Every week, Ocean Wise combs the headlines to bring you the most fascinating ocean news from around the world. This week, the extinct Carolina parakeet could fly again; the City of Vancouver takes on single-use plastics and much more — read on!

Ecosystems

University of Exeter researchers speculate that bottle nose dolphins may be seeking out fishing nets in the Mediterranean Sea because they provide reliable food sources when fish stocks are low. However, both fishermen and dolphins suffer as a result of depleted stocks: nets are damaged, and dolphins sometimes end up as bycatch. Via University of Exeter

It is exactly 100 years since the last Carolina parakeet, America’s only native parrot, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. At one time, they lived across the Midwest and overwintered in the southeastern USA, however, scientists aren’t entirely sure why they died out.  The anniversary is significant as scientists regard the parakeet as a candidate for “de-extinction,” in which preserved DNA is used to resurrect defunct species. Jurassic Park, eat your heart out. Via The Conversation

Both government and scientists are turning to technology in a race to save the north Atlantic right whale from extinction. New technologies being tested include rope-less fishing, fishing lines that break more easily, and acoustic underwater monitoring. After a record death toll this past year, and zero calves born this year, the species is facing tough challenges. With only 450 right whales  left in the world, concerns are high both north and south of the border. Via TheGlobe & Mail

After a federal appeals court affirmed the order last spring,  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must spill more water through spillway, rather than turbines, in the Columbia and Snake river dams to  protect salmon and steelhead migration. Advocates say it allows young salmon to pass quickly over dams, rather than sending them through the structures that can cause traumatic stress to the fish. Via DailyAstorian

The South American ghost knifefish has a specialized organ in its tail that discharges electricity at frequencies approaching 2000 Hz, the fastest in the animal kingdom. This ability arises from mutations in its sodium-channel genes and researchers speculate that this may provide clues about the genetic basis of epilepsy and certain inherited muscle diseases, which are associated with similar mutations. Via AAAS Science

Government Action

Plastic free cups and straw ideas

The City of Vancouver has recently proposed a single-use-item reduction strategy that would restrict food vendors from automatically providing customers with straws.  Meanwhile, Vancouver restaurants are working to remove single-use straws. One chain, White Spot, says it issues 3-4 million fewer straws per year out of a total of 13 million, and that the reduction is being driven by the reactions of younger consumers. Some locations, like the Commodore Ballroom and Ocean Wise’s Vancouver Aquarium, have banned straws completely. Via Vancouver Sun

To curb ship emissions or not? The battle is on within the International Maritime Organization (an arm of the United Nations) on whether to mandate controls on emissions. Some nations oppose a move to cleaner fuels, saying it would restrict world trade, while others are pushing for  a 70-100% reduction in emissions by 2050. Without changes, the industry could contribute nearly a fifth of global emissions by 2050. Via BBC

Renewable Energy

The rise in domestic solar power is changing California’s consumption patterns. The amount of power used during daylight hours is falling sharply compared to previous years, resulting in a consumption curve across the day. As the sun goes down  over three hours in the evening, which doubles the pressure on the power grid.  Via The Economist

Water Quality

Withing five years, the Canadian federal government has promised to eliminate drinking water advisories in First Nations communities. Between 2004 and 2014, 64% of Canadian First Nations experienced at least one drinking water advisory and, as of September 2017, advisories were in effect in 98 communities.  Now researchers from the University of Guelph have found that the majority of these advisories are precautionary and that installing real-time monitoring systems could reduce the number of  advisories by more than a third. Via Eurekalert

 

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