Monday, October 29, 2007

Soap could affect fish behaviour: study

A new study says a chemical commonly found in soap products may be affecting the ability of fish to protect themselves from predators.

The study by Dr Ashley Ward, from the University of Sydney, has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

It examined how fish are effected by the chemical nonylphenol, a soap ingredient which is commonly found in rivers and marine estuaries.

Dr Ward says the chemical could be preventing fish from forming shoals with other fish.

"It seems to be blocking their ability to communicate chemically, so this prevents them from recognising potential shoalmates and recognising other fish, potentially also other fish to avoid," he said.

"Obviously this could have serious impacts on their ability to survive and thrive in their environment."

This is not the only thing nonylphenols are doing to fish. They are also endocrine disrupters, and can inhibit a fishes ability to sexually develop properly. These nonylphenols act as estrogens and prevent the successful development of male fish, essentially having the potential to make a local population "female."

Oldest animal in the world!

This article was sent to me courtesy of another grad student at Stony Brook, Jeronimo, who doesn't think that the stuff I put in my blog is "cool." Hopefully this BBC article is!

Ming the clam is 'oldest animal'
Ming the clam (Source: Bangor University)
Shakespeare was writing plays when the clam was a juvenile
A clam dredged up off the coast of Iceland is thought to have been the longest-lived animal discovered.

Scientists said the mollusc, an ocean quahog clam, was aged between 405 and 410 years and could offer insights into the secrets of longevity.

Researchers from Bangor University in north Wales said they calculated its age by counting rings on its shell.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the longest-lived animal was a clam found in 1982 aged 220.

They are like tiny tape-recorders... sitting on the sea-bed and integrating signals about water temperature and food over time
Professor Chris Richardson
Bangor University
Unofficially, another clam - found in an Icelandic museum - was discovered to be 374-years-old, Bangor University said, making their clam at least 31 years older.

The clam, nicknamed Ming after the Chinese dynasty in power when it was born, was in its infancy when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne and Shakespeare was writing plays such as Othello and Hamlet.

Professor Chris Richardson, from Bangor University's School of Ocean Sciences, told the BBC: "The growth-increments themselves provide a record of how the animal has varied in its growth-rate from year to year, and that varies according to climate, sea-water temperature and food supply.

"And so by looking at these molluscs we can reconstruct the environment the animals grew in. They are like tiny tape-recorders, in effect, sitting on the sea-bed and integrating signals about water temperature and food over time."

'Escaping' old age

Prof Richardson said the clam's discovery could help shed light on how some animals can live to extraordinary ages.

"What's intriguing the Bangor group is how these animals have actually managed, in effect, to escape senescence [growing old]," he said.

"One of the reasons we think is that the animals have got some difference in cell turnover rates that we would associate with much shorter-lived animals."

He said the university had received money from the UK charity Help The Aged to help fund its research.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Parasite Tongue

Icthyoid Alien

Posted by Ross Rosenberg

Cymothoa exigua is a parasitic crustacean like no other, as it does not just live in its host but actually replaces part of the it. First it attaches itself at the base of the tongue of the chosen fish, with the claws on its front three pairs of legs, and begins to extract blood. As the parasite grows, less and less blood is able to reach the tongue, and eventually the organ atrophies and dies, at which time the parasite attaches to the muscles of the tongue stub replacing the tongue with its own body. The fish is able to use the parasite as a fully functional tongue and the parasite survives on food particles, relieving the stress on the host’s appropriated circulatory system.

This is cool... courtesy of

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Scientists: North Atlantic Slows On The Uptake Of CO2; 'A Tremendous Surprise' News Service

East Anglia, U.K. (Oct 23, 2007 14:41 EST) Further evidence for the decline of the oceans’ historical role as an important sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide is supplied by new research by environmental scientists from the University of East Anglia.

Since the industrial revolution, much of the CO2 we have released into the atmosphere has been taken up by the world’s oceans which act as a strong ‘sink’ for the emissions.

This has slowed climate change. Without this uptake, CO2 levels would have risen much faster and the climate would be warming more rapidly.

A paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research by Dr Ute Schuster and Professor Andrew Watson of UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences again raises concerns that the oceans might be slowing their uptake of CO2.

Results of their decade-long study in the North Atlantic show that the uptake in this ocean, which is the most intense sink for atmospheric CO2, slowed down dramatically between the mid-nineties and the early 2000s.

