Don’t Dynamite Endangered Dolphins and Turtles – ForceChange

Endangered marine life will soon be massacred with dynamite in Brazil in the name of economic progress. Not only is the Amazon river basin home to countless species, but it is also a food source for locals. Demand that this heinous plan be shut down.

Source: Don’t Dynamite Endangered Dolphins and Turtles – ForceChange

70 penguins found dead in Brazil got caught in fishing nets

dailymail.co.uk

  • 70 Magellanic penguins were discovered on two neighbouring beaches in Brazil 
  • R3 Animal Association found the birds on the Santinho and Mocambique beaches
  • One penguin was discovered alive and was taken to a centre for rehabilitation 

The bodies of 70 penguins have been discovered on two neighbouring beaches in Brazil after apparently getting caught in fishing nets.

The horrific scene was discovered by the R3 Animal Association on the Santinho and Mocambique beaches in the city of Florianopolis in south-eastern Brazil.

R3 Animal Association are one of the institutions which carry out the Monitoring Project of the Santos Basin Beaches. 70 dead Magellanic penguins were discovered washed up on two neighbouring beaches, Santinho and Mocambique, in south-eastern Brazil The horrific scene was discovered by the R3 Animal Association which carry out the Monitoring Project of the Santos Basin Beaches

They said: ‘We monitor the beaches on the island [of Santa Catarina where Florianopolis is located] in search of dead or weak marine animals.

‘The dead animals undergo examination to determine the cause of death, and the living animals are rehabilitated before being released.’

The beach monitoring is monitored because of an environmental requirement enforced when licensing was given for the exploration of possible oil and gas reserves in the Santos Basin.

Marks on the flippers of some of the Magellanic penguins and the fragment of a fishing net still attached to one of the penguins led to the belief that the birds were killed after getting caught in the netting.A member of the R3 Animal Association walks up to the body of a penguin in BrazilThe dead penguins are carefully photo-documentedIt is believed that marks on the flippers indicate the penguins were caught in fishing netsOther signs indicating that the penguins may have been caught in fishing nets are a lack of feathers on the flippers

All 70 birds have been taken to the Centre of research, Rehabilitations and Depetrolisation of Marine Animals for an autopsy.

Vet Janaina Rocha Lorenco said that preliminary analysis shows a lack of feathers on the birds’ flippers, generalised congestion and other signs point to the penguins potentially having been trapped in fishing nets and trying to free themselves.

One penguin was discovered by a team on Mocambique beach and has been taken to a centre for rehabilitation.

Magellanic penguins are often seen in the area at this time of year as they migrate from Patagonia in southern Argentina.

All 70 birds have been taken to the Centre of research, Rehabilitations and Depetrolisation of Marine Animals for an autopsy

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8476043/amp/70-penguins-dead-Brazilian-beaches-getting-caught-fishing-nets-migration.html?__twitter_impression=true

Name that shark

WORLD OCEANS DAY: WHAT YOUR DESCENDANTS MAY MISS

ROLLING HARBOUR ABACO

Bottlenose Dolphins Abaco, Bahamas (Charlotte Dunn / BMMRO)

WORLD OCEANS DAY: WHAT YOUR DESCENDANTS MAY MISS

Even the most optimistic lovers of unmolested wildlife, unpolluted oceans, un-degraded habitats, unextinguished species and understanding humans will be beginning to lose heart. Even as reports increase of resurgent wildlife during these Covid months, so it is gradually becoming clear that once humans are unlocked again, the only way will be down. 

Humpback whaleHumpback Whale, Abaco, Bahamas (Charlotte Dunn / BMMRO)

Here are just a few magnificent marine mammals to admire. All were photographed from the BMMRO research vessel in Abaco or adjacent waters. They are protected, recorded, researched, and watched over in their natural element. 

Pantropical spotted dolphinsPan-tropical spotted dolphins, Abaco, Bahamas (Charlotte Dunn / BMMRO)

Today we contemplate our oceans at a time when the humans species is having to confront a sudden and indiscriminate destructive force. Maybe the impact will lead to a recalibration of the ways we treat other species and their environment. We have contaminated the world’s oceans, perhaps irreparably, in a…

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The ocean is filled with amazing creatures

Chesapeake seagrasses help fight ocean acidification

api.nationalgeographic.com

By Alejandra Borunda 12-15 minutes

PUBLISHED June 2, 2020

A crab swims above a waving seagrass bed in the Chesapeake Bay.Photograph by Jay Fleming

When scientist Wen Jun Cai and his colleagues boated across the pea-soup-like waters of the upper Chesapeake Bay in the summer of 2016, water sampling kits and pH sensors in hand, they didn’t expect to find chemical magic at play.

The scientists were taking stock of a looming problem facing the 200-mile-long bay: the acidification of its waters, a human-caused phenomenon that threatens the health of the crabs, oysters, and fish iconic to the large estuary.

They started collecting their samples in the recently restored, vibrant underwater grass beds of the Susquehanna Flats near the top of the bay, and motored their way some 60 miles downstream to the deep central channel.

When they rounded up their hundreds of data points and analyzed them, they found evidence of something surprising and encouraging: Gently waving seagrasses in the bay are performing a magnificent chemical trick. As they photosynthesize in the beating sunshine, they produce tiny granules of a carbon-based mineral that acts like a miniature antacid tablet.

And those acid-neutralizing “micro-Tums” don’t stay put. They’re swept miles down the length of the bay, eventually dissolving into the deepest waters, which have long been soured by acidification caused by human sources like agricultural runoff and untreated waste.

“It’s like the seagrasses are producing antacids that counter the indigestion of the bay,” says Jeremy Testa, a marine ecologist at the University of Maryland and an author of the paper in Nature Geoscience describing the newly discovered phenomenon.

Without this acid-neutralizing trick, the bay’s waters and shelled creatures would be even more vulnerable to the human-caused threats, he says.

Acid waters run deep

The Chesapeake gets its name from the Algonquin word for “great shellfish bay.” For thousands of years, its rich ecology depended on the ways its shellfish, grasses, fish, and other species interacted; each influenced the chemistry and biology of the others, in a delicate biological dance.

Seagrasses and other underwater plants packed the bay’s shallows, stilling and smoothing the surrounding water, leaving it clear and clean for baby fish, crabs, and shellfish to populate. Vegetation stabilized the muddy bottom during storms. And it absorbed the brunt of wind and waves, protecting shorelines against erosion.

