The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Greenpeace Submarine Discovers Abundant Corals at Shell’s Arctic Drill Site
Greenpeace submarine research at Shell’s proposed drill site in the Chukchi Sea has collected the first coral specimen from the region.
With a Shell vessel nearby, Greenpeace marine biologist and submarine pilot John Hocevar collected two specimens of Gersemia rubiformis coral, also known as sea raspberry, and recorded video to document the presence of large numbers of corals during transects of the sea floor.
The corals were the third most common type of visible marine life on the bottom, after brittle stars and basket stars. While quantitative analysis of video transects will take time to complete, Hocevar estimates coral density is on the order of 0.5 per square meter. This is considerably higher than most areas of the ocean; coral density at study sites in the Weddell Sea, Atlantic Canada and Norway was less than 0.2 per square meter.
“Discovering abundant corals in the Arctic waters right where Shell plans to drill this summer shows just how little is known about this fragile and unique region. Melting sea ice is not an invitation for offshore drilling in the Arctic, it’s a warning that this pristine environment should be protected and dedicated to science,” said John Hocevar, marine biologist and oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA.
Although Shell told the Washington Post that the company knew about corals at the Chukchi drill site, the environmental impact statement for its drilling program does not mention them. Deep sea corals provide critical habitat for fish and other marine life, and have been prioritized for protection by the United Nations and the U.S. government. Corals are very long-lived, slow growing creatures that are highly vulnerable to disturbance.
“Why doesn't the environmental impact statement for Shell's Chukchi drilling program adequately discuss Arctic corals at the proposed drilling location? What else has the public not been told about the environment of the proposed drill sites?” said Rick Steiner, retired University of Alaska professor of conservation biology.
The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is in the Arctic with a Waitt Institute submarine to study the marine habitats threatened by Shell’s planned drilling program. The expedition is part of the environmental organization's Save the Arctic campaign, in which more than 1 million people have joined together to call for a global sanctuary in the high Arctic, and a ban on offshore drilling and unsustainable fishing in Arctic waters.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Nearly one year after New York became the second state in the nation to pass a ban on grocery store plastic bags — the law is going into effect on Sunday.
While keeping track of the new trends in the diamond industry can be hard, it is still an essential task of any savvy consumer or industry observer. Whether you are looking to catch a deal on your next diamond purchase or researching the pros and cons of an investment within the diamond industry, keeping up with the trends is imperative.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) took to the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday to chide Republicans for not reading the Green New Deal, which she introduced over one year ago, as The Hill reported. She then read the entire 14-page document into the congressional record.
Colombia was the most dangerous nation in 2019 to be an environmental activist and experts suspect that conditions will only get worse.