Study: Warming Oceans Cause Fish Decline As High as 35%

Researchers compared the changes in 235 fish and shellfish populations across 38 ocean regions that have occurred from 1930 to 2010 - a 4% decrease.

A new study concludes that climate change is adversely affecting the quantity of fish in the oceans. The scientists also noted that overfishing, specifically in the Sea of Japan region - where the decline is as high as 35%, has significantly added to the problem.

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“We were surprised at the strength the impact of warming has already had on fish populations,” study lead author and University of California Santa Barbara ecologist Chris Free, stated.

Researchers compared the changes in 235 fish and shellfish populations across 38 ocean regions that have occurred from 1930 to 2010 - a 4% decrease.

In 2016, 171 million tons of fish were taken from the sea, and that number is trending to rise to 201 million in the next 10 years.

Overall, about 8% of the fish and shellfish populations that was studied experienced losses as a result of the ocean warming, while a 4% population increase took place in others, according to Science journal.

Notably, the warmer waters can put metabolic stress on the fish, affecting reproduction or food sourcing - causing zooplankton - essential fish food - to decline.

“It's like a one-two punch,” study co-author Malin Pinksy, an ecologist at Rutgers, remarked.

“If fishing already knocks them down, they're more likely to respond poorly when it's hot. We knew that animals were moving into new locations, but I didn't realize it already affected the ability of these populations to produce fish.”

Pinksy warned that growing fish populations should be viewed with caution, since “fish are a bit like goldilocks. For some it's too cold, but warming will make it too hot.”

According to the study’s findings, the sustainable catch of 124 fish and shellfish species have been directly linked to warming of the world’s ocean, over the past 80 years.

“Food security is a big concern,” Pinksy explained, adding that an estimated three billion people use fish as their primary source of protein.

“Beyond that... we also know that it has very important local impacts for those who make their livelihoods catching these fish,” the Rutger ecologist said, noting that “no-take” zones could be implemented as a population replenishing mechanism.

The study also revealed that ocean temperatures have increased by about half a degree Celsius.  

Climate change will even change the color of the oceans, study says

(CNN)The ocean will not look the same color in the future. It won't turn pink or anything radically different; the change will be more apparent through optic sensors than though the human eye. But it serves as an early warning sign that global warming is significantly altering the planet's ecosystems, according to a new study.

Essentially, climate change will make the blues of the ocean bluer and the greens greener. Scientists figured this out by creating a global model that simulates the growth of a tiny creature that lives in the oceans and affects the color we see. Their research was published Monday in the journal Nature Communications.

The ocean looks blue or green to us because of a combination of how sunlight interacts with water molecules and with whatever else lives in that water.
The molecules in water absorb all but the blue part of the spectrum of sunlight, and the water reflects that blue color back. That's the color we see.
The water looks greener when it has more phytoplankton, tiny, microscopic organisms that, like plants, can use chlorophyll to capture mostly the blue portions of the spectrum of sunlight. They then use photosynthesis to create the chemical energy they need to live. When there are more of these creatures in the water absorbing sunlight, they make the water look greener. Conversely, if there are fewer phytoplankton, the water looks bluer.
The creatures' growth is dependent on how much sunlight, carbon dioxide and nutrients are around. Climate change is altering the ocean currents, meaning there will be fewer nutrients for phytoplankton to feed on in some areas, so there will be a decline in their number in those regions.
Since the 1990s, satellites have taken regular measurements of how much chlorophyll is in the ocean. Those levels can change because of weather events or because of climate change. But using those images to look at reflected light alone, the researchers in the new study could distinguish what is specifically due to climate change. And they noticed that there will be a significant shift in the color of the oceans much earlier than was previously predicted, just looking at chlorophyll changes.
The study predicts that the blues will intensify, most likely in subtropical regions where phytoplankton will decrease. These are areas near the equator like Bermuda and the Bahamas that are already quite low in phytoplankton.
Regions where there are a lot of nutrients, like in the Southern Ocean or parts of the North Atlantic, will see even faster-growing phytoplankton because those waters are warming with climate change. Those waters will look greener.
Climate change will bring a color change to half of the world's oceans by the end of the 21st century, the study says. That's bad for climate change on several levels: For one, phytoplankton remove about as much carbon dioxide from the air as plants and help regulate our climate, research shows. They are also key to other animals' survival.
"The change is not a good thing, since it will definitely impact the rest of the food web," said study co-author Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a principal research scientist in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. "Phytoplankton are at the base, and if the base changes, it endangers everything else along the food web, going far enough to the polar bears or tuna or just about anything that you want to eat or love to see in pictures."
 