But as more and more people populated the land around the bay, the grasses took hit after hit. A steady flow of nitrogen-rich pollutants overloaded the waters; the grasses and other underwater plants died off en masse. Between the 1950s and 1980s, vegetation coverage across the bay plummeted. Only 10 percent of sites in the upper bay had vegetation when they were surveyed in 1980.

The nutrient overload also spurred enormous, suffocating algal blooms at the water’s surface. When such blooms happen, the algae die off and sink to deeper water, where they’re eaten by bacteria that use up any oxygen in the water and breathe out carbon-rich acid waste, creating “dead zones.” Almost nothing can survive in such corrosive waters. Worse, during strong winds or at certain times of the year, currents can sweep that deep, super-acidic water into places populated by creatures like oysters and crabs, potentially eroding their ability to maintain their calcium-carbonate based shells.

“Acidified waters can be really challenging for oysters, especially in their larval stage,” says Allison Colden, a biologist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In other coastal regions, particularly along the U.S. West Coast, acidification has already damaged shellfish populations, thinning their shells and messing with their offspring’s ability to mature. But scientists aren’t totally sure if those same effects have hit the East Coast. In estuaries like the Chesapeake, natural acid levels vary a lot, so shell-forming creatures have a built-in ability to deal with some amount of ups and downs. The worry, for some scientists, is that there might be a tipping point beyond which the iconic species of the bay might not be able to adjust.

“We don’t have enough data anywhere in the world to tell us exactly how those creatures are going to meet the thresholds of acidification,” says Doug Myers, a scientist also with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

They’re particularly concerned because there’s another force, besides nutrient overloading, that’s making the bay’s water more acidic: human-caused burning of fossil fuels. That leads to the buildup of carbon dioxide in the air, which gets pulled into the surface waters as ocean and air make their way toward equilibrium, where it dissolves and makes the water more acidic.

During the early 2000s, states bordering the bay collaborated to rein in polluting runoff, putting the bay a “nutrient diet—” and in response, it began to heal. Old seagrass seeds, long buried in the gooey sediments, started to sprout as the water above them cleared. By the mid-2010s, underwater vegetation covered expanded over an extra 65 square miles of the Bay, more than 300 percent more area than was covered in the 1980s.

Those grasses, like the ones in the Susquehanna Flats, can offset some of the acidity. But they’ll have to work harder and harder as carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere grow.

“This is one of the big questions for us all,” says Emily Rivest, a biologist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “What’s going to happen to our oysters, our blue crabs, all the things that live in our waters, as the waters get more acidic?”

Grasses to the rescue

It’s obvious just from looking at the Susquehanna Flats that they’re doing something special, Testa says. Outside the beds, the water often looks pea-green. But inside, it’s crystal clear and much warmer than the water outside the Flats. When they looked closely, they found that even the chemistry was different.

As they photosynthesize, seagrasses and other vegetation pull particular forms of carbon out of the surrounding water, making that water less acidic. They use some of that carbon to build their plant bodies, but turn some of it into tiny crystals of calcium carbonate, a chemical variant on the material that shells are made of. The plants hoard these crystals—which are essentially tiny antacids—both inside and on the surface of their leaves.

The crystals are big enough to feel with your fingers, like a fine grit coating the leaves, says Myers. When a grass dies, it disintegrates, releasing the built-up crystals from its inside as well as out.

The crystals make a big difference for the water chemistry and biology up near the Susquehanna Flats. But they also make a big difference far downstream, demonstrating with unusual clarity how interconnected the ecology of the bay can be. In total, the team calculated, the seagrass-sourced crystals reduced the acidity of the down-bay waters, some 60 miles away, by about 0.6 pH units. They reduced the acidity of the water by four times than it otherwise might have been (because the pH scale is logarithmic, small changes in the numbers on the pH scale mean big changes in terms of acidity).

“If not for the dissolution [of the tiny crystals], the pH downstream would be even lower,” says Cai (a lower value of pH signifies a more acidic environment). “So the vegetation upstream provides a more stable environment for what’s living down the bay.”

Seagrasses and other vegetation do this chemical trick elsewhere, as well, and scientists have seen similar local chemistry shifts in places where grasses have been restored, like the estuaries fringing the Loire River and Tampa Bay. But they haven’t seen this long-range effect before.

It’s not yet clear exactly what impact the seagrass-driven help has on the blue crabs or the oysters. But it does seem clear to many scientists that the whole bay can benefit from the effect as the grasses spread their little acid-neutralizing crystals far and wide—also serving as building material for the shell-growers downstream.

“The dissolving of last year’s grass beds is helping to feed this year’s oysters [to help them build their shells],” says Myers.

The new discovery makes a strong case for restoring even more of the seagrasses in the bay, says Jonathan Lefcheck, an ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland. “You just see so clearly that there are these knock-on effects [from the seagrass restoration],” he says.

“Everything is connected. Something that was happening under our noses—this big unintended benefit, this added value—it turns out we’re solving two problems by attacking just one.”

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/science/2020/06/chesapeake-seagrasses-fight-ocean-acidification?__twitter_impression=true

Superpod of an Estimated 1,000 Dolphins Filmed Swimming Along Whale-Watching Boat in California

By Rosie McCall On 5/19/20 at 6:40 AM EDT U.S.CaliforniaDolphinVideo

Whale watchers were in for a surprise when they encountered a “superpod” of more than 1,000 common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) during a trip off Laguna Beach, California, on Saturday.

https://videos.newsweek.com/share/515672?amp=1&autostart=1&publisher=amp_nw&items=1&nwcat=nwus-us&iabcat=IAB12&ivt_fq=0#amp=1

Newport Coastal Adventure, a whale-watching tour agency, shared a video of the event, showing hundreds of dolphins leaping through the waves as the boat sails past.

“We saw this Common Dolphin “superpod” chasing fish off Laguna Beach for our 5:30pm Private Charter Whale Watching trip today,” said Newport Coastal Adventure. “Some lucky families got to experience what it’s like to be amongst at least 1,000 dolphins.”https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0 https://d-38292508244107259295.ampproject.net/2005151844001/frame.html

“The experience was incredible,” Ryan Lawler of Newport Coastal Adventure told Newsweek. “Thousands of dolphins tightly packed together, just about an hour from sunset.”

