- Human Noise Pollution Is Harming Ocean Creatures - EcoWatch ›
- Mercury Pollution Found in Deepest Part of Ocean - EcoWatch ›
- Study: Plastic Pollution Increases Ocean Acidification - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
According to the UN Environment Program, up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used globally each year, and because of the material they're made from, most municipal recycling centers don't accept them (more on this below).
The most sustainable option is to skip the bag altogether. You can also make your own reusable produce bags out of old T-shirts. But if you'd rather purchase them new, here are our recommendations for the best reusable produce bags on the market today.
Eco Joy<p>If you're making the switch to more sustainable shopping bags and want a variety of products to use, the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Sandwich-Biodegradable-Eco-Drawstring/dp/B003PK4W3I/ref=sr_1_36?crid=3TDUCB8ZOM7WI&dchild=1&keywords=produce+bags+grocery+reusable&qid=1613484643&sprefix=produce+bags%2Caps%2C189&sr=8-36" target="_blank">Eco Joy Cotton Reusable Produce Bags</a> set is a great place to start. The set comes with three mesh drawstring bags, three muslin drawstring bags, a large mesh tote and a zippered sandwich-size pouch.</p><p>Each product is made with organic, non-GMO cotton that's ethically sourced in accordance with Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) standards. The cotton comes from India and Turkey, and the bags are hand-assembled in Canada by the owner of Eco Joy, so you can feel good about supporting a small business while reducing your environmental impact.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 300 Amazon reviews</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>Zero-waste; Handmade in Canada; WRAP compliant; Machine washable</p>
Organic Cotton Mart<p>Some shoppers prefer to use mesh bags when shopping for fruits and veggies. We recommend checking out <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Best-Reusable-Produce-Organic-Cotton/dp/B07CK2TJKL/ref=sr_1_16?crid=10A7NM0LQ0B7E&dchild=1&keywords=mesh+produce+bags&qid=1613483897&s=home-garden&sprefix=mesh+pro%2Cgarden%2C162&sr=1-16" target="_blank">Organic Cotton Mart's Reusable Cotton Mesh Produce Bags</a> if you're in this camp, as they're made with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton.</p> <p>Mesh reusable produce bags can make the checkout process easier than muslin bags since you can see what's inside them without having to open them up. Plus, the tare weight (i.e., the weight of the empty bag that should be subtracted from the total weight of your produce to make sure you don't pay extra for using your bag) is printed right on the label of Organic Cotton Mart's bags, making everything that much more convenient.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.6 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable
Simple Ecology<p>On the other hand, if you just want to purchase muslin bags, we like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Ecology-Reusable-Organic-Shopping/dp/B004UJ0U0C" target="_blank">Simple Ecology's Reusable Produce Bags</a>, which are also made with GOTS-certified organic cotton. Simple Ecology also has a <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6AUMBG/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B01N6AUMBG&pd_rd_w=MA3ZS&pf_rd_p=cbc856ed-1371-4f23-b89d-d3fb30edf66d&pd_rd_wg=hVunQ&pf_rd_r=G6RTQ1Z5DKEY325MAJZ9&pd_rd_r=5d298b3a-1be7-4ebd-a9e1-d5d672a40497&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExMzc4RVAxWjNLOTdCJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTc0NTAwMzBDMjFYOVJPTUpWSCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjYyOTM4M0s4Vk81SVBPS1NFSyZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2RldGFpbF90aGVtYXRpYyZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=" target="_blank">starter kit</a> that comes with several reusable grocery bags if you're looking for more variety.</p> <p>The benefit of using muslin reusable produce bags is that, unlike mesh, there are no holes for small items to slip through. This means that in addition to larger produce, you can use them to purchase bulk foods like lentils, beans and rice — or even powders like flour or spices — without worrying about anything leaking. They're also best for keeping leafy greens fresh.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with nearly 1,500 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified packaging when purchased from manufacturer
ECOBAGS<p>Whether you're buying bread, fresh flowers, produce or all of the above, the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/ECOBAGS-Market-Collection-Reusable-Natural/dp/B08KFGPGN5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ECOBAGS Market Collection Reusable Bag Set</a> is ideal for <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/farmers-markets-coronavirus-safety-2645581711.html" target="_self">farmers market</a> shopping or large grocery hauls. The netted bags are durable, flexible, and pack down small so they're easy to keep in your car or purse.</p> <p>ECOBAGS is a woman-owned certified B Corp, which means it uses sound social and environmental practices. These bags come in packs of three or five and have a few different handle lengths and color options, but they're all made with GOTS-certified organic cotton.</p> <p><strong>Customer rating: </strong>Not applicable</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Certified B Corp; SA8000 certified for the protection of basic human rights of workers</p>
By Alexandra McInturf and Matthew Savoca
Trillions of barely visible pieces of plastic are floating in the world's oceans, from surface waters to the deep seas. These particles, known as microplastics, typically form when larger plastic objects such as shopping bags and food containers break down.
