobbying the governor to veto the toxic sunscreen ban.
Coral reefs are critical to ocean wildlife, and play a huge role in driving tourism in tropical locations such as Hawaii. But we’re loving our reefs to death. Overfishing, global warming, ocean acidification and invasive species are all playing a roll in degrading these beautiful and diverse living structures.
Hawaii’s legislature is to be congratulated for taking a leading stance on this newly discovered and easily preventable threat – the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate that are found in most sunscreens. Studies have shown these chemicals make coral reefs more susceptible to environmental stressors and can even kill them. It’s urgent that we remove these chemicals from our oceans.
But now, some business interests are rallying to oppose this ban. I know there are sunscreen alternatives that are good for people and the environment – thirteen years ago, I launched my company to make sure of it. We can protect people from sun burns and skin cancer while protecting our oceans and environment.
Please urge Governor Ige to support the leadership of Hawaii’s legislature to protect our coral reefs and sign this bill into law.
Nova Covington founded Goddess Garden in 2005. It is now the largest certified-organic sunscreen brand, also offering certified-organic facial care, aromatherapy and pure essential-oil perfumes. In 2017, Nova established a foundation, Protect Our Mother, to help protect the coral reefs and clean up the oceans. https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/714/908/840/
Coppertone, Be an Innovator and Make Your Sunscreen Reef-Safe!
by: S E Smith
target: Bayer, parent company of Coppertone
44,602 SUPPORTERS – 45,000 GOAL
The state of Hawaii has just voted to ban sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals known to be harmful to reefs. If the governor signs the ban into law, it will be illegal to sell sunscreens with these products in Hawaii.
Coppertone and other sunscreen manufacturers should take this as an opportunity, not a burden. Now is their chance to be innovative with reef-safe products that don’t contain these harmful chemicals. Eliminating microplastics, parabens, and other ingredients known to be hazards to ocean health is an important step too. We all care about sun protection, but not at the cost of the environment.
Hawaii may be the first, but it likely won’t be the last. Commercial sunscreens that provide excellent protection and coverage without hurting the ocean are available, but a large brand like Coppertone could lead by example, as it has done in the sun protection industry for over 70 years. Instead of relying on old standbys, Coppertone could develop new ingredients and drive a sea change in skin care, making its entire line of products reef-safe; so that no matter where in the world you are, you can enjoy the sun without harming the environment.
Coppertone’s parent company, Bayer, says it continuously works to “develop product solutions that benefit the environment.” It’s time for Bayer to live up to its promises of corporate responsibility and stop selling products that it knows are contributing to coral bleaching and the deaths of marine vertebrates.
Tell Bayer to change Coppertone’s ingredients and go reef-safe, before it’s too late!
Whales, some sharks and other marine species such as rays are increasingly at risk from microplastics in the oceans, a new study suggests.
Species such as baleen whales and basking sharks, which feed through filtering seawater for plankton, are ingesting the tiny particles of indigestible plastic which now appear to permeate oceans throughout the world. Some of these species have evolved to swallow hundreds or even thousands of cubic metres of seawater a day, but taking in microplastic can block their ability to absorb nutrients, and may have toxic side-effects.
The new study, published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, advises more research on the megafauna of the oceans, as the effects of microplastics on them is currently not well understood. Scientists have found, for instance through examining the bodies of beached whales, large pieces of plastic in the guts of such creatures, but the effect of microplastics, though less obvious, may be just as harmful.
Elitza Germanov, a researcher at the Marine Megafauna Foundation and co-author the study, said: “Despite the growing research on microplastics in the marine environment, there are only a few studies that examine the effects on large filter feeders. We are still trying to understand the magnitude of the issue. It has become clear, though, that microplastic contamination has the potential to further reduce the population numbers of these species, many of which are long-lived and have few offspring throughout their lives.”
Many species of whale, filter-feeding shark and rays are already under threat from other problems, such as overfishing and pollution. The added stress from microplastics could push some species further towards extinction, the authors of the study warned.
One possibility is that the microplastics will convey toxins to the bodies of the megafauna, though this process is currently poorly understood.
Maria Cristina Fossi, a professor at the University of Siena and co-author of the study, told the Guardian that although there was no evidence currently that microplastics alone could kill filter-feeders, they could produce “sub-lethal effects” which would endanger their health.
She said research on whale sharks and fin whales had confirmed that filter-feeding species were exposed to toxic chemicals, perhaps through the breakdown of microplastics in their digestive systems. “Exposure to these plastic-associated toxins pose a major threat to the health of these animals since it can alter the hormones,” she said.
Glitter may not seem like much of a threat but according to scientists and researchers, it is extremely hazardous to see life. The health of the ocean creature suffers immensely from the pollution of their waters, and tiny pieces of plastic like glitter are especially threatening because of how frequently sea creatures mistake them for food.
Following in the spirit of Britain's Queen Boudica, Queen of the Iceni. A boudica.us site. I am an opinionator, do your own research, verification. Reposts, reblogs do not neccessarily reflect our views.