Category Archives: Ecosystem Destruction

Residents split over dredging plan for giant cruise liners, UK

falmouth cornwall
Falmouth port, Cornwall, as seen from the seaside. Falmouth is located on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. Falmouth harbour forms the third deepest natural harbour in the world, and the deepest in Western Europe. It is also famous for being the start or finish point of various round-the-world record-breaking voyages. Wikipedia. Photo source: ©© Eva Krocher


Falmouth Bay is one of England’s finest stretches of marine habitat, with a profusion of creeks that penetrate deep into the heart of the Cornish countryside, and oak woods covering the coastline. It is a distinctive, unspoiled landscape, protected by strict environmental legislation and enjoyed by thousands of tourists every summer.

But the tranquillity of Falmouth could soon be disrupted. A controversial plan to dredge a channel through part of the bay to open up the port to giant cruise ships has caused consternation among conservationists and the dispute will test European rules to protect ecosystems…

Read Full Article, Guardian UK

Palm Beach County’s new beach erosion fight reignites sea turtle concerns

Photograph: © SAF


One year ago, threats to endangered sea turtles helped sink Palm Beach County plans to build erosion-fighting rock walls offshore from shrinking beaches in front of condominium towers.

Now a new proposal has surfaced to use different shoreline structures to combat erosion without creating as many obstacles for newly hatched turtles trying to make it from sand to sea…

About two-thirds of Palm Beach County’s 46 miles of beach is considered “critically eroded,” according to state standards. Photo source: ©© Benson Kua

Read Full Article, Palm Beach News

Are Jellyfish Increasing in the World’s Oceans? A UCSB Study

Photo source: ©© Laureskew


Blooms, or proliferation, of jellyfish have shown a substantial, visible impact on coastal populations, clogged nets for fishermen, stinging waters for tourists, even choked intake lines for power plants, and recent media reports have created a perception that the world’s oceans are experiencing increases in jellyfish due to human activities such as global warming and overharvesting of fish.

Now, a new global and collaborative study conducted at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) questions claims that jellyfish are increasing worldwide and suggests claims are not supported with any hard evidence or scientific analyses to date…

Read Full Article, UCSB

Malaysia Says to Rule Soon on Rare Earths Plant

Anti miner Lynas, protests, Kuantan. The world’s largest refinery for rare earth metals has risen out of the red mud of a coastal swamp, near Kuantan, a Malaysian east coast town near the plant site. Photo source: ©© avlxy


A government ruling on whether Australian miner Lynas would be given the go-ahead for a controversial rare earths processing plant was expected within days, Malaysia’s trade minister said Tuesday.

The facility is being built in Malaysia’s eastern Pahang state, which is set to become one of the few sites outside China to process rare earths, metals used in high-tech equipment ranging from missiles to mobile phones…

Rare earth oxides. Photo source: Peggy Greb, US department of agriculture.

Read Full Article, AFP

Malaysia Grants License To Lynas’ Rare Earth Plant
Malaysia on February 1st, granted a license for an Australian mining company to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years, despite public protests over fears of radioactive contamination…

Rare Earth Metal Refinery Nears Approval, The New York Times

The Rare Earths Processing Plant: Fear of a Toxic Rerun, The New York Times

Dirty, Dangerous and Destructive: The elements of a Technology Boom, Guardian UK
Rare earth metals are, if you’re reading this, all around you. They’re in your computer or tablet or mobile device.

Rare earth metals and their role in the built environment, Guardian UK

The Geology of Rare Earth Elements

Oil Spill Brings Attention to Delicate Gulf Coast


For decades, farmers and fishermen along the Gulf of Mexico watched as their sensitive ecosystem’s waters slowly got dirtier and islands eroded, all while the country largely ignored the destruction.

