CALENDAR ANNOUNCEMENT: Oct. 4, 2012
CONTACT: DEP Press Office (850)245-2112 DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Acquisition and Restoration Council are holding two open house event to allow the public to comment on how Florida Forever projects should be prioritized. The Department and the Council develop an annual ranking of statewide land acquisition projects to prioritize the distribution of funds. The ranking is under review and includes more than 100 projects on the Florida Forever priority list, as well as the new Florida Forever proposals.
The meetings are scheduled for:
9 a.m. Oct. 11
Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, Conference Room A
6 p.m. Nov. 5
Archbold Biological Station
123 Main Dr.
Those unable to attend the public hearing are invited to provide their comments in writing via email to Jim.Farr@dep.state.fl.us or via US mail to Mr. Jim Farr, ARC Staff Director, Division of State Lands, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, MS 140, Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000. For more information about the ARC and current Florida Forever projects, please visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/arc.htm.
ScienceDaily (Sep. 28, 2012) — Soft horns and a tinkling piano form the backbone of “Fifty Degrees North, Four Degrees West,” a jazz number with two interesting twists: it has no composer and no actual musicians. Unless you count bacteria and other tiny microbes, that is.
The song is the brainchild of Peter Larsen, a biologist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. Larsen, it turns out, has no musical training at all; his interests run less towards the blues and more towards blue-green algae.
When faced with an avalanche of microbial data collected from samples taken from the western English Channel, Larsen recognized he needed a way to make sense of it all. “Thinking of interesting ways to highlight interactions within data is part of my daily job,” he said. “I am always trying to find new ways to visualize those relationships in ways so that someone can make relevant biological conclusions.”
Listen to examples of microbial bebop: http://www.bio.anl.gov/microbialbebop.htm
In the case of the western English Channel data, however, Larsen decided that a visual representation of the data would not be as effective as one he could hear. Read more
By Tara Malinowski. October 2, 2012. http://newsdesk.gmu.edu/
A long-term study conducted by Mason researchers may be a benchmark in determining health threats to marine mammals.
More than 10 years of research in Belize was conducted studying the behavioral ecology, life history and health of manatees, large marine mammals sometimes called sea cows, in an area relatively undisturbed by humankind.
“Manatees are the proverbial ‘canaries in the mineshaft,’ as they serve as indicators of their environment and may reflect the overall health of marine ecosystems,” says Alonso Aguirre, executive director of the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation and co-author of a paper on this research published recently in PLoS One journal in collaboration with scientists of University of California-Davis, U.S. Geological Survey and Sea to Shore Alliance.
Aguirre calls them a “sentinel species,” which means they are early warning indicators of environmental change. Because they may be highly susceptible or highly resistant to different environmental stressors, manatees can indicate a severe environmental change before other species or humans are affected.
“Studying them may help us predict a change that has the potential to be devastating to an ecosystem or a habitat if left unaddressed,” Aguirre says. Read more
By Juliet Eilperin, Published: September 30, 2012
This town in southwestern Alaska dubs itself the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World. But worries about the changing chemical balance of the ocean and its impact on the fish has made an arcane scientific buzzword common parlance here, along with the phrase “corrosive waters.”
In the past five years, the fact that human-generated carbon emissions are making the ocean more acidic has become an urgent cause of concern to the fishing industry and scientists.
The ocean absorbs about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide we put in the air through fossil fuel burning, and this triggers a chemical reaction that produces hydrogen, thereby lowering the water’s pH. Read more
ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2012) — Coral reefs — ecosystems of incredible environmental and economic value — are showing evidence of significant degradation, but do not have to be doomed. We can make a difference.
Once plentiful, coral reefs worldwide and locally have been ravaged by a number of stresses, including global threats like rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, and local threats like pollution, overfishing and coastal development. An estimated 25-30 percent of the world’s coral reefs are already severely degraded or lost, and another very high percentage are in danger of greater impact or worse. Some even predict reefs could be essentially wiped out within a human generation unless action is taken.
