6. Mix of contaminants in Fukushima wastewater, risks of ocean dumping
Nearly 10 years after the Tohoku-oki earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant and triggered an unprecedented release radioactivity into the ocean, radiation levels have fallen to safe levels in all but the waters closest to the shuttered power plant. Today, fish and other seafood caught in waters beyond all but a limited region have been found to be well within Japan’s strict limits for radioactive contamination, but a new hazard exists and is growing every day in the number of storage tanks on land surrounding the power plant that hold contaminated wastewater. An article published August 8 in the journal Science takes a look at some of the many radioactive elements contained in the tanks and suggests that more needs to be done to understand the potential risks of releasing wastewater from the tanks into the ocean.
Read more in “Science”, by pasting this URL in your browser: http://bit.do/fukushimafloodgates
7. Scientists discover new penguin colonies from space
8. Plastics, pathogens and baby formula: What’s in your shellfish?
The first landmark study using next-generation technology to comprehensively examine contaminants in oysters in Myanmar reveals alarming findings: the widespread presence of human bacterial pathogens and human-derived microdebris materials, including plastics, kerosene, paint, talc and milk supplement powders. The study — led by scientists from the University of California, Irvine, in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund, Cornell University and the University of Queensland — was conducted in the eastern Andaman Sea through partnerships with local researchers in Myanmar in the densely populated but still rural Tanintharyi region. The study concludes that coastal urbanization and lack of sewage treatment increases contamination in seafood and can cause potential health risks to humans, even large distances from pollution sources.
Not long after the August full moon, Florida’s reefs are the scene of an annual show of sexual reproduction called the coral spawn, with coral colonies releasing masses of tiny white, pink and orange spheres into the ocean. This year, for the first time, corals raised by scientists in a lab and transplanted to the natural reefs are primed to join the spawn—a promising milestone for ongoing efforts to restore the ravaged reef systems off South Florida. “This is really amazing because we had no idea what to expect when we planted these corals five years ago,” said Hanna Koch, a coral reproduction scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory, which is using a technique called micro fragmentation-fusion to raise the corals on land and plant them on local reefs.
Read more in “Miami Herald”, by pasting this URL in your browser: http://bit.do/coralmilestone
10. Washington dam removal means 37 more miles of salmon habitat restored
Washington’s dam-busting summer is still rolling, with two more dams coming down on the Pilchuck River, opening 37 miles of habitat to salmon for the first time in more than a century. The $2 million dam removal project is a collaboration between the City of Snohomish and Tulalip Tribes, and will benefit multiple species of salmon, including threatened chinook salmon, crucial food for endangered southern resident killer whales. It’s the state’s second dam teardown project in two months. In July, the city of Bellingham blew up its Nooksack Diversion Dam on the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River, opening 16 miles of habitat for salmon, including chinook.
Read more in “PHYS.org”, by pasting this URL in your browser: http://bit.do/salmonhabitat
11. Seal-eating killer whales accumulate large amounts of harmful pollutant
Research of killer whales in the southern Atlantic ocean and Mediterranean have shown that their blubber contains high levels of pollutants called PCBs, whilst killer whales found along the Norwegian coast have been assumed to be healthy and at low risk from pollution. This is because when researchers took samples from nine Norwegian killer whales in 2002, they found lower levels of pollutants than other populations.
Read more in “PHYS.org”, by pasting this URL in your browser: http://bit.do/killerwhales
12. Fossil mystery solved: Super-long-necked reptiles lived in the ocean, not on land
A fossil called Tanystropheus was first described in 1852, and it’s been puzzling scientists ever since. At one point, paleontologists thought it was a flying pterosaur, like a pterodactyl, and that its long, hollow bones were phalanges in the finger that supported the wing. Later on, they figured out that those were elongated neck bones, and that it was a twenty-foot-long reptile with a ten-foot neck: three times as long as its torso. Scientists still weren’t sure if it lived on land or in the water, and they didn’t know if smaller specimens were juveniles or a completely different species — until now. By CT-scanning the fossils’ crushed skulls and digitally reassembling them, researchers found evidence that the animals were water-dwelling, and by examining the growth rings in bones, determined that the big and little Tanystropheus were separate species that could live alongside each other without competing because they hunted different prey.
Read more in “Field Museum”, by pasting this URL in your browser: http://bit.do/fossilmystery
13. Bulk carrier sitting on reef off Mauritius starts to leak bunker fuel
The 203,000 dwt Wakashio bulk carrier, which ran aground on a reef just off the southeast coastline of Mauritius on July 26, has started spilling bunker fuel into the famous azure seas of the French-speaking republic. Local authorities have ordered the public, including boat operators and fishermen, not to venture to the beach and in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg. “All highly sensitive areas including the Ramsar site of Pointe d’Esny and the Blue Bay Marine Park have been protected with booms,” a government spokesperson said. The ship, owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping, was en route from China to Brazil when it ran aground with 3,800 tonnes of bunker fuel onboard. “Due to the bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tanker has been breached and an amount of fuel oil has escaped into the sea. Oil prevention measures are in place and an oil boom has been deployed around the vessel,” a spokesperson for the Japanese shipping company said today.
Read more in “Splash 247”, by pasting this URL in your browser: http://bit.do/bunkerfuelleak
14. Dolphin calf entangled in fishing line only lived two years following rescue
More than 1,000 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) live in the Indian River Lagoon year-round. The estuary system along the central east coast of Florida stretches about 250 kilometers and provides valuable shallow water habitat for this species. The lagoon also is popular for recreational fishing spots, which often coincide with bottlenose dolphin feeding habitats because they target the same species of fish. In fact, it very common to observe interactions between dolphins and recreational fishermen. These interactions include dolphins going after bait or captured fish, illegal feeding of dolphins, and dolphin encounters during release of undersized or non-targeted fish.
Read more in “Florida Atlantic University”, by pasting this URL in your browser: http://bit.do/dolphinrescue
Hongkongers Bonnie Li and Hugo To share a love of scuba diving, their underwater adventures allowing them to swim with a variety of marine life, including reef sharks. So in May 2019, when the couple sat down with 50 guests for their wedding lunch at Tin Lung Heen restaurant, in The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, the popular wedding dish shark’s fin soup was off the menu. “I’ve been a wedding planner for a decade and in the past few years have been happy to see restaurants in the city remove shark’s fin soup from their menus,” Li says. “We both love the ocean so at our wedding we wanted to spread the word that people should refuse shark’s fin soup not just at weddings but for all occasions.”