A slowdown in the sink in the Southern Ocean had already been inferred, but the change in the North Atlantic is greater and more sudden, and could be responsible for a substantial proportion of the observed weakening.

The observations were made from merchant ships equipped with automatic instruments for measuring carbon dioxide in the water. Much of the data has come from a container ship carrying bananas from the West Indies to the UK, making a round-trip of the Atlantic every month. The MV Santa Maria, chartered by Geest, has generated more than 90,000 measurements of CO2 in the past few years.

The results show that the uptake by the North Atlantic halved between the mid-90s, when data was first gathered, and 2002-05.

“Such large changes are a tremendous surprise. We expected that the uptake would change only slowly because of the ocean’s great mass,” said Dr Schuster.

“We are cautious about attributing this exclusively to human-caused climate change because this uptake has never been measured before, so we have no baseline to compare our results to. Perhaps the ocean uptake is subject to natural ups and downs and it will recover again.”

But the direction of the change was worrying, she added, and there were some grounds for believing that a ‘saturation’ of the ocean sink would start to occur.

“The speed and size of the change show that we cannot take for granted the ocean sink for the carbon dioxide. Perhaps this is partly a natural oscillation or perhaps it is a response to the recent rapid climate warming. In either case we now know that the sink can change quickly and we need to continue to monitor the ocean uptake,” said Prof Watson.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New scallop fishing gear designed to protect ocean bottom

BOSTON --If Cliff Goudey's new scallop dredge catches on, the future of the Northeast fishery won't look very futuristic, but there could be less debate about whether scallopers are ripping up the ocean floor.

Forget high-tech gadgetry. A simple angled line of large, inverted cups is the key feature of the dredge designed by Goudey, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sea Grant program.

On a traditional dredge, the scallops are knocked free of the ocean's bottom and into a trailing chain bag by a metal cutting bar. Environmentalists say that bar is the most damaging feature of the dredge, destroying the ocean floor habitat that marine life depend on for survival.

"It's been likened to a bulldozer going along the bottom," said Gib Brogan of the environmental group Oceana.

But Goudey's dredge replaces the cutting bar with the line of cups, which redirect the water flow created when the dredge moves, shooting it at the scallops and popping them off the sea floor.

Scientists differ about the effects of the fishing gear on the ocean floor. Ironically, Goudey believes the problem is hugely exaggerated. He said the traditional dredge moves so quickly it barely hits the bottom, and can't do the damage environmentalists claim.

His work, he hopes, can eventually help make the issue irrelevant.

"Right or wrong, the disturbance being caused is unnecessary," Goudey said. "If you can catch scallops without doing that, why not?"

The scallop is a shellfish about the size of an adult hand. Most people eat only the abductor muscle, which opens and shuts the animal's shell. Scallops are found worldwide, including off China and Japan, but the Atlantic scallop is larger than other species.

The Atlantic scallop fleet consists of 350 boats in ports from New England to Virginia, and another 400 or so smaller boats that fish scallops less frequently.

New Bedford's scallop fishery is hugely profitable and the reason the city has been the highest revenue fishing port in the country for seven straight years. Last year, the port's catch was worth $281 million.

Read the rest of the here. This could be good news, although there is debate as to the efficiency of the new dredge, and I find it hard to believe fisherman will embrace it unless forced. That being said, I do like hearing about this and would be interested to see if they could come up with a less destructive dredge for bay scallops, once that wouldn't destroy eelgrass beds, that would be great.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Invasive Lionfish Found off Georgia Coast

Venemous Fish Found on the First Coast

GRAYS REEF, GA -- A deadly fish has been discovered for the first time in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary, located in the Atlantic Ocean, twenty miles off the Georgia coast.

The lionfish were spotted between 60 and 70 feet below the surface, making it one of the shallowest confirmed adult lionfish sightings.

Red lionfish have maroon and white zebra stripes and a plume of feathery spines.

Lionfish stings can be excruciatingly painful.
A person punctured by the sharp spines will immediately feel a strong pain. Rapid swelling of the affected body area develops along with the possibility of making movement of limbs very difficult. Lion-fish stings can cause nausea, breathing difficulties, paralysis, convulsions and collapse. Even death may occur in some instances.

Lionfish stings are also a new marine-related injury not previously encountered by area physicians, hospitals, or first responders.