Solving the Plastics Puzzle<p>It's not news that wild creatures ingest plastic. The first scientific observation of this problem came <a href="https://doi.org/10.2307/4083505" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">from the stomach of a seabird in 1969</a>. Three years later, scientists reported that fish off the coast of southern New England were <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.178.4062.749" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">consuming tiny plastic particles</a>.</p><p>Since then, well over 100 scientific papers have described plastic ingestion in numerous species of fish. But each study has only contributed a small piece of a very important puzzle. To see the problem more clearly, we had to put those pieces together.</p><p>We did this by creating the largest existing database on plastic ingestion by marine fish, drawing on every scientific study of the problem published from 1972 to 2019. We collected a range of information from each study, including what fish species it examined, the number of fish that had eaten plastic and when those fish were caught. Because some regions of the ocean have more plastic pollution than others, we also examined where the fish were found.</p><p>For each species in our database, we identified its diet, habitat and feeding behaviors – for example, whether it preyed on other fish or grazed on algae. By analyzing this data as a whole, we wanted to understand not only how many fish were eating plastic, but also what factors might cause them to do so. The trends that we found were surprising and concerning.</p>
A Global Problem<p>Our research revealed that marine fish are ingesting plastic around the globe. According to the 129 scientific papers in our database, researchers have studied this problem in 555 fish species worldwide. We were alarmed to find that more than two-thirds of those species had ingested plastic.</p><p>One important caveat is that not all of these studies looked for microplastics. This is likely because finding microplastics requires specialized equipment, like microscopes, or use of more complex techniques. But when researchers did look for microplastics, they found five times more plastic per individual fish than when they only looked for larger pieces. Studies that were able to detect this previously invisible threat revealed that plastic ingestion was higher than we had originally anticipated.</p><p>Our review of four decades of research indicates that fish consumption of plastic is increasing. Just since an international <a href="http://www.gesamp.org/publications/microplastics-in-the-marine-environment-part-2" target="_blank">assessment conducted for the United Nations in 2016</a>, the number of marine fish species found with plastic has quadrupled.</p><p>Similarly, in the last decade alone, the proportion of fish consuming plastic has doubled across all species. Studies published from 2010-2013 found that an average of 15% of the fish sampled contained plastic; in studies published from 2017-2019, that share rose to 33%.</p><p>We think there are two reasons for this trend. First, scientific techniques for detecting microplastics have improved substantially in the past five years. Many of the earlier studies we examined may not have found microplastics because researchers couldn't see them.</p><p>Second, it is also likely that fish are actually consuming more plastic over time as ocean plastic pollution <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aba9475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increases globally</a>. If this is true, we expect the situation to worsen. Multiple studies that have sought to quantify plastic waste project that the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean will <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aba3656" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">continue to increase</a> over the <a href="http://dx.doi.org/%2010.1126/sciadv.1700782" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">next several decades</a>.</p>
Risk Factors<p>While our findings may make it seem as though fish in the ocean are stuffed to the gills with plastic, the situation is more complex. In our review, almost one-third of the species studied were not found to have consumed plastic. And even in studies that did report plastic ingestion, researchers did not find plastic in every individual fish. Across studies and species, about one in four fish contained plastics – a fraction that seems to be growing with time. Fish that did consume plastic typically had only one or two pieces in their stomachs.</p><p>In our view, this indicates that plastic ingestion by fish may be widespread, but it does not seem to be universal. Nor does it appear random. On the contrary, we were able to predict which species were more likely to eat plastic based on their environment, habitat and feeding behavior.</p><p>For example, fishes such as sharks, grouper and tuna that hunt other fishes or marine organisms as food were more likely to ingest plastic. Consequently, species higher on the food chain were at greater risk.</p><p>We were not surprised that the amount of plastic that fish consumed also seemed to depend on how much plastic was in their environment. Species that live in ocean regions known to have a lot of plastic pollution, such as the Mediterranean Sea and the coasts of East Asia, were found with more plastic in their stomachs.</p>
Effects of a Plastic Diet<p>This is not just a wildlife conservation issue. Researchers don't know very much about the effects of ingesting plastic on fish or humans. However, there is evidence that that microplastics and even smaller particles called <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-019-0437-7" target="_blank">nanoplastics</a> can move from a fish's stomach to its <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134625" target="_blank">muscle tissue</a>, which is the part that humans typically eat. Our findings highlight the need for studies analyzing how frequently plastics transfer from fish to humans, and their potential effects on the human body.</p><p>Our review is a step toward understanding the global problem of ocean plastic pollution. Of more than 20,000 marine fish species, only roughly 2% have been tested for plastic consumption. And many reaches of the ocean remain to be examined. Nonetheless, what's now clear to us is that "out of sight, out of mind" is not an effective response to ocean pollution – especially when it may end up on our plates.<br></p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alexandra-mcinturf-1205082" target="_blank">Alexandra McInturf</a> is a PhD Candidate in Animal Behavior at the University of California, Davis. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/matthew-savoca-313547" target="_blank">Matthew Savoca</a> is a Postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University.</em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Alexandra McInturf is affiliated with <a href="https://theethogram.com/" target="_blank">The Ethogram</a>. Matthew Savoca receives funding from The National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation.</em></p><p><em style="">Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/hundreds-of-fish-species-including-many-that-humans-eat-are-consuming-plastic-154634" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
- Whale Dies After Swallowing 88 Pounds of Plastic Bags - EcoWatch ›
- Ocean Plastic Smells Like Food to Sea Turtles, Study Finds ... ›
- One Third of Freshwater Fish Face Extinction, New Report Warns ›
- Cuttlefish Found Capable of Delayed Gratification, a First for Invertebrates - EcoWatch ›
In a possible victory for UK oceans, four key areas of the seabed off England may soon be off-limits to bottom-trawlers.
