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Longline Fisheries in Costa Rica Hook Tens of Thousands of Sea Turtles Every Year
November 15, 2013 01:04 PM - Julia Calderone, MONGABAY.COM
Hundreds of kilometers of commercial fishing lines slither along coastal waters in Costa Rica, hooking thousands of mahi-mahi and many other marketable fish. But when scientists scrutinized fishermen’s catch, they were shocked by the staggering number of sea turtles accidentally snagged on the lines. A study published Aug. 20 in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology suggests that longline fisheries in Costa Rica unintentionally caught about 700,000 Olive Ridley turtles as bycatch between 1999 and 2010—the second highest catch after mahi-mahi. Other bycatch included silky sharks, pelagic stingrays and Indo-Pacific sailfish.
Scientists Develop New Technique to Predict Wildfires
November 15, 2013 09:54 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Last year, over 9 million acres were burned in the US alone due to wildfires. While wildfires can be caused by natural events, they often burn out of control and may get to a point where they become uncontrollable, even when managed by firefighters. Despite their sparks of uncertainty and paths of destruction, researchers have found a way to predict wildfire growth through the lifetime of their blazes. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and the University of Maryland, have developed a technique that combines cutting-edge simulations of the interaction of weather and fire with newly available satellite observations of active wildfires. This is the first time computer modeling offers the promise of continually-updated daylong predictions.
Ocean acidification set to spiral out of control
November 15, 2013 06:57 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
The continued release of greenhouse gases into the air is set to bring about huge changes to land ecosystems as they are forced to adapt to rising temperatures. But the marine world — which is just as integral to human existence yet receives little attention during climate negotiations — will endure a similarly tumultuous time as emissions rise, scientists say. "Changing oceans will cause massive destruction of coral reefs, which, with their rich biodiversity, are the jungles of the sea," says Luis Valdes, the head of ocean science at UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO), and co-author of a forthcoming report into ocean acidification.
Ooo, la la! Meet Bouba!
November 14, 2013 03:06 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
The Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Queen's Zoo in Flushing, NY has a new resident today. His name is Bouba and he is an Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) most commonly found in the Andes Mountains of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru western Bolivia and northwestern Argentina.
Modern strains put Lake Victoria in critical condition
November 14, 2013 09:03 AM - George Achia, SciDevNet
Pollution and overfishing in Lake Victoria have become so severe that scientists believe they threaten the health and livelihoods of millions of East Africans. And researchers in the three countries bordering the world's largest tropical lake — Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda — largely blame governments and national agencies for failing to control the effluent and other waste that pours into the water every day.
Feral Cats vs. Urban Coyotes
November 13, 2013 03:57 PM - Editor, ENN
Stray cats and urban coyotes often thrive in cities because of the availability of food and lack of enemies. But when faced against each other, a feral cat is no match for a coyote and according to a new study, outdoor cats do their best to steer clear of these urban wolves. Because cats have been found to dodge these coyotes, research suggests that in turn, the cats cause less damage to wildlife in urban green spaces, such as city parks and nature preserves.
Filipino delegate: no denying climate change now
November 13, 2013 09:24 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Monday, the Filipino delegate to the ongoing climate summit, Naderev 'Yeb' Saño, dared climate change deniers to take a hard look at what's happening not just in the Philippines, but the whole world. Over the weekend, the Philippines was hit by what may have been the largest typhoon to ever make landfall: Typhoon Haiyan. Reports are still coming in days later; death tolls were initially estimated to be over 10,000 with whole cities simply swept away, but more recent reports are placing the death toll lower but still substantial.
Mutating height genes in plants
November 12, 2013 03:53 PM - Writers at the Max Planck Institute
The normal height to which plants grow is a critical trait. In the wild Arabidopsis thaliana uses the same genetic changes in the biosynthesis of the growth factor gibberellin to cut its size in half as found in semi-dwarf varieties of rice and barley that have been bred by people. When expressing the same phenotype, various plant species apparently fall back on the same genes in their genotype. There must therefore be so-called "hot spots" whose repeated mutation produces the same traits that are beneficial in some conditions.
Tiny islands with big climate change problems
November 12, 2013 02:25 PM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
Tiny island states that speck the vast swathe of the Pacific Ocean have a far greater importance in understanding global climate change than their tiny populations would suggest. This was the message given to delegates during a side event of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's 19th annual meeting in Warsaw today.
Ultraviolet nets significantly reduce sea turtle bycatch
November 12, 2013 08:58 AM - Christina Pham, MONGABAY.COM
Bycatch, a side-effect of commercial fishing in which non-target species are accidentally caught, is linked to severe population declines in several species. Sea turtles are particularly impacted by small-scale coastal gillnetting practices, in which large nets are deployed and indiscriminately snag anything of a certain size that attempts to swim through them. However, that may soon change. A new study in Biology Letters—conducted by researchers at the Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research at the University of Hawaii, Ocean Discovery Institute, Comison Nacional Areas Protegidas and Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center—announces the development of new technology that reduces bycatch rates by utilizing ultraviolet light.