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.
By Jacqueline Charles and Curtis Morgan. Miami Herald
A multimillion-dollar port project billed as critical to Haiti’s economic development faces more U.S.-led environmental surveys.
ScienceDaily (Sep. 30, 2012) — Changes in ocean and climate systems could lead to smaller fish, according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia.
The study, published September 30 in the journal Nature Climate Change, provides the first-ever global projection of the potential reduction in the maximum size of fish in a warmer and less-oxygenated ocean.
The researchers used computer modeling to study more than 600 species of fish from oceans around the world and found that the maximum body weight they can reach could decline by 14-20 per cent between years 2000 and 2050, with the tropics being one of the most impacted regions.
“We were surprised to see such a large decrease in fish size,” says the study’s lead author William Cheung, an assistant professor at the UBC Fisheries Centre. “Marine fish are generally known to respond to climate change through changing distribution and seasonality. But the unexpectedly big effect that climate change could have on body size suggests that we may be missing a big piece of the puzzle of understanding climate change effects in the ocean.” Read more
27 September 2012, by Tom Marshall
Too many nutrients can put corals at risk, a new study shows. Excessive nitrogen in the water affects their ability to cope with rising water temperatures and other environmental pressures, making them vulnerable to harmful bleaching.
That is, an excessive supply of nutrients can paradoxically lead to nutrient starvation. It does this by over-fertilizing the symbiotic algae on which corals depend, making them grow more quickly than the more limited supply of phosphorus can support. This unbalanced growth makes them more susceptible to stress.
The discovery may point towards ways we can help protect coral reefs, safeguarding these uniquely rich habitats as well as the livelihoods of the millions of people who depend on them. It’s the latest in a long list of reasons to control nitrogen pollution, which has also catastrophic effects on river ecosystems and causes harmful algal blooms in coastal waters.
By Carl Hiaasen
Earlier this summer, in the Gulf waters near the Florida-Alabama border, somebody stabbed a screwdriver into the head of a bottlenose dolphin.
Sightings of the injured mammal occurred for a couple of days until it turned up dead in Perdido Bay. The crime, which remains unsolved, is notable for more than its extreme cruelty.
Years ago it would have been unusual for a human with a weapon in his hand to get near enough to wound a wild dolphin. That was before people began following and illegally feeding the animals, a practice recklessly adopted by a few tour-boat captains in the Panama City area.
The result was to train communities of dolphins to be not just lazy but dependent on handouts for survival. Instead of teaching their offspring how to hunt schools of baitfish, momma dolphins taught the little ones to wait for boatloads of tourists bearing buckets of chum.
Dolphins are smart and opportunistic. When the tour boats weren’t around they started bothering commercial fishermen, who with their paychecks on the line didn’t regard the voracious acrobats as fondly as visitors did.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the government in recent years has prosecuted three fishermen for attacking dolphins. Guns are the favored method, and in one case a pipe-bomb was thrown.
The screwdriver killing is a first. Experts believe the mortally wounded dolphin came from a place near Orange Beach, Alabama, where feeding the protected marine mammals has become popular.
In most places you seldom hear of a dolphin being struck by a boat propeller. The adult specimens always teach the calves how to keep a safe distance from the engines — you can see these lessons in progress when a pod comes together in your wake.
Likewise, it’s uncommon in most waters for a dolphin to take a bait on a fishing line. They know better than to bite anything with a piece of barbed steel in it.
Except when they’ve lost their natural wariness of humans.
By JANET McCONNAUGHEY
NEW ORLEANS — Someone shot and killed a bottlenose dolphin found over the weekend on Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge, and there’s a $1,500 reward for information leading to a conviction, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is offering the reward, said NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Kim Amendola.
The dolphin’s body was found Saturday on the state refuge just west of Grand Isle. It had been shot on the right side just behind its blowhole, and the bullet was found in its lung.
Mark Kinsey, enforcement supervisor for Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, said it is the first dolphin shooting he has investigated in 12 years as an enforcement agent, but a dolphin was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver this summer.
The stabbed animal’s body was found June 22 near Dupont Point, Ala., and had been reported swimming in Perdido Bay near the Alabama-Florida state line for days before that, Amendola said. Investigators don’t have a single good lead in spite of a $3,500 reward from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Amendola said.
People can get close enough to stab a dolphin because feeding the marine mammals is all too common even though it’s been illegal since 1993, said Jeff Radonski, acting deputy special agent in charge of the Gulf, South Atlantic and Caribbean.
Other attacks on dolphins have been successfully prosecuted.
A Panama City, Fla., man was sentenced in 2009 to two years in prison and three on supervised probation for throwing pipe bombs at dolphins. The prison time was because he also was convicted of carrying a gun after being convicted of a felony, Amendola said.
Charter boat captains were convicted in 2006 and 2007 of shooting at dolphins: one because dolphins had grabbed his clients’ hooked fish; the second because a dolphin was approaching his boat.
“Their own clients turned them in,” Amendola said.
Tips can be left anonymously about unsolved cases such as the stabbing and the most recent shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-853-1964.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 forbids harassing, harming, killing or feeding wild dolphins. Violations can be prosecuted either civilly or criminally, with maximum penalties of a year in jail and $100,000 in fines.
A dolphin known as Beggar, which Amendola described as “our poster child” for problems caused when people feed and interfere with wild animals, was found dead Friday near Sarasota, Fla. The dolphin had stingray spines stuck in its body, but a necropsy also found evidence of human harm, however inadvertent: fishing hooks in one of its stomachs and healing propeller scars and broken ribs.
It can take years for dolphin-feeding citations to make their way through the system: three signed June 25 dealt with violations in 2009 and 2010 by tour boats and one in 2009 by two men apparently not associated with tour or fishing boats.
The Associated Press
SARASOTA, Fla. — Marine officials believe that a popular dolphin’s death in Sarasota stemmed from his close contact with humans.
For two decades, Beggar the bottlenose dolphin was known to beg for food from people at the Albee Road Bridge. His body was found Friday in the Intracoastal Waterway.
The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports ( http://bit.ly/NJ5NGn) that a necropsy didn’t identify an official cause of death. The report notes that fishing gear and human food were found in Beggar’s stomach. He also had multiple broken bones and external injuries from boat encounters.
Mote Marine Laboratory officials believe that by feeding Beggar, humans changed his behavior and put him at greater risk of boat strikes.
The newspaper reports that petting and feeding dolphins is illegal, punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and jail time.
Published 26 September 2012. ABCScience
Dr Ashley Ward is a fish biologist at the University of Sydney. He was interviewed by Rachel Sullivan.
Almost 80 per cent of the more than 20,000 known fish species school at some point in the life cycle.
Schooling helps reduce the risk of being attacked by predators, and also makes swimming easier because the fish position themselves so they are able to slipstream in their neighbours’ wake.
Some species school only when they are vulnerable juveniles, others when they are older. They begin by swimming in pairs and then in larger and larger groups of the same species.
While fish have big eyes to help them find prey and keep track of each other up close, they rely on their chemosensory system to track other fish of the same species in the vastness of the ocean, says Dr Ashley Ward, a fish biologist at the University of Sydney.
“A fish can smell itself, and recognises others with the same smell,” says Ward, who studies the social behaviour of fish.”