- Ground-Breaking Agreement Marks First Voluntarily Limits to ... ›
- Trawl Fishery Measures Show the Value of Cooperation - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Recent Victories for the Oceans - EcoWatch ›
By Tara Lohan
Andrea Reid grew up surrounded by water on Canada's Prince Edward Island with fish "very much just in my blood," she says. When she went to college, she realized that fish could be a career, too.
Andrea Reid, principal investigator at the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries. Alex Sarna<p>A lot of Indigenous research methodologies are deeply community centered and are trying to move us away from the model that has pervaded in Western science for a long time, which is researchers coming into communities, extracting data and using it for their own needs and purposes.</p><p>Putting Indigenous knowledge and communities at the forefront of research has the potential to change outcomes, but I think it can also change the way that we even ask questions. It certainly changes the way we go about answering them and how much difference the work actually makes. In the fisheries world there's this slogan, "Bring fishers on board or miss the boat." And the same applies to communities, right?</p><p>If we want to have people buying into these recommendations that we're putting forward as scientists, we need to engage them in that process, have them understand what it is that we're talking about and what the research is intended to achieve. If you do that, you can get a lot more buy-in and credibility in the work. It's a whole different way of operating in many respects.</p><p><strong>What threats do Indigenous fisheries face? </strong></p><p>The Indigenous fisheries in which I have done a lot of my work on the Pacific Coast of Canada have been extremely long standing. They date back millennia and have really been shaped by the knowledge systems that have been passed down generation to generation.</p>
Taylor Wale, Andrea Reid and Collin Middleton on board the Ocean Virtue in 2016 where they were tagging and tracking Pacific salmon on BC's North Coast. Katrina Cook<p><span style="background-color: initial;">To begin we are focusing on British Columbia First Nations and partnering with communities and nations here. But I am also on the front end of developing a partnership in the Great Lakes of North America with nations and tribes on either side of the border looking at invasive sea lamprey.</span><br></p><p>There are also budding partnerships with fisheries in other contexts and communities. There's a lot of parallels with Aboriginal fishers in Australia, with Māori fishers in New Zealand and native Hawaiian fishers. But again, we are focusing local and then overtime building into more of that trans-local community.</p><p>We're starting as a small group of principally Indigenous scholars. And over time we really hope to grow what we're doing so that this becomes a space for community members, fishers and managers — that they feel welcomed and see room for themselves in [academia, which] historically, has not been very kind to underrepresented groups. And there are not many Indigenous students in post-secondary education. There's not many Indigenous students typically in science.</p><p>And so I hope that the creation of the Center for Indigenous Fisheries doesn't ask students to leave part of themselves at the door or to depart from their worldview in order to gain access. But that instead it creates a space for them and that over time it can really help to build strong partnerships with communities and grow beyond the confines of the university.</p><p>There is a Mi'kmaw teaching called <em>Etuaptmumk</em> or "two-eyed seeing." And it's carried by a specific elder currently, Dr. Albert Marshall, who's doing a lot of work to bring it forward into the literature but also into public spaces as well.</p><p>It's defined as learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western dominant or mainstream knowledge and ways of knowing. And learning to use both these eyes together for the benefit of all.</p><p>In our fisheries and in biodiversity at large, we're facing so many big crises where we need all of the tools that are available at our disposal. And those can equally come from Indigenous knowledge systems as well as Western scientific ones. So it's really about bringing together the best tools for the job.</p>
By John R. Platt
A few months ago a group of scientists warned about the rise of "extinction denial," an effort much like climate denial to mischaracterize the extinction crisis and suggest that human activity isn't really having a damaging effect on ecosystems and the whole planet.
19th-century drawings of orchid species recently declared extinct in Bangladesh.<p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/123423283/123424374" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Smooth handfish (<em>Sympterichthys unipennis</em>)</a></strong><strong> </strong>— One of the few extinctions of 2020 that received much <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/smooth-handfish-extinction-marks-a-sad-milestone/" target="_blank">media attention</a>, and it's easy to see why. Handfish are an unusual group of species whose front fins look somewhat like human appendages, which they use to walk around the ocean floor. The smooth species, which hasn't been seen since 1802, lived off the coast of Tasmania and was probably common when it was first collected by naturalists. Bottom fishing, pollution, habitat destruction, bycatch and other threats are all listed as among the probable reasons for its extinction. Even though the local fishery collapsed more than 50 years ago, the remaining handfish species are still critically endangered, so this extinction should serve as an important wake-up call to save them.</p><p><a href="https://therevelator.org/plant-species-extinct-america/" target="_blank"><strong>65 North American plants</strong></a> — This past year researchers set out to determine how many plants in the continental United States had been lost. They catalogued 65, including five small trees, eight shrubs, 37 perennial herbs and 15 annual herbs. Some of these had been reported before, but for most this is the first time they've been declared extinct. The list includes <a href="https://therevelator.org/extinction-hotspot-appalachia/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Marshallia grandiflora</em></a>, a large flowing plant from the American Southeast that was declared its own species this past year. Too bad it was last seen in 1919 (and has been confused with other species for even longer).</p>