Climate Change: Warming Oceans Set Heat Record in 2018

A team of Chinese and U.S. scientists estimated that the world’s oceans are warming by up to 40% faster than previously thought.

The oceans are warming faster than previously estimated, setting a new temperature record in 2018 in a trend that is causing major damage to marine life, a Science article published Thursday warns.

RELATED: Climate Change Causing 'Vicious C02 Circle': New Report

"How fast are the oceans warming?" was the main question addressed by a team of Chinese and U.S. scientists in a research which demonstrates that "global warming is here and has major consequences already. There is no doubt, none!"

New measurements, aided by an international network of 3,900 floats deployed in the oceans since 2000, showed more warming - since 1971 - than calculated by the 2013 UN assessment of climate change.

According to Lijing Cheng, a scientist from China's Institute of Atmospheric Physics, "2018 was the warmest year on record for the global ocean" as marine temperatures as far down as 2,000 meters rose about 0.1 degree Celsius. 

"Observational records of ocean heat content show that ocean warming is accelerating," the team of scientists stated and also explained that greenhouse gas emissions warm the atmosphere, and a large part of the heat gets absorbed by the oceans.

The heat absorption process, in turn, changes the physical-chemical properties of marine ecosystems, which displaces marine like forcing them to flee to cooler waters.

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Deep ocean temperatures are less influenced by annual variations in weather and can take more than 1,000 years to adjust to changes like regions closer to the surface. "The deep ocean reflects the climate of the deep and uncertain past," Kevin Trenberth, a co-author of the study, said.

Among effects, extra warmth can reduce oxygen in the ocean and damage coral reefs that serve as nurseries for fish, the scientists said. While warmer seas release more moisture that can stoke more powerful storms.

Despite growing evidence of the human-driven global climate change, some heads of state and government across the globe - mainly far-right administrations - deny the existence of a problem.

In that sense, for example, U.S. President Donald Trump and his allies, such as Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, have, recently, questioned and make advancements towards terminating some multilateral agreements and shuttering institutions that could help contain environmental threats to humanity.

 

Whale Found Dead In Indonesia With 115 Plastic Cups In Stomach

Jakarta: A sperm whale found dead in a national park in Indonesia had nearly six kilogrammes (13.2 lbs) of plastic waste, including 115 cups, in its stomach, park officials said on Tuesday.

The 9.5-metre (31.17 ft) whale was found in waters near Kapota Island, part of the Wakatobi National Park, south east of Sulawesi, the park said in a statement.

The park is famous among divers for its large area of reefs and diverse marine life including rays and whales.

The cause of death was not known, but park officials found plastic bottles, bags, sandals, and a sack with more than 1,000 pieces of string in the whale's stomach.

In June, the death of a pilot whale in Thailand with 80 pieces of plastic rubbish in its stomach garnered headlines locally, but drew more attention outside the country.

gcfrglvgThe cause of death was not known, but officials found plastic bottles, bags and sandals in the whale'stomach.

Five Asian nations -- China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand -- account for up to 60 percent of plastic waste leaking into oceans, said a 2015 report by the environmental campaigner Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment.

Indonesia, ranked second behind China in the 2015 study of mismanaged plastic waste from populations living near coastal areas in 192 countries, has pledged $1 billion a year to reduce marine plastic debris by 70 percent by 2025.

Wakatobi park planned to bury the whale carcass at high tide on Tuesday, and the remains would be used for study purposes by the local marine academy.

  • Published in World

Cuba supports investments in the sea in search of metals

Juan Ruiz Quintana, Director General of Mining, of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, today supported a proposal by the 70th anniversary regular Council meeting of the Interoceanmetal Joint Organization to attract investment in the oceans in search of metals.

We support this initiative and urge the countries that make up the organization to update the legal framework for its management in order to undertake it, suggested the representative of the Island in one of his speeches at the meeting, which is being held in Burgas, a city on the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea.

According to sources from the Ministry of Energy and Mines from the venue of the event, the Cuban representative indicated in this regard the need to take into account the Convention on the Sea, also known as the Law of the Sea, and the legislation of each member of Interoceanmetal, not only in terms of law, but also environmental requirements.

The deliberations of the meeting in plenary will be held until Thursday to analyze the progress of the mining project to extract cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), zinc (Zn) and manganese (Mn) from the marine nodules.

Such a project is international in nature because it is sponsored by Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Cuba.

Mineral resources are finite and this reality has caused many countries to look to the sea in order to find sources for obtaining metals, as was once the case for oil production, according to specialists in the sector.