Lawler said the super pod was seen during a private charter trip with a single family, explaining the company is currently restricting trips to members of one household and maintaining distance between the captain and whale watchers amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Read more These Dolphins Beach Themselves As Part of a ‘Risky’ Feeding Behavior 13 Spectacular Photos of the Planet From the Lens of a Travel Photographer Gutted Carcass of Endangered River Dolphin Found in Bangladesh

Dolphins are highly social and gregarious creatures that live in groups. Recent research has highlighted the extent of their collaborative behavior, from the observation that male dolphins sing together (to coerce females into sex) to dolphins’ ability to make friends through shared interests, specifically their interest in “sponging,” which involves using sponges as foraging tools to find food. Other studies suggest dolphins use different vocalizations, or names, to identify friends and rivals, forge long-lasting alliances and lean on each other when raising their calves.

While common dolphins tend to travel in groups in the hundreds, they have been known to gather in large schools containing thousands of dolphins, dubbed megapods or superpods. Some of the largest contain more than 10,000 individuals. Within these congregations, there are a number of sub-groups, each consisting of 20 to 30 individuals who are connected through relation or factors such as age and sex.

“Super pods of common dolphins are spectacular but not rare. If the conditions are suitable, they can occur anywhere in the world,” Danny Groves, a spokesperson for marine charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), told Newsweek, noting they have been spotted off the U.S., Scotland, South Africa and many other places.

Large pods like these often form for a short period of time during courtship or in response to prey. Take, for example, the gathering that aggregated near Monterey Bay, California, on Labor Day last year. According to Monterey Bay Aquarium, hundreds of common dolphins came together “hot on the tails of billions of baitfish.” Something similar appears to be occurring here—according to Newport Coastal Adventure, the dolphins were spotted chasing fish.

“I would say we see this phenomena a few dozen times a year. Sometimes we go months without seeing it. Other times we will see it a few times in one week,” said Lawler. “Common dolphins often travel and live in groups of 20-200 here, but if there is enough food around they will form a super pod such as this one for a small amount of time to take advantage of the strength in numbers in pursuing their prey, anchovies.”

“If prey are plentiful, then hunting in big pods can be beneficial. Likewise if there is a predator threat to the dolphins, then being in a large group provides security,” said Groves. “If they are just being sociable, then we might expect dolphins to get similar benefits that humans get from getting together in large groups—a sense of community and enjoyment, ironically something they are able to do right now whilst we are isolating.”

Groves added: “Whilst we humans are locked down, the seas are quieter and less polluted, and nature seems to be reclaiming its territory.” A pod of common dolphins surf the bow wake of a boat on July 16, 2008 near Long Beach, California. Footage taken last week shows a superpod of “at least” 1,000 common dolphins near Laguna Beach. David McNew/Getty

It is not clear from the video what type of common dolphin is being filmed. Though initially considered a single species, since 1994 it has been split into the long-beaked common dolphin and the short-beaked common dolphin.

According to WDC, advances in science suggest the initial classification was correct and the short-beaked and long-beaked dolphins are variations of the same species, which can be identified by their different sized beaks and their coloring.

https://www.newsweek.com/super-pod-1000-dolphins-whale-watching-boat-california-1505010?amp=1&__twitter_impression=true

New pygmy seahorse species discovered, first of its kind in Africa

National Geographic Logo

New pygmy seahorse discovered, first of its kind in Africa

“It’s like finding a kangaroo in Norway,” says a researcher of the new species of lentil-size fish, found 5,000 miles from its nearest cousins.

By Douglas Main PUBLISHED May 20, 2020

Hippocampus nalu, also known as the African pygmy seahorse, is about the size of a rice grain, and was found living well camouflaged among algae and sand in Sodwana Bay, South Africa.Photograph by Richard Smith

In rough, boulder-strewn waters off eastern South Africa, researchers have found a new species: a pygmy seahorse about the size of a grain of rice. null

The finding shocked them because all seven species of pygmy seahorse, except for one in Japan, inhabit the Coral Triangle, a biodiverse region of more than two million square miles in the southwestern Pacific. This one lives 5,000 miles away, the first pygmy seahorse seen in all of the Indian Ocean and the continent of Africa.

“It’s like finding a kangaroo in Norway,” says Richard Smith, a marine biologist based in the United Kingdom and co-author of a new study on the species, known as the African or Sodwana Bay pygmy seahorse. The second name refers to the location where it was found, a popular scuba-diving spot close to the Mozambique border.

The new species looks somewhat similar to other pygmy seahorses, except that it has one set of spines on its back that have sharp, incisor-like points on the tips, says co-author Graham Short, an ichthyologist at the California Academy of Sciences and the Australian Museum in Sydney. In contrast, the other similar pygmy seahorses have flat-tipped spines.

“We really don’t know what these spines are used for,” Short says. “Many species of seahorses in general are spiny, so their presence could be possibly due to sexual selection—the females may prefer spinier males.” (Related: Strange mating habits of the seahorse.)

The surprising discovery, described in a study published May 19 in the journal ZooKeys, shows how little we know about the ocean, particularly when it comes to tiny creatures, the authors say—and that there are likely many more pygmy seahorse species to be identified. null

“A gift from the sea”

Dive instructor Savannah Nalu Olivier first stumbled upon the creature in Sodwana Bay in 2017, while examining bits of algae on the seafloor. The bay is known for having many species of rare fish, sharks, and sea turtles.

She shared photographs of the fish with her colleagues, and in 2018 they made their way to Smith, who, with colleague Louw Claassens, collected several specimens of the animal at depths of 40 to 55 feet. null

The researchers have named the new seahorse Hippocampus nalu, after Olivier, whose nickname is appropriately “Fish.” (She’s also a Pisces.) In the South African languages Xhosa and Zulu, “nalu” roughly translates to “here it is.”

“I told her that this was a gift from the sea,” says Louis Olivier, Savannah’s father, who owns a scuba diving outfit called Pisces Diving Sodwana Bay. He adds he’s “super stoked about her discovery.”

Mysterious anatomy

Smith sent several specimens of the new species to Short, who analyzed their genetics and body structures using a CT scanner.

His research revealed that, like other pygmy seahorses, the newly found animal has two wing-like structures on its back, rather than one, as in larger seahorses. These “wings” in general serve an unknown purpose for seahorses.

Also like other pygmy seahorses, the African species has only one gill slit on its upper back, instead of two below each side of the head, like larger seahorses—another mystery. null

That would be “like having a nose on the back of your neck,” Short says.

But the new seahorse is unique from its tiny kin in that it was found living in turf-like algae, amid boulders and sand. Sodwana Bay has large swells, and the little seahorses appear to be comfortable being swept about, says Smith, who observed a pygmy seahorse get covered in sand and then wriggle its way out.