The original Marshallia grandiflora holotype. Smithsonian NMNH / Creative Commons<p><strong></strong><strong>22 frog species</strong> — The IUCN this year declared nearly two dozen long-unseen Central and South American frog species as "critically endangered (possibly extinct)" — victims of the amphibian-killing <a href="https://therevelator.org/extinct-frogs-golden-goose/" target="_blank">chytrid fungus</a>. They include the <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/56423/109538689" target="_blank">Aragua robber frog (<em>Pristimantis anotis</em>)</a>, which hasn't been observed in 46 years, and the <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/54542/109529302" target="_blank">Piñango stubfoot toad (<em>Atelopus pinangoi</em>)</a>, which mostly disappeared in the 1980s. A single juvenile toad observed in 2008 leads scientists to say this species "is either possibly extinct or if there is still an extant population, that it is very small (<50 mature individuals)."</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/54498/54340769" target="_blank">Chiriqui harlequin frog (<em>Atelopus chiriquiensis</em>)</a> and <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/55201/54344718" target="_blank">splendid poison frog (<em>Oophaga speciosa</em>)</a> </strong>— Last seen in 1996 and 1992, these frogs from Costa Rica and Panama fell victim to the chytrid fungus and were declared extinct in December.</p><p><strong><a href="https://phys.org/news/2020-09-mite-extinctions-natural.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">15% of mite species</a> </strong>— This requires a lot more research, but a paper published this past August announced "evidence of widespread mite extinctions" since the year 2000 following similar disappearances of plants and vertebrates. Mites may not look or sound important, but they play key roles in their native ecosystems. If 15% of the world's 1.25 million mite species have been lost, we're talking more than 8,300 extinctions — a number the researchers predict will continue to rise.</p><p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ibi.12839" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Simeulue Hill mynas</strong></a> — An alarming paper called this an "extinction-in-process" of a previously undescribed bird that probably went extinct in the wild in the past two to three years due to overcollection for the songbird trade. A few may still exist in captivity — for now.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>17 freshwater fish from Lake Lanao, Mindanao, the Philippines </strong>— A combination of predatory invasive species, overharvesting and destructing fishing methods (such as dynamite fishing) wiped these lost species out. The IUCN this year listed 15 of the species as "extinct" following extensive searches and surveys; the remaining two as "critically endangered (possibly extinct)." The predators, by the way, are still doing just fine. Here are the 15 extinct species:</p><ul><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18888/90996412" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes disa</em></a> — last seen in 1964.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/15634/90997535" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes truncatulus</em></a> – last seen in 1973.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/4135/90997158" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes pachycheilus</em></a> – last seen in 1964.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/15633/90997194" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes palaemophagus</em></a> – last seen in 1975.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18882/90996027" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes amarus</em></a> – Last seen in 1982.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18904/90997073" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes manalak</em></a> – Once a commercially valuable fish, last seen in 1977.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18886/90996370#assessment-information" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes clemensi</em></a> – last seen in 1975.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18889/90996574" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes flavifuscus</em></a> – last seen in 1964.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18891/90996925" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes katolo</em></a> – last seen in 1977.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/20687/90997252" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes palata</em></a> – last seen in 1964.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18884/90996105" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes baoulan</em></a> — last seen in 1991.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18890/90996625" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes herrei</em></a> — last seen in 1974, when just 40 pounds' worth of fish were caught.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18892/90996974" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes lanaoensis</em></a> — last seen in 1964.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/12751/90997332" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes resimus</em></a> — last seen in 1964.</li><li><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/18901/90997500" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Barbodes tras</em></a> — last seen in 1976.</li></ul>
Some of the extinct species from Lake Lanao. Photo © Armi G. Torres courtesy IUCN.<p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/17365/22123157" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bonin pipistrelle (<em>Pipistrellus sturdeei</em>)</a></strong><strong> </strong>— Scientists only recorded this Japanese bat one time, back in the 19th century. The IUCN listed it as "data deficient" from 2006 to 2020, a period during which its taxonomy was under debate, but a paper published in March <a href="https://www.biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.4755.1.8" target="_blank">settled that issue</a>, and the latest Red List update placed the species in the the extinct category. The Japanese government itself has listed the bat as extinct since 2014.<strong></strong></p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/44792108/44798207" target="_blank"><em>Pseudoyersinia brevipennis</em></a> </strong>— This praying mantis from France hasn't been seen since 1860. Its declared extinction comes after some extended (and still unresolved) debate over its validity as a unique species.</p><p><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/123986030/123986038" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em><strong>Agave lurida</strong></em></a> — Last seen in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2001, this succulent was finally declared extinct in the wild this year after numerous expeditions searching for remaining plants. As the IUCN Red List notes, "There are only a few specimens left in <em>ex-situ</em> collections, which is a concern for the extinction of the species in the near future."</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/136808736/137376234" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Falso Maguey Grande (<em>Furcraea macdougallii</em>)</a> </strong>— Another Oaxacan succulent that's extinct in the wild but still exists in cultivated form (you can buy these cacti online today for as little as $15). Last seen growing naturally in 1973, the plant's main habitat was degraded in 1953 to make way for agave plantations for mezcal production. Wildfires may have also played a role, but the species' limited distribution also made it easier to kill it off: "The restricted range of the species also made it very vulnerable to small local disturbances, and hence the last few individuals were easily destroyed," according to the IUCN.