Plastic Pollution: An Emerging Threat Beneath Our Feet Biology Environment Health 

Plastic Pollution: An Emerging Threat Beneath Our Feet

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci Tiny plastic particles that can barely be seen by the human eye have made their way from our soil into everyday items we know—from earthworms to honey to the beer that we drink—bringing toxic chemicals with them wherever they go. The saying goes that what we can’t see can’t hurt us. Yet, what if these unseen particles are not only hurting us but also changing the entire course of biological evolution? Researchers in Germany have issued a new warning that these human-generated “microplastics” could potentially be…

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Shortfin Mako Shark under Threat Animals Oceanography 

Shortfin Mako Shark under Threat

By Kate Stone The shortfin mako shark is the fastest shark in the world. Its top cruising speed has been recorded at 40 kilometers per hour (kph), or 25 mph, with bursts of up to 74 kph, or 46 mph. Because shortfin makos are so fast, collecting accurate data about them has been especially difficult. Fortunately, new real-time satellite tracking technology has enabled researchers to gather much more accurate information about these amazing sharks. Unfortunately, the data is shockingly grim: shortfin mako sharks are being killed in fisheries at a…

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Five Drowned Apostles Oceanography 

Introducing Five New Drowned Apostles

For years, the limestone columns known as the Twelve Apostles have attracted tourists to the southern coast of Australia. These natural formations stand just offshore in Victoria. Suddenly, the Apostles’ numbers have increased. Scientists have discovered five more limestone columns, submerged deep below the waves, and dubbed them the five drowned apostles. The recently discovered sea stacks are about 6 kilometers offshore from Australia’s Great Ocean Road and 50 meters beneath the surface of the water. They were recently revealed during sonar mapping of the seafloor off Victoria’s southern coast. Drowned…

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A grey whale with scars on its tail flukes, possibly the result of a collision with a marine vessel. Image credit: Ricardo Antunes. Animals Environment Oceanography 

Marine Wildlife Protection Meets Maritime Tracking

When marine mammals surface for air, they are frequently struck by seagoing vessels. In addition, with maritime transport accounting for approximately 90 percent of world trade, the noise made by all those ships may disrupt the navigation of whales and other marine mammals. Besides noise disturbance and fatal strikes, shipping impacts on marine wildlife include introduction of pathogens, fuel spills, and invasive species into the water; habitat destruction through anchoring, especially on coral reefs; and pollution of the air. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), working with researchers and practitioners from public…

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Photo of coral (Courtesy of Public.Resource.Org via Flickr) Animals Environment 

Copying Coral to Contain Heavy Metal Pollution

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic Copying Coral to Contain Heavy Metal Pollution Coral’s characteristically colorful tentacles, while attracting tourists and SCUBA divers with their unique beauty, are both the animal’s greatest strength and weakness. Although these structures have evolved to efficiently absorb nutrients from the water, they also let in toxic heavy metals like mercury, lead, or cadmium, which industrial manufacturers are pouring into the oceans in increasing quantities. However, scientists may have found a way to reduce heavy metal concentrations in oceans and prevent coral and other animals (including humans) from…

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coral reef Environment 

Recipe for the Perfect Coral Reef

By Tom Evans — @AquaEvans The latest health check on the world’s coral reefs wasn’t all doom and gloom; it’s shown us we have a plan for preservation that works. To understand how humans and corals can co-exist in perfect harmony, an honest assessment of our current relationship had to be done. Dr. Aaron McNeil and his team at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, gauged the health of 832 reefs from all over the world using a measure of biomass per hectare. Biomass is the total mass of organisms…

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Shellfish threatened by climate change: A mussel farm in South India (Photo courtesy of Lucy Turner) Environment Oceanography 

Will Climate Change Take Shellfish Off Menus?

Do you enjoy a tasty shrimp scampi, or perhaps some steamed mussels with lemon? How about a few oysters on the half shell? If so, you won’t be happy to hear that those and other shellfish dishes may soon be harder to come by. Climate change models are predicting rising sea temperatures around the world. In the tropics, rainfall is also predicted to increase, reducing the salt concentration of the surface layer of the sea. Together, these changes are expected to dramatically affect the world supply of seafood. Shellfish and…

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