Divers visiting the Gray’s Reef sanctuary are urged to exercise caution around lionfish. Sanctuary officials are asking divers to report sightings of lionfish to Gray’s Reef sanctuary staff at 912-598-2345.

This is certainly odd to me, mostly because lionfish have been found in Florida reefs and for the past few years in Shinnecock Bay of Long Island, where I work, around rockpiles holding up the old bridge and near the jetties at the inlet. I find it hard to believe that they surpassed Georgia and were found in NY first, although maybe they haven't received enough attention up in NY. I have touched upon this last year. Its crazy. Also, the lionfish here in NY are found in shallow water, 30 feet or less.

Acid Oceans From Carbon Dioxide Will Endanger One Third Of Marine Life, Scientists Predict

ScienceDaily (Oct. 19, 2007) — The world’s oceans are becoming more acid, with potentially devastating consequences for corals and the marine organisms that build reefs and provide much of the Earth’s breathable oxygen.

The acidity is caused by the gradual buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, dissolving into the oceans. Scientists fear it could be lethal for animals with chalky skeletons which make up more than a third of the planet’s marine life.

“Recent research into corals using boron isotopes indicates the ocean has become about one third of a pH unit more acid over the past fifty years. This is still early days for the research, and the trend is not uniform, but it certainly looks as if marine acidity is building up,” says Professor Malcolm McCulloch of CoECRS and the Australian National University.

“It appears this acidification is now taking place over decades, rather than centuries as originally predicted. It is happening even faster in the cooler waters of the Southern Ocean than in the tropics. It is starting to look like a very serious issue.”

Corals and plankton with chalky skeletons are at the base of the marine food web. They rely on sea water saturated with calcium carbonate to form their skeletons. However, as acidity intensifies, the saturation declines, making it harder for the animals to form their skeletal structures (calcify).

Read the rest here.

Of course this is a very serious problem. The reason the ocean is becoming more acid is simple, the partial pressures of gases try to be at equilibrium between the ocean and the atmosphere, so as atmospheric CO2 goes up, much of it is getting dissolved into the oceans. In fact if the oceans were not so efficient as a carbon sink, the CO2 in the atmosphere might be twice as high! This poses a threat to calcareous animals including coral reefs which everyone loves. But another devastating impact is on a phytoplankton group known as coccolithophores, which secrete a calcium carbonate test, or shell. In this way they act as a double whammy for the carbon pump. Not only do they use CO2 to make cellular material, they also uses it for an outer coat. They are very important for the sequestration of carbon, and the loss of these phytoplankton could be devastating as well. Look them up for more info.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Exotic creatures found in ‘coral triangle’

Expedition to diverse sea may have turned up new species, scientists say

Slide show
Dr. Larry Madin shows a slide of a juvenile boxfish photographed in Manila
Celebrities of the Celebes Sea
See the strange creatures found during a scientific expedition to the Celebes Sea in the southern Philippines.
By Oliver Teves
Updated: 12:51 p.m. ET Oct 16, 2007

MANILA, Philippines - U.S. and Philippine scientists may have discovered new marine species in the world's most biologically diverse region, their expedition leader said Tuesday.

Larry Madin, who led the Inner Space Speciation Project in the Celebes Sea south of the Philippines, said scientists had been to one of the world's deep-ocean basins in search of organisms that may have been isolated there for millions of years.

Madin, of the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, or WHOI, said the Celebes Sea is at the heart of the "coral triangle" bordered by the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia — a region recognized by scientists as having the greatest degree of biological diversity of the coral reef community of fish and other marine life.

In the last year numerous new species have been discovered at the previously unexplored depths of the oceans. It is kind of amazing when you think about it, 70% of the earth is covered with water, and only now are we starting to really explore the depths, whereas we have been involved in space exploration for over 50 years. Read the rest of the article above here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Plan to Fix Jamaica Bay

Jamaica Bay Plan Would Cleanse New York's Estuary

NEW YORK, New York, October 15, 2007 (ENS) - Many New Yorkers are not aware that within the confines of the five boroughs are open water, salt marshes, grasslands, coastal woodlands, maritime shrublands and freshwater wetlands. At least 90 fish species, 325 species of birds and many reptiles, amphibians and small mammals share portions of Brooklyn and Queens with human residents.

The 39 square-mile body of water that supports these ecosystems is Jamaica Bay, located on the southwestern tip of Long Island in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, New York City and the town of Hempstead, Nassau County.

