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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Shark fins still being sold in US restaurants amid ban

January 24, 2019 by  
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Shark finning has sparked numerous controversies for the horrible act of animal cruelty that has led to the banning of shark finning in 12 U.S. states. However, the ban is so difficult to effectively enforce that some restaurants in at least 10 of the states still manage to have shark fins on their menus, and some are starting to question if the ban is worth it. Shark finning — the act of slicing fins off live sharks and throwing the wounded shark into the ocean , where they sink and eventually die of suffocation and blood loss — became illegal in U.S. waters back in 2000. Yet, shark fins have been making their way to the states from countries that don’t ban the practice and catch sharks. Although the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington D.C. — who supports the national shark fin ban — updates their yearly list of establishments that serve shark fin soup, restaurants are still featuring the infamous soup on the their menus. According to National Geographic ,  shark fin soup is a “status dish in Asian countries” and has a long history dating back to the Song Dynasty. Currently, the soup is traditionally served at wedding receptions as a sign of respect for guests. Related: Nine more states join seismic blasting lawsuit against the Trump administration The “luxury dish” is prepared by boiling the shark fins and removing the skin and meat. The softened protein fiber that is left behind is then shredded and put into the soup. Trying to ban this item from restaurants is proving to be a major problem for U.S. enforcement agencies due to understaffing. Not to mention, making a case against shark fin vendors can be difficult since the trade is mostly underground, like illegal drugs. “I know it’s going on, I know it’s out there,” says San Francisco marine warden William O’Brien. “But it’s a very private matter — it’s not the kind of thing that, you know, people are selling to the public.” To make matters worse, the fines and jail sentences for violating the ban are usually light and don’t deter the practice. Via National Geographic Images via Shutterstock

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A modern vacation retreat is embedded into the rolling hills of southern Portugal

January 24, 2019 by  
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Tucked into the rolling meadows of Southern Portugal’s Alentejo region, a beautiful 2,691-square-foot vacation home holds court in an idyllic area that is perfect for disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of city life. The Cercal House, designed by Lisbon-based studio Atelier Data , boasts a Mediterranean style that is embedded into the landscape in order to blend in seamlessly with the natural environment. One of the most complicated challenges for the architects was the site’s problematic topography. Located on land separated by a river, the dry terrain is sloped on each side. Taking this challenge to heart, the designers decided to use the slanted landscape to their advantage by implanting the structure into the landscape’s natural shape while reducing its impact on the land. Related: Atelier Data transforms an old horse stable into a simple but stunning home in Portugal Embedding the home into the landscape provided an  energy-efficient advantage to the home while also adding a solar orientation that would reduce the home’s energy use. Additionally, the site can capture the best views of the home’s expansive pastoral setting. Wanting to meld the design into this setting, the architects created a structure that mimicked a traditional gable-house silhouette, but they added a modern touch in the form of four square cut-outs on one side of the roof. These openings not only allow for a subtle connection to the landscape but also provide an abundance of natural light and air ventilation to flow throughout the home’s interior. Jutting out from the interior living space is a large, open-air patio with polished concrete floors, and this space frames the picture-perfect views. In fact, four open-air patios are located at each corner of the home, which has three bedrooms that are arranged in a square layout. Further connecting the home with its surroundings is a beautiful infinity pool built at land level. + Atelier Data Via Dwell Photography by Richard John Seymour via Atelier Data

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A modern vacation retreat is embedded into the rolling hills of southern Portugal

Oceans warming 40 percent faster than previously thought

January 16, 2019 by  
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  After discrepancies between climate models projecting higher levels of ocean warming and observational data showing lower temperatures, a recent article published in Science demonstrated that the world’s oceans are warming about 40 percent faster than previously projected.  Apparently, the higher numbers were right, and even though this gives scientists a better understanding of climate change , the reality of the situation could be alarming for marine life and coastal residents. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, published in 2013, showed that leading climate change models seemed to predict a much faster increase in ocean heat content over the last 30 years than was seen in observations,” study author and University of California (UC) Berkeley graduate student Zeke Hausfather said in a UC Berkeley press release. Hausfather says that was a problem because this is something they need the models to get right. Now that the corrected records agree with climate models, it is an encouraging step that removes major uncertainty. Oceans are incredibly important when understanding the implications of global warming, as they can absorb more than 93 percent of the solar energy that becomes trapped by greenhouse gasses. Not to mention, ocean warming can lead to severe consequences such as sea level rise, stronger storms and loss of ocean life. Hausfather explains that the best place to see where global warming is happening is to look at the oceans. While current technological methods have allowed for better oceanic temperature readings, it was more difficult to obtain clear readings before the mid 2000s, when 4,000 floating robots called Argo were distributed. This network of robots dives into the ocean every few days to take temperature, PH and salinity readings. Before the creation of Argo, bathythermographs were the only thing that could take ocean measurements. Yet, they could only be used once because they couldn’t be recovered from the ocean floor. Now that we have accurate measurements, we can understand the steady increase of ocean temperatures. Hausfather wrote on Twitter that 2018 would beat out the second-place year (2017) “by a comfortable margin” for warmest year. Via EcoWatch Image via dimitrisvetsikas1969

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