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A Pretty Kettle of Fish
Curated by David Rowing
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Australian endangered species: Northern River Shark

Australian endangered species: Northern River Shark | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

The Northern River Shark (Glyphis garricki) is one of the rarest species of shark in the world. It is known only from a small number of locations in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea. Discovered in Australia in 1986, only 36 specimens have been recorded here since.

 

The Northern River Shark is a 2.5-3 metre long shark belonging to a family known aswhaler or requiem sharks. Its closest relative in Australia is the Speartooth Shark, also found in northern rivers and estuaries and listed as Endangered by the IUCN. Distinguishing between the two is difficult, but is based on the location of the “waterline”, the point where the darker upper-body colouring of the shark changes to lighter lower colour.

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Selena Whiu's curator insight, May 7, 2013 6:42 AM

Close to home shark. 

Good reading.

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Can Nutrient Trading Shrink the Gulf of Mexico's Dead Zone? | WRI Insights

Can Nutrient Trading Shrink the Gulf of Mexico's Dead Zone? | WRI Insights | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

The Gulf of Mexico has the largest dead zone in the United States and the second-largest in the world. Dead zones form when excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous wash into waterways and spur algal blooms, depleting the water of oxygen and killing fish, shrimp, and other marine life.

 

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone can range between an astounding 3,000 and 8,000 square miles. At its largest, it’s about the size of Massachusetts.

Reducing this growing dead zone problem is a huge scientific, technical, economic, and political challenge. It’s a conundrum that agricultural and environmental experts from across the United States will deliberate this week at the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

One new approach they’ll discuss is voluntary nutrient trading. According to a new study conducted by WRI staff for the EPA, this strategy could be used in the Mississippi River Basin to cost-effectively reduce nitrogen and phosphorous pollution and shrink the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.

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South West sea birds 'probably killed by PIB'

South West sea birds 'probably killed by PIB' | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

A substance thought to be responsible for the deaths of more than 350 birds is probably the same as that which affected hundreds earlier in the year, experts have said.

 

Scientists from Plymouth University said they were "almost certain" it was polyisobutene (PIB).

 

It is often used by ships to make their engines work more efficiently.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it would try to determine the source.

 

Hundreds of birds have been found on beaches in Devon and Cornwall since Wednesday.

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Scientists find Antarctic ice is melting faster

Scientists find Antarctic ice is melting faster | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

CANBERRA, April 15 (Reuters) - The summer ice melt in parts of Antarctica is at its highest level in 1,000 years, Australian and British researchers reported on Monday, adding new evidence of the impact of global warming on sensitive Antarctic glaciers and ice shelves.

 

Researchers from the Australian National University and the British Antarctic Survey found data taken from an ice core also shows the summer ice melt has been 10 times more intense over the past 50 years compared with 600 years ago.

 

"It's definitely evidence that the climate and the environment is changing in this part of Antarctica," lead researcher Nerilie Abram said. ...

 

They found that, while the temperatures have gradually increased by 1.6 degrees Celsius (2.9 degrees Fahrenheit) over 600 years, the rate of ice melting has been most intense over the past 50 years.

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Radiating Remnants: Nuclear Waste Barrels Litter English Channel - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Radiating Remnants: Nuclear Waste Barrels Litter English Channel - SPIEGEL ONLINE | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Jettisoned by both the British and the Belgians, the containers hold some of the estimated 17,224 metric tons of low-level radioactive waste dumped in the English Channel's underwater valley known as Hurd's Deep, just north of the isle of Alderney, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The British barrels are estimated to have contained 58 trillion becquerels (units of radioactivity), while the Belgian barrels held some 2.4 trillion bequerels. By way of comparison, the European Union's limit for drinking water is 10 becquerels per liter.

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Great Lakes Face Alarming New Environmental Crisis

Great Lakes Face Alarming New Environmental Crisis | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Take a dip in the Great Lakes these days, and you might get more than you bargained for. That's because, in addition to the water, fish and plant life you might normally expect, the region's waterways are increasingly clogged with plastic debris, according to researchers.

 

The phenomenon is nothing new. For years, scientists have looked on in alarm as garbage patches, constituted mainly of plastic particles resistant to natural decomposition and consolidated by underwater currents, have grown at alarming rates in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as off the remote coasts of Antarctica. The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," the most famous example of water pollution run amok, is by some estimates twice the size of Texas.

 

"The massive production of plastic and inadequate disposal has made plastic debris an important and constant pollutant on beaches and in oceans around the world," said Lorena M. Rios Mendoza, a University of Wisconsin-Superior scientist researching the impact of such pollution, in a statement to the press. "[T]he Great Lakes are not an exception."

