A generation of all-female turtles, mystery oil spill in Brazil, Cocos Island earns platinum-tier ranking, new MIT study on Antarctic ice cliffs, Supreme Court allows big oil case to proceed, Miami Beach declares climate emergency and more…
On the tiny West African island nation of Cape Verde — home to a sixth of the planet’s nesting loggerheads — the disparity is stark. Eighty-four percent of youngsters are now female, researchers from Britain’s University of Exeter found in a July report. Populations in Florida and Australia are also showing dramatic sex imbalances, sparking fears creatures that outlasted dinosaurs are plodding toward extinction. The past five years have been the hottest on record for the globe. Roughly a tenth of the planet has warmed beyond 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), according to a Washington Post analysis — the point at which scientists say rising temperatures can trigger irreversible damage to ecosystems. Fahrenheit) just since 1964, based on records from the primary airport.
RIO DE JANEIRO — It washed ashore in early September, thick globs of oil that appeared from out of nowhere and defied explanation. In the weeks since, the mysterious sludge, the largest spill in Brazil’s history, has tarred more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, polluted some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and killed all sorts of marine life. But despite the time that has passed — and the damage done — the most important questions remain unanswered. Where is the oil coming from? And how can it be stopped? The Brazilian government’s apparent inability to answer even these fundamental questions has drawn more scrutiny to the environmental policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, who struggled this summer to contain the fires raging in the Amazon and the international outrage they sparked.
3. Cocos Island earns worldwide ‘Blue Park’ distinction from Marine Conservation Institute
Costa Rica’s Cocos Island has been designated as a “Blue Park” by the Marine Conservation Institute, the organization announced this week. The distinction highlights “the world’s best-protected places in the ocean and the people who care about them.” After the park was nominated in July, a science council evaluated Cocos Island’s biodiversity value, Costa Rica’s conservation efforts, ecosystem representation, and other criteria. The National Park was given a platinum-tier ranking — the highest possible award.
Editorial: Sea Save Foundation leaders Jay Ireland and Georgienne Bradley worked closely with then Costa Rica President, Jose Maria Figueres and UNESCO to solidify World Heritage status for Cocos Island.
Brent Minchew, assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “We’re saying that scenario, based on cliff failure, is probably not going to play out. That’s something of a silver lining. That said, we have to be careful about breathing a sigh of relief. There are plenty of other ways to get rapid sea-level rise.”
Scientists have developed a new method to investigate links between top predator diets and the amount of microplastic they consume through their prey. The new research offers potential insight into the exposure of animals in the ocean and on land to microplastics. The development of this new non-invasive method combines two existing techniques to analyze wild gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) scats (feces), for prey species in the seals’ diet and the presence of microplastics.
The city of Baltimore’s lawsuit against a group of 26 major oil companies over their role in climate change will proceed after the Supreme Court rejected the energy giants’ request for a stay on Tuesday. The oil companies had asked for the Supreme Court to intervene after a federal judge ruled that Baltimore’s lawsuit could proceed in state court. The companies had sought to move the litigation to federal court in order to avoid potentially expensive litigation. The group of companies includes BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.
Ocean acidification caused a mass extinction of marine life 66 million years ago, research into tiny shell fossils has shown. This could have implications for the current climate crisis, which is also making the oceans more acidic. Slightly less than 66 million years ago, a giant asteroid hit the earth near the Mexican town of Chicxulub, leading to massive tsunamis, earthquake-driven gravity flows and the ejection of molten rocks, according to a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This, in turn, caused acid rain and large scale acidification of the world’s oceans, prompting a mass extinction of most marine and land-based life, including all dinosaurs.
Saving the oceans is key to fighting the climate crisis, according to Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a Brooklyn-born marine biologist and activist, who is a rising figure in the climate movement. Ms. Johnson, 39, is the founder of Ocean Collectiv, a conservation consultancy, and of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank, and speaks frequently at TED Talks, climate rallies and her salons at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Protecting the ocean is crucial for people at all economic levels, she said, not just bicoastal elites who look down their noses at plastic straws.
Miami Beach has declared a climate emergency, thanks to the advocacy efforts of Miami youth climate advocates. They see it as a victory, and a first step toward convincing the city to do more to slow carbon emissions and climate change. “It’s not just us holding up signs now. There’s literally legislation that says we need to put this at the top of the agenda,” said John Paul Mejia, a 17-year-old Miami Beach Senior High School student and member of several Miami-based climate action groups.
10. All plastic waste could become new, high-quality plastic through advanced steam cracking
A research group has developed an efficient process for breaking down any plastic waste to a molecular level. The resulting gases can then be transformed back into new plastics – of the same quality as the original. The new process could transform today’s plastic factories into recycling refineries, within the framework of their existing infrastructure.
Editorial: This method has still to be proven and would rely on a methodical worldwide recycling process. Changing our habits and laws and relearning habits that do not rely on single-use plastic is critical.
Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news