Category Archives: Ecosystem Destruction

UN Warns Australia To Protect The Great Barrier Of Reef

The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern coast of Australia. It is not a single reef, but a vast maze of reefs, passages, and coral cays (islands that are part of the reef). UNESCO has given Australia eight months to improve management of the Great Barrier Reef before it is listed as “in danger.” Photo source: ©© jamestee


The United Nations has warned Australia not to allow development of new ports along the Great Barrier Reef, as the World Heritage-listed natural wonder is under threat from “unprecedented” coastal development…

Read Full Article, International Business Times Australia

UNESCO Criticises Australia’s Management of Great Barrier Reef, International Business Times Australia
Green groups in Australia have found an ally in the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in protecting the country’s Great Barrier Reef.

UNESCO Slams Great Barrier Of Reef Management, Herald Sun

Minister welcomes UNESCO’s Great Barrier Reef Report

Convention Concerning The Protection Of The World Cultural And Natural Heritage, UNESCO

Australian Government’s Great Barrier Reef Plans’ Questioned

Relief For The Reef, Greenpeace

Thousands of shellfish found dead in Peru

Photograph: © SAF


Thousands of crustaceans were found dead off the coast of Lima following the mystery mass death of dolphins and pelicans, the Peruvian Navy said…

Read Full Article, AFP

Peru issues public health alert over pelican and dolphin deaths, BBC
The government of Peru has warned people to stay off beaches along large stretches of its northern coastline as it investigates the mysterious deaths of hundreds of dolphins and seabirds.

El Niño Weather and Climate Change Threaten Survival of Baby Leatherback Sea Turtles

sea turtle egg
“El nacimiento.” A sea turtle egg. Photo source: ©©Emmanuel Frezzotti


When leatherback turtle hatchlings dig out of their nests buried in the sandy Playa Grande beach in northwest Costa Rica, they enter a world filled with dangers. This critically endangered species faces threats that include egg poaching and human fishing practices.

Now, Drexel University researchers have found that the climate conditions at the nesting beach affect the early survival of turtle eggs and hatchlings. They predict, based on projections from multiple models, that egg and hatchling survival will drop by half in the next 100 years as a result of global climate change…

Read Full Article, Science Daily

Sea Turtle Egg Poaching Legalized in Costa Rica: The Debate, Coastal Care
An unusual project installed in 1990, to stabilize the population of Olive Ridley sea turtles in the coastal town of Ostional on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, that led the government of Costa Rica to legally permit an exemption to the 1966 nationwide ban on harvesting sea turtle eggs, remains controversial.

Seagrasses Can Store as Much Carbon as Forests

Seagrass at the waterline, Seychelles. Seagrasses are a vital part of the solution to climate change and, per unit area, seagrass meadows can store up to twice as much carbon as the world’s temperate and tropical forests. Photo source: ©© Lawrence Hislop /Unep


Seagrasses are a vital part of the solution to climate change and, per unit area, seagrass meadows can store up to twice as much carbon as the world’s temperate and tropical forests.

So report researchers publishing a paper this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The paper, “Seagrass Ecosystems as a Globally Significant Carbon Stock,” is the first global analysis of carbon stored in seagrasses.

The results demonstrate that coastal seagrass beds store up to 83,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer, mostly in the soils beneath them.

As a comparison, a typical terrestrial forest stores about 30,000 metric tons per square kilometer, most of which is in the form of wood.

The research also estimates that, although seagrass meadows occupy less than 0.2 percent of the world’s oceans, they are responsible for more than 10 percent of all carbon buried annually in the sea.

“Seagrasses only take up a small percentage of global coastal area, but this assessment shows that they’re a dynamic ecosystem for carbon transformation,” said James Fourqurean, the lead author of the paper and a scientist at Florida International University and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site.

The Florida Coastal Everglades LTER site is one of 26 such NSF LTER sites around the world in ecosystems from forests to tundra, coral reefs to barrier islands.

“Seagrasses have the unique ability to continue to store carbon in their roots and soil in coastal seas,” said Fourqurean. “We found places where seagrass beds have been storing carbon for thousands of years.”

The research was led by Fourqurean in partnership with scientists at the Spanish High Council for Scientific Investigation, the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia, Bangor University in the United Kingdom, the University of Southern Denmark, the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Greece, Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Virginia.

Seagrass meadows, the researchers found, store ninety percent of their carbon in the soil–and continue to build on it for centuries.

In the Mediterranean, the geographic region with the greatest concentration of carbon found in the study, seagrass meadows store carbon in deposits many meters deep.

