The Arkive
 
|| Year Gamma: London: Friday: July 13: 2018 ||
First Published: September 24: 2015
The Humanion

 

 

Marine World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UN Prepares for the Upcoming Ocean Conference 2017: June 05-09

 

|| February 15: 2017 || ά. The world dumps the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute, the United Nations heard today at the start of a two-day meeting to prepare for this June's Ocean Conference that will aim to help safeguard the planet's oceans and help them recover from human-induced problems. “When leaders from across Governments, international organisations, civil society, the private sector and the scientific and academic communities, gather together in New York, from June 05-09 for The Ocean Conference, we will be witness to a turning point.” the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, told the participants, who also included the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and the Minister for Fisheries of Fiji, the countries co-hosting the conference.

“We will witness the point in history when humanity truly began the process of reversing the cycle of decline that accumulated human activity has brought upon the Ocean,” Mr. Thomson added. The high-level Oceans Conference aims to get everyone involved in conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals:SDGs, specifically Goal 14. The UN has called for voluntary commitments to implement Goal 14 and today launched an online commitment registry which has its first three commitments, the Swedish Government, the UN Environment Programme:UNEP and Peaceboat, a non-governmental organisation.

Healthy oceans have a central role to play in solving one of the biggest problems of the 21st century, how to feed nine billion people by 2050. Image: FAO

The site will be up through the end of the Conference, which starts on World Environment Day, marked annually on June 05, and includes June 08, celebrated as World Oceans Day. The voluntary commitments 'underscore the urgency for action and for solutions' said Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, who heads the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs and serves as the Secretary-General of the Conference.

Addressing participants today, Mr. Wu said that preparations for the Conference were 'on track'. “The health of our oceans and seas and the future wellbeing of our planet and our society, demand no less.” he said. In addition to pollution, The Oceans Conference and SDG 14 address overfishing, as well as acidification and increasing global water temperatures linked to climate change.

Discussing the problems ahead of today's preparatory meeting, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Isabella Lovin said that in a video log on Twitter that the Conference could be a 'chance of a lifetime' to save the oceans under enormous stress.

“We don't need to invent or negotiate something new, we just need to have action to implement what we already agreed upon.” she said in reference to the expected 'Call to Action' that will result from the Conference in connection with stopping illegal fishing, stopping marine pollution and addressing the special circumstances of small island developing States.

Representing one of the many small island nations struggling with these issues, the Minister for Fisheries of Fiji, Semi Koroilavesau, urged Conference participants to make voluntary contributions, saying the oceans are of 'utmost importance' to his country.
 ω.

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Climate Change Will Lead to Annual Coral Bleaching: New Study

Most of the reefs in the Seychelles have died due to El Niño, bleaching, fishing and the rising temperature of the seawater.
Image: Kadir van Lohuizen:NOOR
 

|| January 05: 2016 || ά. If current trends continue and the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nearly all of the world's coral reefs will suffer severe bleaching, the gravest threat to one of the Earth's most important ecosystems, on annual basis, the United Nations environment agency today reported. The finding is part of a study funded by the UN Environment Programme:UNEP and partners, which reviewed new climate change projections to predict which corals will be affected first and at what rate.

The report is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Researchers found that the reefs in Taiwan and the Turks and Caicos archipelago will be among the first to experience annual bleaching, followed by reefs off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia. Calling the predictions 'a treasure trove' for environmentalists, the head of the UN agency, Erik Solheim said the projects allow conservationists and governments to prioritise the protection reef protection.

“The projections show us where we still have time to act before it's too late.” Mr. Solheim said. On average, the reefs will start to undergo annual bleaching starting in 2014, according to the study. Without the required minimum of five years to regenerate, the annual occurrences will have a deadly effect on the corals and disrupt the ecosystems which they support.

However, if Governments act on emission reduction pledges made in the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to below 02 degrees Celsius, the corals would have another 11 years to adapt to the warming seas.

Between 2014 and 2016, the world witnessed the longest global bleaching event recorded. Among the casualties was the Great Barrier Reef, with 90 per cent of it bleached and 20 per cent of the reef's coral killed.
ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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This Why Must We Never Stop Seeking: This is Why Must We Ever Keep on Asking: Southampton Researchers Discovered New Marine Species

New species of gastropod snail Phymorhynchus n. sp. Image: David Shale

|| December 17: 2016: University of Southampton News: England: United Kingdom || ά. Scientists at the University of Southampton have discovered six new animal species in undersea hot springs 02.8 kilometres deep in the southwest Indian Ocean. The unique marine life was discovered around hydrothermal vents at a place called Longqi, ‘Dragon's Breath’, 2000 kilometres southeast of Madagascar and is described in the journal Scientific Reports.

A research team, led by Dr Jon Copley, explored an area the size of a football stadium on the ocean floor, pinpointing the locations of more than a dozen mineral spires known as ‘vent chimneys’. These spires, many of which rise more than two storeys above the seabed, are rich in copper and gold that is now attracting interest for future seafloor mining. However, the spires are also festooned with deep-sea animals, nourished by hot fluids gushing out of the vent chimneys.

Rainer Maria Rilke


The team, which includes colleagues at the Natural History Museum in London and Newcastle University, carried out genetic comparisons with other species and populations elsewhere to show that several species at Longqi are not yet recorded from anywhere else in the world's oceans. The expedition, which took place in November 2011, provides a record of what lives on the ocean floor in the area, which is licensed for mineral exploration by the International Seabed Authority of the United Nations, before any mining surveys are carried out.

New species of scaleworm Peinaleopolynoe n. sp. Image: David Shale

The Longqi vents are the first known in the region and the expedition was the first to explore them using a deep-diving remotely operated vehicle:ROV. The deep-sea animals that are so far only known from Longqi include a species of hairy-chested ‘Hoff’ crab, closely related to ‘Hoff’ crabs at Antarctic vents; two species of snail and a species of limpet; a species of scaleworm; and another species of deep-sea worm. Apart from one species of snail, which has been given the scientific name Gigantopelta aegis, most have not yet been formally described.

“We can be certain that the new species we've found also live elsewhere in the southwest Indian Ocean, as they will have migrated here from other sites, but at the moment no-one really knows where, or how well-connected their populations are with those at Longqi." said Dr Copley. “Our results highlight the need to explore other hydrothermal vents in the southwest Indian Ocean and investigate the connectivity of their populations, before any impacts from mineral exploration activities and future deep-sea mining can be assessed.”

A group of hairy-chested ‘Hoff crabs’. Image: University of Southampton

The scientists also found other species at Longqi that are known at other vents far away in other oceans. Another new species of scaleworm lives at vents on the East Scotia Ridge in the Antarctic, 6,000 kilometres away, while a species of ragworm live at vents in the eastern Pacific, more than 10,000 km away.

“Finding these two species at Longqi shows that some vent animals may be more widely distributed across the oceans than we realised,” added Dr Copley. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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World's Marine Protected Areas Now Form as Large a Seascape as the Size of India: Yet The World Must Do More to Protect the Entire Body of Marine Sphere

By absorbing much of the added heat trapped by atmospheric greenhouse gases, the oceans are delaying some
of the impacts of climate change. Image: WMO:Olga Khoroshunova
 

|| December 14: 2016 || ά. Since April, an unprecedented 03.6 million square kilometres of ocean, an area larger than India, have been designated as marine protected areas:MPAs, meaning for the first time, more than 05% of the world’s oceans are now protected. “The establishment of so many new protected areas is tremendous news and should give those fighting tirelessly to conserve the world’s oceans and seas an enormous sense of achievement.” announced Erik Solheim, head of the United Nations Environment Programme:UNEP.

Meanwhile, the Convention on Biological Diversity:CBD, which is meeting this week in Mexico, is calling for the world to protect 10 per cent of its coastal and marine areas by 2020. That goal is part of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and has now been exceeded. Thanks to the recent creation of five 'mega MPAs' off the coasts of Chile, Palau, Hawaii, and the Pitcairn Islands and St. Helena’s in the South Atlantic, the global total percentage of protected seas is now 12.7 per cent.

Mr. Solheim urged stakeholders to remember that “the Aichi Biodiversity Targets also call for countries to focus their conservation efforts on the areas of greatest biodiversity. It is not just about the size of the area under protection, but also about where these zones are located and how strong that protection really is.”

As part of the effort to emphasise the importance of protecting the Antarctic seas, during the conference, UNEP Patron of Oceans and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh announced his campaign, Antarctica 2020, which aims to secure MPAs in vulnerable areas of Antarctica over the next three years. The campaign builds off the momentum of the recent Ross Sea victory, which together with the three targeted areas would bring the total protected area in the Antarctic to nearly seven million square kilometres, an area the size of Australia.

“We have entered a new area of uncertainty, with many hard-fought conservation achievements now under threat. It’s time to build on our recent success in the Ross Sea. With public support, I believe we can achieve the most ambitious ocean protection plan in history.” said Mr. Pugh as he spoke from Antarctica’s Bellingshausen Sea, where he is undertaking a swim in freezing waters to bring global attention to oceanic protection.

