The world’s largest living organism has shrunk by about half over the past 30 years as a result of climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and crown-of-thorns starfish, which prey on coral.
Some of its 400 or so species are endangered or threatened, and marine biologists fear they could soon be wiped out. The establishment of a gene bank, using human fertility techniques, is a bold response by scientists seeking to conserve the reef, which runs for 1,600 miles off the Queensland coast. “We create a coral fertility clinic and we put them [the sperm and embryonic cells] in a bank, to hold them for now, but to use them in the future,” Mary Hagedorn, from the US’s Smithsonian Institution, said.
Dr Hagedorn, a marine biologist who perfected the techniques while working with coral in Hawaii, is liaising with Australian colleagues to deploy those techniques in the cause of conservation. Researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science helped to gather samples for the DNA bank, which has been set up at Western Plains Zoo in the town of Dubbo, in the New South Wales outback, 250 miles from the sea.
The project is akin to a captive breeding programme for endangered animals. If all goes according to plan, the genetic material will be thawed and used to grow new coral which will then be reintroduced into “the wild” – transplanted back into the ocean – to help restore and repopulate damaged reefs.
Another climate change related seed bank is fired up, this time for coral. Perhaps Earth’s fate is “Museum”. More on this depressing read, here.
Guam- A combination of factors seem to be causing an unusual island wide phenomenon that is concerning the Guam Department of Agriculture and the University of Guam Marine Lab. Biologist Brent Tibbatts and Dr. Laurie Raymundo say coral bleaching usually happens annually, but it appears to be much worse this year.
Click for video. Note - a bit sad…
Boesch and Horn Point Laboratory led a panel of scientists who have predicted a one-and-a-half-foot sea level rise in our area by the year 2050.
It was published in an independent, scientific report earlier this year.
The report recommended that it would be prudent to prepare for the sea level along Maryland’s 3,100 miles of tidal shoreline to be 2.1 feet higher in 2050 than it was in 2000.
The panel’s best estimate was a sea level rise of 1.4 feet, but no less than 0.9 feet and no greater than 2.1 feet by 2050.
“That’s not that far away,” Hall said.
The scientists reached their conclusions by factoring in the expansion of the earth’s collective ocean volume as it warms, along with more water from the glaciers and ice sheets melting in Greenland and Antarctica. Other considerations include changing dynamics in the ocean, such as a slowing of the Gulf Stream, and vertical land movement.
500,000 people affected in Maryland alone.
Global Shark Tracker, tracks tagged sharks around the world. I played with the map and found “Albert,” a 2.9 meter, 500 lbs Great White Shark that lives off the coast of South Africa.
Hang up the harpoons, Japan
Four good reasons it should stop ‘scientific’ whaling. Here.
EPA substantially revamps its climate change pages. Tons of data, reports, charts, graphs, and factsheets now round out the agency’s information section.
Above, screens of the EPA’s “indicators”, which shows how climate change is impacting environmental systems from GHG concentration studies, to drought measurements over time, to glacial melt and sea level rise, even winter bird counts - cumulatively, the U.S. is about to experience some very dangerous environmental problems.
Sea level rise and drought are the most visible, with coast lines eroding and people’s homes slowly sliding into the ocean. Drought is also an obvious indicator the public can relate to. Water shortages in the southwest, wildfires and bark beetle forest slaughters in the midwest and west, and severe crop loss across regions. Health problems, like increased asthma, Lyme disease, though, will kill the most people, but these will slide under the visibility radar.
Check out the EPA Climate Change Indicators, here. Hover your cursor over the tabs for more options.