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Dangerous Depths: German Waters Teeming with WWII Munitions - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Dangerous Depths: German Waters Teeming with WWII Munitions - SPIEGEL ONLINE | In Deep Water | Scoop.it
More than 50 million bombs, shells, detonators and cartridges from World War II are rusting away on the floor of the North and Baltic Seas or are washing up on beaches. Authorities are opting not to remove the ordnance -- and hoping no one gets hurt.
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At least 241 manatee deaths caused by toxic red algae bloom in Florida

At least 241 manatee deaths caused by toxic red algae bloom in Florida | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Manatees were already endangered in Florida, but they've apparently just become even more so because of a toxic red algae bloom off the western coast of the state. The New York Times reports: "The tide has killed 241 of Florida’s roughly 5,000 manatees, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, and the toll appears certain to rise. The number of deaths from the tide far exceeds the previous annual record of 151."

 

The bloom dissipated a few weeks ago, but its effects will still be felt for a while as toxins from the red algae cling to sea grass, which manatees eat in great quantities (100lbs/day!).

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Air pollution casts a cloud over coral reef growth

Air pollution casts a cloud over coral reef growth | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Tiny particles of air pollution can stunt the growth of coral reefs, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience.

 

Using coral records from the western Caribbean between 1880 and 2000, researchers from the UK, Australia and Panama have shown for the first time how polluted air – from human activities such as burning coal or wood, as well as volcanic eruptions – can slow coral growth.

 

Since the 1950s, coral at two sites in Panama and Belize appears to have been affected by industrial air pollution.

 

Fine airborne particles, or aerosols, help scatter incoming sunlight and create cloudier, more reflective conditions.

 

This can reduce the sunlight reaching the sea, which means cooler sea temperatures and reduced photosynthesis that combine to slow coral growth.

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Melt 'causes Antarctic sea ice rise'

Melt 'causes Antarctic sea ice rise' | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Climate change is expanding Antarctica's sea ice, according to a scientific study in the journal Nature Geoscience.

 

The paradoxical phenomenon is thought to be caused by relatively cold plumes of fresh water derived from melting beneath the Antarctic ice shelves.

This melt water has a relatively low density, so it accumulates in the top layer of the ocean.

 

The cool surface waters then re-freeze more easily during Autumn and Winter.

This explains the observed peak in sea ice during these seasons, a team from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) in De Bilt says in its peer-reviewed paper

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Deepest ocean 'teems with microbes'

Deepest ocean 'teems with microbes' | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

The deepest place in the ocean is teeming with microscopic life, a study suggests.

 

An international team of scientists found that the very bottom of the Mariana Trench, which lies almost 11km (7 miles) down in the Pacific Ocean, had high levels of microbial activity.

 

The research is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

 

The underwater canyon was once thought to be too hostile an environment for life to exist.

 

But this study adds to a growing body of evidence that a range of creatures can cope with the near-freezing temperatures, immense pressures and complete darkness.

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Jumps in ocean acidity put coral in more peril

Jumps in ocean acidity put coral in more peril | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Ocean acidification – where the ocean becomes less alkaline as it absorbs excess CO2from the atmosphere – has been described as the evil twin of global warming. Yet, remarkably, it is only over the past decade that scientists have started to recognise the very real threat it poses to coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.

 

As late as 2004, a survey conducted among coral reef scientists revealed ocean acidification was ranked 36th out of 39 identified threats to coral reefs, well below other threats such as tourism, scientific research and the aquarium trade.

 

Fast-forward to 2013 and it is widely recognised that ocean acidification is becoming one of the top threats to coral reefs. The surface ocean has already taken up approximately one-quarter of the anthropogenic CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, leading to increasing acidity.

 

Atmospheric CO2 will only increase from here, so the impacts of these chemical changes to coral reef organisms and ecosystems in the future are likely to be significant.

 

Worryingly, new research suggests that we may still be underestimating the size of the impact and how soon irreversible damage could occur.

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Lisa Trundley-Banks's curator insight, July 30, 2014 11:52 PM

A great article that explains the issue in an easy to follow format.

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Caught For Fins, Sharks Die At Unsustainable Rate, Study Finds : NPR

Caught For Fins, Sharks Die At Unsustainable Rate, Study Finds : NPR | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year, "largely due to their inherent vulnerability, and an increasing demand, particularly for their fins, in the Asian market," a new report finds.

