YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY
Researchers studying sea turtles have uncovered a worrying trend: far more female turtles are hatching than males. The heat of sand where eggs are buried determines whether a sea turtle becomes male or female. Since climate change is driving up temperatures around the world, researchers weren't surprised that they'd been finding slightly more female offspring, but the numbers were shocking.
Results from recent research on Raine Island, Australia – the biggest and most important green sea turtle nesting ground in the Pacific Ocean – suggests that female baby turtles now outnumber males 116 to 1. More than 200,000 sea turtles nest on or near Raine, a tiny 80-acre curl of sand along the northern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the portion hardest hit by warming waters.
Researchers in France have found thousands and thousands of microplastic particles raining down on a secluded spot in the Pyrenees, 75 miles from the nearest city. Their study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggests that microplastics – long known as a source of water pollution – also travel by air, spreading their ill effects far from dense population centers. “We were not prepared for the numbers we found,” said one researcher. “11,400 pieces of microplastic per square meter per month.”
A trove of marine plastic pollution data has been uncovered in the handwritten logbooks of a little-known plankton study dating back to the middle of the 1950s. The information is based on records from a metal, torpedo-shaped marine sampling device that measures plankton. But operators have also kept a meticulous record of debris that disrupted their work: what snared the equipment, where it happened and when. This has proved an invaluable source of data on marine plastic levels, which rose sharply in the late 1990s.
Endangered North Atlantic right whales are experiencing a mini baby boom in waters off New England, researchers on Cape Cod have said. The North Atlantic right whale is one of the rarest species of whale on the planet, numbering only about 411. The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown said on Friday its aerial survey team had spotted two mother and calf pairs in Cape Cod Bay a day earlier. That brings the number seen in New England waters alone this year to three.
Scientists are proposing a plan to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. They have mapped out an enormous network of potential protected areas, covering more than one-third of the world’s oceans, to conserve marine biodiversity threatened by overfishing, emerging deep-sea mining, plastic contamination, and climate change. The sanctuaries would dot the globe from pole to pole, represent all marine ecosystem categories, and provide migration corridors for sea life.