Tag Archives: Environmental

60% of Adélie Penguins Could Disappear This Century

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New research shows that climate change may vastly devastate Adélie penguin colonies by 2099. Nearly two-thirds of the penguins, which live only in Antarctica, could be gone within this century due to warming sea surfaces not conducive for penguin chicks. In a Scientific Reports study, researchers warned that the excessive warmth linked with climate change is extremely harmful to the species. “It is only in recent decades that we know Adélie penguins population declines are associated with warming, which suggests that many regions of Antarctica have warmed too much and that further warming is no longer positive for the species,” lead author Dr. Megan Cimino said.

Adélie penguin colonies are centralized across the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), among the fastest-warming places on Earth, and populations have already shown declines in response. More than any other region, WAP has faced warmer than normal sea surface temperature in recent years, a condition known as “novel climate”. According to Cimino, penguin numbers have decreased by around 80% since significantly higher temperatures were noted. “These two things seem to be happening in the WAP at a higher rate than in other areas during the same time period,” Cimino noted.

Climate projections reveal that this region will continue to experience increasingly frequent years of novel climate this century, presenting a threat that could ravage already-fragile penguin populations. Researchers examined a wide range of global climate models and satellite data, as penguin colonies can now be seen and studied from space. Based on their findings, 30% of current Adélie penguins could disappear by 2060, and 60% could be gone by 2099.

Intriguingly, researchers found that in areas where climate change is slow, Adélie numbers are “steady or increasing”, further strengthening the link between climate change and Adélie decline. Scientists hope that these slow-to-warm spots will become refugia, or places for once widespread but now isolated animal populations to survive, even if that survival remains tenuous. East Antarctic peninsula Cape Adare, is one such spot where climate changes have been less extreme. Said Cimino, “The Cape Adare region of the Ross Sea is home to the earliest known penguin occupation and has the largest known Adélie penguin rookery in the world. Though the climate there is expected to warm a bit, it looks like it could be a refugium in the future, and if you look back over geologic time it was likely one in the past.”

Extrapolating on current climate change patterns, these scientists predicted surviving Antarctic penguins will concentrate in southern Antarctica over the next century.

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Source: Worley, Will. “Climate change ‘to devastate penguin populations in Antarctica by up to 60 per cent by the end of the century’.” Independent. 29 June 2016

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First Mammal Made Extinct by Manmade Climate Change

YWQ4NzExMzNjNyMvbExMbWZqTEg5NUxOckZBUFdTaldMTDE1c1prPS8weDM6OTAweDQ0OC85MDB4NDQ2L2ZpbHRlcnM6cXVhbGl0eSg3MCkvaHR0cDovL3MzLmFtYXpvbmF3cy5jb20vcG9saWN5bWljLWltYWdlcy92d3JhZ2FsZ2psbndwcDRmY29zMGN5cDZwb2FlZ2d6dmRmdHRyN29ocSource: Queensland Government

Queensland, Australia environmental researchers reported that the Bramble Cay melomys, a rodent species found on a small island in the eastern Torres Strait, appears to have been completely eradicated from its only known habitat. Also called the mosaic-tailed rat, this tiny creature marks the first mammal that has disappeared due to human-caused climate change, though experts warn it will likely be the first of many: a 2015 report noted that ⅙ of the world’s species are in danger of climate change-based extinction.

This melomys was the only mammal species native to the Great Barrier Reef, and in 1845 European sailors first noticed the rats living in high density around Bramble Cay, a small coral cay on Queensland’s north coast. The island is a significant wildlife hotspot, and remains the most important breeding ground for green turtles and several seabirds within the Torres Strait.

In 1978 the melomys population was estimated at several hundred, though they were last seen in 2009, leading to an extensive 2014 search for the creature. Since then, a report led by Ian Gynther from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, in partnership with the University of Queensland, has recommended the species be labelled extinct.