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/140416589/140416594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Eriocaulon inundatum</em></a> </strong>— Last scientifically collected in Senegal in 1943, this pipewort's only know habitat has since been destroyed by salt mining.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/113204000/113309830" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Persoonia laxa</em></a> </strong>— This shrub from New South Wales, Australia, was collected just two times — in 1907 and 1908 — in habitats that have since become "highly urbanized." The NSW government still lists it as "<a href="https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=20230" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">presumed extinct</a>," but the IUCN placed it fully in the "extinct" category in 2020.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/147088627/149821996" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Nazareno (<em>Monteverdia lineata</em>)</a> </strong>— Scientific papers declared this Cuban flowing plant species extinct in 2010 and 2015, although it wasn't catalogued in the IUCN Red List until this year. It grew in a habitat now severely degraded by agriculture and livestock farming.<strong></strong></p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/113168368/185558142" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wynberg conebush<em> (Leucadendron grandiflorum)</em></a> </strong>— This South African plant hasn't been seen in more than 200 years and was long considered the <a href="https://wynbergresidents.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/remembering-a-lost-wynberg-flower/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">earliest documented extinction from that country</a>, although it only made it to the IUCN Red List recently. Its sole habitat "was the location of the earliest colonial farms," including vineyards.</p><p><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/113166006/185559739" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Wolseley conebush (<em>Leucadendron spirale</em>)</strong></a> — Another South African plant, this one last seen in 1933 and since extensively sought after, including high <a href="https://www.proteaatlas.org.za/ldspir.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rewards</a> for its rediscovery. The IUCN says the cause of its extinction is unknown "but is likely the result of habitat loss to crop cultivation, alien plant invasion and afforestation." Oh yeah, and it probably didn't help that in 1809 a scientist wrote that the species possessed "<a href="https://www.ispotnature.org/communities/southern-africa/view/observation/545420/the-ugly-duckling-conebush-wolseley-conebush" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">little beauty</a>" and discouraged it from further collection.</p><p><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/169838762/169838772" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em><strong>Schizothorax saltans</strong></em></a> — This fish from Kazakhstan was last seen in 1953, around the time the rivers feeding its lake habitats were drained for irrigation. The IUCN did not assess the species before this past year.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/190888/1960457" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Alphonsea hortensis</em></a> </strong>— Declared "extinct in the wild" this year after no observations since 1969, the last specimens of this Sri Lankan tree species now grow at Peradeniya Royal Botanic Garden.</p><p><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/15006/22009211" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Lord Howe long-eared bat (<em>Nyctophilus howensis</em>)</strong></a> — This island species is known from a single skull discovered in 1972. Conservationists held out hope that it still existed following several possible sightings, but those hopes have now been dashed.</p><p><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/126612397/126613386" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em><strong>Deppea splendens</strong></em></a> — This IUCN declared this beautiful plant species "extinct in the wild" this year. All living specimens exist only because botanist Dennis Breedlove, who discovered the species in 1973, collected seeds before the plant's sole habitat in Mexico was <a href="https://www.anniesannuals.com/plants/view/?id=2209" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">plowed over</a> to make way for farmland. Now known as a "holy grail" for some gardeners, cultivated plants descended from Breedlove's seeds can be purchased online for as little as $16.95.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/54549/54358350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pass stubfoot toad (<em>Atelopus senex</em>)</a> </strong>— Another Costa Rican chytrid victim, last seen in 1986.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/56782/54369332#threats" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Craugastor myllomyllon</em></a> </strong>— A Guatemalan frog that never had a common name and hasn't been seen since 1978 (although it wasn't declared a species until 2000). Unlike the other frogs on this year's list, this one disappeared before the chytrid fungus arrived; it was likely wiped out when agriculture destroyed its only habitat.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/44791445/170111359" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spined dwarf mantis (<em>Ameles fasciipennis</em>)</a> </strong>— This Italian praying mantis was only scientifically collected once, in or around 1871, and never seen again. The IUCN says the genus's taxonomy is "rather confusing and further analysis need to be done to confirm the validity of this species." Here's what we do know, though: There are none to be found today, despite extensive surveys.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/140414966/140414986" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Scleria chevalieri</em></a> </strong>— This Senagalese plant, last seen in 1929, once grew in swamps that have since been drained to irrigate local gardens.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/33562/83804687" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hawai'i yellowwood (<em>Ochrosia kilaueaensis</em>)</a> </strong>— This tree hasn't been seen since 1927. Its rainforest habitat has been severely degraded by invasive plants and goats, as well as fires. It's currently listed as <a href="https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp/species/5248" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">endangered</a> under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, but the IUCN declared it extinct this past year.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/38690/87708976#threats" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Roystonea stellate</em></a> </strong>— Scientists only collected this Cuban palm tree a single time, back in 1939. Several searches have failed to uncover evidence of its continued existence, probably due to conversion of its only habitats to coffee plantations.