30 new marine species found in Galapagos’ deep seas

September 9, 2020 by  
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The  Galapagos  Islands are famous for several endemic species that evolved to fit the exact niche required to live on rocky islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Now, marine scientists have found 30 new species deep beneath the ocean’s surface around the Galapagos.  Using cutting-edge remote operated vehicles (ROV), expedition crews from the  Charles Darwin Foundation , the  Galapagos National Park Directorate and the  Ocean Exploration Trust  explored seamounts as far down as 3,400 meters. Seamounts are extinct underwater  mountains  entirely covered by seawater. Until now, the Galapagos seamounts were largely unexplored. Related: Iguanas reintroduced to island after 200 years The 30 newly identified species include 10 bamboo corals, 11 sponges, four squat lobsters and a brittle star. Scientists also found four new octocorals. Commonly known as sea fans, octocorals are polyp-bearing  corals . One of the four new octocorals is the first giant solitary soft coral found in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. These new research findings come from a 10-day cruise on the 64-meter research vessel the E/V Nautilus. Scientists manipulated arms on the ship’s two ROVs to collect biological and geological specimens. After the expedition, the team sent these samples to deep-sea experts for identification and analysis. “The many discoveries made on this expedition showcase the importance of deep-sea exploration to developing an understanding of our oceans and the power of telepresence to build a diverse team of experts,” Dr. Nicole Raineault, chief scientist of the Ocean Exploration Trust, said in a press release. “Since we never know what we’re going to find, we utilize land-based scientists who watch the ROV dives from home and communicate directly with the shipboard team in real time, to help determine what is truly new and worthy of further investigation or sampling. Scientists studying the resulting video, data, and specimens make an astonishing number of discoveries, reminding us how little we know about the deep  sea .” The new deep-sea dwelling creatures will never become as familiar to visitors as more visible endemic species, such as the Galapagos penguin, giant  tortoises and marine iguanas. Still, these species hint at the many mysteries dwelling in Earth’s oceans. + Charles Darwin Foundation Via EcoWatch Images via Ocean Exploration Trust/Nautilus Live and Pexels

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Cod are disappearing due to global warming

August 12, 2020 by  
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Cod lovers might have to change their preferences soon. According to new research published in the  Journal of Applied Ecology , global warming may cause a decline in cod populations. Cod thrive in cool water, and global warming pushes the species to the brink of extinction. A group of scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of Exter, in collaboration with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquatic Science (Cefas) conducted this research. The researchers used computer models to predict how fish populations may change by 2090.  Research now indicates that cod may need to be replaced by species more resistant to climate change . Cod serves as a favorite for fish and chips, but as cod populations decline, new species may need to step up. Species such as the red mullet, John Dory, and lemon sole rank as possible candidates to replace cod on menus. These species thrive in warm water and are starting to appear more frequently in catches, in contrast to decreasing numbers of cod. “Our results show that climate change will continue to affect fish stocks within this sea region into the future, presenting both potential risks but some opportunities that fishers will likely have to adapt to. Consumers can help fishers take advantage of these fishing opportunities by seeking out other fish species to eat and enjoy,” Dr. Katherine Maltby, marine climate change scientist at Cefas and the study’s lead author, said. Earlier research from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory warned that larger North Sea fish populations may fall by up to 60%. This decline comes alongside reports of the North Sea heating at a rate double that of average world oceans . Last year, the North Sea hit a new record of heating by 1.67 degrees Celsius over the past 45 years.  Reducing global warming’s impacts on the fish in these waters will require new fish management techniques. As Louise Rutterford, co-author of the Cefas study and a postgraduate researcher at the University of Exeter, explained, “We know from working with fishers that warmer water species are appearing in catches more. Bringing together their ‘on-the-ground’ experiences with studies like ours will help inform future management decisions that enable sustainable exploitation while supporting fishers’ adaptation.” + Journal of Applied Ecology Via Independent and The Ecologist Image via Per Harald Olsen

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Cod are disappearing due to global warming