During the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancun, Mexico pledged to preserve an additional 650,000 square kilometres of land and sea, roughly 25 per cent of its territorial waters. The commitment includes establishing the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve, an area of 57,000 square kilometres.

Rafael Pacchiano Alamán, president of the conference, hailed the country’s decision, “Mexico wants to send a clear signal on the urgency to meet the Aichi Targets by taking unprecedented actions to preserve marine and terrestrial ecosystems.” He added that the country had “surpassed its commitment to achieve the Aichi goals for marine areas and is on track to achieve land protected areas.”

Other pledges from the conference included Cambodia’s commitment to nearly double its number of protected areas, which now include one-third of the country’s land. The United Arab Emirates also indicated its intention to declare 18 new protected areas, four of which are marine. According to new figures released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature:IUCN and UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre, today there are 14,859 MPAs covering 18.5 million square kilometres of ocean and sea.

However, both organizations warned that there is an unequal representation of ecosystems and areas rich in biodiversity; according to the 2016 Protected Planet report, only one third of the world’s marine ecoregions offer more than 10 per cent of their areas protection. More than three billion people depend on marine and coastal diversity for their livelihoods. When managed correctly, MPAs can boost the abundance of fish and increase biodiversity. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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New UN Report Finds Marine Debris Harming More Than 800 Species That's Costing Countries Millions

Marine waste, mainly fishing gear, being collected on the beaches of Northwest Spitsbergen, Norway.
Image: UNEP GRID Arendal:Peter Prokosch

|| December 05: 2016 || ά. Marine debris is negatively affecting more than 800 animal species and causing serious losses to many countries' economies, according to a United Nations report launched today. The report, Marine Debris: Understanding, Preventing and Mitigating the Significant Adverse Impacts on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity found that the number of species affected by marine debris has increased from 663 to 817 since 2012. It also warned that this type of waste, which is mostly made of plastic, is an increasing threat to human health and well-being, and is costing countries billions of dollars each year.

“I hope that this report will provide governments and other stakeholders with the information needed to take urgent actions to address marine debris, one of the most prominent threats to marine ecosystems, and support healthy and resilient oceans as a critical aspect of achieving sustainable development.” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the Executive Director of the Convention on Biological Diversity:CBD. The report was launched in Cancun, Mexico, on the sidelines of the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to Convention, known as 'COP13' where governments and private sector delegations have been gathered since December 02 to discuss, among others, how to integrate biodiversity into policies relevant to agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism sectors. The meeting wraps up on December 17.

Marine debris is usually defined as any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of, or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment. Three-quarters of all marine debris is plastic, a persistent and potentially hazardous pollutant, which fragments into microplastics that can be taken up by a wide range of marine organisms.

The most common types of marine debris are: food wrappers, bottle caps, straws, grocery bags, beverage bottles and cigarette butts. Five of these items are made of plastic. Marine and coastal species, fish, seabirds, marine mammals and reptiles, are affected by marine debris mostly through ingestion or entanglement. According to the report, 40 per cent of cetaceans, and 44 per cent of seabird species are affected by marine debris ingestion. The effect of ingestion is not always understood, as many ingest microplastics – little pieces or fragments that are less than five millimetres in diameter.

Plastic is a very common material in our daily lives, eight per cent of global oil production is used to make plastic items. However, it is hard to dispose of and many times is discarded after a single use, think of plastic bags to carry groceries, wrapping for packages, among many others.

Annual plastic production has substantially increased over the last 60 years, from 01.5 million tonnes in the 1950s to 288 million tonnes in 2012, with approximately two-thirds of production occurring in East Asia, Europe and North America. Current global estimates for plastic waste indicate that 192 coastal countries generated 275 million tonnes of waste in 2010, of which between 04.8 and 12.7 million tonnes, 01.8 - 04.6 per cent, entered the marine environment.

Marine debris has an adverse effect in the commercial fishing, shipping and tourism industries. The report also notes that previous research places the cost of pollution caused by marine debris at $13 billion. Some of the cost includes repairing vessel damage, clean-up, and decrease in tourism revenues due to polluted beaches. There are also social impacts such as direct, short-term human health issues, injuries, entanglement and navigational hazards and long-term impacts on quality of life.

The report makes recommendations for governments and citizens to reduce marine debris. Some of them include: reducing plastic packaging, introducing fees for single-use items, banning items like plastic bags and microbeads, and supporting innovation for new materials that are fully biodegradable. In addition, governments should increase awareness of the impacts of marine debris among their citizens, and facilitate recycling and reusing options, among other measures. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Landmark Accord Agreed on World's Largest Marine Sanctuary for Antarctica's Ross Sea: UN

In the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, the Adélie penguins have been observed to travel an average of 13,000 kilometres
during the year from their breeding to their winter foraging grounds. Image UNEP GRID Arendal:Peter Prokosch
 

|| October 28: 2016 || ά. The United Nations Environment Programme:UNEP welcomed a unanimous decision today from the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources:CCAMLR to create the world's largest protected area, land or marine, in the Antarctic's Ross Sea. “We are thrilled that this very special part of our planet's oceans has been safeguarded for future generations.” said Executive Director of UN Environment Erik Solheim in a press release.

“We are especially proud of our Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh, who shuttled between the nations to help find consensus. Today's result is a testament to his determined efforts.” added Mr. Solheim. Mr. Pugh, an ocean advocate, maritime lawyer, and endurance swimmer said he was “overjoyed.” He was the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world, and he regularly swims in different ecosystems in order to draw attention to environmental concerns.

“The Ross Sea is one of the most magnificent places on Earth. It is one of our last great wilderness areas. This is a dream come true.” he added. The Ross Sea is considered to be the last great wilderness area in the world and is known as the polar 'Garden of Eden.' It is 01.57 million kilometres in area, larger than the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy together, and will be protected from industrial fishing, which has had devastating effects on seas elsewhere around the world.

According to David Ainley, the American scientist who was the first to call for a marine protected area 14 years ago, “The Ross Sea is one of the most pristine marine ecosystems left on Earth, and home to many species found nowhere else. The data collected from this 'living laboratory' helps us understand the significant changes taking place on Earth right now. The Ross Sea has much more value as an intact marine ecosystem than as a fishing ground.” he added.

The Ross Sea is home to 50 per cent of ecotype-C killer whales:the Ross Sea orca, 40 per cent of Adélie penguins, and 25 per cent of emperor penguins. Mr. Pugh's efforts as UNEP's Patron of the Oceans and an ocean advocate have involved a series of swims in the Ross Sea in order to raise awareness about the need for conservation. He also visited Moscow in February 2015 in order to convince Russian officials to endorse the protected area. Previously, Russia had blocked the proposal five times. The media referred to Mr. Pugh's work as “Speedo diplomacy” because of his ability to survive Antarctic waters with nothing more than a pair of swimming trunks.

“Today's announcement marks an important moment in the history of conservation.” remarked Mr. Pugh. “The High Seas represent 45 per cent of the Earth's surface. But they are largely unprotected and are facing rampant overfishing. This is a crucial first step in what I hope will be a series of marine protected areas around Antarctica, and in other parts of the High Seas around the world.”

He celebrated the fact that Russia, the United States, the European Union, and other CCAMLR nations were able to reach such an agreement during a period of strained political relations.

“In 1959 at the height of the Cold War, Antarctica was set aside as a place for peace and science. Today's announcement shows that Antarctica continues to be a place for peace and bridge building, a place where we can find common ground. My hope is that what has been achieved here can be used to foster dialogue and co-operation in other parts of the world.”

According to the Commission, Marine Protected Areas aim to provide protection to marine species, biodiversity, habitat, foraging and nursery areas, as well as to preserve historical and cultural sites. MPAs can assist in rebuilding fish stocks, supporting ecosystem processes, monitoring ecosystem change and sustaining biological diversity. ω.  

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Wild Salmon Numbers Crash


 

|| October 24: 2016 || ά.  Over the last forty years, salmon numbers have more than halved, from eight to 10 million in the early 1980s to three-four million in 2016 according to NASCO, the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation. “We are sleep walking into a global ecological tragedy.’ says Atlantic Salmon Trust:AST's new President, Earl Percy. “The Atlantic salmon is a keystone species, central to aquatic biodiversity, an indicator of pristine freshwater environment and a bell-weather for environmental change.

Salmon carry information about the condition of the oceans right back to the rivers and this drastic decline is symptomatic of widespread problems thousands of miles away. We need to understand what is happening and initiate reforms that will save much more than just the Atlantic salmon.” Earl Percy will be the AST’s third President since the charity was founded at Fishmongers’ Hall London in 1967. Earl Percy’s appointment follows the sudden death of the 6th Duke of Westminster on August 09, 2016. His Grace had been President and a great supporter of the AST since December 2004. The appointment of the new President is endorsed by the Atlantic Salmon Trust’s Patron HRH The Prince of Wales.

“The work of the AST is invaluable to increase our understanding of the pressures our wild salmon stocks are under.” said Earl Percy. “Studying the salmon’s environment and lifecycle will provide answers to where and why our salmon are struggling. Without empirical data to inform often sceptical decision-makers, it will be impossible to effectively contribute to positive policy formation that is desperately required to protect our marine entire environment.”

