UK launches world’s largest ocean monitoring system

April 6, 2021 by  
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The U.K. government, under the  Blue Belt program , has announced its plan to install underwater camera rigs for monitoring ocean wildlife in its overseas territories. The entire project will be funded by the U.K., making it the largest ocean monitoring system in the world. The Blue Belt program covers over 4 million square kilometers of ocean space, which the U.K. government has pledged to protect. Today, only 7.65% of oceans are categorized as  protected areas . Unfortunately, most projects that target ocean wildlife protection only focus on major landmarks. According to Jessica Meeuwig, a professor at the University of Western Australia and co-creator of Blue Abacus, the project shifts attention from major landmarks to other areas of the ocean . Blue Abacus is a project partner and helped develop the technology known as Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS), which will be used to monitor marine life. Related: 30 new marine species found in Galapagos’ deep seas Meeuwig explained most people assume that ocean wildlife is okay just because they can’t see what’s happening. By installing a network of underwater cameras, she noted that it will help document changes that happen to ocean wildlife. A study carried out in January revealed that the  population of sharks and rays  has fallen by 71% since the 1970s. The main causes of population reduction have been identified as overfishing and climate change. Other studies have also raised alarm over declining species including yellowfin and bluefin tuna. More and more research shows the need for protecting our oceans. “The marine wildlife living along the coastlines of our Overseas Territories is some of the most spectacular in the world and we must do more to protect it,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. “Cutting-edge technology, such as these cameras, will be vital in our crusade against climate change . Our marine experts are world-leaders in protecting our ocean and the myriad of species that live within it.” U.K. Minister for the Environment Lord Goldsmith said that the U.K. is committed to tackling global challenges such as ocean biodiversity loss and climate change, among others. He continued, “These UK-funded underwater video cameras will provide a wealth of information on the biodiversity in the seas around the Overseas Territories, including on globally threatened species of shark and migratory fish, like the bluefin tuna.” + Gov.uk Via Huffington Post Images by Marine Futures Lab, University of Western Australia via Gov.uk

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UK launches world’s largest ocean monitoring system

Bald eagle population bounces back from brink of extinction

March 29, 2021 by  
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The once shrinking population of bald eagles has quadrupled over the past 12 years, according to a new survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The study has found that there are over 316,000 bald eagles in the lower 48 states of the U.S., with over 70,000 breeding pairs . According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were approximately 500 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the U.S. in the late 1960s. However, the story changed with the discovery that DDT, often found in insecticides , was affecting wildlife, effectively leading to its ban in 1972. In 1973, the federal government signed the Endangered Species Act, which led to the protections of various species, including the bald eagle. Related: Critically endangered regent honeyeaters are losing their song Since then, the population has been growing gradually, and the bird was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Following a recent survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has discovered that the number of bald eagles has more than quadrupled since 2009 when they were last counted. Speaking to the press, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said that this turnaround is historic. “The bald eagle has always been considered a sacred species to American Indian people, and similarly it’s sacred to our nation as America’s national symbol,” Haaland said. This success story proves that conservation measures work. Although the birds were hunted, killed and poisoned for years, the population has grown thanks to focused conservation efforts. While the report might seem like a good indication for the future of wildlife in the U.S., the reality on the ground is quite different. A recent study by Cornell Lab of Ornithology has established that the overall population of birds in the U.S. has dropped by about one-third in the past 50 years. A different report by the National Audubon Society has established that about two-thirds of North American birds are at an increased risk of extinction, primarily because of climate change. “By stabilizing carbon emissions and holding warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, nearly 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change ,” the report noted. + U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Via NPR Image via Jan Temmel

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Bald eagle population bounces back from brink of extinction

Tidal turbines power electric vehicles on Scotland’s Yell Island

March 29, 2021 by  
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As countries around the world increasingly embrace electric vehicles , charging is top of mind. In Scotland, the island of Yell is powering its EVs with tidal energy. Nova Innovation has built an underwater network of revolving tidal turbines anchored to the ocean floor. You can’t see them from above, and they’re designed to pose no navigational hazards. One thing is for sure about Yell — there’s plenty of ocean around it, so this is a predicable power source for the island’s grid. Related: Scotland to become first country to test 100% green hydrogen At 83 square miles, Yell is the second largest of Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Sheep outnumber the 966 inhabitants by about 10 to one. The underwater turbines have already been powering houses and businesses on Yell for the last five years. “We now have the reality of tidal powered cars , which demonstrates the huge steps forward we are making in tackling the climate emergency and achieving net-zero by working in harmony with our natural environment,” said Simon Forrest, Nova Innovation’s CEO. Scotland has long been a global renewable energy leader. The blustery country has harnessed enough wind to power a country twice its size. Its first tidal energy farm launched in 2016, and by 2020, it had more underwater turbines than any other country. The new tidal turbine charging station is a first. Forrest says this technology can be deployed around the world. Because traditional combustion engines in vehicles produce about one-fifth of U.K. carbon emissions, underwater turbines could be key in meeting emission reduction goals. More tidal turbines could be coming soon, as the Scottish government has banned the sale of new cars powered solely by diesel or gas by 2032. Marine scientists are still assessing the effects on wildlife . According to Andrea Copping with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, animals colliding with the turbines could be bruised but probably not killed. Compared to other coastal energy endeavors, such as offshore oil drilling, the threat from underwater turbines seems low. Via EcoWatch and Hakai Magazine Image via Leo Roomets