“They regularly get sand-blasted,” Smith says. Other pygmy seahorses, which stick to the calmer waters around coral reefs, “are more dainty. But this [species] is built of sturdier stuff.” null

Like other pygmy seahorses, the African version is thought to eat tiny copepods and crustaceans. It also is well camouflaged to match its surroundings.

https://assets.nationalgeographic.com/modules-video/stable/assets/ngsEmbeddedVideo.html?guid=00000165-244b-d3fe-a9fd-7cfb815c0000&account=2423130747#amp=1 New species of pygmy seahorse found in Japan

Many more to find

This finding “demonstrates that there are still many discoveries to be made in the oceans, even in shallow waters near the coast,” says Thomas Trnski, head of natural sciences at the Auckland Museum in New Zealand, who wasn’t involved in the study. Almost all pygmy seahorses have been discovered in just the last 20 years, he adds.

The only pygmy seahorse found outside the Coral Triangle is the Japanese pygmy seahorse, also known as the “Japan pig,” first described in August 2018.

Although populations of regular seahorses have fallen in many areas because of harvesting for use in traditional Chinese medicine and the aquarium trade, that’s not an issue for pygmy seahorses because they are difficult to find, Short says. That being said, some of these species have very low population densities, and there’s not enough data to get a good sense of how many there are, Smith adds.

These fish can spread only very short distances via the current. The study suggests that Hippocampus nalu diverged from the ancestors of all known pygmy seahorses species more than 12 million years ago.

“This means that it is extremely likely that there are many more species of pygmy seahorses yet to be discovered in the western Indian Ocean” and beyond, Short says.

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/animals/2020/05/new-pygmy-seahorse-species-discovered-africa?__twitter_impression=true

Petition: Officials Seized 26 Tons of Shark Fins From Endangered Shark Species

71,540 SUPPORTERS 75,000 GOAL

Shark fins are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, including China. But because sharks are endangered thanks to human behavior, we cannot afford to kill any more of them. Yet, people are still trafficking in shark fins. In fact, in April and May of 2020, officials in Hong Kong seized 26 tons of shark fins from over 38,500 endangered sharks in two different cases. Luckily, they have a suspect in custody for one of the seizures. But still no word on the other seizure or any official charges on the first suspect. 

It’s critical we keep the pressure on to make sure they hold everyone involved with this massive slaughter accountable. Sign now!

The main way sharks are consumed is in a dish called shark fin soup. That means traffickers don’t even care about the rest of the shark’s body. In fact, they often slice off a shark’s fin and toss it back to the ocean to drown and die a slow and painful death. Fins from over 73 million sharks are used in this “delicacy” every single year. 

The seized shark fins in Hong Kong were largely from thresher and silky sharks, both of which are endangered. Sharks are predators, playing a crucial role in maintaining sea biodiversity. Losing an entire predatory species would have dire consequences for our planet’s ecosystem. That’s why it’s so tragic to learn of 38,500 ruthlessly slaughtered sharks

The good news is that this particular crime carries a fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years. We need to demand anyone involved in this horrible act gets that punishment. Please sign on to demand justice for all these poor sharks!moreEMBED

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https://www.thepetitionsite.com/550/634/764/officials-seized-26-tons-of-shark-fins-from-endangered-shark-species/?taf_id=65789605&cid=fb_na

“Millions of Baby Turtles Head to Sea After Beach Closures”

New Research on the Possible Effects of Micro-and Nano-plastics on Marine Animals

iaea.org

Jennet Orayeva, IAEA Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications 3 minutes


According to the UN Environment Programme, 8 million tonnes of plastic end up the world’s oceans every year, often carried there by rivers. If the trend continues, by 2050 our oceans could contain more plastic than fish.

Environmental plastic pollution has become a major ecological and societal concern. Plastic pollutants vary widely in size, from large debris, such as fishing nets and single-use plastic bags, to invisible nano-sized plastic particles. While the visible impact of large plastic debris, so-called macroplastics, in marine environments has been well documented, the potential harm caused by microplastics and even more by nanoplastics is much less clear.

Plastic particles below 5 mm in length are called microplastics. The smaller ones, with a size equal to or less than 100 nm (1/10 000 mm) are called nanoplastics. They are so tiny that one cannot see them with naked eye or even with an ordinary optical microscope.

Microplastic particles are accidentally consumed by marine organisms, which are then consumed by predator fish. Nanoplastic particles are even more toxic to living organisms as they are more likely to be absorbed through the walls of digestive tracts and thereby transported into the tissues and organs. Consequently, such plastic particles can interfere with various physiological processes, from neurotransmission to oxidative stress and immunity levels of freshwater and marine organisms.

Over the last decade, the global scientific community has invested substantial work into advancing the knowledge of the impact of plastic debris on diverse aquatic organisms. However, monitoring methods for small microplastics and nanoplastics are still in the development phase, which means that their exact concentration in the oceans remains unknown.

“This is where nuclear technology can play an important role,” added Metian. “Nuclear and isotopic techniques are already successfully used to study pollution processes. Their advantage is that they are highly sensitive and precise and can be used similarly to study small microplastic and nanoplastic movement and impact.”

At the same time, from a toxicology perspective, it is important to distinguish the toxicity of plastic particles per se from the toxicity associated with the contaminants that can become attached to them. To date, research into the effects of virgin micro and nano-sized plastic particles in freshwater and marine fish is still limited, hence the increased focus on investigating the toxicity of virgin plastics at the IAEA.

In major ruling for right whales, federal judge rules that regulators violated Endangered Species Act – The Boston Globe

A North Atlantic right whale swims in Cape Cod Bay.

Peter Flood In a ruling that could have a major impact on the region’s lobster fishery, a federal judge ruled Thursday that the National Marine Fishery Service violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to reduce the risk of North Atlantic right whales becoming entangled in millions of lobster lines. The lines, which extend from traps on the seafloor to buoys on the surface, have in recent years been the leading cause of death for the whales, whose numbers have declined by about 20 percent over the past decade to a population of just 400. Without significant changes to the lobster fishery, right whales could go extinct within two decades, scientists say. The ruling by Judge James Boasberg of the US District Court in Washington, D.C., found that the agency’s failure to follow the law, after its scientists found that the lobster fishery was threatening the viability of right whales, was “about as straightforward a violation of the [Endangered Species Act] as they come.”

