Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

October 3, 2018 by  
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Ben Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean back in 1998, is now attempting to be the first swimmer to traverse the Pacific Ocean . The record-setter is taking on the challenge not only for himself, but also to raise awareness about ocean pollution, health and conservation. Lecomte has now passed the 1,000 nautical mile marker from his starting point in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. “My eyes are not too much on the milestones,” Lecomte said of his headline distance. “But it’s important to have milestones to celebrate any progress.” The swimmer is nearly a fifth of the way through his 5,500-mile expedition. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution Despite six years of preparation, Lecomte and his crew aboard the research vessel dubbed ‘Seeker’ have had to overcome many obstacles since leaving Yokohama in June. The team has been forced back to port by typhoons , suffered sea sickness aboard the 65-foot (20-meter) sailboat and rerouted several times to avoid cargo ships. Aside from this, Lecomte attempts to swim an average of 30 miles a day, aided by North Pacific currents and a protein-based diet of approximately 8,000 calories. Throughout the roughly eight hours it takes him to swim this distance, he is also collecting ocean debris and plastic that his expedition team geotags for research. “Every single day we collect trash,” Lecomte said. “I’m truly shocked by the amount of plastic I find on my way every single day.” The team has collected more than 1,300 pieces of floating trash along its journey, scooping up to four samples each minute with a specially designed net. Related: Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change Even among the heart-rending stages of Lecomte’s journey, there have still been touching moments. “I am very surprised by the amount of amazing encounters I made in the middle of nowhere — birds, jellyfish, swordfishes, turtles , dolphins, whales and even a shark who followed me for two days,” he said. “As I swim everyday, I see this wild and beautiful environment being affected by the virus of plastic. Every stroke is dedicated to inspire people and find ways to rethink their plastic consumption on land.” Viewers can tune-in to top science publisher Seeker.com and its social channels to watch daily videos and live moments from the expedition, with weekly updates also airing on Discovery. Follow Ben’s journey at Seeker.com/TheSwim . Via Seeker Images via Seeker

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Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

Belize Barrier Reef recovers and is removed from UNESCO ‘In Danger’ list

June 28, 2018 by  
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Thanks to a comprehensive conservation effort, the exceptionally diverse Belize Barrier Reef has recovered so much that it has been removed from the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger sites. “At a time when we are seeing numerous threats to World Heritage sites, Belize’s government has taken real action to protect one of the world’s most special places,” World Wildlife Fund International director general Marco Lambertini told EcoWatch . “We have seen an incredible turnaround from when the reef was being threatened by seismic testing for oil just 18 months ago.” The decision to remove the Belize Barrier Reef from the ‘In Danger’ sites list arrives five months after Belize passed legislation banning all oil exploratory activity in its waters. The second largest reef system in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef provides habitat for 1,400 species, including vulnerable species of shark , sea turtle and manatee. The reef also provides food and economic opportunity for almost half of Belize’s population while serving as a natural barrier against extreme weather. First classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, it was later added to the In Danger list in 2009 in response to increased oil exploration activity and damaging coastal construction. Related: Belize votes to indefinitely end all oil exploration in its waters As a result of a coordinated worldwide campaign, Belize, one of only three countries to ban all offshore oil exploration, put its barrier reef under protection. That effort is already bearing fruit. “Belizeans stood up to protect their reef, with hundreds of thousands more globally joining the campaign to save our shared heritage,” Lambertini said. “In taking swift collaborative action, Belize has shown that it is possible to reverse nature loss and create a sustainable future.” Belize is aiming to take its conservation to the next level by considering bans on single-use plastic products that threaten marine life . Via EcoWatch Images via Heath Alseike and Ruth

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Belize Barrier Reef recovers and is removed from UNESCO ‘In Danger’ list