Meet eBussy, the new modular, electric truck-to-van

August 12, 2020 by  
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The eBussy has a look and name like no other electric vehicle you’ve seen before. German company Electric Brands’s eBussy, short for electric bus system, proves that even larger vehicles can perform well without a trail of  carbon emissions pouring out the back. This 100% electric vehicle integrates  solar panels  to generate enough power for treks up to 200 km (124 miles) without a recharge. Thanks to reliable German innovation, the system regenerates energy from the braking system to add to the power supply too. With a full charge and power from the solar panels, the eBussy can roll up to 600 km (373 miles). Plus, the charge time is only a short three hours.  Related: Volkswagen reveals plans for mobile electric car charging robot Versatile, modular design makes the eBussy stand out. The vehicle features 10 interchangeable body parts that can turn it into a convertible, an offroad vehicle, a box body, station wagon, pickup, box van or camping bus in a few simple steps. The flatbed truck option even has a dumping feature to easily offload cargo. In addition to the remarkable body design options, the interior offers seating options and space configurations to haul either more passengers or more cargo. Even with all the configuration options, the eBussy remains light, weighing in at only 450-600 kg (around 1,100 pounds) in a stripped-down model. Adding function to the already fabulous vehicle, the eBussy can pack and carry up to 1,000 kg (around 2,200 lbs). That’s a lot of camping gear! With the option to recharge using your home outlet, a conventional charging station or solar power alone, eBussy speaks to sustainability. German locals can even swing by an exchange center to swap out drained batteries for fresh ones. Perhaps best of all, the eBussy is up to 98% recyclable , a huge advancement in the world of electric vehicles and green design.  + Electric Brands Images via Electric Brands

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Meet eBussy, the new modular, electric truck-to-van

Rare blue lobster turns up in Red Lobster shipment

July 30, 2020 by  
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The only thing that saved Clawde from the linguini sauce was her blue hue. As Lora Jones unpacked the Cuyahoga Falls,  Ohio  Red Lobster restaurant’s air-lifted live lobster delivery, one crustacean stood out: a rare blue lobster. Scientists estimate that a genetic anomaly makes only about one in two million American lobsters blue. Red Lobster workers immediately isolated the lobster — nicknamed Clawde, after the restaurant mascot — to keep her safe. “We kept [it] in the tank and just made sure that nobody took him in the back for dinner,” server Angie Helbig told NPR. Related: 132-year-old lobster returned to ocean after living in tank for 20 years Staff marveled at the unusual  sea  creature. “At first it looked like it was fake,” culinary manager Anthony Stein told NPR. “It’s definitely something marvelous to look at.” Soon after Clawde’s arrival, the corporate office phoned the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, which promotes sustainably sourced seafood . Seafood Watch connected Red Lobster with the Akron Zoo, which was excited to adopt the azure lobster. Kathleen Balogh, animal care manager at the Akron Zoo, headed for the Red Lobster armed with a big cooler of cold saltwater. After the 15-minute ride to the zoo, Clawde got a tank of her own. “There is a little bit of wear and tear from its journey,” Balogh said. Despite this, she added that the female lobster is in good  health  and adjusting to her new surroundings. Zoo staff will watch over Clawde as she goes through the next molting cycle of shedding and renewing her shell, which can be a delicate time for lobsters. Akron Zoo’s indoor areas, including Clawde’s tank, are currently closed to the public due to coronavirus . Balogh hopes that the blue lobster will eventually be on public display. Though the blue color is rare, it’s not the only unusual lobster color. Rare genetic defects can cause lobsters to create a  protein  that results in yellow, orange or even calico coloration. Albino coloring is the rarest of all, occurring in about one in 100 million lobsters. While exciting for humans who stumble across these colorful crustaceans, stand-out colors make it hard for lobsters to avoid predators. Via NPR Image via Richard Wood

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Trump allows commercial fishing in Atlantic national monument

June 9, 2020 by  
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The Trump administration announced on Friday that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which encompasses over 5,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, will open to commercial fishing. The announcement came after the president attended a round-table discussion with commercial fishers from Maine who were concerned about the economic tolls of COVID-19 in their industry. Ocean experts are cautioning that the decision will cause comprehensive harm to the environment in the long run, especially as the proclamation will allow fishing within the monument without changing its size or boundaries. Brad Sewell, senior director of Oceans for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that such a significant change to a monument must be done by Congress. Sewell cited that the Antiquities Act gives the president the power to protect specific natural areas, not the other way around. The 5,000-square-mile ocean monument is home to sea turtles, endangered whales, unique species of cold water coral reefs , four extinct underwater volcanoes and deep sea canyons teeming with marine life. Related: Sea turtles thrive on empty beaches during COVID-19 lockdowns The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument has been open to sport fishing but closed to commercial fishing (with the exception of the red crab and lobster) since its creation in 2016 by President Obama. Any continuing fisheries were given a 7-year transition period to end their operations in the area by 2023. The Seamounts monument has been no stranger to controversy, even before Trump’s recent decision. A year after its designation, five commercial fishing groups sued the Obama administration because they felt the president had created the monument illegally. Now, Trump’s announcement raises the question of the limits of presidential powers regarding changing the rules of national monuments altogether. National Geographic’s Pristine Seas founder Enric Sala told National Geographic that these types of national monuments are established to preserve the country’s natural and historical sites. “We need pristine areas set aside so that we can see nature as it was before we overexploited it, and understand the true impact of fishing,” Sala said. “If commercial fishing were allowed in a monument, it would become just a name on a map, and no different than any other place in the ocean.” Via National Geographic Image via NOAA