The areas of most concern are the coastal zone and wider ocean, marine survival in the East Atlantic has declined from over 15% in the 1980s to less than 05% in the last five years. The AST is utilising new scientific and technological advances to make research into this vast area possible and developing new techniques to track salmonid migration, identifying problems at different stages of their journey.

In addition to its ecological importance the Atlantic salmon generates economic benefits, particularly to remote, rural communities. The salmon is the highest valued species in freshwater game fishing and draws anglers from around the world. Most are passionate about the salmon and make a practical contribution to the conservation effort. In Scotland 80% of rod caught salmon are now returned to the river.

Since 1967 the Atlantic Salmon Trust has been leading the way in research into migratory salmonids. With over £20 million raised, projects have successfully and radically altered the way in which salmon have been managed during the Trusts existence.

2017 marks the Trust’s 50th Anniversary and the AST will be holding an International Scientific Symposium and Gala Fundraising Dinner, hosted by the new President, to launch a new 10-year Science Strategy and three major research initiatives in the marine environment. The celebrations will take place at Syon House, London, kindly donated by the Duke of Northumberland. Information on tickets will be available on the AST website in due course.

Earl Percy will lead the new, enthusiastic and motivated team at AST which includes Chairman Robbie Douglas Miller, CEO Sarah Bayley Slater and new Fundraising Officer Tiggy Pettifer. The Gala Committee planning the event is chaired by AST Board Member Peter Landale.

Earl George Percy left Edinburgh University in 2007 with a MA degree in Geography, specialising in Political, Energy and Environmental Geography, then went on to study Arabic at the University of Damascus in Syria. Upon returning to the UK, he founded a geothermal energy business, Cluff Geothermal, in 2010, alongside Algy Cluff and Professor Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Energy Engineering at Glasgow University. He still runs that company that has energy interests now in Kenya, Ethiopia and Indonesia.

George grew up in the North East of England, and after catching his first salmon at the age of eight and spending much of youth, and a fair amount of his adulthood, on the North Tyne and the Coquet rivers, his passion and interest in the sport and the salmon flourished.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust is based at 11 Rutland Square, Edinburgh, EH11 2AS. Tel: +44 131 221 6550 Email: info at atlanticsalmontrust.org Website:  atlanticsalmontrust.org. The Trust is a registered Charity. ω.  

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Look, What the Jellyfish Has Caught?

North Sea Jellyfish: Image: University of Southampton


|| October 15: 2016: University of Southampton News || ά.  Animals feeding at sea inherit a chemical record reflecting the area where they fed, which can help track their movements, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Southampton. Chemical testing of the source of marine food products could be a powerful tool to help to fight food fraud, maintain healthy sustainable fish stocks or marine protected areas, and ensure consumer confidence in marine eco-labelling.

Tracing the location of marine animals is difficult as they generally can’t be seen and are often a long way from the nearest person. The Southampton research team, led by Dr Clive Trueman and PhD student Katie St John Glew, built maps of chemical variation in jellyfish caught across the North Sea. They then compared the same chemical signals in scallops and herring caught in known places across the North Sea, and used statistical tests to find the areas of the North Sea with the most similar chemical compositions.

These chemical tests were able to accurately link scallops and herring to their true locations, and can be used to test if the chemical composition of an animal matches a claimed area of origin. Dr Trueman, Associate Professor in Marine Ecology, said: “Understanding the origin of fish or fish products is increasingly important as we try to manage our marine resources more effectively.

Fish from sustainable fisheries can fetch a premium price, but concerned consumers need to be confident that fish really were caught from sustainable sources. Recently, genetic tests have revealed widespread mislabelling of the type of fish being sold worldwide, but currently we don’t have any way of testing where a fished product was caught.”

The study, published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, was funded by a NERC SPITFIRE PhD award to Katie and also involved Dr Kirsteen MacKenzie from the Institute for Marine Research in Tromsø, Norway. ω.  

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Finland to Being Testing Intelligent Fairways in 2017: It Will Pave the Way for Autodriven Ships

Ms Anne Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland: Image: Finland Government
 

|| October 11: 2016 || ά. The Finnish Transport Agency will start testing intelligent fairways at the beginning of 2017. Intelligent fairways are able to inform mariners about the prevailing conditions and vessel movements in the fairway. Several fairways along the Finnish coast will be used as test platforms. Finland's main objective is to make navigation safer and more efficient. In order to reach this goal, the Finnish Transport Agency will start testing intelligent fairways at the beginning of next year.

The latest weather reports and forecasts will be transmitted directly to the navigation bridge systems of vessels approaching an intelligent fairway. Moreover, the aids to navigation in the intelligent fairways will adapt to the conditions and vessel movements in the fairway. "Finland is a forerunner of digital vessel services", says Ms Anne Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland.

We will do our best to stay at the forefront of the digitalisation development", she continues. "We have invested in good communication links, information security, open data access, and we want to ensure, among other things, that interactive ecosystems promoting intelligent robotics and automation are created in Finland.

Testing of intelligent fairways is a great leap towards autonomous vessel traffic, based on intelligent automation. In my view, intelligent automation is the key to enhancing maritime safety, reducing emissions and improving productivity", says Minister Berner.

Smarter and safer vessel traffic in intelligent fairways

The tests combine real-time water level data and forecasts with a precise three-dimensional model of the seabed. This data makes it possible to plan the loading of the vessel to fit the prevailing conditions. This enables loading of more cargo at high water, which improves transport efficiency.

These tests also utilize vessel data. When the shape of the seabed, the relative depths and the ship characteristics are known, it is possible to estimate vessel behaviour in the prevailing or forecasted conditions. In the two years running up to the tests, the applications and depth models required for data collection have been developed. The data transfer between vessels and vessel traffic services has also been improved.

The testing of the intelligent fairways starts at the beginning of 2017 and takes two years. The tests will include testing and piloting of the digital services and real-time situational pictures in both the vessel's own systems and in the systems used by the Vessel Traffic Services. ω.  

Further information: Head of Unit Jouni Patrakka, Finnish Transport Agency, phone +358 295 34 3308
Senior Officer Jorma Timonen, Finnish Transport Agency, phone +358 295 34 3485
 

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Ban Ki-moon Highlights the Importance of the Sea Tribunal as the Legal Body Commemorates Its 20th Anniversary

Image: UN Photo

|| October 07: 2016 || ά. Recalling the renewed focus on seas and oceans, including as illustrated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that as the global law of the sea continues to grow in relevance, so does its international tribunal. “Sustainable Development Goal 14:SDG 14 reflects the global commitment to conserve and sustainably use the oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Mr. Ban said today in Hamburg, Germany, at the ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

“To guarantee the capacity of the oceans to continue to provide for humanity’s many and varied needs in a sustainable manner, we must do much more to ensure the uniform and consistent application of the Convention,” he added. In his remarks, Mr. Ban highlighted the uniqueness of the Tribunal as it can settle not only disputes among States but also between the appropriate organs of the International Seabed Authority, a body established to organise, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, and both public and private entities acting as contractors, through its Seabed Disputes Chamber.

He added that the importance of the Tribunal was also reinforced, as evidenced through its recent confirmation, in Case No. 21, concerning the request for an advisory opinion submitted by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission that it can issue Advisory Opinions when an international agreement related to the purposes of the Convention specifically provides for this.

Further highlighting the importance of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, informally known as UNCLOS, Mr. Ban said that it continues to provide the overarching legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out and that it allows for the further development of specific areas of the law of the sea and is thus capable of adapting to the evolving needs of the international community.

In conclusion, the Secretary-General expressed hope that the commemoration will encourage even more States to make use of the tools available to them under the Convention to settle international disputes related to the application and interpretation of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the use of the world’s oceans.

The International Tribunal is an independent judicial body established by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention. The body is composed of 21 independent members, elected from among persons with the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognised competence in the field of the law of the sea. ω.  

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And Here's the Twilight Zone

Living in the twilight zone: The sea gooseberry is just one of the many species that inhabit the mesopelagic region of the ocean, which is between 100 m and 1000 m below the surface. The mesopelagic is home to most of the world’s fish, but how they get enough food has largely been a mystery. Using information from satellites and in situ instruments, scientists have worked out that a ‘seasonal mixed-layer pump’ moves 300 million tonnes of carbon from the surface waters to the depths below. This is an important addition to the ‘rain’ of fast-sinking organic aggregates of dead plankton and waste products from organisms that live near the surface. Image: Copyright K. Raskoff

 

|| September 27: 2016 || ά.  The deep, dark twilight zone a kilometre down in the ocean is home to most of the world’s fish, but how they get enough food has largely been a mystery. Now, thanks to satellites and floating sensors, scientists have worked out how much energy is being pumped to the depths. The ‘mesopelagic region’ is between 100 m and 1000 m below the surface and sustains one of the largest ecosystems on the planet.

Sometimes called the twilight zone, because very little light penetrates this far, it remains vastly unexplored and poorly understood. It was thought that this ecosystem is fed by a ‘rain’ of fast-sinking organic aggregates of dead plankton and waste products from organisms that live near the surface. While this source of organic carbon is very important, marine scientists have come to realise that it simply is not enough to support the vast numbers and variety of organisms that live in this deep layer of the ocean.