Surrounded by intensive residential, commercial, and industrial development, Jamaica Bay receives pollution from both municipal waste water discharge from three plants, combined sewer overflows, and untreated stormwater runoff from area roads and from the runways at John F. Kennedy Airport which is contaminated with de-icing chemicals.

Contaminants leach from three large closed landfills, airborne soot and toxic chemicals from transportation are deposited, there is windblown trash, and the potential risk of spills due to water transportation of oil and chemical products in the bay.

Nutrient and organic matter inputs result in phytoplankton blooms, low levels of light transmission, and low bottom dissolved oxygen concentrations. Present and historic inputs of toxics, such as hydrocarbons and heavy metals, have contaminated sediments in parts of the bay and may bioaccumulate in fish and birds.

To address these issues, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, has just released a set of strategies to restore and maintain the water quality and ecological integrity of Jamaica Bay.

The Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan, which took 18 months to produce, recommends a series of Best Management Practices, BMPs, for stormwater management.

"Jamaica Bay is a crucial environmental resource for New York City that must be preserved and conserved," said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. "The Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan not only provides a tool to achieve that goal, but it also provides the basis for testing promising sustainable stormwater management techniques that may be beneficial beyond the boundaries of the Jamaica Bay Watershed."

The plan includes the proposal by DEP of nitrogen control methods at two wastewater treatment plants to reduce nutrient loading into the Bay.

Water quality improvements will be enhanced by reintroduction of oyster reefs and eel grass beds.

The Jamaica Bay effort anticipates the participation of other city agencies, and will be coordinated with PlaNYC's efforts to address citywide stormwater management issues through the Interagency BMP Taskforce. This body includes 14 city agencies and is coordinated by the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability as part of PlaNYC.

"Enhancing our water quality citywide is an important part of PlaNYC. To do it, we have to find ways to preserve natural areas and better manage stormwater, and the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan will help do both," said Rohit Aggarwala, director of the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.

Delivered to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on October 2, the plan is the result of research and dialogue with city stakeholders and regular consultation with the seven member Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan Advisory Committee.

The plan is structured around six major categories - water quality, restoration of the ecology, stormwater management, public education and outreach, public use, and implementation and coordination.

The plan calls for ensuring that the entire New York City sewer system can be cleaned every seven to 10 years, and creating a sewer system inspection.

It also looks at separating storm sewers from sanitary sewers and reducing wastewater discharges from recreational boats directly into Jamaica Bay.

The plan offers several ideas for moderating the surge of runoff after precipitation events, such as monitoring the effectiveness of blue roof versus green roof control methodologies; distributing 1,000 rain barrels to homeowners; promoting rooftop detention in new construction; utilizing porous pavement on DEP property; and adding landscape and bioretention components to commercial and community facility parking lots that are greater than 6,000 square feet or 18 spaces.

Looking at open space, the Jamaica Bay Plan recommends installing tree swales on six sites to capture runoff from roadways, implementing stormwater parks on additional publicly owned vacant parcels to capture stormwater runoff, planting street trees throughout the Jamaica Bay watershed; and increasing tree stocking level in East New York.

The plan calls for a 20-mile continuous greenway loop around the Bay and a greenway to connect Brooklyn/Queens Greenway system to Jamaica Bay waterfront. The plan's greenway improvements include landscaping, a multi-use path, a bike rack, pedestrian ramps, and traffic signals, among other things.

The plan envisions an education campaign for developers, residents and business owners; a State of the Bay symposium and enhancement of the Jamaica Bay Educational Curriculum, a resource directory.

Tale of 2 lakes

A tale of two big lakes plagued with pollution by -- For 73-year-old fisherman Ni Tingrong, who lives in a village on the northwestern shore of Taihu Lake, China's third largest freshwater lake, the idyllic scenes portrayed in the folk song "Beauty of Taihu Lake" are...

This is just the beginning of an article about these massive polluted lakes in China that are now receiving attention... They are threatened by cyanobacteria blooms that are devastating fish populations, and possibly threatening the human population, with millions of citizens relying on these lakes for drinking water...

Friday, October 12, 2007

a letter from al gore

Dear john,

I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--the world's pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis--a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years. We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.