They considered that this will be the future secure source for the continued development of information technology and electric cars, based on the mineral resources deposited on the ocean floor.

With this perspective in mind, the plenary sessions of the Interoceanic Council have been held in the Bulgarian city of Burgas, which advocates the granting of a geological research concession in the zone located between the Clarion and Clipperton fractures in the Western Pacific, southwest of Baja California, with potentialities in polymetallic marine nodules.

On the last day of its sessions, a protocol will be signed, setting out the action plan until its meeting in November, when the date of the next geological campaign, which precedes the mining operation, will be evaluated.

One day later, Interoceametal representatives will attend the European Mining Business Forum to be held at Hotel Mariela in Sofia, which will be attended by European mining authorities and their main companies.

A conference by Dr. Tomasz Abramowski, CEO of Interoceanmetal, based in the port city of Szczecin, Poland, is also planned.

Interoceanmetal has a project in which Cuban entities of the business groups CUBANÍQUEL and Geominero Salinero (GEOMINSAL) play an important role in the metallurgical technologies for its processing.

  • Published in Cuba

Global Quantity Of Plastic In Oceans To Nearly Double To 250 Million Tonnes By 2025

Kochi: About eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans each year and the global quantity will nearly double to 250 million tonnes by 2025, says a new analysis paper.

The new International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) co-authored analysis paper, released recently, warned that the 'plastic soup' contains toxic chemicals, which could pose risks to marine species and humans.

It said reliable quantitative estimations of input loads, sources and originating sectors represent a significant knowledge gap, "but it is suggested that every year almost eight million tonnes leak to the ocean."

It said estimates are that oceans may already contain over 150 million tonnes of plastic, of which around 250,000 tonnes, fragmented into five trillion plastic pieces, may be floating at the oceans' surface.

"It has also been estimated that the global quantity of plastic in the ocean will nearly double to 250 million tonnes by 2025, which likely also represents a pollutant load of millions of tonnes of chemical additives," it said.

Marine species ingest potentially contaminated plastics directly, and by eating contaminated prey, says the paper titled 'Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures'.

"Seabirds are particularly vulnerable, with studies showing the presence of additives used as flame retardants in plastics, as well as foams and textiles, which were discovered in their stomachs and fatty tissue," said the paper, published in Environmental Sciences, Europe.

The paper said that at a global level, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated the economic impact of marine plastics (excluding microplastics), including losses incurred by fisheries and tourism due to plastic littering, as well as beach clean-up costs, at around USD 13 billion per year.

"Looking at the scale of the marine plastic problem today and at the projections for future growth in production of plastic globally, it is clear we are in the midst of a major crisis," said Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCNs Global Marine and Polar Programme.

Ludin said urgent action was needed to reduce toxic chemicals leaching into oceans from plastic.

To reduce amount of contaminants in marine plastics, the authors recommend addressing issues in the life-cycle design of plastic products and creating products that minimise use of hazardous substances, an approach known as 'green chemistry'.

They also concluded that the development of best practice codes for industry is likely to be more efficient than relying on 'end-of-pipe' solutions; and existing scientific evidence and precautionary principles should drive action from scientists, industry, policy and civil society to curb leaking of plastics into the marine environment in the short term.

"Societies need to act at multiple levels," said Joao Sousa, IUCN Project Manager for Marine Plastics, co-author of the report.

"Developed countries need to identify and adopt less harmful production processes and promote alternatives, whilst sound waste management and awareness-raising should be the main priority for developing nations," said Sousa.

The paper was authored by members of a working group associated with the Stockholm and Basel Conventions multilateral environmental agreements aimed at protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes and other authors.

Climate change may be vastly underestimated due to ocean temperature miscalculations - study

Scientists have discovered a flaw in the method used to measure past ocean temperatures which, if correct, could mean we have underestimated the rate of climate change over the past 100 million years.

According to the current methodology, the temperature of the ocean depths, and the surface of the polar ocean, was some 15C (59F) higher 100 million years ago, compared to now.

These estimates have been challenged, however, by a joint team of researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

In their study, published in Nature Communications, the team posits that ocean temperatures may have remained relatively stable throughout this period, raising serious concerns about the current level of climate change being experienced by Mother Earth.

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“If we are right, our study challenges decades of paleoclimate research,” EPFL’s Anders Meibom said. “Oceans cover 70 percent of our planet. They play a key role in the Earth's climate. Knowing the extent to which their temperatures have varied over geological time is crucial if we are to gain a fuller understanding of how they behave and to predict the consequences of current climate change more accurately.”