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/59376/54381158" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Jalpa false brook salamander (<em>Pseudoeurycea exspectata</em>)</a> </strong>— Small farms, cattle grazing and logging appear to have wiped out this once-common Guatemalan amphibian, last seen in 1976. At least 16 surveys since 1985 did not find any evidence of the species' continued existence.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/126612753/126613426#assessment-information" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Faramea chiapensis</em></a> </strong>— Only collected once in 1953, this Mexican plant lost its cloud-forest habitat to colonialism and deforestation.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/31679/149812995" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Euchorium cubense</em></a> </strong>— Last seen in 1924, this Cuban flowing plant — the only member of its genus — has long been assumed lost. The IUCN characterized it as extinct in 2020 along with <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/35254/149816104#assessment-information" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Banara wilsonii</em></a>, another Cuban plant last seen in 1938 before its habitat was cleared for a sugarcane plantation.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/110097724/110113066#text-fields" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Aloe silicicola</em></a> </strong>— Last seen in 1920, this plant from the mountains of Madagascar enters the IUCN Red List as "extinct in the wild" due to a vague reference that it still exists in a botanical garden. Its previous habitat has been the site of frequent fires.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/157719927/89815479" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Chitala lopis</em></a> </strong>— A large fish from the island of Java, this species hasn't been seen since 1851 (although many online sources use this taxonomic name for other "featherback" fish species that still exist). It was probably wiped out by a wide range of habitat-degrading factors, including pollution, unsustainable fishing and near-complete deforestation around nearby rivers.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/140416686/140416698" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Eriocaulon jordanii</em></a> </strong>— This grass species formerly occurred in two known sites in coastal Sierra Leone, where its previous habitats were converted to rice fields in the 1950s.</p><p><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/152357598/154696297" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em><strong>Amomum sumatranum</strong></em></a> — A relative of cardamom, this plant from Sumatra was only scientifically collected once, back in 1921, and the forest where that sample originated has now been completely developed. The IUCN says one remaining cultivated population exists, so they've declared it "extinct in the wild."</p><p><a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/115696622/115696628" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Lost shark (<em>Carcharhinus obsoletus</em>)</strong></a> — This species makes its second annual appearance on this list. Scientists <a href="https://therevelator.org/lost-shark/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">described this species in 2019</a> after examining decades-old specimens, noting that it hadn't been observed since the 1930s. This year the IUCN added the species to the Red List and declared it "critically endangered (possibly extinct)."</p>
"Lost shark." Photo: PLOS One<p><strong><em><a href="https://bioone.org/journals/the-bryologist/volume-123/issue-4/0007-2745-123.4.657/----Custom-HTML----iCora/10.1639/0007-2745-123.4.657.short?tab=ArticleLink" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cora timucua</a></em></strong><strong> </strong>— This lichen from Florida was just identified from historical collections through DNA barcoding. Unfortunately no new samples have been collected since the turn of the 19th century. The scientists who named the species this past December call it "potentially extinct" but suggest it be listed as critically endangered in case it still hangs on in remote parts of the highly developed state. They caution, however, that it hasn't turned up in any recent surveys.</p><p><strong><a href="https://allafrica.com/stories/202004190028.html?fbclid=IwAR33mKWioEaLjHXIBdJqOyB40tp90UA-DEi69IecBTMQ8SQUyt1fEOCGf4g" target="_blank">Dama gazelle (<em>Nanger dama</em>) in Tunisia</a> </strong>— This critically endangered species still hangs on in a few other countries, and in captivity, but the death of the last individual in Tunisia marked one more country in which the gazelle has now been extirpated and serves as a stark reminder to keep the rest from fading away.</p><p><em><a href="https://therevelator.org/author/john/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">John R. Platt</a> is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His "Extinction Countdown" column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://therevelator.org/species-extinct-2020" target="_blank">The Revelator</a>.</em></p>
- 503 New Species Identified in 2020, Including Endangered Monkey ... ›
- Meet Five 'Extinct' Species That Have Returned to Life - EcoWatch ›
- New Black and Orange Bat Species Discovered in West Africa - EcoWatch ›
- Meet the First U.S. Endangered Species to Be Cloned ›
- Sounds of Silence: The Extinction Crisis Is Taking Away the Earth's Music - EcoWatch ›
By Joe Timmerman
Few leaves are still falling off trees and down the ever-running water of the National Wild and Scenic Little Miami River, where they float through five counties and 111 miles of Southwest Ohio, into the Ohio River and toward the Mississippi before eventually finding their way into the Gulf of Mexico. Today, these 111 miles of Little Miami River are the cleanest that they have been in the last 40 years, and as the world may seem largely disconnected due to the coronavirus pandemic, a connection between people over time is helping to create the river's lasting sustainability.
A ripple in the water caused by a fish moves below fall trees as the sun rises in Loveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. The Little Miami River flows through 5 counties and 111 miles of Southwest Ohio, including Clermont County and Hamilton County where Loveland lies between. Joe Timmerman<p>Since its origin, the conservancy has worked with agencies like the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), who records the condition of the Little Miami River every 10 years by sampling fish life. In the 1980s, only 4% of the Little Miami River was in full attainment of water quality health, but in recent years, the chart has flipped, and as of 2007, the river is at 96% attainment of health, <a href="https://epa.ohio.gov/portals/35/tmdl/Lower%20LMR_TMDL%20Report_FINAL_FINAL_Nov11.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to OEPA research</a>.</p>