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Tidal turbines power electric vehicles on Scotland’s Yell Island

Endangered black-footed ferret is successfully cloned

February 22, 2021 by  
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The birth of Elizabeth Ann, a black-footed ferret, on December 10, 2020, marked a major achievement in the recovery of the species. Elizabeth Ann is the first black-footed ferret to be cloned with the aim of increasing the genetic diversity of the species. The now 2-month-old ferret was created from frozen cells of a black-footed ferret that lived over three decades ago. Black-footed ferrets were once considered extinct , but a family of seven was discovered in 1981. The ferrets were captured to be protected by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Having been recovered from only seven ferrets, the current population of the species lacks genetic diversity. The recent cloning is important given that the clone parent, Willa, was recovered from the last wild black-footed ferrets and did not belong to the line of the recovered seven. Samples of the wild ferret were preserved at the San Diego Zoo Global’s Frozen Zoo from 1988. Related: San Diego Zoo successfully clones an endangered Przewalski’s horse To improve the species’ resilience to diseases, several organizations have come together. Among the partners involved in the process include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Revive & Restore, San Diego Zoo Global, ViaGen Pets & Equine and the Association of Zoos and Pets. “The Service sought the expertise of valued recovery partners to help us explore how we might overcome genetic limitations hampering recovery of the black-footed ferret, and we’re proud to make this announcement today,” said Noreen Walsh, director of USFWS, Mountain-Prairie Region. “Although this research is preliminary, it is the first cloning of a native endangered species in North America, and it provides a promising tool for continued efforts to conserve the black-footed ferret.” The journey to cloning has been long and with many obstacles, according to Ryan Phelan, executive director of Revive & Restore. “We’ve come a long way since 2013 when we began the funding, permitting, design, and development of this project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” Phelan said. “Genomics revealed the genetic value that Willa could bring to her species .” According to Walsh, while cloning is one of the ways to improve the genetic diversity of the species, the organizations are also paying attention to habitat-based threats in their efforts to recover the black-footed ferret population. + U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Images via USFWS

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Endangered black-footed ferret is successfully cloned

Shark populations have decreased by 71% in the last 50 years

January 29, 2021 by  
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A recent study published in the journal Nature has revealed that the number of sharks in the oceans has reduced by 71% since the 1970s. Ray populations are also plummeting. Because of these alarming findings, researchers are now calling on governments to take drastic measures to reverse the trend. The study authors blamed most of the losses on overfishing. Sharks and rays are often fished for food but are also victims of sportfishing in many parts of the world. More disheartening is the fact that these animals are already at risk of extinction , according to Nicholas Dulvy, professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Related: Preparing COVID-19 vaccine could kill half a million sharks “Overfishing of oceanic sharks and rays jeopardizes the health of entire ocean ecosystems as well as food security for some of the world’s poorest countries,” Dulvy said. In the study, 31 species of sharks and rays found in the open oceans were analyzed. Of these species, 24 are already classified as threatened by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Further, three shark species — the oceanic whitetip shark, the scalloped hammerhead shark and the great hammerhead shark — are currently listed as critically endangered . For these wildlife populations to recover, scientific data must be taken into account. According to Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International, great white sharks are now recovering thanks to scientific data that influenced fishing limits. “Relatively simple safeguards can help to save sharks and rays, but time is running out,” Fordham said. “We urgently need conservation action across the globe to prevent myriad negative consequences and secure a brighter future for these extraordinary, irreplaceable animals.” + Nature Via BBC Image via Jonas Allert

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Shark populations have decreased by 71% in the last 50 years

Local communities want Trump’s border wall torn down

January 29, 2021 by  
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On his first day in office, President Joe Biden ordered construction to halt on Trump’s infamous border wall. But environmentalists and communities living along the border want him to go much further, tearing it down and reversing the wall’s damage. Donald Trump set aside $15 billion for his “big beautiful wall” between the southern border of the U.S. and Mexico. About 455 miles had been constructed out of a planned 738 miles by the time Trump left office. The former president got his hands on the money by declaring a national emergency in 2019 and diverting tax dollars that would have otherwise gone to defense or counter-drug programs. But he didn’t spend a lot of time assessing the environmental and cultural impact. Hundreds of miles of land have been blasted and bulldozed, including protected public land and sites sacred to Native Americans. Related: Trump administration disregards border wall’s environmental impact “It’s a disaster, a mess, the suspended laws must be put back on the books to give border communities equal protection, and every section looked at carefully so that it can be torn down in a coordinated and responsible way, and the damage addressed immediately,” said Dan Mills, the Sierra Club’s borderlands program manager, as reported by The Guardian . Community leaders are asking Biden to cancel outstanding wall-building contracts, send experts to assess damage, tear down the wall whenever possible and clean up all the metal, barbed wire and concrete. They also urge the president to rescind waivers suspending 84 federal laws pertaining to public lands, endangered species , clean air and water and Native American rights. They’ve asked him to withdraw lawsuits against private landowners lodged to seize their land by declaring eminent domain. “It was a complete waste of money and poorly thought out, and is a constant unsightly reminder of Trump’s ugly approach to Latin America,” said retired professor Sylvia Ramirez. “The wall should never have gone up, we tried to fight it, and now it will be very difficult to undo.” Ramirez has relatives buried in historic cemeteries which are now cut off between the international border and Trump’s 30-foot wall. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case brought by the ACLU, Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Commission about the legality of diverting billions from the Department of Defense without Congress’ okay. Via The Guardian Image via White House Archive