Thanks to a unique approach that combines satellite measurements of ocean colour made available through ESA’s Climate Change Initiative and in situ floats, which take direct measurements as they descend and ascend through the water column, it transpires that a ‘seasonal mixed-layer pump’ is responsible for supplying an important additional vital food source.

During the spring in each hemisphere, strong winds and storms mix the surface waters with the organic carbon it contains and carry non-sinking particles and dissolved organic carbon from the surface down into the depths of the twilight zone. Critically, in summer, a shallow mixed layer forms at the surface. This effectively ‘traps’ this deeply mixed carbon inside the mesopelagic region, making this energy source available to organisms there.

While it was known that variations in the surface mixed layer could pump part of the missing carbon into the mesopelagic, there has never been a concerted effort to estimate the total amount of organic carbon that is supplied in this way across the world’s oceans. A paper published in Nature Geoscience describes how scientists at the UK’s Plymouth Marine Laboratory used satellite and local measurements to estimate that the pump moves around 300 million tonnes of carbon each year.

In high-latitude regions, the figure represents an average of 23%, but possibly in excess of 100%, of the better-studied flux of faster-sinking, larger particles and aggregates. Lead researcher Giorgio Dall’Olmo said, “Most methods for measuring carbon transport into the deep ocean have concentrated on the particles that sink at relatively fast rates, but have not measured how neutrally buoyant or slowly sinking organic particles are redistributed through the water column.

“This means that current global estimates of carbon export in the ocean are missing the potentially important contribution from the seasonal mixed-layer pump. “Our new global estimates should be considered as an additional flux of organic carbon to the mesopelagic region that was previously not accounted for, and that’s important when we try to understand what sources of energy fuel the mesopelagic ecosystem.” ω.  

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Barents Sea Marine Bloom


Image: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2016, processed by ESA


|| September 10: 2016 || ά. Although it may appear as a watercolour painting, this image is a natural-colour capture of a plankton bloom in the Barents Sea by the Sentinel-02A satellite. Plankton, the most abundant type of life found in the ocean, are microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea. They are sometimes referred to as ‘the grass of the sea’ because they are the basic food on which all other marine life depends.

Since plankton contain photosynthetic chlorophyll pigments, these simple organisms play a similar role to terrestrial ‘green’ plants in the photosynthetic process. Plankton are able to convert inorganic compounds such as water, nitrogen and carbon into complex organic materials. With their ability to ‘digest’ these compounds, they are credited with removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as their counterparts on land. As a result, the oceans have a profound influence on climate. Since plankton are a major influence on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and are sensitive to environmental changes, it is important to monitor and model them into calculations of future climate change.

Although some types of plankton are individually microscopic, the chlorophyll they use for photosynthesis collectively tints the colour of the surrounding ocean waters, providing a means of detecting these tiny organisms from space with dedicated sensors, such as Sentinel-02’s multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands.

Some algae species are toxic or harmful. If they surge out of control during optimal blooming conditions they can exhaust the water of oxygen and suffocate larger fish. This phenomenon has dramatically increased in recent decades, and is particularly dangerous to fish farms because the fish cannot flee affected areas. Early warning of harmful blooms from satellites can help to prevent fish farmers from losing their stock, as it happened in Chile recently. ω.  

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Annual Survey Shines a Light on Thames Estuary’s Seals

Image: ZSL

|| August 15: 2016 || ά. An expert team of marine conservationists will be scouring the Greater Thames Estuary by land, sea and air this week, as the Zoological Society of London:ZSL conducts its fourth annual seal survey. Combining aerial surveys of the Essex and Kent coastlines, as well as sandbanks in the outer Thames Estuary, with more traditional boat and land-based studies, ZSL’s conservation scientists will be counting latest numbers of these charismatic marine mammals, as well as looking out for any emerging health trends.

Data collected from this research will reveal any change in abundance of harbour seal populations and also highlight the ratio of harbour seals, Phoca vitulina, to the larger and more dominant grey seals, Halichoerus grypus, which increasingly compete with harbour seals for food and territory.

Last year’s ZSL seal survey counted 451 harbour seals and 454 grey seals in the Thames Estuary. The 2016 edition will provide the latest update on these figures and also inform future conservation and management of seals in the region. This will be done through implementing the Greater Thames Seal Action Plan, providing scientific evidence during any planning applications that may impact seals, as well as generating comprehensive population data to inform future research in the region.

Commenting on the annual survey, ZSL’s European Conservation Projects Manager Joanna Barker said: “This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve conducted a comprehensive survey of seal populations in the Thames, but from a conservation point of view it’s one of the most important surveys yet.

“It’s a really interesting time to study seals in the UK. Firstly, grey seal numbers have rapidly increased over the last 15 years, especially along the east coast of England, which is good news for the species. We believe this has also led to a greater amount of competition between grey and harbour seals, however, both for food and for sites where they can ‘haul-out’ or leave the water. In addition, new behaviour of grey seals predating upon harbour seals has recently been observed in other European seal colonies. As the large intertidal sandbanks in the Thames are preferred harbour seal habitat, we are interested to see what impact increased competition could have for the species.

“Secondly, due to the close proximity to mainland Europe, it’s likely that the Thames could also serve as the entry-point for disease outbreaks affecting seals. We are particularly mindful that the last outbreak of phocine distemper virus happened 14 years ago in 2002, and if a similar pattern is observed it is predicted to return in 2016. Combine these various threats and you have what could amount to a ‘perfect storm’ for the Thames’ harbour seal population, which makes ZSL’s 2016 survey arguably the most important one yet.”

The efforts of international conservation charity ZSL and its partners to protect Thames wildlife are boosted by the work of ‘citizen scientists’ – members of the public who volunteer their time to provide hands-on assistance with conservation projects or report marine mammal sightings via ZSL’s interactive map.

Jon Bramley from Kent Mammal Group, a key partner in ZSL’s seal conservation work, said: “We’re really lucky that so many local people offer their time to help with these vital projects. We’re constantly on the look-out for new citizen science recruits, so would encourage anyone keen on helping to get in touch.”
Find out more. ω.  

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New UN-backed Survey Reveals ‘Alarming’ Damage to High Seas and Marine Ecosystems

 

|| July 14: 2016 || ά.  More than half of the world’s fragile coral reefs are under threat and most of our major fish stocks are now overexploited, according to the latest global assessments on the state of world’s high seas and large marine ecosystems launched today by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation:UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

The new study identified the increasing cumulative impacts of climate change and human activities on these systems for the deterioration of their health and decline of resource productivity. “Sixty percent of the world’s coral reefs are currently threatened by local activities; 50 per cent of all fish stock in large marine ecosystems are overexploited; 64 of the world’s 66 large marine ecosystems have experienced ocean warming in the last decades,” are among the among the alarming statistics from the assessment and detailed in a statement from UNESCO.

The findings were released today at the Headquarters of the Organization of American States:OAS in Washington D.C., in the framework of the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme:TWAP, a project financed by the Global Environment Facility:GEF. The Programme undertook global assessments of the world’s transboundary water systems, including the open ocean and large marine ecosystems, in order to support national decision makers and international organizations set priorities for policy interventions and develop a framework for future periodic assessments.

The statement also noted that the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the UN Environmental Programme:UNEP released a suite of products from the TWAP data, including a full global assessment report and a more targeted version in summary form for policy makers.

“The findings from the open ocean and [large marine ecosystems] assessments present projections for disastrous escalation by 2030 and 2050 of the cumulative impacts of local and global hazards – from tourism to climate change – on marine ecosystems,” UNESCO said.

“The assessments nevertheless identify the important potential benefits of globally and regionally integrated governance to address these issues and should help strengthen countries’ capacities to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.”

Highlighting the contributions of large marine ecosystems to socio-economic development and to human well-being, UNESCO said those ecosystems alone contribute an estimated $28 trillion annually to the global economy through services and benefits provided by nature, including fish for food and trade, tourism and recreation, coastal protection from flooding and erosion, and the less tangible benefits from cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic connections to nature.

“Maintaining the health and resource productivity of these transboundary water systems should help countries achieve global objectives to reduce poverty and hunger, and promote sustainable economic growth,” added the statement.

Some TWAP findings by the numbers:

Open Ocean:

60 per cent of the world’s coral reefs are currently threatened by local activities.
90 per cent of all coral reefs could be threatened in 2030 by the combined pressures of local activities and climate change.
100 international agreements currently “govern” the open ocean, signaling severe fragmentation.

Large Marine Ecosystems:LMEs:

64 of 66 LMEs have experienced ocean warming since 1957:“Super-fast” warming in the Northwest :Northeast Atlantic and in Western Pacific.
28 per cent reduction in fish catch potential projected for high-risk LMEs in East Siberian Sea.
50 per cent of all fish stock in LMEs are overexploited. ω.

