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Weekly Water News: March 15, 2018
Posted on March 16, 2018
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Every week Ocean Wise’s Aquablog combs international headlines to bring you the most important ocean news. This week: the Bank of England’s Governor declares a crisis in the world’s ocean, a video of marine plastic off Indonesia goes viral and so much more — read on!

The Ocean Ecosystem

Tens of thousands of dead invertebrates and organisms are washing along the North Sea shore of the United Kingdom, including crabs, lobsters, mussels and starfish. This is due to a recent 3° Celsius drop in sea temperature. In response to the cold, marine animals reduced their activity levels, making them more susceptible to harsh weather conditions. Local fishermen and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust managed to rescue surviving lobsters and they plan to release them back into the ocean once the weather improves. Via The Guardian

The number of male blacktip reef sharks is declining off the U.S. Atlantic Coast.

Male blacktip reef sharks winter in Florida and return to North Carolina in the spring to mate. But this year the number of migrating sharks is down by two-thirds, and researchers attribute this decline to warming  northern waters. Since 1960, the patch of ocean from North Carolina to the Gulf of Maine has warmed by 3.6° Fahrenheit (2° Celsius) and this shift in temperature impacted the sharks and their food supply. Via National Geographic

Water Supply

British diver Rich Horner posted a viral video last week of a dive off the coast of Bali. The video is nothing short of astounding with an endless stream of ocean debris and plastic items floating past the camera. The dive video is bringing renewed attention to the eight million tonnes of plastic pollution that are dumped annually in the aquatic ecosystem. Via Global News, Original Videos

The waters off the west coast of North America are recovering from two El Nino events, leading to warmer seas and less oxygen. As plankton return to healthy levels, the fish that feast on plankton are returning which also increases the populations of sea lions and other larger predators. However, juvenile salmon sampled off the Pacific northwest  in 2017 were especially small and scarce, showing that fish populations take time to recover. Via Eurekalert!

Government Action

The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that the world’s oceans are facing a market failure that risks triggering the extinction of fish species. Mark Carney stated the problems were an example of “the tragedy of the commons”, where individuals over exploit shared resources.  He said it was up to governments across the world to intervene, since the high seas is beyond national jurisdictions and rules. Via Sky News

 

Chinook salmon runs have struggled against dams along the Pacific Northwest.

In the 1930s, dam-building blocked winter Chinook salmon runs in the Sacramento river, cutting the fish’s numbers from nearly a million to a few thousand. Now the state of California, together with dam-owner Pacific Gas & Electric Company, plan to release 200,000 young Chinook  over the next two months. One dam has been removed and there are plans to remove four more. Via Phys.org

Washington State legislators are proposing a new $1.55 million program to feed farmed Chinook salmon to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population off the northern shores of the state. The bill would expand an existing hatchery and redirect its outputs from sport fishing to supporting this threatened family of whales, whose population levels has fallen to just 76 individuals. Via Hakai Magazine

Renewable Energy

Rainfall could soon become another source of renewable energy.

One drawback of solar power is that, when the sun don’t shine, there ain’t no power. Now, researchers in China have demonstrated a new way to glean energy from rainy weather. By putting a transparent nanogenerator film on top of a traditional solar cell, they harvested energy from rainfall. The nanogenerator layer also acts as a waterproof barrier and increases the amount of light collected on dry days. Via Phys.org

A new review on the effects of global warming shows that a mere 1.5° C change in temperature will lead to an average sea level rise of 48 centimetres. That might not sound like much, but that increase is enough to cause devastating floods every year in New York City. An extra 0.5° rise will add another 10 centimetres, doubling the occurrence of such floods and inundating  the homes of 5 million people. Via Phys.org

Editor: Caroline Taylor. Contributors: Martin Farncombe, Cindy Yu, Laura Bekar, Kelsey Smith, Olga Espejo, James Schultz, Neil Tracey.

 


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