World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

June 28, 2018 by  
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In 2019, two beluga whales, named Little Grey and Little White, will be transported from the Changfeng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai to the world’s first whale sanctuary in a protected bay in Iceland . Established by the SEA LIFE Trust in collaboration with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation , the 32,000-square-meter Beluga Whale Sanctuary site was chosen for its sub-arctic climate and seclusion. “It’s really important for Little White and Little Grey, providing them with a more natural home in which to live out the rest of their lives,” head of the SEA LIFE Trust Andy Bool told Reuters . The whales are already being prepped for their journey and the colder waters of their new home through exercises designed to increase their strength and their ability to hold their breath underwater. With its stores of blubber and echolocation refined for finding holes in the sea ice through which to breathe, the beluga whale is well adapted to Arctic waters. The beluga is also a very social animal, typically living in groups of up to 10, though gatherings of hundreds or thousands of whales can occur in summer. While the species as a whole is not considered threatened, populations in certain regions, such as the Cook Inlet in Alaska , are endangered. Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” In addition to their exercise regimen, Little Grey and Little White, both 12-year-old females, will be fed increased calories and gradually eased into using a stretcher, with which they will be restrained for part of their journey to their new home. Those who have made this sanctuary possible hope that it will set an example for other wildlife entertainment parks to release their animals into the wild. Whale and Dolphin Conservation captivity campaign manager Cathy Williamson told Reuters , “We believe this will inspire other facilities to move their belugas and other whales and dolphins to sanctuaries in other parts of the world.” + SEA LIFE Trust + Whale and Dolphin Conservation Via Reuters Images via Salva Barbera and Sheila Sund

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Tiny seahorse trapped in fishing line gets a second chance

June 15, 2018 by  
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A tiny seahorse named Frito received a second chance at life after being trapped in fishing line. Florida resident Dawn McCartney said she and her two daughters were snorkeling when they found a rope and plastic trash in the water. Among the debris, the family saw a small seahorse with fishing line wrapped around her neck multiple times. McCartney called the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA), who came to the seahorse’s rescue . Frito, a female lined seahorse, was rescued last weekend, on June 10. McCartney carefully untangled the seahorse and put her in a water bottle filled with ocean water until the CMA rescue team could come pick up Frito. CMA, an animal rescue center, rehabilitated the seahorse, whom they described as their smallest rescue yet , and were able to return her to a seagrass bed in the wild on June 14. Related: Floridians rescue manatees stranded on shores drained by Irma “Our mission of rescue, rehabilitation and release applies to all marine life, big and small,” CMA CEO David Yates said in a statement . “The level of care our team gave to tiny Frito is inspiring. It is so rewarding to get her back home.” (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Release of Frito, the Tiny Seahorse Frito, the tiny seahorse is going home! Join us in welcoming home our smallest rescue patient as she is released into the wild! #CMAinspires Posted by Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Thursday, June 14, 2018 CMA said Frito’s rescue story is similar to that of other animals they’ve rescued — the creatures were tangled in fishing line. Monofilament fishing line drifting in ocean waves could endanger many species of marine life such as sea turtles , birds , stingrays, dolphins … and tiny seahorses. CMA said people can lower the chances of animal entanglement simply by cleaning up fishing line and disposing of it back at a dock. In a 2017 blog post , CMA offered other suggestions for fishers who want to help keep marine life safe, such as using barbless circle hooks or recycling monofilament fishing line. While non-monofilament line and hooks can’t be placed in the recycling bins for monofilament lines, fishers can cut the sharp point off hooks and cut non-monofilament line into pieces 12 inches or smaller before putting those in covered trash cans to help protect marine animals. + Frito the Seahorse + Clearwater Marine Aquarium Images courtesy of Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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Toxic chemicals found in small, furry animals decades after mine closure

June 15, 2018 by  
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The environmental impact of large-scale industrial activity can be felt long after the activity stops. A new study published in the journal ScienceDirect found that decades after the closure of the Giant Mine — located on the outskirts of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories province of Canada  — small animals still carried significant amounts of toxic chemicals, such as arsenic, in their fur. While high levels of arsenic had been documented in the soil, plants and fish near the Giant Mine, scientists had not previously documented the impact on small  mammals . Understanding the potential toxicity of these animals is important, as these creatures are still hunted for their furs and food, through which humans could also absorb the dangerous chemicals. The Giant Mine near Yellowknife contributed to the arsenic contamination of the surrounding area through its 55 years as an active gold mine. To extract gold from ore, it must be heated at extremely high temperatures. This process creates a toxic compound called arsenic trioxide, about 237,000 tons of which is buried underground near the mine site. Arsenic is naturally found within the Earth, often in gold-holding rocks. While arsenic usually seeps slowly into the environment through steady erosion of the rock, gold mining accelerates that process. Related: This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water Small mammals like the snowshoe hare often serve as early warning signs of an environment’s contamination . Because of the animal’s limited habitat range and diet of ground plants, the contaminant levels are often higher than other organisms. When snowshoe hares who lived near Giant Mine were tested for levels of arsenic, researchers found that their arsenic levels were 20 to 50 times higher than hares who lived elsewhere. Arsenic-contaminated wildlife often suffer from osteoporosis, neurological damage, reproductive issues and chronic metabolic disease. Scientists are most concerned that the arsenic contamination will find its way up the food chain, harming larger mammals, including humans. + ScienceDirect Via EcoWatch Images via Denali National Park and Preserve (1, 2)

