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Oceans

Deadly Threat to Coral Reef From Disease

February 18, 2019

In 2013, researchers off the coast of Christmas Island discovered something shocking. The coral reef they’d visited only five years earlier was skeletal and dead, its tissue destroyed and bone-like. The cause of the deterioration was a disease called white syndrome, and even now, in 2019, scientists are still baffled.

While white syndrome has many of the qualities of coral bleaching — draining the life and color from a coral reef — the disease is far more deadly. Instead of stressing the coral until it expels its algae, white syndrome kills a reef completely, leaving nothing behind but a bare structure of what it once was.

What is white syndrome, and how can researchers hope to address the problem? Let’s dive into the strange and mysterious depths of this growing phenomenon.

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Oceans

How to Find Eco-Friendly Sunscreen in 2019

February 4, 2019
eco-friendly sunscreen

When you’re spending time outside, sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from the dangerous UV rays that the sun emits. But with recent studies and controversies, you might not be able to tell which protective methods are effective and safe for the environment.

From deciphering the labels and ingredients to keeping up with scientific developments, it’s more difficult than ever to know what products won’t wreak havoc on the oceans while keeping your skin healthy. Check out the following ways to pick an eco-friendly sunscreen in 2019 — but first, let’s look at the effects of chemical sunscreens.

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Oceans

How Coral Bleaching Is Changing Marine Life Behavior

January 10, 2019
marine life

An aquatic ecosystem is like a scale, delicately balanced, and even a small addition or subtraction can make it tip. There are many examples of these disturbances, like invasive species, natural disasters and resource exploitation, but of all the threats to marine life, coral bleaching is one of the most disruptive.

Bleaching is the stress response of corals under environmental pressure, caused by freshwater inflows, tropical cyclones and anthropogenic pollution. The most significant contributor to bleaching, however, is climate change, and the consequences of global warming on the ocean’s pH levels and temperature.

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Oceans

Ocean Acidification: How Carbon Dioxide Is Drastically Changing Our Oceans

December 10, 2018
ocean acidification

When considering the effects of human-caused carbon emissions on the planet, most people would likely say climate change is their biggest concern. Indeed, rising temperatures due to excesses of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide may lead to rising sea levels, droughts and other threats. But another consequence of burning fossil fuels, called ocean acidification, may have equally concerning implications for life on earth.

Let’s take a look at what ocean acidification is, what it does and how people can stop it from harming ocean biodiversity and human livelihood.

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Oceans

Common Chemicals in Our Water Supply and How to Avoid Them

November 15, 2018
chemicals in water supply

People rely on tap water almost every day of their lives, at least in the United States, where we are lucky enough to have running water available in our homes. Most of the time, people don’t question the safety of their water. However, when a water crisis such as the one in Flint, Michigan captures public attention, people grow more concerned about the chemicals that may exist in their water.

The human instinct to guard the water supply exists for a reason. Water contaminated by undesirable bacteria and chemicals can make people sick, sometimes severely so. For this reason, it’s smart to remain cautious about water safety even when no obvious problems present themselves.

Let’s consider which chemicals enter the water supply and how you can avoid them.

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Oceans

Stopping Florida Red Tide From Spreading

October 25, 2018
Florida red tide

Off the coast of Florida, something in the water is causing wildlife to wash up dead on beloved beaches. The phenomenon is causing fishing operations to stall and costing the state millions of dollars in lost tourist revenue and cleanup costs.

The cause isn’t the apocalypse. In fact, the phenomenon isn’t even particularly unusual. The algal bloom causing Florida’s problems, called red tide, began to appear in records of Florida’s Gulf Coast as early as the 1840s.

The culprit behind Florida’s red tide is a tiny organism called Karenia brevis, a type of algae. It’s effects on humans and the ocean ecosystem can be devastating, but currently, there isn’t a lot people can do to stop it.

Here are a few answers to common questions about red tide and a few ways normal citizens can help.

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Oceans

Is There Any Way to Stop Vaquita Extinction?

October 11, 2018
vaquita extinction

Is there any way to stop the extinction of the world’s rarest marine mammal? It’s a pressing question for conservationists.

They’ve posed the same question of the white rhino, saiga antelope and golden lion tamarin with varying degrees of success. Conservation is no easy task, and saving an endangered species of marine life comes with a unique set of challenges that complicates the undertaking.

Compared to the white rhino or saiga antelope, the vaquita is a relatively new discovery. It’s the most recent cetacean — a grouping that includes whales and dolphins — to be recognized by modern science. It was only in 1966 that a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recovered the first full specimen for observation.

Since then, the vaquita population has only continued to diminish. Earlier in the decade, an estimated 200 vaquitas inhabited the Northern Gulf of California in Mexico — shallow waters that make up their natural habitat. Today, fewer than 30 of these rare porpoises remain.

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Oceans

How Does Desalination Work to Increase Access to Drinking Water?

September 27, 2018
how does desalination work

Water scarcity affects an estimated one out of three people on every continent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It’s crucial that we find solutions to this crisis, especially since water shortages are expected to worsen as the population grows, consumption increases and climate change increases the frequency and severity of droughts. One potential solution is desalination, which is defined as any of several processes used to remove dissolved salts from water to make the water drinkable.

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Oceans

What Are the Most Effective Water Pollution Solutions?

September 13, 2018
water pollution solutions

Water pollution is one of our most pressing environmental problems. We all need water to survive, and as population grows, so does the demand for clean water. The pollution of the world’s oceans, rivers, lakes and streams, however, is making it harder to meet this demand. Water pollution also harms fragile ecosystems and causes widespread environmental problems.

There are various water pollution solutions that can help to mitigate this issue and prevent it from getting worse. Here are some of the most effective ones.

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Oceans

Effects of Overfishing on Ocean Health

August 30, 2018
effects of overfishing

Fish is a staple on restaurant menus all over the world. You might eat this protein-rich food every week or more.

Humans consuming fish for nutrition is certainly not a new trend. It’s been happening for at least 164,000 years, and researchers found fishhooks dating back to 40,000 B.C.

In modern times, we have to be concerned about the effects of overfishing on local marine populations and overall ocean health. Technology and large-scale fishing operations allow people to catch vast quantities of fish while exerting relatively low effort.

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