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Amid ‘Bad Year’ for Coral, UN Launches Tool and Report Outlining Ways to Protect Threatened Reefs

Coral Reef. Image: World Bank:Carl Gustav

|| May 25: 2016|| ά.  At the second United Nations Environment Assembly:UNEA-2 taking place in Nairobi this week, the UN Environment Programme:UNEP was among a group of agencies launching a new tool and report that recommends ways to protect threatened coral reefs. “Humans have left an indelible mark on the marine environment that has led to almost 20 per cent of coral reefs disappearing. But coral reefs are an invaluable natural asset we can’t afford to lose,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a press release..

“To give them a fighting chance, we need early and effective action on climate change,” he said. UNEP noted that there has been unprecedented coral bleaching on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's most iconic reefs and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bleaching in the central Indian Ocean is also severe, in the Maldives, Sri Lanka and in the Lakshadweep islands of India, where up to 100 per cent of corals are bleached in some locations. Many will not survive.

A dataset by UNEP, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration :NOAA, the World Wildlife Fund:WWF and the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center of the United States Geological Survey provides a new tool to prioritize reef management in the face of climate change.By downscaling climate model projections for coral bleaching conditions, the time when severe bleaching conditions can be expected at a frequency of twice per decade, and when bleaching can be expected annually, has been identified, for all the world’s coral reefs, at a resolution of 4 kilometres, UNEP said.

The new report, Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems: A Lifeboat for Coral Reefs, examines what we know – and don’t know – about submerged reefs, and shows that coral ecosystems that live in low light conditions come to the rescue in some situations. The report found that bleaching is chief among the threats of climate change to coral reefs. When bleaching occurs frequently, reefs become more vulnerable to erosion and lose their structure, which in turn means that their productivity and provision of ecosystems services diminish.

This will have wide-ranging impact on coastal dwellers in more than 100 countries, including most small island developing States, affecting in particular people who depend on reefs for income or food, as well as industry sectors developed around reefs, such as tourism, UNEP stressed.

As the global climate heats up, shallow coral reefs will experience increasing levels of catastrophic bleaching and mortality. Even if emission reduction committed to by countries in the Paris Agreement are achieved, more than three quarters of all the world’s reefs will experience bleaching conditions annually within this century, UNEP said.

The agency noted, however, there is a glimmer of hope in the great variation within and among countries. “Many reefs are projected to experience annual bleaching conditions more than 10 years later than reefs within the same country or territory,” said Ruben van Hooidonk, NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.

These “relative refugia” are coral reef conservation priorities, and can be found within 16 of the 20 countries with the greatest reef area in the world, including, for example, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Australia.

“Until now we have not been able to identify such refugia on reefs because the spatial scale of climate models is too coarse. This dataset provides an important resource in prioritizing reef management, including establishment of marine protected areas and reduction of direct human stresses to support ecosystem resilience,” said Mr. van Hooidonk.

Available through a newly developed coral reef theme on UNEP Live, the data can be freely downloaded and used for management or adaptation planning as well as outreach. UNEP said that in order to buy coral reefs more time and to support recovery of reefs that have bleached severely, some researchers are looking deeper for answers. They are studying submerged, light-dependent reefs to see if they may serve as lifeboats for nearby, connected shallow reefs that have been damaged by repeated bleaching. Mesophotic coral reefs are one of the few remaining ecosystems on earth to remain largely unexplored.

 “While they are deeper and more remote than shallow coral ecosystems, mesophotic reefs are still subject to some of the same effects such as bleaching and habitat destruction,” Mr. Steiner said. “We are just beginning to understand them, but in some locations they may resist the most immediate impacts of climate change, and may be able to help re-seed damaged or destroyed surface reefs and fish populations.”

The report’s main recommendations include to locate where mesophotic reefs exist, with a priority in the equatorial Indo-West Pacific and eastern Atlantic; to increase understanding of how they are connected to shallow reefs in order to understand the extent to which they can be used as a refuge for, or to reseed, shallow reefs; and to raise awareness among managers and policymakers of the importance of their ecosystem service values and encourage measures to protect them.

These tools may support implementation of the proposed UNEA-2 resolution on coral reefs, UNEP said. “There is truly no time to waste, and UNEA-2 is an opportunity to accelerate action on safeguarding our planet,” said Mr. Steiner.  ω.

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Industry Group Agreement to Cod Fishery in the Northern Part of North-East Atlantic

Inspectors will be able to check on actual fish catches on visiting ships under the new Agreement. Photo: FAO

 

|| May 25: 2016|| ά. Icelandic Seachill and The Saucy Fish co. are proud to be supporting Greenpeace in their efforts to help protect the marine environment in the Barents and Norwegian Seas which is reflected in the signing of industry group agreement that is released today.

Nigel Edwards, Technical and CSR Director at Icelandic Seachill and The Saucy Fish Co. said: ''As part of our ongoing commitment to source fish responsibly, Icelandic Seachill and The Saucy Fish Co. are proud to be supporting Greenpeace in their efforts to help protect the marine environment in the Barents and Norwegian Seas.

Together with other businesses operating within the industry, we are proud to be involved in this landmark agreement to take a precautionary approach to fishing in areas that have not been fished before and to take further steps to protect vulnerable marine life in the areas where they currently operate.
 
Below is a statement from CSR Director Nigel Edwards. Nigel is available for interview, please do let me know if you’re running this story and would like further comment.

The Agreement


We acknowledge that climate change and the melting of the ice sheet in the above areas has caused concern related to fishing activities in the vast area around Svalbard.

We acknowledge Greenpeace’s role in bringing attention to the region under these changing circumstances.

We understand that the marine area around Svalbard have been identified in several scientific programs as important.

We recognise that the fisheries in the northern Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea including the marine areas around Svalbard are amongst the best regulated fisheries in the world. Most of these fisheries are independently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as compliant with their standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. Additionally there are many protected areas already established around Svalbard to safeguard ecological biodiversity.

We have agreed that from the 2016 season the catching sector will not expand their Cod fishing activities with trawl gear into those areas where regular fishing has not taken place before. This is a precautionary measure until through initiatives such as those mentioned below the fishing activity in future years will be determined by improved knowledge replacing the need for this precautionary approach.

We would like to state that the Industry Group has been successful in gaining agreement to have an action orientated High-Level Roundtable. The Roundtable will include the Norwegian Governmental Fisheries Management agencies and institutions and welcomes other interested public stakeholders to participate. The objectives of the High-Level Roundtable will be to establish a transparent process that will continue to enable Cod to be sourced from the area but also to meet the MSC independent sustainable fishery standard for activities beyond 2016.

We call for the governments to assist these efforts and ensure all measures are based on best available science, to properly assess and map the area for example but not exclusively the Mareano program.

In parallel with the High-Level Roundtable, the Cod catching industry will accelerate their work to meet the MSC condition regarding Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME’s) identified in the MSC re-certification process. Together with the scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and other relevant institutions, we will use all available data:

To define areas that may be vulnerable to trawling.
To develop effective and proportional measures that prevent environmental degradation in such areas.
We are also committed to a voluntary agreement to avoid fishing in such areas on a precautionary basis, whilst the appropriate measures are under development. The voluntary agreement will be in place before the Cod fishing starts in the region in 2016.
 

* the part of ICES Division 1b referred is West of the delimitation line as defined in the Treaty between Norway and Russia concerning maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean 2010

About Nigel Edwards: Edwards has worked at Icelandic Seachill for over 18 years, after starting out in the seafood industry as a fish technologist for the Seafish Authority. Based in Grimsby and heading up CSR across both Icelandic Seachill and The Saucy Fish Co., Edwards is a specialist is areas such as sustainability, aquaculture, environmental awareness and food safety.  ω.

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Finnish Companies Deliver Energy Efficiency Solutions for World’s First LNG Handysize Bulk Carriers

Image: WE Tech Solutions: WE Tech

|| May 15: 2016|| ά. WE Tech Solutions: WE Tech, a leading energy efficiency solutions provider in the marine industry, has received an order to deliver its direct-drive permanent magnet shaft generator solution to two new 25,600 dwt dual-fueled handysize bulk carriers, with an option for two more. The Switch, a technology specialist of megawatt-class permanent magnet: PM machines for advanced marine drive trains, will deliver the PM shaft generators to be used in the solutions provided by WE Tech.

The vessels are owned by the Finnish ship owner ESL Shipping Ltd., and built at Qingshan Shipyard of Sinotrans & CSC SBICO in China. ESL Shipping Ltd. is the leading carrier of dry bulk cargoes in the Baltic Sea region. The ship owner chose PM shaft generator technology to support its sustainability strategy and start a new era in green shipping within pollution-sensitive seaways.

Image: The Switch

These new, ice-class 1A ships will be the first LNG dual-fueled handysize bulk carriers in the world, representing the latest in technology and innovation. The aim of these new-build vessels is to raise the bar when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability.

"With the active front-end low harmonic drive technology (WE Drive™) and the permanent magnet shaft generator technology in our solution, the energy efficiency of the machinery reaches unmatched levels in the marine industry," says Martin Andtfolk, Sales Manager of WE Tech.

"The market has now recognized that a PM shaft generator is the most energy-efficient way to generate power in a vessel," Mika Koli, Business Development Manager from The Switch says.

"Our vision is 30% less fuel consumed in the global shipping industry by 2030," says Mårten Storbacka, Managing Director of WE Tech. ω.