Eric Partee, executive director of the Little Miami Conservancy, holds one of nine water quality sondes that are found all along the length of the river, this one in Milford, Ohio, on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2020. A water quality sonde uses sensors to measure dissolved oxygen in the river, which is recorded every 15 minutes in 3-month spans and is checked once a week by Partee and volunteers of the conservancy. "Ninety-six percent of the river is in full attainment with exceptional habitat quality, it's just in fantastic condition. The challenge is to keep it that way," Partee said. Joe Timmerman<p>A short walk from the doors of the conservancy is the Loveland Canoe and Kayak Livery, owned by Mark and Robyn Bersani, which is just one of the many businesses along the Little Miami River that rely on its health as their main resource for income. The Bersanis work closely with the conservancy each year by offering and volunteering for cleanups as well as generous donations. This year, along with two other liveries including Rivers Edge and Scenic River, their combined donation to the Little Miami Conservancy's effort was $56,000, according to Bersani.</p><p>"We're involved from a grassroots portion, to actually helping with cleanups, to keeping an eye on the river, as well as donating and continuing to fund the good work that they do," Bersani said in an interview. "It comes down to the people that live along the river, people that visit the river, the people in the community, if the river is going to stay clean. This river is very natural, it looks like it did 300 years ago … it is vital that the citizens all realize they have a role in this."</p><p>Up the road at Loveland High School, Amy Aspenwall, an AP environmental science teacher teaches teenagers the importance of environmental awareness through hands-on experiences in places like the Little Miami River.</p><p>In an interview over Zoom, Aspenwall talked about the importance of students getting out into nature to actually see how humans fit in the environment, because "if you don't see it, it's really not your problem," Aspenwall said. From understanding <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/food-waste">food waste</a> to the water drinking system to sewer treatment facilities, her goal is to allow students the opportunity to realize a sense of civic responsibility.</p><p>"It's important for students to start to think of themselves as a bigger picture rather than just someone following teacher instructions," Aspenwall said. "I want them to start thinking on their own and realize how powerful they are as a consumer."</p><p>Although the Little Miami River is of "exceptional quality," <a href="https://epa.ohio.gov/dsw/tmdl/LittleMiamiRiver#118215922-monitoring" target="_blank">according to a 2010 water quality monitoring report by the OEPA</a>, "the tributaries were generally of a lower quality."</p>
People bike on a section of the Loveland Bike Trail alongside the Little Miami River in Loveland, Ohio, on Monday, Nov. 8, 2020. Joe Timmerman<p>Between the shared relationships of the Little Miami Conservancy, OEPA, local government officials, developers, landowners, non-profits, teachers, and local business owners, a community has come together and worked toward the common effort to make a positive, sustainable change in the health of the river.<br></p><p>The timelessness of the Little Miami River will carry on as long as its water continues to run. And as it always has been, it's still up to the people alongside the riverbank to make sure that the water runs clean for generations to come. As the late author Nelson Henderson said, and Eric Partee paraphrased when we talked together, "The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit."</p><p><em>Note: The next OEPA Little Miami River Watershed TMDL Report will be produced and published by 2022, according to the last OEPA TMDL report. </em></p><p><em><a href="https://www.josephmtimmerman.com/" target="_blank">Joe Timmerman</a> is a sophomore journalism and photojournalism student at E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the School of Visual Communications at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Joe is passionate about finding natural connections between people and sharing those stories he finds.</em></p>
- Missouri River Drought Was Its Worst in 1,200 Years, Study Finds ... ›
- Cuba's Clean Rivers Benefit From Sustainable Agriculture - EcoWatch ›
- Remarkable Drop in Colorado River Water Use Sign of Climate ... ›
By Gavin McDonald
Fishing on the high seas is a bit of a mystery, economically speaking. These areas of open ocean beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any nation are generally considered high-effort, low-payoff fishing grounds, yet fishers continue to work in them anyway.
Unique Behavior From Forced Labor<p>Forced labor is <a href="https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:C029" target="_blank">defined by the International Labor Organization</a> as "all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered themself voluntarily." Essentially, many of these workers may be enslaved, unable to stop work, trapped out on the high seas. Sadly, forced labor has been <a href="https://www.ap.org/explore/seafood-from-slaves/" target="_blank">widely documented</a> in the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/27/world/outlaw-ocean-thailand-fishing-sea-slaves-pets.html" target="_blank">fishing</a> <a href="https://www.greenpeace.org/southeastasia/publication/3428/seabound-the-journey-to-modern-slavery-on-the-high-seas/" target="_blank">world</a>, but the true extent of the problem has remained largely unknown.</p><p>Our team wanted to say more about how forced labor is being used in fisheries, and the breakthrough came once we asked a key question that drove this project: What if vessels that forced labor behave in observable, fundamentally different ways from vessels that do not?</p><p>To answer this, we first looked at 22 vessels known to have used forced labor. We got their historical satellite tracking data from <a href="https://globalfishingwatch.org/" target="_blank">Global Fishing Watch</a> – a nonprofit organization that promotes ocean sustainability using near-real-time fishing data – and used it to find commonalities in how these vessels behaved. To further inform what to look for in the satellite monitoring data, we met with human rights groups, including <a href="https://libertyshared.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Liberty Shared</a>, <a href="https://www.greenpeace.org/international/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Greenpeace</a> and the <a href="https://ejfoundation.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Justice Foundation</a>, to determine which of these vessel behaviors might indicate a potential risk of forced labor.</p><p>This list of indicators included vessel behaviors like spending more time on the high seas, traveling farther from ports than other vessels and fishing more hours per day than other boats. For example, sometimes these suspicious vessels would be at sea for many months at a time.</p><p>Now that we had a good idea of the "risky" behaviors that signal the potential use of forced labor, our team, with the help of Google data scientists, used machine learning techniques to look for similar behavioral patterns in thousands of other vessels.</p>
