YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY
Ocean-dwelling sharks often like to hang out in areas that also get frequented by industrial fishing ships, which puts them at grave risk of being caught either for food or as bycatch. That's according to a new study that mapped the activity of 23 shark species and fishing vessels around the globe.
Researchers tracked more than 1,500 sharks with satellite tags and combined that data with information on ship movements taken from safety technology that vessels use to avoid collisions at sea. Fishing vessels can catch sharks accidentally, because their long lines can extend for miles and have more than 1,000 hooks.
A third of Guam's coral reefs have died because of rising ocean temperatures, local researchers say. Increased temperatures killed 34% of Guam's coral reefs between 2013 and 2017, and about 60% of the reefs along Guam's eastern coast are gone, say the scientists. The multi-agency Guam Coral Reef Response team monitors the island's reefs and tries to revive coral communities in line with a 2017 recovery plan. Guam is now watching for another mass bleaching event.
Scientists in Australia have developed magnetic springs that can decompose microplastics in the world’s seas and rivers. The method uses tiny coil-shaped carbon-based magnets to ‘purge’ water sources of microplastics that pollute them without harming nearby microorganisms. The researchers had to generate short-lived chemicals called reactive oxygen species, which chop the various long molecules that make up microplastics into tiny and harmless segments that dissolve in water.
Henderson Island, uninhabited and a day’s sea crossing from the nearest sign of civilisation, should be an untouched paradise. Instead its beaches, which were awarded Unesco world heritage status in 1988, are a monument to humanity’s destructive, disposable culture. Along a 2.5km stretch of sandy beach, an estimated 18 tonnes of plastic has accumulated over decades at a rate of several thousand pieces of plastic every day. A team of scientists, conservationists and journalists recently spent two weeks collecting six tonnes of the debris to gain more insight into how plastic reaches the island.
Seabirds are becoming smaller, lighter and suffering from a litany of health problems after ingesting the plastic that litters the world's oceans, a study has found. Researchers analyzed blood samples from a population of flesh-footed shearwaters on Lord Howe Island, off the eastern coast of Australia. They found the birds were living with an alarming list of health conditions, including high cholesterol, after ingesting plastic debris. The birds were physically smaller as a result of ingestion, with shorter wings and bills and a lower body mass. Plastic also worsened their kidney function.