Researchers believe that over the last 50 years certain processes used in current methodology were overlooked. Scientists have used foraminifera, which are tiny marine fossils found in the sediment cores extracted from the ocean floor, to calculate ocean temperatures.

This is done by calculating the levels of oxygen-18 content in the calcareous shells of foraminifera. The level of oxygen-18 is dependent on the temperature of the ocean in which the foraminifera live.

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The problem now, it seems, is that all of these estimates were based on the principle that the oxygen-18 content remained constant while the fossils were in the sediment. To test this theory, the team exposed the foraminifera to high temperatures in simulated seawater that only contained oxygen-18.

The results show that “the level of oxygen-18 present in the foraminifera tests can in fact change without leaving a visible trace, thereby challenging the reliability of their use as a thermometer.”

“What appeared to be perfectly preserved fossils are in fact not,” CNRS researcher Sylvain Bernard said. This basically means that previous estimates of ocean temperatures are simply incorrect and instead of showing the aforementioned 15C-degree drop over the last 100 million years, the study notes that “these measurements simply reflect the change in oxygen-18 content in the fossil foraminifera tests.”

“This change appears to be the result of a process called re-equilibration: during sedimentation, temperatures rise by 20 to 30C, causing the foraminifera tests to re-equilibrate with the surrounding water,” the study says.

But what next? Well, Meibom says scientists will now have to revisit the ocean's paleotemperatures and “carefully quantify this re-equilibration, which has been overlooked for too long.”

The researchers say that they will now focus on a number of other marine organisms to see if they can “clearly understand what took place in the sediment over geological time.”

 

Local fidelity key to ocean-wide recovery of humpback whales

Humpback whales can migrate thousands of miles to reach feeding grounds each year, but a new study concludes that their fidelity to certain local habitats -- as passed on through the generations -- and the protection of these habitats are key to understanding the ultimate recovery of this endangered species.

The study documents the local recruitment of whales in Glacier Bay and Icy Strait in Alaska over a 30-year period. The researchers found that contemporary whales that utilize these rich feeding grounds overwhelmingly are descendants of whales that previously used the area.

In other words, the population recovery of humpback whales in the region depends on cultural knowledge of migratory routes passed on from mothers to their calves; it is not a product of whales from outside the area suddenly "discovering" a rich feeding ground.

Results of the study are being published this week in the journal Endangered Species Research.

"Humpback whales are recovering from exploitation on an ocean-wide basis, but ultimately their individual success is on a much more local scale," said Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and a co-author on the study.

"Humpback whales travel globally, but thrive locally."

The study compares records of individual whales returning to Glacier Bay. The first, referred to as the "founder's population," included whales documented by a local high school teacher, Charles Jurasz, beginning in the 1970s. Jurasz was one of the first researchers to realize that individual whales could be identified by photographs of natural markings -- a technique now widely used to study living whales.

Over the years, other researchers -- including the authors of this study -- continued to record the return of these whales by photo identification and they later collected small genetic samples to confirm the relatedness between individual whales.

Using a large database maintained by Glacier Bay National Park and the University of Alaska Southeast, the records of the founding population were then compared to records of the "contemporary population" returning to Glacier Bay, more than 30 years after Jurasz's initial studies. The results were striking.

Of the 25 "founding females" that were also sampled for genetic analysis, all but one was represented in the contemporary group -- either as still living, or by a direct descendant, or in many cases, both. Several of the founding females were even grandmothers of individuals in the contemporary population.

"We looked at three possibilities for population increase over a 33-year period including local recruitment from Glacier Bay/Icy Strait, recruitment from elsewhere in southeastern Alaska, and immigration from outside the region," said Sophie P. Pierszalowski, a master's student in OSU's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and lead author on the study.

"It is clear that the contemporary generation of whales is based on local recruitment, highlighting the importance of protecting local habitat for recovering species, especially those with culturally inherited migratory destinations."

Humpback whales in the North Pacific were once estimated to number more than 15,000 individuals based on catch data before commercial whaling took a toll, reducing the population to less than a thousand by 1966. Humpback whales were first protected by the International Whaling Commission in 1965, then listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1973.

Since the protection, the oceanic population has increased to an estimated 21,000 individuals based on photo-identification studies and other evidence. The recovery has been slow, in part because humpback whales can live to be 70 years of age and their recovery is driven primarily by local fidelity and recruitment.

"Limiting vessel traffic in important habitats is one way to help protect humpback whales," Pierszalowski said, "along with maintaining legal distances by vessels, reducing the risk of entanglement with fishing gear, and maintaining stranding networks that have the capacity to quickly disentangle whales."

OSU's Marine Mammal Institute is based at the university's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore.

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