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Algae Use Their ‘Tails’ to Gallop and Trot Like Quadrupeds

Microscope images showing two species of algae which swim using tiny appendages known as flagella: Credit: Kirsty Y. Wan & Raymond E. Goldstein

|| May 04: 2016: University of Cambridge News || Species of single-celled algae use whip-like appendages called flagella to coordinate their movements and achieve a remarkable diversity of swimming gaits.

Long before there were fish swimming in the oceans, tiny microorganisms were using long slender appendages called cilia and flagella to navigate their watery habitats. Now, new research reveals that species of single-celled algae coordinate their flagella to achieve a remarkable diversity of swimming gaits.

When it comes to four-legged animals such as cats, horses and deer, or even humans, the concept of a gait is familiar, but what about unicellular green algae with multiple limb-like flagella? The latest discovery, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that despite their simplicity, microalgae can coordinate their flagella into leaping, trotting or galloping gaits just as well.

Many gaits are periodic: whether it is the stylish walk of a cat, the graceful gallop of a horse, or the playful leap of a springbok, the key is the order or sequence in which these limbs are activated. When springboks arch their backs and leap, or ‘pronk’, they do so by lifting all four legs simultaneously high into the air, yet when horses trot it is the diagonally opposite legs that move together in time.

In vertebrates, gaits are controlled by central pattern generators, which can be thought of as networks of neural oscillators that coordinate output. Depending on the interaction between these oscillators, specific rhythms are produced, which, mathematically speaking, exhibit certain spatiotemporal symmetries. In other words, the gait doesn’t change when one leg is swapped with another – perhaps at a different point in time, say a quarter-cycle or half-cycle later.

It turns out the same symmetries also characterise the swimming gaits of microalgae, which are far too simple to have neurons. For instance, microalgae with four flagella in various possible configurations can trot, pronk or gallop, depending on the species.

“When I peered through the microscope and saw that the alga was performing two sets of perfectly synchronous breaststrokes, one directly after the other, I was amazed,” said the paper’s first author Dr Kirsty Wan of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge. “I realised immediately that this behaviour could only be due to something inside the cell rather than passive hydrodynamics. Then of course to prove this I had to expand my species collection.”

The researchers determined that it is in fact the networks of elastic fibres which connect the flagella deep within the cell that coordinate these diverse gaits. In the simplest case of Chlamydomonas, which swims a breaststroke with two flagella, absence of a particular fibre between the flagella leads to uncoordinated beating. Furthermore, deliberately preventing the beating of one flagellum in an alga with four flagella has zero effect on the sequence of beating in the remainder.

However, this does not mean that hydrodynamics play no role. In recent work from the same group, it was shown that nearby flagella can be synchronised solely by their mutual interaction through the fluid. There is a distinction between unicellular organisms for which good coordination of a few flagella is essential, and multicellular species or tissues that possess a range of cilia and flagella. In the latter case, hydrodynamic interactions are much more important.

“As physicists our instinct is to seek out generalisations and universal principles, but the world of biology often presents us with many fascinating counterexamples,” said Professor Ray Goldstein, Schlumberger Professor of Complex Physical Systems at DAMTP, and senior author of the paper. “Until now there have been many competing theories regarding flagellar synchronisation, but I think we are finally making sense of how these different organisms make best use of what they have.”

The findings also raise intriguing questions about the evolution of the control of peripheral appendages, which must have arisen in the first instance in these primitive microorganisms.

This research was supported by a Neville Research Fellowship from Magdalene College, and a Senior Investigator Award from the Wellcome Trust.

Reference: Kirsty Y. Wan and Raymond E. Goldstein. ‘Coordinated beating of algal flagella is mediated by basal coupling.’ PNAS (2016). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1518527113

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RSC Bio Solutions People: This Story is Here Because You Wrote This on Your Website: A Story Worth Telling

Two of RSC Bio Solutions' Biodegradable Synthetic Hydraulic Fluids to Be Used in MAN Diesel & Turbo Systems

Though the science behind its products may be complex, RSC Bio Solutions was founded on a simple idea: the idea that our work and our world can coexist. We believe you can do well and do right. We believe getting the job done doesn’t have to come with tradeoffs. It doesn’t have to expose employees—or the public, for that matter—to dangerous chemicals. It doesn’t have to damage plants, animals or the air we breathe.

At the same time, we all have jobs to do. So we have to do more than good; we have to do well. That means ensuring the safety of employees and the general population cannot come with performance compromises. It means ensuring that waterways and aquatic life are not harmed. It means no drop-off in productivity. And we believe it’s possible. In fact, we know it is—we’re already doing it.

By incorporating the proven products from RSC Bio Solutions, the leader in readily biodegradable lubricants, cleaners, degreasers and absorbents, you reduce risks without reducing performance. That means easier cleanups, lower fines, a healthier environment and a job done right.

Our meaning of existence resides there where words equate to actions, dear friends: seek to help, seek to care, seek to heal and do no harm. The Humanion: May 02: 2016

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|| May 01: 2016: Charlotte: N.C: USA || RSC Bio Solutions, a global leader in environmentally acceptable lubricants and cleaners, recently announced that its EnviroLogic® 3068 and EnviroLogic® 3100 high performance hydraulic fluids have been approved for use in MAN Diesel & Turbo systems. This approval allows RSC Bio Solutions to serve customers who have MAN stern tubes and propellers, primarily in the marine transport, ferry and fishing industries.

The EnviroLogic 3000 Series consists of readily biodegradable synthetic hydraulic fluids designed for extreme operating temperatures and pressures. Because they are formulated to provide exceptional oxidation and thermal properties, these products are ideal for mobile or marine hydraulic and propulsion systems operating in environmentally sensitive areas. The hydraulic fluids can withstand temperatures as high as 150°F or as low as -20°F, and they can handle pressure as great as 5000+ psi. When compared to conventional, petroleum based hydraulic oils, the EnviroLogic 3000 Series offers excellent wear protection and long changeover intervals.

Under the new OEM approval, EnviroLogic 3068 and EnviroLogic 3100 are approved for use in the following MAN systems:

Fixed pitch propellers (FPP) with oil lubricated stern tube;
Controllable pitch propellers (CPP) with common oil lubricated stern tube and hub;
Controllable pitch propellers (CPP) with separate oil lubricated stern tube and hub
Controllable pitch propellers (CPP) with water lubricated stern tube and oil lubricated hub

“We have been supporting the marine industry with our environmentally acceptable lubricants and long list of approvals for 20 years. We are excited that we continue to add to our depth and breadth of OEM approvals in continued support of the area,” said Dr. Bernard C. Roell, Jr., vice president of technology at RSC Bio Solutions.

EnviroLogic sustainable lubricants are suitable, proven and approved for a wide range of applications, and meet a wide range of ISO grades and industry performance specifications. These solutions maintain technical feasibility evident in the many original equipment manufacturer (OEM) approvals, including: Aegir, Blohm & Voss, Eaton/Vickers, Linde, Rolls Royce, Rexroth, Komatsu and Wärtsilä.

About MAN Diesel & Turbo: MAN Diesel & Turbo SE, based in Augsburg, Germany, is the world’s leading provider of large-bore diesel and gas engines and turbomachinery. The company employs around 15,000 staff at more than 100 international sites, primarily in Germany, Denmark, France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, India and China. The company’s product portfolio includes two-stroke and four-stroke engines for marine and stationary applications, turbochargers and propellers as well as gas and steam turbines, compressors and chemical reactors. The range of services and supplies is rounded off by complete solutions like ship propulsion systems, engine-based power plants and turbomachinery trains for the oil & gas as well as the process industries. Customers receive worldwide after-sales services marketed under the MAN PrimeServ brand.

About RSC Bio Solutions, LLC: Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, RSC Bio Solutions has 20 years of history and is committed to providing sustainable solutions for unforgiving environments by offering equipment operators high-performing, sustainable alternatives that allow them to meet the demanding needs of their operations while reducing environmental and employee risk. RSC Bio Solutions’ EnviroLogic® branded technology includes a full line of lubricants – hydraulic fluids, gear oils and greases – additionally offering an innovative line of cleaners and solvents for industrial markets.

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The Web of Life is Not Just an Expression: NASA Examines El Niño's Impact on Ocean’s Food Source

Kate Ramsayer Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: Uz/NASA Goddard

||April 14, 2016|| El Niño years can have a big impact on the littlest plants in the ocean, and NASA scientists are studying the relationship between the two.

In El Niño years, huge masses of warm water – equivalent to about half of the volume of the Mediterranean Sea – slosh east across the Pacific Ocean towards South America. While this warm water changes storm systems in the atmosphere, it also has an impact below the ocean’s surface. These impacts, which researchers can visualize with satellite data, can ripple up the food chain to fisheries and the livelihoods of fishermen.

El Niño’s mass of warm water puts a lid on the normal currents of cold, deep water that typically rise to the surface along the equator and off the coast of Chile and Peru, said Stephanie Uz, ocean scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. In a process called upwelling, those cold waters normally bring up the nutrients that feed the tiny organisms, which form the base of the food chain.