 

Sharks are particularly vulnerable, National Geographic says, "because they take long periods to mature and generally produce few young over their lifetimes."

 

"There's a staggering number of sharks being caught every year and the number is way too high considering the biology of species," the study's lead researcher tells National Geographic.

 

Shark killings must decline "drastically in order to rebuild depleted populations and restore marine ecosystems with functional top predators," the study says.

 

Published in the journal Marine Policy, the report precedes Sunday's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Officials will consider protections for the most threatened shark species, the BBC reports.

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Yangtze porpoise down to 1,000 animals as world's most degraded river may soon claim another extinction

Yangtze porpoise down to 1,000 animals as world's most degraded river may soon claim another extinction | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

A survey late last year found that the Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis) population has been cut in half in just six years. During a 44-day survey, experts estimated 1,000 river porpoises inhabited the river and adjoining lakes, down from around 2,000 in 2006.


The ecology of China's Yangtze River has been decimated the Three Gorges Dam, ship traffic, pollution, electrofishing, and overfishing, making it arguably the world's most degraded major river. These environmental tolls have already led to the likely extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer), or baiji, and possibly the Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius), which is one of the world's longest freshwater fish.

"The [Yangtze finless porpoise ] is moving fast toward its extinction," said Wang Ding, head of the research expedition, with the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. IHB organized the expedition along with China's Ministry of Agriculture, the Wuhan Baiji Conservation Fund, and WWF-China.

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Dead dolphins and shrimp with no eyes found after BP clean-up

Dead dolphins and shrimp with no eyes found after BP clean-up | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Hundreds of beached dolphin carcasses, shrimp with no eyes, contaminated fish, ancient corals caked in oil and some seriously unwell people are among the legacies that scientists are still uncovering in the wake of BP's Deepwater Horizon spill.

 

This week it will be three years since the first of 4.9 million barrels of crude oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, in what is now considered the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. As the scale of the ecological disaster unfolds, BP is appearing daily in a New Orleans federal court to battle over the extent of compensation it owes to the region.

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Selena Whiu's curator insight, May 7, 2013 6:43 AM

Diagram to help show consequences of something like the oil spill.

How would it have been different if it had happened in NZ?

What are the similarities to the Rena disaster in Tauranga?

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Is the next mining boom on the ocean floor?

Is the next mining boom on the ocean floor? | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Defence behemoth Lockheed Martin’s recent announcement of a venture into deep sea mining (DSM) reflects growing interest in exploiting virgin mining territory.

 

In what is being described by some as a “deep sea mining bonanza”, the British arm of the US defence firm hopes to exploit rare earth minerals from the seabeds between Mexico and Hawaii. The announcement comes as the world’s first DSM project in PNG is mired in legal and financial strife and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is finalising a three-volume series detailing the potential social and environmental impacts of this new mining frontier.

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Arctic sea ice back to 1989 levels | FP Comment | Financial Post

Arctic sea ice back to 1989 levels | FP Comment | Financial Post | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Yesterday, April 14th, the Arctic had more sea ice than it had on April 14,1989 – 14.511 million square kilometres vs 14.510 million square kilometres, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center of the United States, an official source. Over the last two months, more of the Arctic has been frozen over on average for this time of year than during the decade starting 2000, according to the Arctic Sea-Ice Monitor, a website maintained by the Arctic Research Center in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

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Puerto Rico moves to protect turtles

Puerto Rico moves to protect turtles | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Puerto Rico has introduced a new law protecting a swathe of the island's coast that has become a major nesting site for the world's largest turtle, the leatherback.

 

The Northeast Ecological Corridor comprises 14 sq km (5.4 sq miles) of the island's coast.

 

The law ends a 15-year battle which pitted developers against green activists and several celebrities.

 

Leatherback turtles are a highly endangered species.

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Muddy Waters: Mining Legacy Pollutes East German Rivers - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Muddy Waters: Mining Legacy Pollutes East German Rivers - SPIEGEL ONLINE | In Deep Water | Scoop.it
The Spree River region in Eastern Germany is a major tourist destination, known for its picturesque, meandering tributaries.

 

The green club-tailed dragonflies are gone. Isabell Hiekel knows not to look for them anymore along the Wudritz, a tributary of the Spree River in eastern Germany. The majestic Ophiogomphus cecilia was once at home here, growing up to seven centimeters (2.75 inches) long. "They hide their larvae here along the riverbed for four years before they emerge" she says.


The freshwater ecologist works with the activist groupSaubere Spree, or Clean Spree, fighting what has become a lethal danger to the rivers around the eastern German state of Brandenburg, just a short distance from Berlin. A fine brown sludge is filling them up, killing the wildlife, from dragonflies to fish and worms.