The coral reef issue is not only an environmental problem, but an economic one. The United Nations estimates globally, coral reefs generate over $172 billion per year from the services they provide including tourism, recreation and fisheries. In South Florida alone, where 84 percent of the nation’s reefs are located, reef ecosystems have been shown to generate over $6 billion in annual economic contributions and more than 71,000 jobs.
In July, hundreds of scientists joined in a consensus statement written at the recently held 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns Australia, stating: “Across the globe, these problems cause a loss of reef resources of enormous economic and cultural value. A concerted effort to preserve reefs for the future demands action at global levels, but also will benefit hugely from continued local protection.”
By Juliet Eilperin, Published: October 1, 2012. Washington Post
The sobering findings highlighted how even the world’s most protected marine areas are under assault from natural forces and causes linked to the human activity that is resulting in climate change. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, featuring nearly 3,000 individual reefs within 133,205 square miles. A third of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is off-limits to fishing and collecting.
“We are basically losing an ecosystem that is so iconic for Australia and the rest of the world,” said institute scientist Katharina E. Fabricius, one of the paper’s authors.
Storm damage accounted for 48 percent of the decline, scientists said, while crown-of-horns starfish contributed 42 percent. Coral bleaching, caused by warmer water, accounted for 10 percent of coral loss. Read more
BY Jacqueline Charles and Curtis Morgan. Miami Herald. September 24, 2012
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Plastic and foam food containers are everywhere in this enterprising Caribbean nation — clogging canals, cluttering streets and choking ocean wildlife.
Now those pesky black plastic bags made of polyethylene and polystyrene foam cups, plates, trays and other containers that have become as ubiquitous as the vendors who peddle them in street markets are on their way out.
Haiti’s government has announced a ban on importing, manufacturing and marketing them as of Oct. 1.
“This is a logical decision and makes sense,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said. “Importing, manufacturing bio-degradable items will benefit Haiti’s short, mid- and long-term environmental interest.”
CBC News. Sep 26, 2012 7:54 AM PT
Several environmental groups are heading to federal court in an attempt to use the Species At Risk Act to block the construction of the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
Wilderness Committee policy director Gwen Barlee says the planned pipeline and shipping route would jeopardize Pacific humpback whales, Nechako white sturgeon, marbled murrelets and southern mountain caribou.
“So we’re just asking the federal government to do the right thing and fully implement the species at risk legislation that is supposed to protect these species,” said Barlee.
The legal action is being handled by EcoJustice on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, Sierra Club B.C., Wilderness Committee and Wildsight. Read more
A new report from the Federal University of Pernambuco and Environment Ministry says Brazil has lost 80 percent of its coral reef over the past 50 years.
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — A new report from the Federal University of Pernambuco and Brazil’s Environment Ministry says the South American country has lost 80 percent of its coral reef in just the past 50 years.
According to EFE, the report blames abusive extraction and pollution from urban and industrial resources, as well as excessive fishing, for the destruction of the reef.
“Until the 1980s, there was much extraction to make lime in the country,” said Professor Beatrice Padovani, who collected data since 2002 with her research group, EFE reported.
More from GlobalPost: Caribbean coral reefs: “time is running out” to save them, says IUCN report
Padovani also noted that domestic, industrial and farm pollution were factors in creating sediment accumulation that has destroyed the reef systems, according to The Economic Times.
EFE went on to report that rising temperatures in the ocean because of climate change and frequent weather phenomena, like El Niño, have impacted the reef.
“In 2012, it is likely that there will be a new El Niño,” Padovani explained to the news outlet. “The reefs that will suffer most are the ones in the worst environmental condition.”
Brazil’s coral reef was once present along 1864 miles of its northeastern coast, in places like Recife, Fortaleza and Natal, reported Agence France-Presse. Its reef ecosystems have 18 species of coral, algae and at least three types of fish.
The report will be presented at an environmental conference on Monday, the Economic Times said.