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Welcoming Winter Wildlife

December 31, 2020 by  
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Watching butterflies and birds or spotting a rabbit contribute as … The post Welcoming Winter Wildlife appeared first on Earth 911.

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Can Solar Farms Promote Local Food Security, Wildlife Habitat?

December 17, 2020 by  
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A big concern with large-scale solar farms is the impact … The post Can Solar Farms Promote Local Food Security, Wildlife Habitat? appeared first on Earth 911.

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French court persecutes noisy frogs in Grignols

December 16, 2020 by  
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A French judge has sentenced a pond full of frogs to capital punishment. Their crime? Being too noisy. The judge decreed the pond must be drained within 90 days. The legal battle over the frogs of Grignols, a village (population: 587) in the Dordogne area of southern France , has a long history. The frogs live in the backyard pond of Michel and Annie Pécheras. Twelve years ago, Michel re-excavated the 300-square-meter pond and moved it farther from the property line of his neighbor, Jean-Louis Malfione. Things seemed fine for a few years. But in 2012, Malfione brought legal action due to the amphibians’ cries of “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” during the mating season. At times, their amorous ribbits reached 63 decibels from Malfione’s open window. Related: First fluorescent frog in the world found in South America The case was thrown out by a judge in 2014 but later upheld by a judge in Bordeaux. Since then, several legal jurisdictions have heard the case. French environmentalists have become increasingly agitated. Some campaigned for the frogs to be relocated to another pond, but that appeal failed. The environmental group Société pour l’Étude et l’Aménagement de la nature dans le Sud-Ouest is appealing to France’s highest court. The Association Cistude Nature has stated that six protected frog species make their home in the pond. This isn’t the first noise complaint heard in rural French courts. Other cases have been heard about roosters crowing, ducks quacking, church bells pealing, crickets chirping and cowbells clanging. One farmer even had to pay 8,000 euros because a neighbor thought his cows smelled bad. Threatened with fines and even prison, Michel and Annie have started emptying the pond. Not only will the frogs be left homeless and probably die, the fish and ducks that live in the pond will be out of luck, and passing wildlife like wild boar, herons and deer might have to start carrying reusable water bottles. Many people around the world are lending their support to the frogs and other wildlife that the pond supports. More than 95,000 people had already signed this petition within days of its appearance online. Via The Guardian Image via Jill Wellington

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French court persecutes noisy frogs in Grignols

San Antonio unveils new wildlife land bridge

December 16, 2020 by  
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The newly built Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge now connects two sections of a San Antonio park that were previously separated by a highway. The bridge, which is aimed at serving both humans and animals, was developed to reduce human-wildlife conflicts along the busy highway. According to the  City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department , the bridge is the biggest of its kind in the U.S. The six-lane highway crossing the Phil Hardberger Park makes it difficult for animals to get from one side to the other. Even though there are barriers restricting the animals from crossing the highway, there are those that still break through. This has led to various accidents on this highway. Related: $87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions Former Mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger, who shares his name with the park, said in an interview that the animals within the park have always been threatened by the highway. “Even though you do put up barriers, they’ll get across or start to get across,” Hardberger said. “Right now, it’s six lanes. [The Texas Department of Transportation] says it will eventually be eight lanes. We’ve had some accidents between cars and deer especially and some of the smaller animals as well.” The bridge, which opened on Friday, has already be used by local wildlife, as seen by construction workers. The new structure is 150 feet long and about 150 feet wide. It is also designed to feature walking trails for humans and natural vegetation for the animals. Once the vegetation is fully developed, the bridge is expected to resemble the look of the park . San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has applauded the project, expressing his expectations for the park once the landscape is fully developed. Nirenberg said , “I look forward to watching the landscape grow and mature with native trees and plants and observing wildlife through viewing blinds designed by local artists.” For years, measures intended to help wildlife cross busy roads and other human-made impediments have been implemented. According to  National Geographic , such structures originated in France in the 1950s. Today, there are plenty of these structures around the world, including in the United States. Currently, there are similar projects underway in Houston and San Francisco. + San Antonio Parks and Recreation Via Huffington Post Photography by Justin Moore; rendering via San Antonio Parks and Recreation

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