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Japan Tsunami Debris: Wreckage Reaching Alaska Surges

Almost 70 % of the debris swept to sea by last year's tsunami has sunk Bottles, plastic foam and floating buoys are just a few of the scattershot items washing ashore in Alaska, part of a wave of debris surging toward U.S. shores from the March 2011 earthquake in Japan, CNN reports."In the past we would find a few dozen large black buoys, used in Japanese aquaculture, on an outside beach cleanup," Patrick Chandler of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies told Agence France Presse. "Now we see hundreds."Officials estimate almost 70 percent of the debris swept to sea by last year's tsunami has sunk, but that remaining 30 percent has begun showing up on Canadian and American shores in the last few months. In April 2012, a Japanese child's soccer ball turned up in Alaska, a ghost ship had to be sunk, and a lost Harley Davidson washed ashore on Graham Island off the coast of British Columbia.According to CBS News, one-and-a-half million tons of an estimated five million tons of debris remain afloat. And more than radioactivity, toxicity poses the greatest concern when it comes to wreckage."Think about everything in your garage and imagine that dumping in the ...

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Study confirmed that Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Contaminated Ocean Food Chain

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation Toxic compounds derived from oil that was released in the Deepwater Horizon spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico nearly two years ago has entered the ocean's food chain through microorganisms, a recent study has confirmed.The study, funded by the National Science Foundation and led by a team of researchers from East Carolina University, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Oregon State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Geological Survey, detected chemical compounds found in oil called hydrocarbons, some known to be carcinogenic, within the bodies of microscopic crustaceans called zooplankton."Our research helped to determine a 'fingerprint' of the Deepwater Horizon spill--something that other researchers interested in the spill may be able to use," Dr. Siddhartha Mitra of East Carolina University said in a statement. "Furthermore, our work demonstrated that zooplankton in the Northern Gulf of Mexico accumulated toxic compounds derived from the Macondo well."Zooplankton form the base of the ocean's food web and are typically fed upon by fish larva and smaller crustaceans, said Dr. David Kimmel of East Carolina University. Whether or not these larger organisms have accumulated significant amounts of toxic compounds, or ...

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Ocean Microbe Communities Changing

But Long-Term Environmental Impact Is Unclear As oceans warm due to climate change, water layers will mix less and affect the microbes and plankton that pump carbon out of the atmosphere -- but researchers say it's still unclear whether these processes will further increase global warming or decrease it.The forces at work are enormous and the stakes huge, said Oregon State University scientists in an article publishedFebruary 10 in the journalScience. But inadequate ocean monitoring and lack of agreement on how to assess microbial diversity has made it difficult to reach a consensus on what the future may hold, they said."We're just beginning to understand microbial diversity in the oceans and what that may mean to the environment," said Stephen Giovannoni, an OSU professor of microbiology. "However, a large portion of the carbon emitted from human activities ends up in the oceans, which with both their mass of water and biological processes act as a huge buffer against climate change. These are extremely important issues."The interest is growing, scientists say, because nearly half of the world's photosynthesis is contributed by microbial plankton, and the process of marine carbon production and consumption is much faster than on land. A turnover of ...

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Plastic Pollution in the Oceans is Causing Problems

For Whales, too Every year, humans consume 70 million tons of seafood. Though this is an astonishing volume-one that has aserious impact on ocean populations-it cannot compare to sperm whales which consumer more than 100 million tons of seafood annually. Most of this consists of squid and small fish but-increasingly-plastic trash is making its way into the whales' diet as well.Sperm whales, specifically, have been identified as one of the most intelligent species in the ocean-if not on the planet. They posses the largest brains of any known animal-living or extinct-and use sounds and sonar to communicate with one another,organize into social groups, and evenidentify individuals by name.The cosmopolitan species has found great success and managed to establish itself in all of the world's oceans and many of the major seas. One of the keys to this success is their ability to dive deep below the surface-with some dropping nearly two miles-to find food. Even so, they have not been able to escape the scourge of ocean plastic pollution that has also impacted fish, turtles, and birds.Though hunting of sperm whales has been regulated since just after WWII, threats like pollution continue to threaten the species. The problem with ocean ...