As part of their search, researchers laid 150 traps on the island over six nights, and thoroughly examined the vegetation they typically inhabit for signs of life. After no evidence that any Bramble Cay melomys’ remained, the report’s authors concluded that extensive flooding due to rising sea levels was the “root cause” of the extinction, killing many animals and destroying 97% of their habitat from 2004 to 2014. Around the Torres Strait, sea levels have risen at twice the global average between 1993 and 2014. “For low-lying islands like Bramble Cay, the destructive effects of extreme water levels resulting from severe meteorological events are compounded by the impacts from anthropogenic climate change-driven sea-level rise…Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change,” the authors noted.

The Queensland government website suggests that attempts to restore the population are futile. “Because the Bramble Cay melomys is now confirmed to have been lost from Bramble Cay, no recovery actions for this population can be implemented,” it says. However, the report’s authors hold out hope that there might be an undiscovered population of the creatures in Papua New Guinea. They posit that several melomys may have initially arrived at Bramble Cay by floating over on debris from the Fly River region of New Guinea. Thus, the authors recommend surveying Papua New Guinea to see if the rodents or their close relatives could be living there.

Ecologist John White of Australia’s Deakin University said this extinction marks the beginning of a long battle for wildlife conservationists: “I am of absolutely no doubt we will lose species due to the increasing pressures being exerted by climate change,” he said. “Species restricted to small, low lying islands, or those with very tight environmental requirements are likely to be the first to go…Certainly, extinction and climatic change has gone hand in hand throughout the history of the world,” he said. “So, if this is one of the first, it is more than likely not going to be the last.”

3d653a26-0746-4ed6-8347-abc2db35753e-1920-1080Source: CAMERON DEJONG/FLICKR/CC2.0

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NOISE POLLUTION THREATENS MARINE LIFE

We frequently hear about warming ocean temperatures, waste pollution, and habitat loss in marine environments, but little attention is given to another large issue affecting marine life: noise pollution. Noise pollution is beginning to show a major physical and behavioral affect on marine species ranging from whales, sea turtles, and sea birds to carbs, shrimp, and invertebrates. The pollution is mainly coming from the explosive sounds made by cargo ships, sonar guns, and air guns used by the U.S. Navy and during gas exploration. One species in particular, the Blue Whale, is drawing more attention to the issue because of how they’re affected by the noises.

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Noise pollution can be harmful in multiple ways. Species of whales and dolphins rely heavily on sounds while communicating with each other, hunting prey, escaping predators, and finding mates. The loud noises made during human activity can mask the sounds made by the marine organism, causing it to become lost or separated from its family, or interrupting its role in the food web. Noise pollution can also physically harm marine organisms depending on the size of the vibrations caused by the sound.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has attempted to eliminate this issue on a case-by-case basis, preventing the use of the sonar guns or cargo ships when an organism is present in the nearby distance to the source of the noise. NOAA has now spent 6 years drawing an Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap to deal with noise pollution and bring more attention to this issue. Not only are endangered species being watched closely, but also the entire effect from noise pollution is being researched to determine how whole marine environments are being altered.

Source: Goldman, Laura. “A Plan to Mute Ocean Noise for Marine Life.” Environmental News Network. 15 June 2016.

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US Government Agency that kills wildlife

They’re like a government kill team that targets wildlife — and our tax dollars are keeping them in business. Who are they? A little-known government agency called. This rogue agency spends tens of millions of taxpayer funds to kill over 100,000 defenseless wild animals every year. And right now, they’re getting away with it.

Wildlife Services, part of the Department of Agriculture, kills at the behest of big ranchers and agribusiness. Its stated mission is to “resolve conflicts” with wildlife — by using poisons, traps, aerial gunning and other brutal methods.

Tragically, their operation has wiped out more than two million wild animals since 2000. Of those, more than 50,000 were killed accidentally, includingand even household pets.

But the tide is turning. The USDA’s Inspector General has signaled that she will conduct a long-overdue investigation of this out-of-control agency and its “” program. That means we finally have a chance to expose this secretive and senseless attack on wildlife — and end it for good.

NRDC is mobilizing a massive public outcry to make sure the Inspector General follows through and that the Obama ends the killing once and for all. They will also sound the alarm in the media and through new hard-hitting documentary, “Wild Things.”

