Browsing Tag

Ocean Conservation


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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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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Green Technology

Wind-Powered Ocean Drones and What They Teach Us About the Sea

January 17, 2019
ocean drones

Many believe outer space is the next great frontier and that our current trajectory has placed us on a path toward the stars. It’s far more reasonable to say that our planet’s ocean is the next great frontier and that the future of exploration lies in the depths of the sea and not among the Milky Way, as so many people assume.

It’s a fair assumption, with the pace of progress and the investments of entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. That said, we’re more likely to see a thorough mapping of the ocean before we see extensive space travel. With recent innovations like wind-powered ocean drones, this scale of mapping isn’t distant on the horizon.

We should examine today’s technology in greater detail, looking at the application of “saildrones” for fishing, drilling and environmental science. These drones have enormous potential to teach us more about the mysteries of the sea — let’s touch on a bit of what we’ve already learned.

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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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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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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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What Are the Longest Living Animals?

October 22, 2018
longest living animals

Humans live a pretty long time — estimates for human lifespans generally fall between 70 and 80 years — but humans don’t even come close to outliving some of the planet’s oldest creatures. For some animal species, living past 100 is the norm, not the exception. Some scientists even think other species can teach humans a thing or two about aging well.

Studying earth’s longest living animals benefits people for a myriad of reasons. It can allow us to understand the biological aging process better, discover conditions that make for long lifespans and even understand how to protect our planetary elders. In addition to practical reasons, though, humans are fascinated by old animals because they represent the Earth’s past. It’s amazing to think that some animals alive today have been around since before the United States became a country.

Some of the planet’s oldest animals have endured changing climate conditions, predators and disease. They remind us that the results of our actions today can affect the environment not just now but for years and years to come.

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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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How Ocean Exploration Technology Is Changing Our Understanding of the Sea

July 23, 2018
ocean exploration technology

It’s 2018, and we’ve got humans living in orbit and robots exploring the cosmos to look for new places for our civilization to expand. At the same time, we’ve still only managed to explore five percent of the ocean’s depths. We’ve mapped the length and breadth of the oceans, but most of what is hiding beneath the surface is still unexplored. Advances in ocean exploration technology are just starting to let us discover what is hidden in the depths of the ocean. How are these technological advances changing our understanding of the sea?

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World’s Longest Swim to Highlight Plastic Pollution in the Pacific

July 5, 2018
plastic pollution in the pacific

Recently, ocean pollution has been making headlines. Queen Elizabeth of England announced her decision to cut plastic use on royal estates, the BBC announced their plan to eliminate all single-use plastics by 2030 and the EU decided to reduce the availability of single-use plastics in all of their countries. This has sparked new conversations about the amount of plastic that is in the ocean and what its impact on humans may be. After all, we are part of the food chain, so anything that impacts our food can also impact us.

The statistics on plastic in the ocean are staggering. For example, as much as 15 percent of the sand on some Hawaiian beaches is actually microplastics. But for many people, it’s out of sight, out of mind. We exist in a culture of convenience, and being able to throw things away without a second thought is a huge aspect of that. One of the best ways to combat that attention problem is to keep the spotlight on the issue. After all, plastic trash is an issue we have the power to fix. We know the solution is to use less plastic, recycle and avoid single-use items.

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