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5 Recent Victories for the Oceans

By Andy Sharpless

In the last several weeks, Oceana and its allies won five important victories that will help protect biodiversity and increase abundance in our seas:

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Antonio Busiello / WWF-US

Belize Ends Oil Operations in Its Ocean Waters

Belize, home of the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, has permanently suspended oil operations in its ocean waters. The legislation marks the first time that a developing country has taken such a major step to protect its oceans—and all the life within—from oil exploration and extraction.

The new suspension of oil activity marks an enormous win for the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site, the wildlife that live there, and the hundreds of thousands of Belizeans who rely on the reef for survival.

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Animals
Coral bleaching survey, Orpheus Island 2017. Greg Torda / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Severe Coral Reef Bleaching Now ‘Five Times More Frequent’ Than 40 Years Ago

By Daisy Dunne

The scale of bleaching has been rising steadily in the last four decades, a study author told Carbon Brief, with the global proportion of coral being hit by bleaching per year rising from 8 percent in the 1980s to 31 percent in 2016.

The findings indicate that "coral reefs as we know them may well vanish in the lifetime of the youngest of us" if no efforts are made to rapidly curb climate change, another scientist told Carbon Brief.

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Trump Moves to Open 90 Percent of Our Coastal Waters to Oil Drilling

President Trump has launched the most sweeping industrial assault in history on our oceans, marine life, coasts and all they support, proposing to expose nearly all U.S. waters to the risk of another BP oil spill–style disaster.

In a move that would put every American coastal community at risk, Trump proposed Thursday to hand over vast reaches of waters currently protected from drilling—in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans—to the oil and gas industry.

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Animals
Scientists have been shocked at the depth and size of the Amazon reef. Greenpeace

Amazon Reef: BP Drilling Plans Dealt Another Blow by Brazilian Regulator

By Joe Sandler Clarke, Unearthed

BP's plans to drill for oil near a huge coral reef in the mouth of Amazon river have been dealt a further blow after a regulator questioned the company's environmental risk assessment.

Ibama, Brazil's federal environmental agency, rejected an environmental study from the British oil giant, further delaying the company's plans to drill in the region.

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Great Barrier Reef. Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr

Could the Great Barrier Reef Heal Itself? New Study Offers Cautious Hope

Australia's Great Barrier Reef may be able to heal itself from bleaching events, starfish and other disturbances with the help of a group of "source" reefs, according to recent research.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland, CSIRO, Australian Institute of Marine Science and the University of Sheffield, found that three percent of the coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef are "robust source reefs." In order to meet the criteria of a "source reef," the reefs need to be well-connected to other reefs through shifting currents but also be able to sustain bleaching events and be less susceptible to crown-of-thorn starfish outbreaks.

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Rebecca Gruby, CC BY-ND

To Succeed, Large Ocean Sanctuaries Need to Benefit Both Sea Life and People

By Rebecca Gruby, Lisa Campbell, Luke Fairbanks and Noella Gray

There is growing concern that the world's oceans are in crisis because of climate change, overfishing, pollution and other stresses. One response is creating marine protected areas, or ocean parks, to conserve sea life and key habitats that support it, such as coral reefs.

In 2000, marine protected areas covered just 0.7 percent of the world's oceans. Today 6.4 percent of the oceans are protected—about 9 million square miles. In 2010, 196 countries set a goal of protecting 10 percent of the world's oceans by 2020.

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Coral growth near Aqaba, Jordan. kaetidh / Flickr

Northern Red Sea Could Be Unique Global Warming Refuge for Coral

Lying at the northern tip of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba might be able sustain its coral population for another 100 to 150 years, despite global warming, new research predicts.

Scientists from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the University of Essex and Al-Azhar University believe that a stretch of nearly 1,120 miles could become one of the few—and one of the largest—refuges for coral.

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Climate
Schooling fairy basslets, Great Barrier Reef. GreensMPs / Flickr

62 Natural Wonders of the World at Risk From Climate Change

By Joe McCarthy

The marshy expanses of the Everglades in Southern Florida contain hundreds of species of animals, including flamingos, alligators and manatees. Clusters of mangroves span its coastline, acting as ecosystem hubs, and if you take a boat through the region, you'll see countless plants that are native to the area.

But the Everglades, which have been around for more than 5,000 years, are collapsing, as saltwater intrudes from rising sea levels, pollution seeps from surrounding industries, invasive species kill off native species, bad water management techniques dry parts of the wetland, and climate change intensifies.

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