Shockingly Widespread<p>We examined 16,000 fishing vessels using data from 2012 to 2018. Between 14% and 26% of those boats showed suspicious behavior that suggests a high likelihood that they are exploiting forced labor. This means that in those six years, as many as <a href="https://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2016238117" target="_blank">100,000 people may have been victims of forced labor</a>. We don't know whether those boats are still active or how many high-risk vessels there may be on the seas today. But according to Global Fishing Watch, as of 2018, there were nearly <a href="https://globalfishingwatch.org/datasets-and-code/vessel-identity/" target="_blank">13,000 vessels operating</a> in industrial longliner, trawler and squid jigger fleets.</p><p>Squid jiggers lure their catch to the surface at night using bright lights; longliner boats trail a line with baited hooks; and trawlers pull fishing nets through the water behind them. Squid jiggers had the highest percentage of vessels that exhibited behaviors that indicate the potential use of forced labor, followed closely by longliner fishing vessels and, to a lesser extent, trawlers.</p><p>Another key finding from our study is that forced labor violations are likely occurring in all major ocean basins, both on the high seas and within national jurisdictions. High-risk vessels frequented ports across 79 countries in 2018, with the ports predominantly located in Africa, Asia and South America. Also notable for frequent visits by these suspicious vessels were Canada, the United States, New Zealand and several European countries. These ports represent both potential sources of exploited labor as well as transfer points for seafood caught using forced labor.</p><p>As it stands now, our model is a proof of concept that still needs to be tested in the real world. By having the model assess vessels already caught using forced labor, we were able to show that the model was accurate 92% of the time when it flagged suspicious vessels. In the future, our team hopes to further validate and improve the model by gathering more information on known forced labor cases.</p>
Turning Data Into Action<p>Our team has built a predictive model that can identify vessels that are at high risk for engaging in forced labor. We believe our results could complement and inform existing efforts to combat human rights violations and promote supply chain transparency. Currently, our team is using individual vessel risk scores to determine forced labor risks for specific seafood products as a whole.</p><p>As we get more substantial data and improve the accuracy of the model, we hope that it can eventually be used to liberate victims of forced labor in fisheries, improve work conditions and help prevent human rights abuses from occurring in the first place.</p><p>We're now working with <a href="https://globalfishingwatch.org/" target="_blank">Global Fishing Watch</a> to identify partners across governments, enforcement agencies and labor groups that can use our results to more effectively target vessel inspections. These inspections offer opportunities to both catch offenders and provide more data to feed into the model, improving its accuracy.</p>
- Greenpeace: The Truth Behind the World's Largest Tuna Company ... ›
- Investigators Find Slave Labor on Starbucks-Certified Brazil Coffee ... ›
- AP Investigation: Supermarkets Selling Shrimp Peeled by Slaves ... ›
Thousands of years ago, glacial runoff from Mount Kilimanjaro formed a deep basin off the coast of East Africa. Today, this oasis of deep, cool water provides coral reefs and marine life with a sanctuary from the rising temperatures of the climate crisis, allowing biodiversity to thrive.
On Wednesday, governments responsible for 40 percent of the world's coastlines and 20 percent of global fisheries announced a series of new commitments that comprise the world's biggest ocean sustainability initiative.
- This Ocean Farmer Grows Food That Cleans up Pollution - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Ways Sustainable Seafood Can Benefit People and the Environment ›
- Ocean Scientists Create Global Network to Help Save Biodiversity ... ›
Around 50,000 farmed salmon swam free on Monday after a fire melted part of their enclosure off the coast of Tasmania.
- Thousands of Farmed Salmon Escape Into the Wild - EcoWatch ›
- Hard Evidence Shows Farmed Salmon Is Destroying Wild Salmon ... ›
By Brian Bienkowski
Fish exposed to endocrine-disrupting compounds pass on health problems to future generations, including deformities, reduced survival, and reproductive problems, according to a new study.
Low Levels Lead to Generational Impacts<p>Researchers exposed inland silverside fish to bifenthrin, levonorgestrel, ethinylestradiol, and trenbolone to levels currently found in waterways.</p><p>"Our concentrations were actually on the low end" of what is found in the wild, DeCourten said, adding that it was low amounts of chemicals in parts per trillion.</p><p>Bifenthrin is a pesticide; levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol are synthetic hormones used in birth controls; and trenbolone is a synthetic steroid often given to cattle to bulk them up.</p><p>Such endocrine-disruptors have already been linked to a variety of health problems in directly exposed fish including altered growth, reduced survival, lowered egg production, skewed sex ratios, and negative impacts to immune systems. But what remains less clear is how the exposure may impact future generations.</p><p>For their study, DeCourten and colleagues started the exposure when the fish were embryos and continued it for 21 days.</p><p>They then tracked effects on the exposed fish, and the next two generations.</p>
Inherited Problems<p>DeCourten said the altered DNA methylation is one of the plausible ways that future generations would experience health impacts from previous generations' exposure. Hormone-disrupting compounds have been shown to impact DNA methylation, which is an important marker of how an organism will develop.</p><p>"Methyl groups are added to specific sites on the genome, [the exposure] is not changing the genome itself, but rather how the genome is expressed," she said. "And that can be inherited throughout generations."</p><p>In addition, Brander said there are essentially different "tags" that exist on DNA molecules, which tell genes how to turn on and off. She said the exposure to different compounds may be "influencing which methyl tags get taken on or off as you proceed through generations."</p><p>The researchers said the study should prompt future toxics testing to consider impacts on future generations.</p><p>"The results … throw a wrench in the current approach to regulating chemicals, where it's often short-term testing looking at simple things like growth, survival, and maybe gene expression," Brander said.</p><p>"These findings are telling us we really at least need to consider" the next two generations, she added.</p>
- Alarming Levels of Cancer-Causing Chemicals Found in Columbia ... ›
- Microplastics Are Killing Baby Fish, New Study Finds - EcoWatch ›