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Stay-at-home orders increase demand for eco-friendly interiors

June 9, 2020 by  
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Lockdowns have forced many to stay home. With all that time inside, you can’t help but pay close attention to the interior details of your home. Many have turned to home improvement projects to make productive use of their time. The novel coronavirus has likewise forced many to become more health-conscious. It’s no surprise then that a joint study, administered by Harris Poll for eco-friendly manufacturer ECOS Paints , found 69% of those surveyed “have taken or plan to take action to make their home environment healthier as a result of COVID-19.” How can we make homes healthier and more eco-friendly? For one, 45% of those surveyed are cleaning the house more often. That’s followed closely by 43% who plan to “use eco-friendly paint, change air filters, add air purifiers, and/or add more plants to their home” to avoid harmful VOCs. Next, 17% are shifting toward natural or chemical-free household products, while 12% will cease using harsh chemicals as cleaners altogether. Another 10% are going to add a humidifier to their homes. Related: Scandinavian company Tikkurila debuts new paint collection to protect endangered species What are VOCs? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines them as substances that emit gases that have adverse health effects. Their toxic fumes, for instance, can cause headaches, dizziness, respiratory irritation, visual impairments or more severe bodily reactions.  VOCs can be found in paints, varnishes, cleaners, disinfectants, air fresheners, pesticides and even hobby supplies. The use of eco-friendly paints and cleaning substances makes for a healthier home environment. So the pivot toward environmentally conscious products during the pandemic, as folks devote more time to home improvements, has piqued the interest of ECOS Paints.  “Having been in the home decor category for over 30 years, we believe this change in consumer behavior will significantly alter the industry,” said Julian Crawford, CEO OF ECOS. “Paint definitely impacts indoor air quality. ECOS Paints were originally created decades ago as a solution for individuals with chemical sensitivities, including children and babies who cannot tolerate strong odors and harsh chemicals. Today, ECOS has become a favorite among a broader market of consumers who care about creating healthier, wellness-focused living environments in their homes.” + ECOS Paints Image via Arek Socha

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Stay-at-home orders increase demand for eco-friendly interiors

Retired oil rigs off the California coast could find new lives as artificial reefs

May 17, 2019 by  
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Unnatural ecosystems can work for marine life, too.

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Retired oil rigs off the California coast could find new lives as artificial reefs

Stop Fish Bombing! uses gunshot detection technology to foil marine criminals

March 1, 2019 by  
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A nonprofit organization called Stop Fish Bombing! (SFB) is combating a famously destructive and illegal fishing practice. By adapting technology developed by the California company SST Inc. to detect gunshot locations, the nonprofit hopes to catch villains who are destroying the underwater world through fish bombing. Fish bombing — also called blast or dynamite fishing — uses explosives to stun or kill fish, making it easy to gather them up en masse. Dynamite doesn’t discriminate. Everything from fish eggs to dolphins to coral reefs die in the blast. While the short-term effect means an easy haul for fishermen, the long-term effects spell doom to the fish, the fishing industry and reef-related tourism. Eventually, the repeated blasts create dead zones, destroying biodiversity and whole ecosystems. Fish bombing is practiced in many places around the world, including Tanzania, Malaysia and Nicaragua. Related: Loophole allows 1M tons of sludge to be dumped on Great Barrier Reef SFB has adapted urban tech for the marine world. Law enforcement in more than 90 cities use SST Inc.’s ShotSpotter technology to find shooters. Acoustic sensors are placed throughout neighborhoods. When somebody fires a gun, multiple sensors detect and timestamp the sound. “The precise location of the gunshot is determined based on the time it takes for the sound of the gunshot to travel to each individual sensor, effectively triangulating the sound. The exact location of the detected gunshot is indicated by a dot on a map,” according to a video on the SpotShotter site. Back at the command center, analysts use audio technology to differentiate gunshots from other percussive sounds. Translating this tech to an underwater environment, SFB places sensors on piers and boats to locate blasts. In one success, the nonprofit triangulated the positions of 16 explosions in Sabah, Malaysia within 60 meters in about 10 seconds. They were able to safely detonate 19 bombs. By photographing boats in the vicinity at the time of blasts, SFB can help local law enforcement efforts. SFB, based in Hong Kong, was founded by Scubazoo, SST and Teng Hoi Conservation Organization . Scubazoo is a production and filming company specializing in marine and jungle locations in South East Asia. Teng Hoi focuses on environmental problems and education in Hong Kong and internationally. In addition to its work on fish bombing, SST has also adapted its ShotSpotter technology to deter rhino poachers in South Africa. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife Environmentalists now have one more tool in their race to save reefs. George Woodman, founder of Teng Hoi Conservation Organization, said, “Fortunately, we now have the technology to detect and locate fish bombs as they happen and publish this information on tablets and phones for access by everyone.” + Stop Fish Bombing! Via UN Environment Images via Shutterstock

