Tuesday, September 18, 2007

'Oceans in Peril'

Worldwatch has just published Oceans in Peril: Protecting Marine Biodiversity:
Marine reserves are essential to protect the biodiversity that maintains ecosystem integrity, say the report's authors [...who...] call for a radical change in fisheries management from a single-species approach to one that is ecosystem based and also includes the use of precautionary measures to tackle pollution and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are changing the temperature and chemistry of the oceans.

Monday, September 17, 2007

'Plunder or protect'

WWF Australia is calling for the entire Coral Sea region to be declared a marine protected area. The campaigners are using economics-based arguments:
The resident population of sharks at Osprey Reef, the main dive site in the Coral Sea, is 40 animals, making each shark worth over $250,000 per year. When you compare this figure to $62.50 - the asking price for shark catch by local fisheries, it is more than evident Australian reef sharks are more valuable alive than dead.
News reports include this, this and this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The death of birth

[Gorillas and orangutans] are perhaps the most charismatic creatures on this year's Red List, but the fact they are in trouble has been known for some years. Perhaps more surprising are some of the new additions.

"This is the first time we've assessed corals, and it's a bit worrying because some of them moved straight from being not assessed to being possibly extinct," said Jean-Christophe Vie, deputy head of IUCN's species programme.

"We know that some species were there in years gone by, but now when we do the assessment they are not there. And corals are like the trees in the forest; they build the ecosystem for fish and other animals."

IUCN is now embarking on a complete assessment of coral species, and expects to find that about 30% to 40% are threatened.
-- from Gorillas head race to extinction by Richard Black.

Banggai cardinalfish and humphead parrotfish: two of the reef-dependent species that have been Red-Listed.

IUCN's assessment is that "climate change is important for many Red List species; but it is not the only threat, and not the most important threat".

[See also Nasty, brutish and very long.]

Monday, September 10, 2007

All the way down

The magnitude of present and future impacts of anthropogenic climate change on coral reefs is debated. But until recently most people seem to have assumed that it would not affect ecosystems on deep sea thermal vents at all.

But now Jon Copley of the University of Southampton and colleagues are challenging this assumption. "If climate change were to alter patterns of life in surface waters, our work suggests that these changes could potentially be communicated to the ocean floor", he says.

See No place for life to hide and Deep sea vents no climate haven.

A deep sea frogfish contemplates the news.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Barrier reef as campaign icon

The campaign group Avaaz is promoting a petition ahead of the APEC meeting in Sydney, Australia in support of binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions rather than voluntary aspirational goals. Avaaz say around 400,000 people have already signed. They ask more to do so here.

On 7 September Avaaz and an Australian group called GetUp are launching a 144-square metre floating canvas "target" at Bondi Beach where it will be taken out to sea by surfers.
[On 8 September] swimmers will float this banner over the Great Barrier Reef -- which current predictions suggest will be killed off by climate change before 2030. Thousands of people from every continent have joined in by uploading climate target pictures of their own.
[Elsewhere, Jemery Leggett tells those who may not already know, and reminds those who do, that even some of the more progressive politicians in Australia and Canada support and are supported by the coal industry.]

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Revenge of the nerdles

...it’s hard to imagine an alien archaeologist finding poetry in the remote Pacific atolls awash in virtually unbiodegradable plastic bottles, bags and Q-tip shafts, or in the quadrillions of nurdles, microscopic plastic bits in the oceans — they currently outweigh all the plankton by a factor of six — that would continue to cycle uncorrupted through the guts of sea creatures until an enterprising microbe evolved to break them down.
-- from Jennifer Schuessler's review of The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.