Category Archives: Ecosystem Destruction

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.

Reef Fish at Risk as Carbon Dioxide Levels Build

reef fish
Purple anemone and resident anemonefish or clownfish. Photo source: ©© Nick Hobgood


Rising human carbon dioxide emissions may be affecting the brains and central nervous systems of sea fish, with serious consequences for their survival, an international scientific team has found.

Carbon dioxide concentrations predicted to occur in the ocean by the end of this century will interfere with fishes’ ability to hear, smell, turn and evade predators, the research found…

Read Full Article, Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Australia’s Government Plans To Increase Sand Dredging In Great Barrier Of Reef Area

Gladstone, Queensland, Australia – Storage Silos on the Gladstone waterfront. Photo source: ©© Nickj


Figures obtained through Senate Estimates reveal more than 112 million cubic metres – or 65 Melbourne Cricket Grounds – are proposed to be dredged from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area, with 52 million cubic metres already approved by the Federal Government.

A coalition of representatives from the fishing and tourism industries and reef scientists joined Australian Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters to make the announcement today.

“The amount of dredging planned for the Reef for coal and coal seam gas export is off the charts – until October 2010, 6.5 million cubic metres of dredging had been approved in a five year period, now that’s ballooned to 112 million cubic metres on the books,” Senator Waters said…

The Great Barrier Reef extends for 2,000 kilometers along the 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). Photo source: ©© jamestee

Read Full Press Release, From Larissa Waters, Queensland

Greens Worried By New Dredging Plans ForThe Great Barrier Of Reef, News Aus

Dredging Up The Great Barrier Of Reef, The Australian
Work is already under way to dredge 46 million tonnes of sediment from Gladstone Harbour as part of the $30 billion Curtis Island project to export coal-seam gas to Asia.

Belize Protected Area Boosting Predatory Fish Populations

The Belize Barrier Reef is home to a large diversity of plants and animals, and is one of the most diverse ecosystems of the world. Photograph: © SAF


Sensitive coral reef ecosystems require a delicate balance of marine life to thrive. From the barracudas at the top of the food chain to the algae at the bottom, the system works together to keep itself healthy.

A 14-year study by the Wildlife Conservation Society in an atoll reef lagoon in Glover’s Reef, Belize has found that fishing closures there produce encouraging increases in populations of predatory fish species. However, such closures have resulted in only minimal increases in herbivorous fish, which feed on the algae that smother corals and inhibit reef recovery.

The findings will help WCS researchers in their search for new solutions to the problem of restoring Caribbean reefs damaged by fishing and climate change…

Read Full Article, Wildlife Conservation Society

belize reef
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. Photo source: ©© Jetske19
The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 meters (980 ft) offshore in the north and 40 kilometers (25 mi) in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 kilometers (190 mi) long section of the 900 kilometers (560 mi) long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya up to Honduras making it one of the largest coral reef systems in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef. Captions: Wikipedia

Haiti’s Unnatural Floods

Uploaded by mrtimetree on Youtube.

The nearly complete deforestation of Haiti has caused countless problems for the country, the people, and its biodiversity.

One such problem is examined in this video: the effect on stream flow. It is shown that many floods and droughts in Haiti are caused by deforestation, because forests help retain rain water.

haiti erosion deforestation
Rising waters. In the passed decade or so, Haiti had undergone a major deforestation because of the production of coal. The lack of trees available to soak up fresh rain water causes landslides and flooding. Some areas, like the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti are seeing higher and higher water levels. The water has reached the rooftops of what were once houses, and continue to spill over into the border crossing zone. Nothing is being done to prevent it or change the location of the border crossing zone. Caption and Photo source: ©© Gina Vince

Haiti’s Charcoal Trade In Pictures

As Forests Burn Charcoal Trade Flourishes

Haitian Deforestation, NASA

20 Tonnes Of Dead Herrings Wash Up On Norwegian Coast

Herring fishes. Photo source: NOAA


Norwegians have been left puzzled at the sight of thousands of dead herring fishes carpeting a beach in the northerly district of Nordreisa. Scientists were hoping to test the fish to see if they could ascertain the cause of death.

Original Article, Guardian UK

Millions Of Sardines Found Dead In a Southern California Marina, 2011

Thousands Of Dead Fish Line US East Coast, 2010