Social distancing sparks novel ways to monitor whales, During COVID-19 environmental protections are reversed, Recycling questioned, Large companies allowed to ignore pollution laws, Reusable bags are banned and more…
Social distancing restrictions from coronavirus have actually led to a rare community effort: the tracking of an endangered species after a north Atlantic right whale mother and calf journeyed into the Gulf of Mexico. The last time that happened was in 2006. It’s a totally different environment than what the endangered mammals are used to — shallower and hotter — so researchers were concerned about the whale becoming stranded.
2. Should recycling stop during COVID-19?
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suspended its enforcement of environmental laws during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, signaling to companies they will not face any sanction for polluting the air or water of Americans. In an extraordinary move that has stunned former EPA officials, the Trump administration said it will not expect compliance with the routine monitoring and reporting of pollution and won’t pursue penalties for breaking these rules.
San Francisco is banning reusable shopping bags to prevent outside germs from entering grocery stores as the coronavirus pandemic affects cities around the country, The new ordinance from the San Francisco Department of Public Health aims to reinforce existing social distancing protocols by restricting customers from bringing their own bags, mugs, or other reusable items to essential stores, according to a statement. San Francisco was one of the first cities in the U.S. to ban the use of plastic shopping bags in 2007 to reduce the environmental impact caused by plastic waste.
An atmospheric scientist at UC San Diego studying how viruses and bacteria are ejected from the ocean pleaded with surfers Monday to stay out of the water to minimize chances of contracting coronavirus, a report said. The scientist, Kim Prather, also urged people bicycling or walking along the coast to follow the same rules, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Prather explained surfers feel they are safe if they follow social distancing rules of six feet of separation – but that is only true if the air isn’t moving, the newspaper reported.
Rising ocean temperatures could have pushed the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point where they are hit by bleaching on a “near-annual” basis, according to the head of a US government agency program that monitors the globe’s coral reefs. Dr Mark Eakin, coordinator of Coral Reef Watch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Guardian Australia there was a risk that mass bleaching seen along the length of the Great Barrier Reef in 2020 could mark the start of another global-scale bleaching event.
European Union leaders have agreed that the bloc’s coronavirus economic recovery plan should take heed of its aim to fight climate change. Following a six-hour video conference, the 27 EU leaders agreed late on Thursday to coordinate a coronavirus economic recovery plan. Europe is aiming to zero out greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century in its far-reaching environmental clean-up. Its Green Deal, which was launched recently, will overhaul everything from transport to energy production and agriculture, putting Europe’s ambitions on climate change ahead of most other major polluters. The coronavirus crisis has proved governments can act in response to a crisis – a lesson that they should use to tackle climate change said Andrew Parry, head of sustainable investment at Newton Investment Management said.
The glory of the world’s oceans could be restored within a generation, according to a major new scientific review. It reports rebounding sea life, from humpback whales off Australia to elephant seals in the US and green turtles in Japan. Through rampant overfishing, pollution and coastal destruction, humanity has inflicted severe damage on the oceans and its inhabitants for centuries. But conservation successes, while still isolated, demonstrate the remarkable resilience of the seas.
10. The incredible journey – massive migration in deep ocean
New research has finally demonstrated what many marine biologists suspected but had never before seen: fish migrating through the deep sea. The study, published this month in the Journal of Animal Ecology, used analysis of deep-sea photographs to show a regular increase in the number of fish in particular months, suggesting seasonal migrations. Tracking fish in the deep sea is challenging. They are sparsely distributed, the water is nearly devoid of sunlight, and the monitoring equipment has to withstand enormous pressure.
11. Recent findings of rare sharks in Turkey
Angel sharks were once widespread throughout Europe’s surrounding waters, but their numbers have dwindled from much of their former range; over the past several decades overfishing and high bycatch has severely depleted and fragmented these populations.
U.S. oil rigs saw the largest single-week drop in drilling activity in four years as low oil prices take a toll on the industry. The number of active rigs dropped by about 44, falling to 728 this week, according to rig data provider Baker Hughes. Oil prices have declined to around $23 a barrel, the lowest price since 2003. As company revenues decline in the face of historically low prices, the industry may not have to funds to pay for the rigs used to drill new wells. Without new wells drilled, oil supply in the United States will decline.
Editorial Comment: When the buying stops, the drilling stops too!
The rich biodiversity of coral reefs even extends to microbial communities within fish, according to new research. The study in Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences reports that several important grazing fish on Caribbean coral reefs each harbor a distinct microbial community within their guts, revealing a new perspective on reef ecology. “If you go snorkeling on a coral reef, you would never know about this incredible ecosystem feature because microbial communities are concealed to the naked eye,” said Douglas Rasher, a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the senior author of the paper. “But the microbiome appears to be a defining feature of each herbivorous fish species, as unique as its size or feeding behavior.”
14. As temperatures, warm ocean current will change
If circulation of deep waters in the Atlantic stops or slows due to climate change, it could cause cooling in northern North America and Europe—a scenario that has occurred during past cold glacial periods. Now, a Rutgers coauthored study suggests that short-term disruptions of deep ocean circulation occurred during warm interglacial periods in the last 450,000 years, and may happen again. Ironically, melting of the polar ice sheet in the Arctic region in a warmer world, resulting in more freshwater entering the ocean and altering circulation, might have caused previous coolings. Still, a rapid deep freeze like in the 2004 movie “The Day After Tomorrow” is highly unlikely.
When scientists find microbial life thriving in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, it gives them hope that they may be able to find life on other planets. Now, researchers have discovered billions of bacteria living in tiny cracks in volcanic rocks beneath the ocean floor, more than nine miles below the surface of the ocean and an additional 300 feet below the ocean floor, according to a new study published Thursday. And they believe that similar tiny, clay-filled cracks in rocks on Mars or below its surface could be a similar hub for life.
As the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic escalates, marine biologists at Florida Atlantic University acknowledge that “wild” life must go on. Three 6-month-old green sea turtles, the last batch of the 2019 hatchlings at the FAU Marine Laboratory at the Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex, were ready to be released. However, with closed beaches and scuba boats not permitted to travel, researchers from the FAU Marine Laboratory had to get creative.
Editorial Comment: How do these long antenna not cause study artifact?
The origins of marine resource consumption by humans have been much debated. Zilhão et al. present evidence that, in Atlantic Iberia’s coastal settings, Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals exploited marine resources at a scale on par with the modern human
18. The ancient fossil suggests ontogeny of hands