Environmental advocates who filed the lawsuit said they hoped the decision would lead to greater protections for right whales. “This decision confirms that even the federal government is not above the law,” said Erica Fuller, a senior attorney at the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation, one of four groups that filed the lawsuit. “We must do whatever it takes to ensure right whales are here for future generations, and that starts with obeying the Endangered Species Act.” Scientists at the agency have said that the species can’t sustain more than one unnatural death a year. Over the past three years, 30 right whales have been found dead, and when a cause of death was determined, all of them were found to have died as a result of entanglements or vessel strikes.

In a 20-page ruling, Boasberg called the agency’s failure to produce what is known as an incidental take statement — a requirement of the Endangered Species Act when the government finds that an industry or other actor has been threatening the sustainability of an endangered species — a “signal omission.” Buoy lines pose “an especially grave danger to the species,” he added. The judge noted that in 2014 the agency estimated that lobster lines would lead to more than three whale deaths a year, on average. “The figure was well over the … maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock, while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population,” he wrote.

Boasberg called the agency’s arguments for why they failed to comply with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act “a novel interpretation of the law.” “Defendants cannot rewrite the statute just because they do not agree with its consequences,” he said. Agency officials declined to comment on the potential impact of the judge’s ruling. “NOAA Fisheries is currently reviewing the court’s decision,” said Allison Ferreira, a spokeswoman for the fisheries service. Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, said she was “carefully” reviewing the ruling.

“The MLA expects to submit a briefing to the court during the remedy phase of this proceeding to protect the rights and livelihood of the lobstermen it represents,” she said. Jane Davenport, a senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife, a Washington-based advocacy group and another plaintiff, called the ruling “timely,” noting that just 10 calves were born this year, about a third of the number needed to prevent the species from going extinct. “Low calving rates are directly linked to the chronic stress of fishing gear entanglements,” she said. In his decision, Boasberg didn’t say what the agency must do now. But he said he would seek briefings about potential remedies soon. Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, another plaintiff, said the decision “should send a clear signal that federal officials must take immediate action to protect these amazing animals from suffering more deadly, painful entanglements, before it’s too late.”

Researchers at the New England Aquarium also welcomed the ruling. “We have seen firsthand the trauma this species has suffered from fishing gear entanglements,” they said in a statement. “It has been incredibly challenging to witness their suffering and decline while also getting pushback from fishing industry representatives who remain resistant to considering changes to how they presently fish.”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/04/09/metro/major-ruling-right-whales-federal-judge-rules-that-regulators-violated-endangered-species-act/?outputType=amp&__twitter_impression=true

Petition Closes in 5 Days… Please Sign to Save the Orcas

Sign Petition: This Fishing Tactic is Killing Dolphins by the Tens of Thousands

Tuna is delicious, but it often comes at a terrible price. In many parts of the world, fishermen use gillnets to catch the valuable fish, but those nets don’t just entangle tuna. Other nontarget animals are also caught in their webs. The unwanted catch is called “bycatch.” From sea turtles, sharks and other nontarget fish to cetaceans, the “wicked web” does not differentiate – they all die. The number of creatures from dolphins to sharks to other cetaceans that get caught and die in gillnets is astronomical! It is time for a complete ban on the use of gillnets in the Indian Ocean. According to a recent study, as many as 100,000 cetaceans were killed by commercial fishing in 2006. That number has dropped to 80,000 this year, but that 20% decline in deaths doesn’t have conservationists celebrating. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Researchers believe the number of dolphin casualties hasn’t declined, rather the actual number of dolphins has. The lower number just indicates that there are fewer dolphins in the Indian Ocean to become bycatch in the first place. In fact, they believe the death toll for cetacean deaths over the past 70 years in Indian Ocean fisheries is a whopping 4 million. Gillnet fishing is virtually unmanaged in the Indian Ocean and some of the biggest commercial fishing nations are the worst offenders when it comes to dolphin bycatch. One study estimates that for every 1,000 tons of tuna caught, around 175 cetaceans are snagged. For context, Iran averages around 214,262 tons of tuna every year. That means their bycatch is more than 30,000 dead nontarget marine mammals annually! And that number doesn’t include Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s catches which, along with Iran, make up the five nations that catch the most tuna using gillnets. Please join Care2 in asking the nations of Iran, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to ban gillnetting and to step up their efforts to protect Indian Ocean cetaceans.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/958/995/551/?TAP=1732

Diver Spots A Pink Manta Ray So Rare He Thinks His Camera Is Broken

thedodo.com
Lily Feinn

Kristian Laine was free diving near Lady Elliot Island in Australia, hoping to get a few good photos of the diverse sea creatures who call the Great Barrier Reef home.

He had no idea that he was about to get the luckiest shot a photographer could ask for.
Pink manta ray spotted off Lady Elliot Island
Kristian Laine

Laine spotted six male manta rays chasing a female, known as a manta train, so he held his breath and dove down. Looking through the viewfinder of his camera, he focused on something unusual. One of the mantas leading the chase wasn’t black or white — he was bright pink.

“I was looking through the viewfinder and locked eyes with it,” Laine told The Dodo. “Only when I fired my strobes to take a photo I noticed its pink color. I had no idea there were any pink mantas in the world so I was confused and thought my strobes were broken or doing something weird.”
Pink manta ray named Inspector Clouseau

Laine was pretty sure that his camera was malfunctioning, but he decided to follow the train and snap a few more shots of the special ray. And the rosy manta didn’t seem to mind the attention: “He was extremely calm,” Laine said. “I remember looking into its eyes and it was almost like he was smiling or at least very friendly.”

The whole interaction only lasted about a half hour but would change Laine’s life forever. “I felt a connection there,” he added.

When Laine returned to land, he came across a photo of the area’s most famous and reclusive inhabitant — a bubblegum pink manta named Inspector Clouseau.

“I rushed back to check in my camera,” Laine said. “My jaw dropped when I realized what I had just witnessed.

Pink manta ray spotted in Australia
Kristian Laine

Inspector Clouseau was first spotted in 2015, sparking debates as to what exactly gives him his rosy hue. A skin biopsy of the ray in 2016 ruled out any infection or irregularities in diet causing the color, National Geographic reported.

Scientists’ current theory is that the color is caused by a rare genetic mutation, such as erythrism, which causes an abnormal redness in an animal’s skin, fur or feathers, according to National Geographic. Or, in this case, a pinkness.

Pink manta ray pursuing a mate
Kristian Laine

The 11-foot manta seems to be doing just fine, despite standing out from the crowd. And if he’s successful in his courtship, we may see more pink mantas in the next few years.