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Annual Seal Slaughter

Each year , the Canadian government allows hunters to kill over 250,000 defenseless baby harp seals. During the slaughter, baby seals are shot or repeatedly clubbed. Sealers bludgeon the animals with clubs and “hakapiks” (metal-hook–tipped clubs) and drag the seals who are often still conscious across the ice floes with boat hooks.

The hunters toss the dead and dying seals into piles and leave their carcasses to rot on the ice floes because there is no market for seal meat. Numerous veterinarians who have investigated this annual slaughter have found that the hunters routinely fail to comply with Canada’s animal welfare standards.

Baby seals are helpless and have no way to escape from the sealer’s clubs. A Washington Post article on the seal slaughter described it this way: “a seal appearing to gasp for air, blood running from its nose as it lies in an ice floe. not far way, a sealer sharpens his knife blade. The seal seems to be thrashing as its fur is sliced from it’s torso.

The Christian Science monitor wrote: The few terrified survivors, left to crawl through the carnage face shouting obscenities and threats from the sealers, gunfire cracking ominously in the distance. The pitiful cries of the seal pups; the repellent thuds raining down on soft skulls. Sealers laughter echoing across the ice floes.”

The sealing industry claims that is it killing more seals now because of an increased demand for fur.  Although the United States banned the sale of seal fur in 1972, people still wear the fur of minks, rabbits, foxes and by doing so create a demand for the  killing of these animals. Such a demand pushes Canadian hunters to club more baby seals each year. However in 2009, the European Union voted to end the sale of all seal products and the United States Senate passed U.S. Senate Resolution 84, calling for an immediate end to the annual seal slaughter.

Why does this senseless killing of seal pups continue? The fur coat industry is dying. There is no long er a great demand for woman to wear a white baby seal coat as there once was in the early and mid 20th century. The amount of money that can be generated through Eco-tourism to photograph live and adorable baby seals on the ice can far exceed by killing these defenseless animals. Million of dollars can be shared by tourism operators, boat captains & crew, hotels, restaurant and shop owners on the nearby islands where the tours can be based.

Hunting for sustenance is one thing but killing for money and enjoyment is something else, despicable… What type of person laughs as they raise a club over the head of a baby seal to beat it do death. i have nothing but contempt and disgust for these “seal hunters”

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Before the seal hunt

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Afterwards….

What would you and your children rather see?

New species discovered

Sixty species new to science, including a chocolate-coloured frog and a tiny dung less than 3mm long, have been discovered by scientists in . An expedition of scientists spent three weeks in 2012 exploring an area of rivers, mountains and rainforest in the south-eastern region of that has “virtually no human influence”. The Conservation International team found 11 of fish, one new snake, six new frogs and a host of new insects in the South American country.

Dr Trond Larsen, one of the field biologists with Conservation International (CI), said they were particularly surprised by the number of frogs. “With many frog species rapidly disappearing around the globe, we were surprised and uplifted to discover so many frogs potentially new to science, including a stunningly sleek ‘cocoa’ ,” he said.

The () was named after its chocolate colouring, and described as an “especially heartening” find by Larsen. It lives on trees, using the round discs on its fingers and toes to climb.

Among the other new finds were a ruby-coloured lilliputian beetle (), named after its tiny dimensions that make it possibly the second smallest dung beetle known in south American.

The remote nature of the area saw the team travel first by plane, then helicopter and then by boat and on foot, with help from 30 men from indigenous communities. At one point “relentless” rain saw the team forced to move after their campsite was flooded.

In total, they found 1,378 different species, and their report concluded “there are very few places left on Earth that are as pristine and untouched as this region.”

But despite the relatively pristine environment, it was not entirely free of human fingerprints – water samples showed mercury above levels safe for human consumption even though there is no upstream mining. The scientists concluded that the mercury was blown in on the wind.

“This demonstrates that even the most isolated and pristine parts of the world are not entirely sheltered from human impacts — all systems are interconnected,” said Larsen.

ImageImageI have been a long time supporter of Conservation International and I applaud the important work they are engaged in globally.