Archive for August, 2011
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 23 August 2011 22.00 BST
Latest bid to count and catalogue the living world is billed as the most accurate yet, but only a tiny proportion is known to science
Humans share the planet with as many as 8.7 million different forms of life, according to what is being billed as the most accurate estimate yet of life on Earth.
Researchers who have analysed the hierarchical categorisation of life on Earth to estimate how many undiscovered species exist say the diversity of life is not equally divided between land and ocean. Three-quarters of the 8.7m species – the majority of which are insects – are on land; only one-quarter, 2.2m, are in the deep, even though 70% of the Earth’s surface is water. Read the full article
Saturday, August 27th 10:00am-1:00pm
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to establish a manatee refuge in Citrus County, Fla., in the waters of Kings Bay. It has determined that certain waterborne activities — including boating at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour — must be restricted in order to prevent the harassment, hurting or killing of manatees.A manatee refuge is an area in which Fish and Wildlife has determined that certain waterborne activities must be restricted in order to prevent “taking” the species. “Take” includes everything from attempted harassment to capturing or killing.
Kings Bay is an important water resource for the Florida manatee. It is a large embayment at the Crystal River’s headwaters on the west coast of Florida, which is fed by more than 70 freshwater springs. These warm waters give manatees a safe, warm place to escape cooler waters, which they cannot tolerate.
After studying the biological needs of the manatee, the level of take in Kings Bay, and the likelihood of more take due to human activity, the Service established the area as a manatee refuge by special emergency rule in November 2010, which expired March 15, 2011. Tell the Service why you think this area should be protected as a manatee refuge. It’s accepting comments on the proposed rule and draft environmental assessment for just a few more days — till August 22.
The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to hear (1) reasons why the area should be designated as a manatee refuge; (2) information on current or planned activities in the area and their possible effects on manatees; (3) foreseeable economic or other impacts resulting from the proposed designation; (4) substantive information on real or potential effects on the manatee; and (5) actions that could be considered instead of, or along with, the proposed designation that would provide equivalent protection to the manatee against the threat of take. Take action now or visit http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p/dia/action/public/action_KEY=7569#.Tkwps5VKuj4.facebook
ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2011) — A research team from Rollins College in Florida and the University of Georgia has identified human sewage as the source of the coral-killing pathogen that causes white pox disease of Caribbean elkhorn coral. Once the most common coral in the Caribbean, elkhorn coral was listed for protection under the United States Endangered Species Act in 2006, largely due to white pox disease.
The team’s findings have just been published in the peer-reviewed open access journal PLoS ONE.
Kathryn P. Sutherland, associate professor of biology at Rollins College, and her research collaborators, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Science Erin K. Lipp and Professor of Ecology James W. Porter of the University of Georgia, have known since 2002 that the bacterium that killed coral was the same species as found in humans. “When we identified Serratia marcescens as the cause of white pox, we could only speculate that human waste was the source of the pathogen because the bacterium is also found in the waste of other animals,” Sutherland said. Read the full article
On July 21, a bipartisan coalition of nine Gulf Coast senators, including Senators Bill Nelson and Mario Rubio, introduced the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011 (S. 1400). This much-needed legislation would ensure that at least 80% of BP penalties paid under the Clean Water Act would be dedicated to Gulf States to invest in the long-term health of the coastal ecosystem and its economies. Under current law, this money would go to the U.S. Treasury and the Gulf Coast would get nothing.
- Chairman Barbara Boxer has pledged her support for the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act of 2011, S. 1400 and will schedule a mark-up when Congress reconvenes in September.
- Your voice is needed to contact Republican and Democratic Members of the Committee and urge that they pass S. 1400 by voice vote.
- Ask to speak with the staff person who handles EPW Committee Issues and request that their Senator support S. 1400.
The report says some farmers must be more careful with their chemicals.
It found that nearly one-quarter of horticulture producers and 12% of pastoral farmers were using practices deemed unacceptable by the industry.
The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage-listed natural wonder. Read the full article
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -
Commercial fishermen in the Gulf are worried that their livelihood could be coming to a screeching halt.
It’s been more than a year since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and fishermen are still finding sick fish.
Gulf fishermen are seeing increased numbers of fish with sores, fin rot and infections. Professors at LSU have analyzed many of the diseased fish and think they may know the cause. Get the full story
ScienceDaily (Aug. 15, 2011) — A global study by an international team including professor John Graves of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science has found that several species of tunas and billfishes are threatened and in need of further protection.
The team’s analysis — published in a recent issue of Science magazine’s Policy Forum — is the first study of global tuna and billfish populations using the methods of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Read the full article
The POLKA-DOT BATFISH (Ogcocephalus cubifrons) maybe a slow fish but it has an unique fishing advantage. Below its snout is a fin that has become modified into a moveable spine used to lure prey within striking distance. Join Reef Relief today and help protect our marine world. www.reefrelief.org/act/donate
Shark Week on Discovery Channel is winding down, and as the final credits roll for this year’s toothy line-up (including predictable titles like “10 Deadliest Sharks,” “Killer Sharks,” and “When Fish Attack 3”), it’s an excellent moment to reflect on the other reasons to be fascinated by sharks. Sure, many sharks have are impressive hunters with serious teeth, but there are so many other reasons they deserve a dedicated week of programming. Here are just a few of them:
1) No Bones! Sharks, and their evolutionary cousins skates and rays, are in the class of animals that scientists call chondricthyes or “cartilaginous fish.” They don’t have true bones like mammals, birds, or most other fish. Instead their skeletons are made of cartilage—the same flexible material in human ears.
2) Smelling in Stereo – Marine researchers have long known that sharks have a strong sense of smell and are highly skilled at following their noses straight to injured prey. Until recently, scientists believed that sharks used differences in the concentration of blood in the water to determine which direction to swim in search of food. But it turns out that sharks actually chart a course toward lunch by noticing when a smell reaches one nostril before the other. The difference in timing—akin to humans using our stereo hearing to tell where a distant voice is coming from—reliably tells the shark which direction to head.