"An El Niño basically stops the normal upwelling," Uz said. "There’s a lot of starvation that happens to the marine food web." These tiny plants, called phytoplankton, are fish food – without them, fish populations drop, and the fishing industries that many coastal regions depend on can collapse.

With NASA satellite data, and ocean color software called SeaDAS, developed at the Ocean Biology Processing Group at Goddard, Uz has been mapping where these important phytoplankton appear. Orbiting instruments like the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer on the Aqua satellite, and the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite collect data on the color of the ocean. From shades of blue and green, scientists can calculate the amount of green chlorophyll – and therefore the amount of phytoplankton present.

The ocean color maps, based on a month’s worth of satellite data, can show that El Niño impact on phytoplankton. In December 2015, at the peak of the current El Niño event, there was more blue – and less green chlorophyll – in the Pacific Ocean off of Peru and Chile, compared to the previous year. Uz and her colleagues are also watching as the El Niño weakens this spring, to see when and where the phytoplankton reappear as the upwelling cold water brings nutrients back to the region.

"They can pop back up pretty quickly, once they have a source of nutrients," Uz said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Differences in December phytoplankton abundances are visualized for three years: during the strong East Pacific El Nino of 1997 (using SeaWiFS satellite data), during a normal year in 2013 (using data from MODIS on the Aqua satellite), and during the strong Central Pacific El Nino of 2015 (MODIS/Aqua). Image: Uz/NASA Goddard

Researchers can also examine the differences in ocean color between two different El Niño events. During the large 1997-1998 El Niño event, the green chlorophyll virtually disappeared from the coast of Chile. This year’s event, while it caused a drop in chlorophyll primarily along the equator, was much less severe for the coastal phytoplankton population. The reason – the warmer-than-normal waters associated with the two El Niño events were centered in different geographical locations. In 1997-1998, the biggest ocean temperature abnormalities were in the eastern Pacific Ocean; this year the focus was in the central ocean. This difference impacts where the phytoplankton can feed on nutrients, and where the fish can feed on phytoplankton.

"When you have an East Pacific El Niño, like 1997-1998, it has a much bigger impact on the fisheries off of South America," Uz said. But Central Pacific El Niño events, like this year’s, still have an impact on ocean ecosystems, just with a shift in location. Researchers are noting reduced food available along the food chain around the Galapagos Islands, for example. And there has been a drop in phytoplankton off the coast of South America, just not as dramatically as before.

Scientists have more tools on hand to study this El Niño, and can study more elements of the event, Uz said. They’re putting these tools to use to ask questions not just about ocean ecology, but about the carbon cycle as well.

"We know how important phytoplankton are for the marine food web, and we’re trying to understand their role as a carbon pump," Uz said. The carbon pump refers to one of the ways the Earth system removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When phytoplankton die, their carbon-based bodies sink to the ocean floor, where they can remain for millions of years. El Niño is a naturally occurring disruption to the typical ocean currents, she said – so it’s important to understand the phenomenon to better attribute what occurs naturally, and what occurs due to human-caused disruptions to the system.

Other scientists at Goddard are investigating ways to forecast the ebbs and flows of nutrients using the center’s supercomputers, incorporating data like winds, sea surface temperatures, air pressures and more.

"It’s like weather forecasts, but for bionutrients and phytoplankton in the ocean," said Cecile Rousseaux, an ocean modeler with Goddard’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office. The forecasts could help fisheries managers estimate how good the catch could be in a particular year, she said, since fish populations depend on phytoplankton populations. The 1997-1998 El Niño led to a major collapse in the anchovy fishery off of Chile, which caused economic hardships for fishermen along the coast.

So far, Rousseaux said, the phytoplankton forecast models haven’t shown any collapses for the 2015-2016 El Niño, possibly because the warm water isn’t reaching as far east in the Pacific this time around. The forecast of phytoplankton populations effort is a relatively new effort, she said, so it’s too soon to make definite forecasts. But the data so far, from the modeling group and others, show conditions returning to a more normal state this spring.

The next step for the model, she said, is to try to determine which individual species of phytoplankton will bloom where, based on nutrient amounts, temperatures and other factors – using satellites and other tools to determine which kind of microscopic plant is where.

"We rely on satellite data, but this will go one step further and give us even more information," Rousseaux said.

For more information, visit

Kate Ramsayer: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
 

( Editor: Karl Hille: NASA)
 

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UN Food and Agriculture Agency Talking Fish in Morocco Since It is a £144 Billion Dollar Industry

February 22, 2016: Top fishery officials are gathering in Morocco this week to discuss sustainable trade practices in a $144 billion industry that provides developing countries with more export revenue than meat, tobacco, rice and sugar combined.

Lower-income nations’ exports of fish and fishery products reached $78 billion in 2014, more than triple the value of global rice exports, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“Sustainably serving those lucrative markets is of critical importance to developing countries, where most fish are produced, whether caught in the wild or grown in cages or farm ponds,” the agency’s news release says.

The biennial high-level meeting of FAO’s Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, being held in Agadir through Friday, 26 February, has drawn delegations of fisheries ministries from more than 50 countries to discuss emerging governance needs of the fisheries sector.

“Trade in fish is much more important than people think, both in absolute and relative terms,” said Audun Lem, Deputy-Director in FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Resources Division, who serves as Secretary of the meeting.

Dialogues will help FAO, its member countries and industry representatives understand new trends, opportunities and challenges in the fishing sector, fostering the development of strategies that can “best position developing countries to develop their fisheries sectors in a sustainable manner and to maximize their economic benefit from the growth we expect to witness,” Mr. Lem said.

Traceability

One major topic for consideration is how to better trace products throughout the supply chain. Ministers are poised to agree on FAO’s proposed technical guidelines for catch documentation schemes, a set of documents testifying to the legal origin of the catch. This could become an important tool in curbing illegal fishing, a target concerning the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources under Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015.

A woman carries fish at a FAO-funded food security project in Uganda. Photo: FAO/Isaac Kasamani

Central to the effort is FAO’s Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which has now been ratified by 21 nations and is on course to have the 25 national ratifications required to enter into full legal force by the time the Committee on Fisheries, an intergovernmental forum, meets in July.

Work will also focus on harmonizing certification requirements for fish exports to major international markets, where consumers as well as retailers are becoming more alert to quality, safety and legality concerns.

Emerging Trends

New trends will also be among the subjects at the Agadir meeting. Aquaculture output has more than tripled to 78 million tonnes over the past 20 years, making it the world’s fastest-growing food producing sector. FAO expects wild-caught fish to grow modestly in volume terms while its share of the market for human consumption declines to 38 per cent in 2030.

While most fish farms are in Asia, aquaculture's highest growth rates have of late been in Africa and South and Central America, where its marginal contribution to food security can be higher than elsewhere precisely due to the fact that per-capita consumption of fish in these emerging regions has traditionally been low.

Aquaculture, typically far less seasonal and volatile than open-sea fishing, can help food waste be minimized and food safety enhanced, and investments in cold-storage facilities incentivized, all enabling supermarkets to plan and guarantee procurement.

The seafood menu is also changing in many ways, as exemplified by the fact that, for the first time in history, more fresh tuna was flown to the US than to Japan.

Shifts in age-old patterns are likely to become a common feature in the future of fish, especially as developing countries increase their share of world imports. Since 2013, salmon and trout have replaced shrimp as the most important commodity traded in value terms.

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Elba Lunar Sonata

Image: NASA/ISS

Part of the astronaut experience is seeing the planet transform from day to night in ways that earth-bound people rarely see. A crew member aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of the northern Mediterranean Sea and some coastal Italian towns and islands.

The reflection of the Moon on the sea surface—moonglint—reveals highly complex patterns. The strongest reflection is near the center of the Moon’s disc, which brightens the water around the island of Elba. In these complex patterns, the dark areas of the sea surface can sometimes make islands (such as Montecristo and Pianosa) harder to see. (A similar phenomenon happens in the daylight, as shown in sunglint images of lakes in Brazil and aquaculture in the Nile Delta.)

The reflection off sea surfaces captures many different natural processes, but also some made by humans. North of Elba, waves trailing behind ships make the classic V-shaped pattern. The meandering line coming off Montecristo Island is an “island wake,” a result of alternating vortices of wind that develop on the downwind side of the island. This wake is the strongest evidence that a northeast wind was blowing (right to left in this image) on the night of the photo. A shorter, meandering wind pattern is being shed off Punta Ala on the mainland. Smoother surfaces, protected from wind, are usually brighter because they are better mirror for moonlight.

The sea surface also displays numerous tight swirls known as gyres. The broad swath of parallel lines (image top left) are probably part of the larger circulation of the sea, which usually experiences north-flowing currents around Elba. An animation of the larger swirls of the Mediterranean can be seen here.

Astronaut photograph ISS037-E-15305 was acquired on October 17, 2013, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 180 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 37 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State U., Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC.

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Algal Bloom off Ireland Paints Claude Monet

Released 09/10/2012 5:27 pm on 23 May 2010 at a resolution of 300 m.
 

Resembling the brush strokes of French Impressionist Claude Monet, electric blue-coloured plankton blooms swirl in the North Atlantic Ocean off Ireland in this Envisat image. Plankton, the most abundant type of life found in the ocean, are microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea.