But for now, Inspector Clouseau is wowing the world — one diver at a time. “It’s pretty humbling and I feel extremely lucky,” Laine said. “It was a pretty special day for me.”

https://www.thedodo.com/in-the-wild/rare-pink-manta-ray-caught-on-camera

Let the light show begin

Sign Petition: Join me in speaking up for the law that protects marine mammals!

wdc.good.do

NEPA: the most important law you’ve never heard of.

We often ask you, our extended whamily, to join us in speaking up whale and dolphin protections. Those opportunities for the public voice (your voice!) to be heard are usually part of a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) – one of our most important environmental laws. NEPA is a vital tool in our policy toolbox to make sure whales, dolphins, and their environments are not harmed by human actions, but this doesn’t only apply to whales and dolphins! This law is important for wildlife, the environment.

This law is important for wildlife, the environment, and making sure that the public continue to have a voice.

If you’ve ever joined us in calling for ships to reduce their speed in right whale habitat, or even weighed in on a new highway or wastewater treatment plant built in your community – you’ve participated in NEPA.

What NEPA does:

Reviews how proposed actions could affect the environment
Allows the public to provide input
Creates transparency in government actions
Relies on robust scientific reviews

Thanks so much for helping us protect NEPA, the law that protects the environment and the voice of the public! Without strong environmental review under NEPA, based on the best available science, it’s much harder to make sure that human actions don’t harm wildlife and our environment. If you breathe air and drink water, you need this law, so please share this with your family and friends!

https://wdc.good.do/nepa/protect/

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This is a tragic loss 💔

Friendships 🐙

Tell Mattel: No More Plastic Packaging | Take Action @ The Animal Rescue Site

theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com
Tell Mattel: No More Plastic Packaging | Take Action @ The Animal Rescue Site

Sponsor: Free The Ocean

Every parent has seen it: the amount of plastic packaging for toys is ridiculous. The consequences for our oceans are dire.

Over 28 BILLION pounds of plastic enters the ocean each year.1 Plastic packaging is the single biggest contributor, representing a massive 42% of the plastic polluting our oceans.

Plastic in our oceans kills over ONE MILLION marine animals each year. Mammals, fish, sharks, turtles, and birds die from entanglement in or ingestion of plastic.2 Sea turtles are especially susceptible as the plastic they consume gets trapped in their stomachs, preventing them from swallowing real food… and they starve.3 This is a serious issue.

Toys are one of the worst offenders when it comes to plastic packaging, and Mattel is one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers.4 The amount of plastic used to package their toys is staggering. Ironically, the kids opening the toys enclosed in plastic packaging are the ones who are going to be impacted the most. If nothing changes, by the time a 5-year old today turns 35, plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish.5 Let’s not make children choose between toys packaged in plastic and a healthy ocean.

Although there’ll soon be a ‘How2Recycle’ sticker on some of Mattel’s products6, the truth is only 9% of plastic ever actually gets recycled.7 Mattel needs a wake-up call when it comes to the impact created by their plastic packaging. Not only would a change in packaging benefit our environment, the ocean, and marine life – it would also benefit the children who play with Mattel’s toys. We know this can be done, because Hasbro has already committed to phase out plastic in all of its packaging.8

When we speak out together, we can make companies take action. Tell the CEO of Mattel, Ynon Kreiz, to redesign Mattel’s packaging to eliminate plastic!

Plastic Pollution Affects Sea Life Throughout the Ocean
Pew Charitable Trusts, September 24, 2018
For Animals, Plastic Is Turning the Ocean Into a Minefield
National Geographic, June 2018
Just a Few Pieces of Plastic Can Kill Sea Turtles
New York Times, Sept. 13, 2018
The Top 7 Toy Companies Ranked by Market Share
Global Toy News, December 8, 2018
By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans, study says
Washington Post, January 1, 2016
Mattel Joins How2Recycle
How2Recycle, February 07, 2019
Plastic recycling is a myth: what really happens to your rubbish?
The Guardian, August 17, 2019
Hasbro to Phase Out Plastic from New Toy and Game Packaging
Hasbro, August 20, 2019

The Petition:

To: Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Mattel, Inc.

Plastic packaging is the single biggest contributor to the plastic that ends up in our oceans – which is a staggering 18 billion pounds per year. Plastic pollution kills over 1 million marine animals every year and severely damages the marine ecosystem.

As one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers, Mattel’s product packaging contributes to a massive amount of plastic. I know you’re adding a ‘How2Recycle’ sticker to some of your products but unfortunately, only 9% of all plastic actually gets recycled. The reality is, this won’t meaningfully reduce plastic waste, but using plastic-free alternatives for your packaging will.

It’s estimated that by the time a 5-year-old today, turns 35, plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish. But we can change that. Let’s not give a child the choice between a toy packaged in plastic and a healthy ocean. Ynon, changing Mattel’s packaging would not only benefit the ocean and marine life but would also benefit the children who play with your toys. Please make the right decision and redesign Mattel’s packaging to eliminate plastic.

Thank you!

Free the Ocean

https://theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com/clicktogive/ars/petition/fto-mattel-plastic?utm_source=ars-ta-animals&utm_medium=email&utm_term=01152020&utm_content=takeaction-f&utm_campaign=fto-mattel-plastic&oidp=0x4a568a63ec7cab2cc0a82937

A warm hug is always welcomed

Nap time💤💤💤

The Most Epic Whale Encounters

End Trophy Hunting of Vulnerable Puffins – ForceChange

The puffin is rapidly moving towards extinction, in part due to trophy hunting. Tours, advertised primary to British hunters, boast that one hunter can kill up to 100 puffins at a time. Ban importation of these vulnerable birds as trophies.

Source: End Trophy Hunting of Vulnerable Puffins – ForceChange

Scientists catch ‘ancient’ shark believed to be up to 512 years old

amp.news.com.au
Neal Bakernews.com.au
August 13, 2019 11:44am

Scientists from the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland filmed the rare Greenland shark recently in the Canadian Arctic. Slow swimmers and effectively blind, the Greenland shark is one of the Arctic’s top predators. Scientist Brynn Devine says: The observation and monitoring of marine species can be challenging under the best of circumstances. But sampling at extreme depths and in seasonally ice-covered waters is especially difficult. The videos were recorded during summer sessions in 2017, and the scientists published results of their study of the sharks in the journal Nature in January 2018. Credit: Brynn Devine/Marine Institute via Storyful

Scientists believe they may have discovered the world’s oldest living vertebrate.

A shark believed to be the oldest living vertebrate has been discovered — and it could be older than Shakespeare.

The massive Greenland shark was found in the North Atlantic Ocean by scientists who estimated it is up to 512 years old.