It took BP PLC’s well blowing out in the Gulf, and the resulting environmental catastrophe when millions of gallons of oil spewed into the ocean and washed ashore, for the nation to turn its attention to the slow, methodical ruin of an ecosystem vital to the U.S. economy. Last month, more than a year and a half after the spill began, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a three-year, $50 million initiative designed to improve water quality along the coast…

Read Full Article, AP

Accoustic Pollution and Naval Sonar testing

whale bone
Whale vertebrae. Photo source: ©© chrisstreeter


Whales and the U.S. Navy have tangled repeatedly over the past years over charges that the Navy’s sonar exercises disorient or injure whales and other marine mammals. Now, whales in the Pacific appear to have a new champion: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is considering limiting the Navy’s sonar tests in certain marine mammal “hot spots.”

The announcement was made in a letter from NOAA head Jane Lubchenco to the White House Council on Environmental Quality…

Read Full Article, Discover Magazine

NOAA may prohibit Navy sonar testing at marine mammal ‘hot spots’, Los Angeles Times

Groups sue over Navy sonar use off Northwest, AP

Accoustic Pollution and Marine Mammals, Nature
In the Canary Islands, 14 beaked whales washed ashore bleeding from the ears. All eventually died. A post-mortem examination revealed that the whales showed signs of decompression sickness (what scuba divers call “the bends”). Decompression sickness can occur when a mammal swims to the ocean’s surface too quickly, and the change in pressure produces lethal nitrogen gas bubbles that clog its blood vessels. Evidence of acute decompression sickness indicates unusual behavior. Over the past 40 years, cumulative research across the globe has revealed a coincidence between naval sonar testing events and acute decompression sickness in beached marine mammals…

Structural and Functional Loss in Restored Wetland Ecosystems

salwater wetland
Saltwater wetland. Mangrove trees bordering a tidal estuary in the Florida Everglades, now one of the largest ecological restoration projects in the world. Photo source: ©© Moni3 / Wikipedia. Wetland restoration is a billion-dollar-a-year industry that aims to create ecosystems similar to those that disappeared over the past century. But a new analysis of restoration projects shows that restored wetlands seldom reach the quality of a natural wetland. Caption: Science Daily.

Structural and Functional Loss in Restored Wetland Ecosystems by David Moreno-Mateos, Mary E. Power, Francisco A. Comín, Roxana Yockteng / Integrative Biology Department, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States of America

“Wetlands, which include tropical mangroves and boreal peatlands, are among the most productive and economically valuable ecosystems in the world, because they provide critical ecosystem goods and services, such as carbon storage, biodiversity conservation, fish production, water purification, and erosion control.

However, because of human activities, over half of the wetland ecosystems existing in North America, Europe, Australia, and China in the early 20th century have been lost. As global change accelerates the loss of wetlands, ecological restoration to recover critical ecosystem services has been widely attempted, but the degree of actual recovery of ecosystem functioning and structure from these efforts remains uncertain.

Our results from a meta-analysis of 621 wetland sites from throughout the world show that even a century after restoration efforts, biological structure (driven mostly by plant assemblages), and biogeochemical functioning (driven primarily by the storage of carbon in wetland soils), remained on average 26% and 23% lower, respectively, than in reference sites. Either recovery has been very slow, or postdisturbance systems have moved towards alternative states that differ from reference conditions. We also found significant effects of environmental settings on the rate and degree of recovery. Large wetland areas (>100 ha) and wetlands restored in warm (temperate and tropical) climates recovered more rapidly than smaller wetlands and wetlands restored in cold climates. Also, wetlands experiencing more (riverine and tidal) hydrologic exchange recovered more rapidly than depressional wetlands.

Restoration performance is limited: current restoration practice fails to recover original levels of wetland ecosystem functions, even after many decades. If restoration as currently practiced is used to justify further degradation, global loss of wetland ecosystem function and structure will spread…”

Read Full Article, in Plos Biology

Coastal Storms Have Long-Reaching Effects, Study Says

Photo source: ©© Irargerich


Coastal storms are known to cause serious damage along the shoreline, but they also cause significant disruption of the deep-sea ecosystem as well, according to a study of extreme coastal storms in the Western Mediterranean published in the Jan. 25 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.

Read Full Article, Science Daily

One-Third of Central Catalan Coast Is Very Vulnerable to Storm Impact, Science Daily
A coast’s capacity to cope with the impact of a storm depends on the intensity of the storm and the geomorphology of each beach. The most common “damaging” processes are flooding and erosion.