In Barnegat, New Jersey, the Fishing for Energy program under the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is starting a campaign to clean up old fishing supplies that have been abandoned or lost throughout the bay. These things, if left in the water, harm local fish and other creature populations because they get trapped inside of them and die which in turn affects the local fishing community. Debris near the surface could be a hazard because they could damage the hulls of passing boats.
Things like crab traps are commonly lost because they become detached from the buoy that marks their location and are simply left by the fishermen because it is nearly impossible to find. Traps like these pose a threat to the survival of the diamondback terrapin, which has seen noticeable decline in population. With an additional growth in a gender disparity of the fish, their numbers are declining rapidly.
The Fishing for Energy Program has begun to collect and recycle thousands of debris and gear that they have found in order to protect local wildlife. To find the trash, the team uses boats equipped with side-scan sonar. They have set up containers in Waretown for fishermen to throw away their unwanted tools for free and plan to set up more in other towns along the bay. The garbage is then sent to a waste disposal plant were it is burned for energy.
It seems today that it has become impossible to discuss the issue of global warming without mentioning the state of the world’s oceans. Rising sea-levels, “dead zones”, and ever-increasing water temperatures are just a few of the problems on the seemingly endless list of issues related to oceans caused by humans. It is predicted that by the year 2100, around 98 percent of the Earth’s oceans will have been affected by low oxygen, a lack of biological productivity, acidification, or warming. One may wonder, why all of the hubbub over something that wont even occur in our lifetime? The answer is quite simple. The effects of our carelessness in combination with that of the generations before us can, will, and are becoming evident already. Our world renown beaches, sought after by millions of tourists, have begun to dwindle away slowly each year due to erosion, but the effects of global warming are, as the name entails, global. A study at Oregon State University suggests that an estimated “2 billion people will be impacted by these changes” and that “stressors will co-occur in areas inhabited by people who can least afford it” (Andrew Thurber, OSU Oceanographer, co-author of study). Between 400 and 800 million people are directly dependent on oceans for the main source of their income, usually less than 4,000 USD annually. If we continue to allow global warming to continue on its current trajectory without interference, we can absolutely expect a severe impact to be had on fisheries around the world, both small localized businesses as well as multi-national corporations. In order to prevent a world where people do not know what a beach is, or what it is like to swim in the ocean, or eat a fish that has not been farmed in a tank we, as a global community, must tackle as many factors contributing to global warming forthwith and synchronously. Simply addressing one or two issues at a time, though better than nothing, is not enough. The real threats to the “blood” of our Earth are the compounded effects of global warming acting together increasing the already devastating effects of global warming exponentially. I will leave you with a quote by the Indian Chief Seattle ““The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
– Sebastian Andrew
Since 1870, global sea level averages have risen almost eight inches in total. However, scientists believe that global sea levels will grow at a faster rate from now on. Predicting the amount of rise can be very unreliable and inaccurate, as the sea can rise due to a number of factors, including climate change and ice sheet flows. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the EPA predicts that global sea level rise will be two feet by 2100. However, the sea rise changes differentiate throughout the world because of different land elevation. Along with natural causes, fossil fuels have accelerated the rise of the Earth’s surface temperature. According to National Geographic, 80% of that heat is collected in the world’s oceans. Scientists are worried about the melting of ice caps like Greenland and Antarctica that could add one foot to the sea level rise. Rising sea levels can cause flooding, erosion, contamination and habitat loss. More destructive weather will also result. Rising water levels will remove millions of people from coastal communities. Reducing our carbon footprint is the most effective step to slow down sea level rise. Recent steps by the Obama administration have become a step in the right track, but it’s still a lack of effort.
– Sean Sabogal –
The cause of death of this whale is a mystery. This whale is part of the Finback family, which is endagered. It also measures at about 50 feet. The scientists decided the best thing to do was to let nature take its course and drift it back to the open seas. A dead whale sighting, says Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Simpson, is rare, however, alive sightings in the Boston Harbor have occurred in the past. This is a major concern for scientists because they do not know the cause, which makes treating it nearly impossible. Earlier in the year another dead whale of the same species washed up on a New Jersey beach, some say it got hit by a boat. However, more precautions need to be taken to protect this endangered species and second-largets whale on earth.
On March 11 2011 an earthquake hit Japan causing a major tsunami which destroyed many parts of this Country. Tons of debris including a motorcycle and a dock are turning up 6,000 miles away on the west coast of the U.S, almost 15 months after the tsunami. Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was shut down, but massive amounts of radiation were dispersed into our oceans. Radioactive Iodine-131, Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 were released into the North Pacific Ocean and our atmosphere. A month after the disaster, toxicity was detected in a Japanese lance fish. Radioactive iodine has a half-life of 8 days and to humans it is known to cause thyroid cancer! Radioactive cesium has unknown harmful impacts on humans and has a half-life of 30 years! A couple months after levels of radioactive cesium were discovered in 15 pacific Bluefin tuna, which is 10 times higher than usual tuna found on the same Californian coast. This tells us that the toxic spill was much worse than stated. All life is interrelated and what we do to our ocean is what we end up doing to ourselves.
Global policy, toxicity, and Pest Management
As Miami prepares to deepen their port to allow gigantic freighters, environmentalists are making an effort to protect acres of sea grass and coral reefs from the expansion. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection is nearly done granting a permit to the Army Corps of Engineers. This will allow them to conduct 600 days of blasting to widen and deepen the channel for the port. Actual dredging is said to begin this year. The blast will directly cause at least 7 acres of coral to be moved to a trough in-between to reefs. All stony coral larger than about 4 inches will be moved out to the trough, and all soft coral larger than 10 inches will be transplanted as well. Coral such as Elkhorn and staghorn are categorized as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, they could be sent to a coral nursery according to the plan; and for the 8 acres of sea grass that will be damaged, the corps will plant 25 acres of sea grass in more northern location. Once abundant and diverse coral populations in Florida have declined. Last winter the temperature of the ocean dropped to the 60’s which killed some species of coral near shore. The Elkhorn which helps stabilize reefs has almost been wiped out due to storms and disease. In the past 5 years environmentalists and scientist have worked to keep and grow reefs, such as the University of Miami which has a nursery where it grows elkhorn. They will eventually plant it along the reefs of south Florida. Last year Biscayne National Park managers proposed a 16-square-mile reserve that would put large parts of reefs off limits to lobster hunters and fisherman. So hopefully in the future we can have a healthy biosphere in our backyard.
Nasa’s Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) revealed that warm ocean currents are attacking the ice shelves causing Antarctica to loose ice. Scientists had to differentiate between the two causes of melting ice shelves- the warm ocean currents and the warm air. This will allow them to produce accurate projections of sea level rise. 20 of the 54 ice shelves that they studied were being melted by the warm ocean currents. From October 2003 to October 2008, scientists mapped out the changing thickness of these ice shelves. This is an accurate measurement because it uses laser altimetry, which is more accurate than the standard satellite radar data. Now in 2012, they are building a ICESat-2 which is scheduled to launch in 2016. The rapid melting of the ice is affected by the wind currents and the changes in the wind patterns. NASA is continuing to study the results and find a way to improve the rapid melting of ice. However, with the increase in wind currents, it makes their job difficult.
Topic 4: Ocean Currents