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Dramatic retreat of the Andean glaciers over the last 30 years

Dramatic retreat of the Andean glaciers over the last 30 years | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

The glaciers in the tropical Andes shrunk between 30 and 50% in 30 years, which represents the highest rate observed over the last three centuries. IRD researchers and their partners(1) recently published a summary which chronicles the history of these glaciers since their maximum extension, reached between 1650 and 1730 of our era, in the middle of the Little Ice Age*.


The faster melting is due to the rapid climate change which has occurred in the tropics since the 1950s, and in particular since the end of the 1970s, leading to an average temperature rise of 0.7°C in this part of the Andes. At the current pace of their retreat, small glaciers could disappear within the next 10 to 15 years, affecting water supply for the populations.


Via Cathryn Wellner
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Final frontiers: the deep sea

Final frontiers: the deep sea | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

With the global population now well over seven billion people there are few remaining parts of the world relatively untouched by human activity. We assess the current state and future prospects of five final frontiers: rainforests, Antarctica, the Arctic, the deep sea and space.


The deep sea is truly the last frontier on our planet. With an average depth of more than 4,000m and falling to almost 11km in the Marianas Trench (put Mt Everest at the bottom of this trench and its tip would be more than 2km below the ocean’s surface). This is an environment that is quite unlike any in human experience, and few have experienced it first hand.

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Baltic: Chemical threat lurking beneath the sea

Baltic: Chemical threat lurking beneath the sea | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

At the Potsdam Conference in 1945 a decision was taken to get rid of a total of 267,500 tonnes of chemical munitions. The cheapest way to do this was to dump the arsenal in the Baltic Sea, mainly in the Bornholm Basin, which plunges to a depth of 100m, and the Gotland Deep, which reaches a depth of 459m in the Landsort Deep area.

 

All in all, the Russians dumped some 40,000 tonnes of all kinds of canisters and containers full of adamsite, mustard gas, phosgene, tabun, cyanide salts and prussic acid in an area approximately 2,800 sq km around the island of Bornholm. In 1945 in the strait of Little Belt, the British dumped 69,000 tonnes of tabun-armed artillery munitions and 5,000 tonnes of tabun and phosgene bombs. A year later, the Americans sunk 42 ships loaded with 130,000 tonnes of German chemical warfare munitions in the Danish straits. The German coast was further doomed when in the early 1950s, Soviet and East German forces dumped 6,000 tonnes of chemical weapons there. As for the coast of Poland, its greatest hazard comes from a large Soviet dump south of Gotland.

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'Thrown Away by the Ton': EU Takes On Wasteful Fishing Methods - SPIEGEL ONLINE

'Thrown Away by the Ton': EU Takes On Wasteful Fishing Methods - SPIEGEL ONLINE | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

According to the European Commission, up to 800,000 tons of marine animals are thrown back from fishing boats each year in the North Sea alone, amounting to around one-third of the region's entire catch. The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates the industry discards some 39 million tons globally, while nearly one-third of all fish stocks are considered overfished.

 

"There's no incentive for fishermen to avoid by-catch," says biologist Christopher Zimmermann from the Thünen Institute for Baltic Sea Fisheries (TI) in Rostock, Germany, using a term that covers all species caught unintentionally as part of fishery operations. "It's madness that edible fish species are simply being thrown away by the ton."

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Antarctic lake yields 'new life'

Antarctic lake yields 'new life' | In Deep Water | Scoop.it

Russian scientists have claimed the discovery of a new type of bacterial life in water from a buried Antarctic lake.

 

The researchers have been studying samples brought up from Vostok - the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica.

 

Last year, the team drilled through almost 4km (2.34 miles) of ice to reach the lake and retrieve samples.

 

Vostok is thought to have been cut off from the surface for millions of years.

This has raised the possibility that such isolated bodies of water might host microbial life forms new to science.

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Walrus basks in Orkney attention

Walrus basks in Orkney attention | In Deep Water | Scoop.it
A walrus turns up on a small Scottish island in what has been described as a "once-in-a-lifetime" event.

 

The animal, thought to be a young male, was spotted on the shoreline of North Ronaldsay in Orkney.

 

It appeared to be in good health and happy to be the centre of attention.

Wildlife experts said it was extremely unusual for a walrus to be spotted so far south of the North Pole and Arctic Ocean. ...

 

The large flippered marine mammals, characterised by their long tusks, spend significant amounts of their lives on the sea ice.

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