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Ghost gear is haunting our oceans

January 31, 2019 by  
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Fishing gear isn’t just deadly when there’s a fisherman at the other end of the line. Lost and abandoned equipment continues to kill, rampaging beneath the ocean’s surface, tangling fish, drowning seabirds and smothering reefs. This ghost gear haunts common and endangered species indiscriminately. According to a UN Environment and FAO report , another 640,000 tons of ghost gear is added to the undersea dump each year. In Southeast India, workers at the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute have formed a team of ghost-net busters to reverse this damage.  The Gulf of Mannar includes 560 square kilometers of islands and shallow coastal waters. Since being declared a marine park in 1986, the live coral reefs have shrunk from 110 to 80 square kilometers. Between climate change bleaching the coral and destructive fishing practices, the ghost-net busters face daunting challenges. They must manually remove nets, being careful not to further damage the coral. Related: California teen finds golf balls are a major source of plastic waste in our oceans “Through removal of ghost nets, we hope not only to help conserve corals but also to support the small-scale fishermen who depend mainly on the reef-associated fishery resources for their livelihoods,” said Patterson Edward, director of the research institute. Edward is part of a team of nine marine scientists and three support staff who survey, monitor and restore reefs in the Gulf of Mannar. Finding and retrieving ghost nets is one part of their work. The problem goes way beyond the gulf. Ghost nets “are killing megafauna in the Indian Ocean and are a transboundary problem, because nets from India find their way to other countries in the region such as the Maldives and kill many iconic species such as turtles, rays and sharks ,” said Gabriel Grimsditch, an expert in marine ecosystems at UN Environment. While aerial views of floating garbage patches are all too familiar, many people have yet to learn about ghost gear. “It’s not just plastic bags and bottles negatively impacting marine life and the blue economy; it’s estimated that by weight, ghost gear makes up between 46 to 70 percent of all macro plastics in our ocean,” said Grimsditch. + UN Environment and FAO Image via Shutterstock

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Solar protective glass gives the iceberg-like Hercule home a mirrored finish

January 31, 2019 by  
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Modern, monolithic and minimalist , Hercule is a single-family home designed like an iceberg — the bulk of the building is hidden while the visible portion emerges out of the ground like the tip of an iceberg. Named after local hero John “Hercule” Gruen for its “robust strength,” the house located in Mondorf-les-bains in the south of Luxembourg is the recently completed work of local architecture practice 2001 . Embedded into the sloped terrain, the concrete dwelling further immerses itself into the landscape with a massive wall of solar reflective glass that mirrors the surroundings. Located on residual land between an old farmhouse and a suburban villa, the project site had a sloped terrain that the architects decided to turn into a design attribute rather than an obstacle. The natural context determined the layout of the home’s three floors, which step down the slope from west to east. Covering a built footprint of 446 square meters, the home appears deceptively compact from street level because of the spacious basement level. The main living spaces as well as the technical rooms are all located on the basement floor, which includes a two-car garage, a fitness and spa area, a wine cellar, storage and the open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area that open up to an enclosed outdoor courtyard through full-height glazed sliding doors. The dimensions of the open-plan living area — measuring 14 by 6 meters — is repeated on the two floors above ground that house the bedrooms and bathrooms. Related: Mirrored pavilion all but disappears into nature Minimalism is stressed throughout the design, with the main structural elements visible and enhanced through formwork and sanding.  Solar protective glass clads the east and west facades, which are oriented toward the street and the garden. To the south, a blind béton brut wall serves as a beam for the upper two floors to ensure a column-free living area below, while the north side is punctuated with garden-facing openings. + 2001 Photography by Maxime Delvaux via 2001

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