My wife, Tipper, and I will donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the award to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the U.S. and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

Thank you,

Al Gore

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A letter to National Marine Fisheries service

Thanks to an email I received from Robert Klavins at Environment Massachusetts, I wanted to post the text of the letter a coalition of religious leaders, scientists, divers, fishermen, and many more, sent to the Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service...

Re: Comments on Proposed National Standard 1 Regulations and Guidance

Dear Dr. Hogarth:

Our organizations represent over nine million Americans who are concerned about the health of our ocean, its fish, marine mammals like whales, dolphins and porpoises, and sea turtles. We are scientists, religious leaders and congregations, scuba divers, business leaders, recreational fishermen, fishing related businesses, environmental organizations, students, ecotourism providers, beach goers, and tourism organizations, united in our concern for healthy oceans and fish populations. We were pleased at the passage of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 2006 (MSA) because it gave us hope that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Regional Fishery Management Councils would manage the public’s fishery resources in much better ways.

It is now incumbent on all of us --citizens, fishermen, scientists, and business people-- who want healthier oceans and fish to put that good law to work on the water, in fishing boats and at regional fishery management council meetings. First, we are pleased by the conservation oriented tone of your public statements and those of others in the Bush administration about the issue of ending overfishing. This indicates a true appreciation of the tough problems that our fisheries face today and a willingness to challenge ‘business as usual’ in the management of fisheries.

We believe that National Standard 1 guidance should make the following changes in the way that your agency and regional councils conduct business. Specifically:

· The independent science committees on each council should set science based annual catch limits that incorporate a precautionary approach or buffers to keep actual catch below the level of overfishing with a high percentage of certainty. NMFS and the regional councils cannot continue the practice of managing up to the edge of what’s theoretically sustainable without breaking the law that bans overfishing. There is too much uncertainty in the ocean about how many fish are really out there and how well they are reproducing and growing to allow for that approach.

· Fishery managers should create clear, equitable, and consistent accountability measures that keep fish stocks out of trouble if annual catch limits are exceeded. Penalties or compensatory action for going over the annual catch limit should be done immediately (ie., in season’) or no later than the next year. Accurate, timely reporting and aggregation of total catch from all sectors (commercial, charter, and recreational) is a key building block of any successful accountability system. To that end, data from each fishery should be collected as soon as possible after landing the fish. This will mean less overshooting and undershooting of annual catch limits.

· You must preserve full environmental reviews and opportunity for public comments on fishery management plans. Preparing environmental reviews and fishery plans can and should be done in a smooth, useful, coordinated fashion.

In sum, we are very pleased with the proposals that NMFS has considered so far in revising the NS1. We hope to see as many of these good ideas embedded in the final regulations and guidance as possible. We have a unique opportunity to make a quantum advance in the way we manage our fisheries. As you know, that opportunity only comes along once every decade. Let’s make that quantum advance and guarantee healthier oceans for all.

Thank you,

Religious Organizations

Rev. Roger Burkhart, Reverand

Spirituality and Earth Stewardship Committee of the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ

Gareth Evans, Rector

St. John's Episcopalian Church, Charlestown, MA

Stephen T. Ayres, Vicar

Old North Episcopalian Church

Boston, MA

Environment Group of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford

Medford, MA

Jenny Fleming –Ives

Environmental Task Force of the Hampshire Interfaith Council

Northampton, MA

Religious Leaders (as individuals)

Pastor Sarah J. Anderson, Pastor

Christ the King Lutheran Church, Springfield, MA

Rev. Stephen Cook, Reverand

Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence

Ellen Bernstein, Founder

Hebrew College

Rev. Georganne Greene, Reverand

Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield, Springfield, MA

Recreational Groups

David Prescott, Chairman

Surfrider Foundation, Rhode Island Chapter

Andrew Krupa, Chairman

Surfrider Foundation, Connecticut Chaper

Jenny Miller Garmendia, Director

Project AWARE Foundation

Heather L. Knowles, Captain

North Atlantic Dive Expeditions, Inc., Beverly, MA

Jason Schrwratwiesler, Conservation Director

International Game Fish Association, Dania Beach, FL

Roy Chamberlain, Vice President

South Shore Neptunes Dive Club, Marshfield, MA


Dr. Manuel A. Morales

Williams College

Dr. Joan Edwards

Williams College

Dr. Timothy Downs

Clark University

Dr. Halina Brown

Clark University

Dr. Mark McMenamin

Mt. Holyoke

Dr. Jody Emel

Clark University

Dr. Jennie C. Stephens

Clark University

Dr. Curtice R. Griffin

UMASS Amherst

Dr. Guy Lanza

UMASS Amherst

Dr. Maria Rodrigues

Holy Cross

Dr. Boyd Kynard

UMASS Amherst

Dr. Buzz Hoagland

Westfield State College

Dr. Theresa McBride

Holy Cross

Dr. John T. Finn

UMASS Amherst

Dr. Paulette M. Peckol

Smith College

Dr. Robert Bertin

Holy Cross

Dr. Rob Goble

Clark University

Environmental Groups:

Frank Gorke, Director,

Environment Massachusetts

Boston, MA

Matt Rand, Director,

Conserve Our Ocean Legacy Campaign, Washington, DC

Gerry Leape, Vice president,

Marine Conservation, National Environmental Trust, Washington, DC

Peg Harrington, New England Representative,

Conserve Our Ocean Legacy Campaign, Salem, MA

Norris McDonald, President,

African American Environmentalist Association

Erika Staaf, Advocate

Environment New Hampshire

Matt Auten, Advocate

Environment Rhode Island

Renata von Tscharner, President & Founder

The Charles River Conservancy

Cambridge, MA

Michelle Hohensee, Administrative Coordinator

Save Our Shores

Charlie Lord, Executive Director

Urban Ecology Institute, Chestnut Hill, MA

Julie Crockford, President

Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Brookline, MA

Paul G. Johnson, President and Chairman of the Board

Reef Relief,

Mike Hanauer

Massachusetts Environmentalists for Sustainable Population

Lauren Finan

REEF Environmental Education Foundation

Pine DuBois, Executive Director

Jones River Watershed Association, Kingston, MA

Bill Mott, Director

The Ocean Project

Jim Bourque, Regional Campaign Director


Community Leaders (as individuals)

Sue Sutter, Boston, MA

Lonna Maratty, Cape Neddick, ME

Lori Tsuruda, Founder

People Making a Difference, Boston, MA

Student Groups

Amanda O’Brien, President

Husky Environmental Action Team, Boston, MA

Lani Gedeon

Sierra Club, Hampshire College Chapter, Amherst, MA

Emily Lewis, Co-President

Students for Environmental Action, Northeastern University

Boston, MA

BU Organic Gardening Club, Boston, MA

Business Leaders (as individuals)

Gib Chase,

Eco Consultants, International

Tedi Dickinson

Earth Economics

Elena Saporta

American Society of Landscape Architects, Cambridge, MA

Other Organizations

Mike Gravitz, Oceans Advocate

USPIRG, Washington, DC

Sharon B. Young, Marine Issues Field Director
The Humane Society of the U.S.

Diane Buccheri, Publisher

OCEAN Magazine

Walrus threat as ice melts

October 08, 2007 12:00am

THOUSANDS of walruses have appeared on Alaska's northwest coast in what conservationists are calling a dramatic consequence of global warming melting the Arctic sea ice.

Alaska's walrus, especially breeding females, in summer and autumn are usually found on the Arctic ice pack.

But the lowest summer ice cap on record put sea ice far north of the outer continental shelf, the shallow, life-rich shelf of ocean bottom in the Bering and Chukchi seas.

Walrus feed on clams, snails and other bottom dwellers. Given the choice between an ice platform over water beyond their 192-metre diving range or gathering spots on shore, thousands of walruses chose Alaska's rocky beaches.

"It looks to me like animals are shifting their distribution to find prey," said Tim Ragen, the executive director of the federal Marine Mammal Commission.

"The big question is whether they will be able to find sufficient prey in areas where they are looking."

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre at the University of Colorado at Boulder, September sea ice was 39 per cent below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000.

Sea ice cover was in a downward spiral and might have passed the point of no return, with a possible ice-free Arctic Ocean by northern summer 2030, senior scientist Mark Serreze said.

Starting in July, several thousand walruses abandoned the ice pack.

The immediate concern of new, massive walrus groups for the US Fish and Wildlife Service is danger to the animals from stampedes.

Longer term, biologists fear walrus will suffer nutritional stress if they are concentrated on shoreline rather than spread over thousands of kilometres of sea ice.

- AP

This has been the case for some time and the alarming trend appears as if it will continue. There have been numerous science articles on this subject. A more recent text is from Science entitled: A major ecosystem shift in the North Bering Sea.