While individually microscopic, the chlorophyll they use for photosynthesis collectively tints the surrounding ocean waters, providing a means of detecting these tiny organisms from space with dedicated 'ocean colour' sensors, like Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), which acquired this image Credits: ESA

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New Monitoring Technologies Promise to Let Marine Wildlife off the Hook

Image: The Bertarelli Foundation
 

Conservation scientists are calling for new approaches to biodiversity monitoring to reflect the creation of a global network of large marine protected areas, in research published today by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and University of Western Australia (UWA), funded by the Australian National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and the Bertarelli Foundation.

By closing large tracts of ocean to fishing, the creation of marine reserves in locations including Chagos, Chile and New Zealand is removing what was traditionally the only reliable source of data on fish populations available to managers in these regions, highlighting a clear need for new non-lethal approaches to monitoring.

The ZSL/UWA report suggests harnessing emerging technologies including underwater action cameras in tandem with established techniques like acoustic echo-location to provide non-lethal monitoring of wildlife within these vast new ocean sanctuaries. The study’s findings were based on extensive literature review, combined with field trials of technological approaches in the Indian Ocean’s 640,000 km2 Chagos Marine Reserve, the enforcement of which has been supported by the Bertarelli Foundation.

Commenting on the research, lead author Dr Tom B. Letessier from ZSL said: “Species including migratory sharks, tunas and billfish are amongst the most iconic marine predators on the planet, yet as our review demonstrates, the collapse in their numbers since the 1950s now also make them some of the most threatened.

“Most of what we know about these animals comes from decades of commercial fishing records, which have historically been the only data available for fisheries management. Recent positive steps to create large marine reserves that exclude commercial fishing have had the unintended consequence of reducing the availability of these data, thereby requiring new approaches to measurement. In addition to establishing trends in large marine reserve size and coverage, our study reviews existing methods used in the absence of fishing and demonstrates non-lethal ways to complement them.”

Expanding on the significance of the study, co-author Professor Jessica Meeuwig from UWA’s Oceans Institute explained: “While the role of marine reserves in protecting coastal ecosystems is now well-understood, far less is known about the impact of these large reserves on highly migratory species like sharks and tuna, which may roam across entire ocean basins. If we are to demonstrate the success of these new large sanctuaries, we need to think outside the box to devise effective, non-lethal monitoring techniques in areas where fishing is banned.”

Other announcements following on the heels of Chagos include the 620,000 km2 Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, announced by the New Zealand government in September 2015, and the even larger 631,368 km2 Easter Island Marine Reserve, plans for which were unveiled by the Chilean government the following month. With similar projects set to follow, the urgent need for new, technology-driven approaches to non-lethal monitoring of ocean biodiversity is clear.

Project donor Ernesto Bertarelli of the Bertarelli Foundation said: “Advances in the sophistication and affordability of technology give us the opportunity to monitor and understand marine life within protected areas as never before. This is crucial, not just to help monitor the overall health of the ocean but to better understand the role of MPAs in building wider resilience. That’s why we are so excited to support this work.”

The research was published today in the journal Biological Reviews and was funded by the Australia’s National Environmental Science Programme and the Bertarelli Foundation.

The Zoological Society of London
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Our mission is realised through our groundbreaking science, our active conservation projects in more than 50 countries and our two Zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information visit www.zsl.org  ZSL: Tom Jennings / tom.jennings@zsl.org / +44 (0)20 7449 6246

The University of Western Australia
The University of Western Australia was established in 1911 as the State's first university and opened two years later with 184 students in three faculties; Arts, Engineering and Science. Today the University enrols over 24,000 students in nine faculties: Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts; Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; UWA Business School; Education; Engineering, Computing and Mathematics; Law; Life and Physical Sciences; Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; and Natural and Agricultural Sciences. The dual strengths of research and research training set the University apart as one of Australia’s leading research-intensive universities. The Universities high calibre researchers and graduate students are tackling some of the world’s most pressing international problems. The University of Western Australia: Sylvia Defendi / sylvia.defendi@uwa.edu.au / +61 8 6488 7308

The Bertarelli Foundation

The Bertarelli Foundation is committed to conserving the ocean and promoting excellence in marine science. In 2010, the Bertarelli Foundation helped the British Government to establish the world’s largest Marine Protected Area in the British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos) and two years later also supported the creation of the Turneffe Atoll Reserve in Belize. They are currently working with the British government to develop a blue belt around the British Overseas Territories. In 2012, the Bertarelli Foundation funded the largest scientific assessment ever completed of Easter Island’s marine environment, prompting the Chilean government to announce their plans to create the world’s largest fully-protected marine park in the waters surrounding Easter Island. The Bertarelli Foundation: Sophie Hulme / sophie@fondation-bertarelli.org / +44 (0)7973 712869

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Posted: December 19, 2015

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Spring Has Sprung in South Atlantic in the Phytoplankton Communities

Image Credit: NASA/Ocean Biology Processing Group, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The springtime phytoplankton communities shown in this image were spotted between the Falkland Islands to the west and South Georgia Island to the east by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite on November 16, 2015.

(Editor: Sarah Loff:NASA)

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Posted on : November 25, 2015

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Central Baltic Sea Algae Bloom Captured by Copernicus Sentinel


Copyright Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)/ESA

This red–blue–green composite image from Sentinel-2A taken on 7 August 2015 has a spatial resolution of 10 m. It shows an algal bloom in the central Baltic Sea. The algae is concentrated in locations where the vertical and horizontal water movements in the Baltic Sea generate the best nutrient and light conditions for algal growth, which are then drawn out by the water circulation.

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Posted on: November 18, 2015

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NASA to Fly, Sail North to Study Plankton-Climate Change Connection

NASA’s C-130H Hercules airborne laboratory begins research flights over the North Atlantic Nov. 12 from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, the agency's North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES). NASA Image

This is how all our planes should fly: equipped with all the systems, mechanisms, mathematics, sciences and technology and imagination  we have got, filled with  reference books, maps, notes, plans, papers, pens and pencils, computers (and some tea and coffee) fuelled by dreams and determined with the choice and love of seeking: the light, the knowledge, the wisdom that would look like a plane, like this one.



NASA begins a five-year study this month of the annual cycle of phytoplankton and the impact that small airborne particles emitted from the ocean have on the climate-sensitive North Atlantic.

The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) will collect data during ship and aircraft measurement campaigns and combine that data with continuous satellite and ocean sensor readings. The first of four seasonal research missions begins Nov. 6 and continues through early December.

NASA’s C-130H Hercules airborne laboratory will begin research flights Nov. 12 from St. John’s International Airport in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The flights will be coordinated with the research vessel (R/V) Atlantis, operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Atlantis will provide detailed ship-based measurements of plankton in the North Atlantic.

“We will be studying an ocean region that every year exhibits one of the largest natural phytoplankton blooms on Earth,” said Mike Behrenfeld, NAAMES principal investigator from Oregon State University in Corvallis. “These plankton are also known to release organic compounds into the atmosphere that can be measured as far away as Ireland. That makes the North Atlantic an ideal place to study how plankton blooms are recreated each year by ecological and physical processes, and how ocean biology is involved in the sea-air exchange of organic aerosols and trace gases that may influence clouds and climate.”

The C-130H will fly eastward to rendezvous with and overfly the global-class, floating laboratory-ship Atlantis during its approximately 26-day research cruise. By combining ship, airborne, computer modeling, sustained satellite and autonomous sensor data, scientists hope to improve their predictions of ecosystem and aerosol changes in a warming ocean.

Plankton ecosystems in the ocean are strongly interconnected with climate and life on Earth. Plankton production, responding to a warming climate, results in environmental impacts such as changes in fisheries production, uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and ocean emissions of climate-regulating aerosols. The ability to predict the consequences of a warming ocean depends on resolving conflicting theories about what controls plankton ecosystems and their aerosol emissions.

NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, has science and project management responsibilities for NAAMES and science instruments onboard the C-130H. The agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, leads project data management. The NAAMES ship and airborne science-instrument teams involve more than 20 different research facilities and academic institutions. NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility Aircraft Office in Virginia operates the C-130H research aircraft to support airborne scientific research activities.

The NASA C-130H and the R/V Atlantis supporting the NAAMES mission will be available to the media at two different events this month. On Wednesday, Nov. 4 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. EST, media can tour the Atlantis at Woods Hole, located at 86 Water St. The C-130H will be available on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Newfoundland Time Zone, in Hangar #4 of St. John’s International Airport, located at RCAF Road in St. John’s.

NAAMES is part of NASA’s second series of Earth Venture suborbital investigations that provide an innovative approach to regularly address Earth science research that accommodates evolving scientific priorities. Earth Venture investigations are part of NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder Program, managed at Langley for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

NASA researchers collect and study data from space, air, land and sea to tackle challenges facing the world today, including improved environmental prediction and natural hazard and climate change preparedness. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NAAMES

For more information about NASA’s Earth Science activities

Steve Cole: Headquarters, Washington
stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

Chris Rink : Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
757-864-6786
chris.rink@nasa.gov
( Editor: Karen Northon: NASA)

Posted on: November 6, 2015

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