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Revealing map shows the distribution of all known ocean trash

April 3, 2017 by  
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There’s still a lot the average person doesn’t know about the trash clogging up our oceans . Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) scientists are tackling this public awareness crisis with LITTERBASE , a tool that makes it easy for the public to visualize the issue. They pulled together results from 1,237 scientific studies on two revealing maps to show exactly where known marine litter is distributed, and how it affects 1,249 marine species. AWI scientists realized there’s a large amount of research being done on the issue of marine litter, but since there are so many studies it’s hard for policymakers, authorities, and the public to reference the information they need to combat the issue. So they gathered the research in LITTERBASE in two maps. One combines 591 publications to show the distribution of garbage around the world. The other draws on 751 publications to show wildlife interactions with litter . According to LITTERBASE information cited by The Maritime Executive, 34 percent of species ingest trash, 31 percent colonize it, and 30 percent get tangled up or trapped in trash. Related: New report says plastic trash to exceed fish in the sea by 2050 AWI scientists also found in 10 years the concentration of garbage at an Arctic Ocean deep-sea station increased 20-fold. Plastic and glass were the worst offenders. It’s difficult to determine where the plastic trash came from, as it can often travel great distances before landing on the ocean floor. The maps could also help bring older studies back into public awareness. AWI scientist Melanie Bergmann said, “While compiling LITTERBASE, I discovered a cache of old data on litter in the Antarctic , which the signatory countries of the Antarctic Treaty gathered on a regular basis. In addition, the ingestion of microplastic at the beginning of the food chain was investigated for various groups of plankton and unicellular organisms as far back as the 1980s. As such, LITTERBASE will also help us rediscover old and in some cases forgotten findings.” You might notice the map has large blank swaths; the researchers note those aren’t necessarily clean areas. Rather, they just don’t yet have information for those spaces. You can check out the map of marine litter here and the map of wildlife interactions with trash here . + LITTERBASE Via The Maritime Executive Images via screenshot and Wikimedia Commons

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Revealing map shows the distribution of all known ocean trash

Gibraltar to end one of the world’s largest balloon releases

April 8, 2016 by  
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Every year Gibraltar releases 30,000 balloons into the sky. This National Day tradition has a devastating impact on marine creatures, as an estimated 3,000 balloons spiral down to defile the ocean . In response to pressure from environmental groups, the island is finally ending this polluting practice. Read the rest of Gibraltar to end one of the world’s largest balloon releases

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Half of the oceans’ fish are gone due to human impact

October 12, 2015 by  
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Startling numbers from a new study reveal there are half as many fish in the oceans as there were in 1970. Citing overfishing as the main cause, the report shows the Scombridae family of fish, which includes tunas and mackerels, has lost up to 75 percent of its population in that time frame. Other sharp declines include leatherback turtles and porbeagle sharks, indicating other factors have also contributed to this devastating decline in marine biodiversity. Read the rest of Half of the oceans’ fish are gone due to human impact

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This modern prefab home has windows that double as solar panels

October 12, 2015 by  
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X Prize Announced to Save Oceans from Deadly Acidification and Rising CO2 Levels

September 11, 2013 by  
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X Prize aims to tackle the world’s greatest challenges by creating ‘large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions’ to encourage the greatest inventors to use their genius for the benefit of humanity. Already underway are the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE , the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE , and the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE , but now the group has just announced the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X PRIZE , which aims to develop accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors that will ultimately transform our understanding of ocean acidification and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Read the rest of X Prize Announced to Save Oceans from Deadly Acidification and Rising CO2 Levels Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: atmospheric CO2 levels , carbon dioxide , CO2 levels , marine wildlife , ocean acidification , ocean acidification levels , ocean ecosystems , Ocean PH sensors , Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X PRIZE , x-prize        

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