Every week Ocean Wise’s Aquablog combs international headlines to bring you the most important ocean news. This week: herring eggs reach record levels in Vancouver, a Norwegian seabird’s diet reveals unsettling changes to the ecosystem, and so much more — read on!

Changing Ecosystems

Researchers are sounding the alarm on Amazon deforestation, warning that the precious ecosystem is at the tipping point before irrevocable damage. The Amazon has gone through a beating over the last decade, experiencing mega-droughts followed by mega-floods, as well as 20% of the forest cleared for agriculture (although 3% is recovering). The Amazon basin generates approximately half its own rainfall, which suggests that at a certain point the region’s hydrological cycle will break down, unable to support any rainforest functions. While experts initially thought the forest could support up to 40% deforestation, this new study suggests that the tipping point is somewhere between 20-25%. If we want to build in a safety margin that protects the Amazon’s ecosystem, deforestation must stop today. Via Eurekalert!

The University of British Columbia reports that certain reef-damaging  fishing practices are still in common use in the Philippines. These outlawed practices include dynamite and poison, the use of crowbars to break up coral, and have likely arisen as a result of a government initiative to expand fisheries. UBC has called upon the government to enforce sustainable methods, such as hook-and-line or trap-caught fishing. Via UBC

Herring eggs cover a branch in Vancouver, after a successful spawn this year.

The year is off to a good start for herring in Vancouver, with more than one billion eggs hatched so far. This is due in part to the efforts of the Squamish Streamkeepers Society, which started wrapping pilings with artificial spawning nets six years ago. Herring eggs are greatly impacted by creosote on dock pillars as well as the loss of productive eelgrass beds in the downtown inlet of False Creek.  The spawning success is a good indicator that herring numbers could boom in the next three years, drawing in bigger predators like dolphins and killer whales to False Creek. Read the full story on the Aquablog here.

Water Supply

A study out of the University of California researchers has demonstrated why some glaciers melt faster than others. By conducting detailed topography of twenty Greenland glaciers, they revealed that deeper glaciers are exposed to warmer water from the Atlantic Ocean, which melts them from below. These new measurements, combined with ocean temperatures, may allow for more accurate predictions of sea level rise due to glacier melt. Via Eurekalert!

More than 90% of the world’s most popular bottled-water brands contained microplastics, according to a new study commissioned by Project Orb Media and conducted by researchers at State University of New York in Fredonia. One bottle of Nestle Pure Life contained 10,000 pieces per litre of water. Of the 259 bottles tested across 11 brands and purchased in countries around the world, only 17 were plastic-free. The World Health Organization has launched a review. Via The Guardian

Fish belly up after swimming in golden algae (Prymnesium parvum), responsible for millions of fish deaths every year.. Photo credit: Dr. Martin Rejzek, John Innes Centre.

A government laboratory in England may have found a simple way of controlling toxic algal blooms, like golden algae that kills millions of fish worldwide each year: hydrogen peroxide. Successful field trials in Broads National Park waterway in England have show that the simple chemical compound reduces toxic bacteria in the water in a matter of hours and leaves the fish and marine invertebrates unharmed. Via Eurekalert!

Climate Change 

At the northern tip of Norway, a seabird’s diet is marking a dramatic change in the Arctic ecosystem. Prior to 2007, kittiwakes ate mostly arctic-dwelling fish, but now they live almost entirely on capelin, cod and herring that have spread northward from the Atlantic. Arctic waters are highly stratified, with cold bands of lighter, fresher water atop heavier, saltier water. In the past, this stratification kept warmer waters out of the Atlantic, but now the warmer waters are leaking in. Via Hakai Magazine

By the end of this century, the eastern Mediterranean is likely to see a considerable shift in seasons due to climate change. The hot, dry summer will stretch from four to six months, while the rainy winter will shorten from four to two months.  This may cause a major water problem in Israel and neighbouring countries, like Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and southern Turkey. Via Eurekalert!

A study out of the University of California researchers has demonstrated why some glaciers melt faster than others. By conducting detailed topography of twenty Greenland glaciers, they revealed that deeper glaciers are exposed to warmer water from the Atlantic Ocean, which melts them from below. These new measurements, combined with ocean temperatures, may allow for more accurate predictions of sea level rise due to glacier melt. Via Eurekalert!

Government Initiatives

Thin killer whale

A male killer whale in the Northern Resident population, commonly seen off the B.C. coast.

The Canadian government announced $1.5 billion of funding over the next five years for the Oceans Protection Plan. Of this, $9.1 million will be devoted to research aimed at protecting marine mammals. Ocean Wise will receive over $942,000 in research funding to assess the status of Southern and Northern Resident Killer Whale, including the population’s current health and threats. Via Canada.ca

Renewable Energy

In Surrey, B.C, a new Biofuel Facility promises to transform organic waste into natural gas and compost, meaning that disposal trucks that collect the city’s organic waste will soon be powered by them and reduce the city’s annual carbon footprint by 49,000 tonnes. One third of the $17 million cost was put towards advanced odour-control technologies. The city hopes that this project will solve the “odour problem” due to a backup of food waste since regional recycling became mandatory last year. Via Vancouver Sun

Solar and wind generators only produce energy for part of the day, making them unreliable energy sources unless they can store power. But work is progressing on hydrogen-bromine batteries that could store several Mega Watts per hour of power. The breakthrough comes from covering the electrodes with hair-like carbon nanotubes and use of a rhodium catalyst. Via Eurekalert!

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

 

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.