Greenland sharks, which only grow 1cm a year, have been known to live for hundreds of years.

The scientists used the shark’s size to suggest its year of birth as early as 1505.

This was the year the future British King Henry VIII ended his engagement to Catherine of Aragon.

Experts used the length — a staggering 5.5 metres — and radiocarbon dating to determine its age as somewhere between 272 and 512 years old, according to a study in journal Science.

It was the oldest of a group of 28 Greenland sharks analysed for the study.

The shark would have been alive during major world events like the founding of the United States, the Napoleonic Wars and the sinking of the Titanic.

Greenland sharks mostly eat fish but they have never been observed hunting. Surprisingly, they have been found to have remains of reindeer and even horses in their stomachs.

Their flesh is considered a delicacy in Iceland, but the meat is toxic if not correctly treated.

A separate study of the ancient shark’s bones and tissues by the Arctic University of Norway may also provide clues about the effects of climate change and pollution over a long time span.

Already the researchers have mapped out all the shark’s mitochondrial DNA — genetic material held in tiny battery-like bodies in cells that supply energy.An ‘ancient’ Greenland shark is caught by fishermen. Picture: @JUNIEL85 Source: InstagramThe 5.5 metre Greenland shark was estimated to be up to 512 years old. Picture: @JUNIEL85 Source: Instagram

Now they are working on DNA from the cell nucleus, which contains the bulk of the animal’s genes.

The “long life” genes could shed light on why most vertebrates have such a limited life span and what determines life expectancy in different species, including humans.

Professor Kim Praebel, who is leading the research, said the sharks were “living time capsules” that could help shed light on human impact on the oceans.

Many were so old they predated the industrial revolution and the introduction of large-scale commercial fishing.

“The longest living vertebrate species on the planet has formed several populations in the Atlantic Ocean,” said Prof Praebel, who was speaking at the University of Exeter at a symposium organised by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

“This is important to know, so we can develop appropriate conservation actions for this important species.”Greenland sharks are known for their longevity, living for hundreds of years. Picture: @JUNIEL85 Source: Instagram

ANCIENT BEASTS: SOME OF THE WORLD’S LONGEST-LIVING THINGS

• Aldabra giant tortoise — Species has been known to live to up to 255 years old, making it the oldest terrestrial animal in the world.

• Glass sponges — Found in the East China Sea and Southern Ocean, examples have been found that are more than 10,000 years old.

• Great Basin bristlecone pine — One tree is the oldest in North America at 5067 years old.

• Endolith — A microscopic organism that lives inside rock. In August 2013, researchers found evidence of endoliths on the ocean floor perhaps being millions of years old.

• Hydra — an ocean species that does not age, making it technically immortal.

• Creme Puff — The oldest known domestic cat, who died in Austin Texas in 2005 aged 38 years and three days.

• Jeanne Calment — French great grandmother who died at 122 years and 164 days in 1997. She outlived both her daughter and grandson by several decades.

https://amp.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/scientists-claim-ancient-shark-is-worlds-oldest-living-vertebrate/news-story/733152b852a783cbbbee03703c6d700f?__twitter_impression=true

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

INTERNATIONAL SHARK WEEK? IT’S SO OVER… EXCEPT HERE

ROLLING HARBOUR ABACO

Sharks in Bahamas - Melinda Riger / Grand Bahama Scuba

INTERNATIONAL SHARK WEEK? IT’S SO OVER… EXCEPT HERE

There’s never a day without a ‘Day’, nor a week without a ‘Week’. Almost all creatures under the sun are celebrated in some regular calendar-based time-frame. With the exception of No-see-ums: I’ve checked – there is no national or international Ceratopogonidae Day in any online calendar. 

Sharks in Bahamas - Melinda Riger / Grand Bahama Scuba

By a mere 2 days, I have missed Shark Week, a happening tied in with the Discovery Channel, and heralded by an amusing trailer that features no actual sharks… So, belatedly, here are some cool shark photos to enjoy, in case you didn’t get enough of them last week, or (like me) had other fish to fry.

Sharks in Bahamas - Melinda Riger / Grand Bahama Scuba“I’m so glad we agreed to watch each other’s backs…”

Sharks in Bahamas - Melinda Riger / Grand Bahama Scuba

 Meet Nurse Betty, as she is known to diversSharks in Bahamas - Melinda Riger / Grand Bahama Scuba

MANGROVES: THE SHARK NURSERY

As all children are taught and some adults know, the mangroves that grow in the…

View original post 151 more words

PETITION: Justice for Swordfish Stoned to Death by Tourists

ladyfreethinker.org
Image Credit: Facebook

PETITION TARGET: Greek Minister of Justice Kostas Tsiaras

A crowd of tourists on a beach in Chalkida, Greece tormented and attacked a disoriented swordfish who had accidentally comes too close to shore, stoning the innocent creature to death.

A video on Facebook shows onlookers laughing heartlessly while the attackers strike the swordfish with rocks and other objects, trying to grab the fish as the animal swam around in a confused state, desperately trying to escape to safety.

The frightened swordfish finally managed to get away, but a small group of men then further hounded her, intent on continuing the attack. Officials later discovered the animal dead in the harbour.

Not only did onlookers stand by and allow this terrible attack to happen, but harbour officials reportedly failed to take measures to prevent the escalation of the brutality.

This shocking incident must be investigated thoroughly and the attackers punished. Greek authorities need to make it clear that the abuse of animals is completely unacceptable.

Sign this petition to urge the Greek Minister of Justice, Kostas Tsiaras, to ensure that this case is fully investigated and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

https://ladyfreethinker.org/sign-justice-for-swordfish-stoned-to-death-by-tourists/

Sign Petition: This Guy Ram into Windo the Seal with His Boat

0_swns_seal_attack_12505638033.jpg

thepetitionsite.com

by: Care2 Team
recipient: Devon P

Windo the “friendly seal” of Dartmouth, United Kingdom has become famous around the area. The portly pinniped is known for lounging on his favorite buoy near the coast. He’s even known to wave at tourists as they pass by.

That’s why, locals and tourists alike, were so enraged when they heard that Windo had been attacked by a jackass on a boat.

Local Andy Kyle said he witnessed the idiot, take aim at the dinghy where Windo usually rests and then speed towards it to knock him off. Windo went flying into the water, only to come back to his perch again.

The man continues to harass Windo and then goes on his way.