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Filmmaker sounds alarm over ocean of plastic

Over the past year he has been following the menace of plastic On Midway atoll in the North Pacific, dozens of young albatross lie dead on the sand, their stomachs filled with cigarette lighters, toy soldiers and other small plastic objects their parents have mistaken for food.That sad and surreal sight, says Hong Kong-based Australian film director Craig Leeson, is one of the manysymptoms of a plague afflicting the world's oceans, food chains and human communities: the onslaught of discarded plastic."Every piece of plastic ever made since the fifties exists in some shape or form on the planet," Leeson told AFP. "We throw plastic into a bin, it's taken away from us and we never see it again -- but it still comes back at us."Over the past year, Leeson has been following the menace of plastic from Sardinia to Canada to the Indian Ocean for a film that aims to combine the art of nature documentary with a campaigning quest.Provisionally called "Away", the film -- backed by David Attenborough and the UK-based Plastic Oceans Foundation -- brings together new research on the spread of plastic with missions by "explorers" such as Ben Fogle to show the diverse effects of ...

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Invaders from the sea

IMO-BBC Documentary The award winning IMO-BBC documentary film Invaders from the Sea, which address the core of the invasive species in ships' ballast water problem is now available from IMO's Publications Section. This documentary won the gold award in the category of "Best United Nations Feature" at the 2007's "Stories from the Field", the third annual United Nations Documentary Film Festival, which took place in New York. The film was produced by IMO, the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships, in co-operation with the BBC and the shipping industry.

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USA: Miami Port Expansion to Destroy Coral Reefs?

Miami prepares to dredge its port to accommodate supersize freighters As Miami prepares to dredge its port to accommodate supersize freighters, environmentalists are making a last-ditch effort to protect threatened coral reefs and acres of sea grass that they say would be destroyed by the expansion. The number of successful piracy attacks on ships off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden has decreased this year leading to fears that there will be an escalation in violence against seafarers.

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Geographic analysis offers new insight into coral disease spread

Coral disease due to stress response from ocean pollution and climate change In the last 30 years, more than 90 percent of the reef-building coral responsible for maintaining major marine habitats and providing a natural barrier against hurricanes in the Caribbean has disappeared because of a disease of unknown origin.Now a University of Florida geographer and his colleagues applied Geographic Information Systems, known as GIS - as well as software previously used to examine human illness - to show where clusters of diseased coral exist. Their findings, published this month in the journal PLoS One, may help scientists derive better hypotheses to determine what contributes to coral disintegration."What you'll find is that spatial techniques have been used relatively little in the coral research community," said paper co-author Jason Blackburn, a UF professor of geography and member of UF's Emerging Pathogens Institute. "With these methods, we gain a better understanding of the disease's distribution across the reef."Microbiologists and toxicologists often run laboratory tests on small samples of Acropora species of coral to determine the factors that contribute to white-band disease, known as WBD. It's visually identified as a white band moving from the base of the coral up, killing the coral ...

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Canadian environmentalists call for stronger ocean protection measures

People should view ocean protection as a way of life Alarmed by last year's serious oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and a leak into the sea of highly radioactive water from Japan's crippled nuclear reactors, some Canadian environmentalists are calling for greater steps to be taken to protect the world's oceans.At an event to promote the upcoming World Ocean Day on Wednesday at Blackie Spit Park in Surrey in Canada's British Columbia, about a dozen open-air tents were set up around the park providing information on marine and bird life, habitat enhancement, water quality, pesticide usage, as well as plant life of the marine variety.The theme of this year's World Oceans Day is "Youth: the next wave of change," with the aim of getting young people to view the protection of the oceans as a way of life.Yvonne Dawydiak, a volunteer coordinator for the Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society, patrons of an area that is part of the Fraser River Estuary and an important feeding ground for migratory shorebirds, said kids were the best resource for getting the conservation message across."Our oceans are under more and more pressure from development, from pollution, and overfishing, ... and young children ...

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