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Insights/Opinion
Blue fin tuna jumping to catch flying fishes. bbevren / iStock / Getty Images Plus

EcoWatch Exclusive: Ocean Conservation Expert Carl Safina on the Tuna That Sold for $3 Million

Bluefin tuna made the news this week when a 612-pound specimen of the fascinating but vulnerable fish sold for a record $3.1 million at a New Year's auction at Tokyo's Toyosu fish market Saturday. The purchaser was Japanese sushi chain owner and self-proclaimed "Tuna King" Kiyoshi Kimura.

"The tuna looks so tasty because it's fat and (looks) very fresh. It is a good tuna. But I think I did too much," Kimura said, as CNN reported.

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Climate
Aerial view of Florence, Nichols, Conway and Waccamaw, South Carolina, impacted by floodwaters on Sept. 21. South Carolina Air National Guard

2018: A Year of Deadly Climate Disasters and an 'Ear Splitting Wake-Up Call'

By Sharon Kelly

2018 is set to rank as the fourth warmest year on record—and the fourth year in a row reflecting a full degree Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) temperature rise from the late 1800s, climate scientists say.

This was the year that introduced us to fire tornadoes, bomb cyclones and in Death Valley, a five-day streak of 125°F temperatures, part of the hottest month ever documented at a U.S. weather station.

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Science
Tree 'crop circles' near Nichinan city in Japan's Miyazaki prefecture. Google Earth

Tree ‘Crop Circles’ Emerge in Japan, Results From 1973 Forestry Experiment

Photos of two "crop circles" of trees in Japan's Miyazaki prefecture have emerged online and on social media, causing netizens to marvel at the eerie forest formation.

Turns out, these cedar circles—which you can see on Google Earth—are the result of a forestry experiment conducted about 45 years ago.

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Animals
An adult and sub-adult Minke whale dragged aboard the Nisshin Maru, a Japanese whaling vessel. Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

Japan Expected to Withdraw From IWC to Resume Whale Hunting

Despite a global ban on commercial whaling more than 30 years ago, Japan has caught about 200-1,200 whales every year since 1987—including pregnant and juvenile ones—under the exception of "scientific research." Opponents have fiercely criticized this research program as just a cover so the whales can be killed for human consumption.

Now, the national broadcaster NHK reports that the Japanese government wants to fully resume commercial whaling by pulling out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Commercial whaling was paused in 1986 by the IWC because some whales were hunted to near extinction.

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Animals

Brutal Hunt That Has Already Killed Thousands of Porpoises in Japan Resumes Again Today

Otsuchi, in northern Japan, is the focal point of the hand harpoon hunt which has claimed up to 15,000 Dall's porpoises in previous years.

In the most recent hunting seasons for which information is available, Japan allocated itself a quota of 13,493 Dall's porpoises in 2013/14, 12,928 in 2014/15 and 12,364 in 2015/16. The catch, however, has been significantly less than the quota for many years. In 2016, just over a thousand porpoises were killed.

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Humpback whale. Christopher Michel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Humpback Whales Are Falling Silent and the Reason Will Make You Cry

Male humpback whales are known for their evocative songs, but their classic melodies are being shortened or silenced in reaction to shipping noise, Japanese researchers found.

Baleen whales such as humpbacks use songs to communicate, search for food, find mates and navigate the seas,but in Japan, their voices are being drowned out by the din of cacophonous human activity.

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Climate
Japan's cherry blossoms are unexpectedly blooming this autumn. Coniferconifer / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming Across Japan. It's October.

Each year, Japan's iconic cherry blossoms herald the arrival of spring. But after a bout of extreme weather, blooms are being reported several months early.

The Japanese weather site Weathernews said it had received more than 350 reports of blossoms throughout the country. The flowers usually appear in March or April.

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Ola Jennersten / WWF-Sweden

Online Ivory Trade Perpetuated by Yahoo Japan, Weak Legislation

Yahoo Japan is the single biggest online platform for elephant ivory sales in Japan, according to a new TRAFFIC investigation, which recorded a staggering 4,414 ivory items plus 35 whole tusks for sale over a four-week period in June and July 2018.

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Animals
Minke whales dragged aboard the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru. Customs and Border Protection Service, Commonwealth of Australia

Japan Aims to Overthrow 32-Year-Old Global Whaling Ban

Japan is proposing a slew of rule changes at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Florianópolis, Brazil this week that conservationists worry would ultimately lift a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.

Japan, which launched a "scientific whaling" program in 1987 as a loophole to the moratorium, has killed more than 15,600 whales in the Antarctic since the ban (including juvenile and pregnant minke whales), according to a report released last month by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI).

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