Whoever this jerk is, he should be found and charged with animal cruelty. Sailing his boat so recklessly and ramming it into Windo like that is not ok. He could have seriously injured Windo or worse! Windo is a living thing and deserves to be treated with respect. There’s no reason to harass and abuse an animal like that. Especially one that’s beloved by all.

Tell the Devon Police you want them to find Windo’s attacker and charge him with animal cruelty.

Sign Petition

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/279/561/903/?z00m=31781094&redirectID=2906324159

 

Stingray Found Dead With Stomach Containing a Book, a Camera, a Bottle, and a Packet of Cigarettes – WORLD OF BUZZ

wp-1462897416934

 

Published June 16, 2019By Alief Esmail

There is no more denying the fact that we are fully responsible for all the bad things happening to our animal friends. More and more animals are suffering as a direct result of our own ignorance. The war against plastic is happening at full force but we need to do even more before its too late.

Another sad reminder has surfaced recently, where the carcass of a stingray was found dead and after further investigation, its stomach was found to contain full of random objects which might have been thrown by irresponsible individuals. Here are some of the pictures shared by 5 Minutes Beach Clean Up on Instagram.

From the pictures shared, it can be clearly seen that the stingray died from swallowing a pack of cigarettes, a book, an empty bottle and lastly a digital camera!

Poor stingray!

Although the location of the incident happened cannot be determined, the book has what appears to be Mandarin hanzi printed on it. In any case, this is a grim reminder for all of us.

Stingray Found Dead With Stomach Containing A Book, A Camera And A Bottle. – WORLD OF BUZZ 5

We only have one Earth and every living creature on this planet has a vital role. What is the point of being the most powerful creatures on earth, if we only use that power to destroy everything we touch?

Most of us have already started to do something in order to save the environment but we need to step it up! Let’s do this for our future ok?!

Also read: 40kg of Plastic Waste Found in Stomach of Whale That Died From Starvation

Stingray Found Dead With Stomach Containing A Book, A Camera And A Bottle.

https://www.worldofbuzz.com/stingray-found-dead-stomach-containing-book-camera-bottle-packet-cigarettes/?fbclid=IwAR35dzJHuuuCHO6XWUPbqmDqjSywLVb5XAna8CBpBi-kPxySfuzzLqtUG3I

Saving the oceans — one place where Congress can agree

grist.org
By Francis Rooney and Sheldon Whitehouse on Jun 7, 2019

Republican Francis Rooney is a member of Congress representing Florida’s 19th District. He is a co-chair of the Climate Solutions Caucus and is also a member of the Oceans Caucus.

Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse is a U.S. Senator serving Rhode Island. He is a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a Co-Chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus.

Human beings have not always been good stewards of our oceans. We have overexploited their natural gifts, polluted their waves with garbage, acidified them with carbon dioxide, and threatened their shores with offshore drilling.

Thankfully, there is bipartisan support in Washington to take action. We come from different regions, backgrounds, and political parties. Yet we are united by our passion for keeping our coasts and oceans healthy.

In New England, our fishing heritage has long been tied to cod. When the cod fishery collapsed under the weight of foreign fleets, industrialized trawlers, and warming waters, fishermen struggled to sustain themselves. We still have lobster, squid, groundfish, and scallop fisheries, but changing ocean conditions threaten them as well. Warming waters already force lobster and other valuable species to move offshore and northward in search of cooler waters.

In the Gulf of Mexico, fishing supports businesses and recreation, but climate change and human activities threaten the sustainability of these ecosystems. Intensive fishing pressure on red snapper has led to short seasons, the need to rebuild the fishery, and competition between recreational and commercial fishermen. Red tides, likely exacerbated by warming waters and increased CO2, have displaced and killed adult and juvenile groupers, and have been damaging to fishermen and their businesses. Low catches of red grouper last year have concerned fishermen and spurred managers to put emergency reductions in place to protect populations in the Gulf for this fishing season.

Fishing supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic impact in Florida alone. Growth in our coastal communities thus aligns with conserving coastal ecosystems and habitats. Fishing management decisions need to keep better pace with the changes our fishermen are seeing on the water. Surveys, modeling, and other federal research should prioritize at-risk stocks and those that are experiencing rapid shifts as oceans warm.

Internationally, the World Trade Organization seeks a new agreement by the next ministerial conference on the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies. These subsidies too often support illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Pirate fishing operations harm critical ecosystems through damaging fishing practices, overfishing shared stocks, and overexploiting waters of foreign nations. Those operations also contribute to other serious problems, like human trafficking and forced labor. Ending these subsidies could help to reduce those harms.

While we’re taking fish from the sea, we’re unfortunately filling their bellies with plastic and other garbage from land. Each year, around 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans. Ten rivers serve as the pathway to the ocean for more than 90 percent of that trash. Most of these rivers run through rapidly developing economies in Asia, where growth and production have outpaced waste management. If we do nothing, by 2050 plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean.

Thankfully, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are coming together to do something about all this. Last October, we saw the bipartisan Save Our Seas Act signed into law. The bill brought together congressional cosponsors from across the political spectrum and supporters from the business and conservation communities. It is now boosting the federal government’s domestic and international response to the millions of tons of plastic waste and other garbage that litter our shores and pollute our oceans, endanger wildlife, and disrupt commerce.

While only a first step, the Save Our Seas Act set the stage for additional efforts on reducing plastic pollution in and around our oceans. We are now focusing on further strengthening the United States’ international efforts to combat marine debris and to improve domestic waste management and prevention.

Just as we don’t want our oceans and coasts littered with waste, we don’t want them soiled with oil, either. Last month, the Trump administration delayed plans to open new coastline to offshore drilling. However, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management continued to review applications for permits to conduct seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean — a precursor to oil and gas drilling. We are united in the fight against opening up more of our ocean to oil and gas drilling. The risks are just too great.

It is hard to ignore that we have serious challenges to overcome, but we don’t want to leave readers pessimistic about our oceans. We know that when you give nature the chance, it can recover and even bloom again. We are committed to working with our colleagues to ensure that our oceans and the communities that depend on them stay healthy.

And we are not alone. People around the globe will celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8. In the lead-up, hundreds of ocean and coastal researchers, advocates, and industry leaders, convened by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, converged in Washington, D.C., for Capitol Hill Oceans Week. We had the opportunity to join these leaders in confronting the challenges facing one of our most precious global resources.

We can find common ground — across political lines, between private industry and environmental NGOs, and from all over the country — to protect our marine resources. Together, we can protect our oceans for generations to come.

https://grist.org/politics/saving-the-oceans-one-place-where-congress-can-agree/