Seagrasses are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Some 29 percent of all historic seagrass meadows have been destroyed, mainly due to dredging and degradation of water quality. At least 1.5 percent of Earth’s seagrass meadows are lost every year.

The study estimates that emissions from destruction of seagrass meadows can potentially emit up to 25 percent as much carbon as those from terrestrial deforestation.

“One remarkable thing about seagrass meadows is that, if restored, they can effectively and rapidly sequester carbon and reestablish lost carbon sinks,” said paper co-author Karen McGlathery, a scientist at the University of Virginia and NSF’s Virginia Coast Reserve LTER site.

The Virginia Coast Reserve and Florida Coastal Everglades LTER sites are known for their extensive seagrass beds.

Seagrasses have long been recognized for their many ecosystem benefits: they filter sediment from the oceans; protect coastlines against floods and storms; and serve as habitats for fish and other marine life.

The new results, say the scientists, emphasize that conserving and restoring seagrass meadows may reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon stores–while delivering important “ecosystem services” to coastal communities.

The research is part of the Blue Carbon Initiative, a collaborative effort of Conservation International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

Read Original Article, NSF

Blue Carbon Initiative

Study Links Biodiversity and Language Loss

Photo source: ©© Davew Wilson


The decline of linguistic and cultural diversity is linked to the loss of biodiversity, a study has suggested.

The authors said that 70% of the world’s languages were found within the planet’s biodiversity hotspots. Data showed that as these important environmental areas were degraded over time, cultures and languages in the area were also being lost.

…One thing that a lot of biologists and ecologists are now seeing is that people are part of these ecosystems…

Read Full Article, BBC

Co-occurrence of linguistic and biological diversity in biodiversity hotspots and high biodiversity wilderness areas, Original Study, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences-PNAS
As the world grows less biologically diverse, it is becoming less linguistically and culturally diverse as well. Biologists estimate annual loss of species at 1,000 times or more greater than historic rates, and linguists predict that 50–90% of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of this century. Prior studies indicate similarities in the geographic arrangement of biological and linguistic diversity, although conclusions have often been constrained by use of data with limited spatial precision.

Navy study: Sonar, Blasts Might Hurt More Sea Life

Photo courtesy of: © PAYC


The U.S. Navy may hurt more dolphins and whales by using sonar and explosives in Hawaii and California under a more thorough analysis that reflects new research and covers naval activities in a wider area than previous studies…

Read Full Article, AP

Accoustic Pollution and Naval Sonar testing
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. Under a plan announced by the NOAA, marine mammal “hot spots” in areas including Southern California’s coastal waters, may become off limits to testing of a type of Navy sonar linked to the deaths of whales.

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…

Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (OEIS) website, NAVY

Herd’s Fate Lies in Preservation Clash

Wild horses, on Corolla Beach. Photo source: ©© dgladfelter


Come summer, the beaches of this barrier island will be choked with cars and sunbathers, but in the off-season the land is left to wild horses.

Thousands of them once roamed the length of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the likely descendants from mounts that belonged to Spanish explorers five centuries ago…

Read Full Article, The New York Times

The Beaches of Core Banks, By Orrin H. Pilkey
The beaches of Core Banks Core Banks’ beaches are a vanishing breed…

Photo source: ©© Natasha Wheatland

Update from Senegal: Changing Things and Shaping the Future

The 120 meter long Russian super trawler “Mikhail Verbitsky” fishing in West Africa waters. Foreign fleets are plundering the West African waters while fish stocks are diminishing. Bycatch like dolphins end up dead or dying in the giant nets of the super trawler. Greenpeace is campaigning in West Africa for the establishment of a sustainable, low impact fisheries policy that takes into account the needs and interests of small-scale fishermen and the local communities that depend on healthy oceans. Captions and Photo source: © Greenpeace / Pierre Gleizes


“Last week, the Senegalese government cancelled all fishing permits for foreign“pelagic trawlers,” large fishing vessels that drag nets below the surface of the ocean.

This should remind leaders that with political will and courage, they can change things and shape the future of their people for the better.

Our work to make this decision permanent in Senegal continues, as does our work to make sure that the European CFP (Common Fisheries Policy) reform process works for all Europeans, not just powerful fishing interests…”

Read Full Article, Greenpeace

Mega Trawlers Emptying African Seas, Greenpeace
West African waters have been subject to overfishing for decades, the effects of which are being felt by protesting local communities. Greenpeace protests against EU subsidised plunder of West African Waters, with level of fishing that is completely unsustainable. Trawlers have a disastrous impact with their ability to make massive catches in an area with already declining fish stocks, destroying both African fisheries and the local fishing industry.