Tag Archives: Atlantic Ocean

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE – PLASTIC GREAT LAKES!

GREAT LAKES GARBAGE1

The following excerpts are from WaterCanada, March/April issue
 Message in a Bottle, researchers found warning about plastics in Great Lakes, written by Saul Chernos.

MASONWhen Dr. Sherri Mason and her team cast a net into three Great Lakes last July, scouring for debris, they weren’t sure what to expect. Mason, an associate professor of chemistry with the State University of New York (SUNY), had followed the ongoing saga of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and other giant swirls of litter cluttering the oceans and wondered about the situation closer to home. Might the world’s largest body of fresh water be a significant contributor to an alarming phenomenon that has seen highly durable plastics literally stuff the bellies of birds, fish, and other sea creatures? Anxious about the impact that people living within this enormous inland watershed might be having on aquatic life, Mason secured funding, arranged for a boat, and assembled the resources and expertise needed to draw answers from the lakes’ often-choppy waters.
Although the following YouTube video, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, (uploaded by Good Morning America, July 25, 2011) deals with Ocean polution (garbage patches), the concern of the impact on our great lakes is the same.

 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not alone in the world, and it is somewhat of a misnomer. There are two major garbage patches in the Pacific – one north, one south – and there are two more in the Atlantic, plus a fifth in the Indian Ocean. Each is located within a major gyre, subservient to its currents. ERIKSONMarcus Eriksen, executive director of the 5 Gyres Institute, has visited each of them, studying their effects on aquatic life. From microscopic bead-like molecules to entire cigarette lighters and water bottles, Eriksen has seen it all – and not always floating or captured in his nets. Three years ago, after finding dead birds with plastic extruding from their decomposing chests, he was moved to launch 5 Gyres to confront this emerging but increasingly striking environmental crisis…

LAKESUPERIOR8Most prevalent, however, were particles microscopic in size. The crew also found that volumes tended to increase as they sailed in the direction of the water flow. “That matched our hypothesis,” Mason explains. “Lake Superior is the beginning of the Great Lakes system, and while a huge number of people live along Superior,
LAKEERIE7 Lake Erie has the most people and the water flows in that direction.” Mason says this suggests a cumulative effect, with the lower lakes likely receiving debris from the upper lakes, leading to concern that what goes into Lake Superior and the other lakes eventually makes its way into the Atlantic Ocean. How is this garbage getting into the lakes in the first place? “It’s from us,” Mason points out. “When you see a bag blowing in the breeze, eventually it’s going to make its way into the lake.” Of equal concern is what’s flushed down toilets and drains… The plastic itself isn’t the only problem. Mason says PCBs, persistent organic pollutants, and other chemicals that end up in the water tend to adsorb onto materials such as plastic. So, even if plastic isn’t the actual killer, aquatic creatures could potentially be affected by poisons clinging to the plastic. PHARMACEUTICALSToxins could also work their way up the food chain, ultimately affecting humans. Mason even worries that the microscopic beads from personal care products and other sources might be bypassing local wastewater treatment systems in much the same way pharmaceuticals are escaping, and that they might even be returning through drinking water intakes. Plastics in municipal facilities Municipal officials overseeing water and wastewater systems agree that the issue of plastics in inland water bodies is only recently coming to light.

London, Ontario draws water from LAKEHURON3both Lake Huron and Lake Erie. The city’s managing director for environmental and engineering services, John Braam, says his drinking water plant’s filters are designed to catch particles larger than two microns. This is well below the 333-micron threshold Mason and her crew captured during their expedition, and Braam is confident the city’s drinking water is free of particles larger than two microns. LONDON'S WATEROn the wastewater side, Braam says he doesn’t know of any municipality – his included – which actively measures wastewater treatment plant outflows for particle content. Still, he’s relatively confident his wastewater treatment systems are catching most plastics, along with other the other contents they’re designed to capture. “Through biologically activated mechanical wastewater treatment plants, most plastics ought to be picked up through the screening or settlement processes,” Braam explains, adding that London has membrane filters designed to .04 which would be effective at removing larger icro-sized particles. As well, he points out that micro-plastic fibres from polyester and other synthetic clothing, which can come off in the wash… While the Ministry isn’t doing any research at the moment about plastics in inland waterways, that could soon change.
“News reports have highlighted the issue, and we’re starting to talk to researchers in the field,” Helm says. “We’re looking at the methods we have in-house that could start addressing whether we could measure the plastics and what partners we would work with if we needed to pursue this. Right now we’re working to put together some context to characterise the issue. If you’re finding plastics then the next step is you want to know where they’re coming from.”…  NEW YORK WASTEWATERThis kind of research could soon be underway. Sherri Mason says she’s preparing to sample four municipal wastewater systems in New York State later this year. Regardless of the outcome of this research, however, Mason believes the key to meaningfully improving the situation—for wildlife, ecosystems, and people—is to address the very prevalence of plastics in our lives. “Plastics were originally designed with the best of intentions—to replace natural products that were becoming rare,” she explains. “We make something, put it on the marketplace, and don’t think about its lifecycle and what will happen to it in the end. All the qualities of plastic that make it so wonderful from a business standpoint also make it a concern from an environmental standpoint. It’s lightweight, durable, and now we have so much of it we don’t have a handle on what to do with it. We’ve become a disposable society. We throw it away, but it doesn’t go away. There is no ‘away.”…

STOP OBAMA ~ KEEP WHALES & DOLPHINS SAFE

I am forwarding information I received from Victoria Principal for Oceana wavemaker@oceana.org

Unless the Obama administration reverses course, the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to the New Jersey border will be opened up to high-intensity seismic air gun exploration for offshore oil and gas.

This means that dolphins and whales will be subjected to constant dynamite-like blasts about every 10 seconds, 24-hours a day, for weeks and months on end.

Even the government admits that the industry’s airguns could injure hundreds of thousands of marine mammals and disrupt marine mammal feeding, calving, breeding, and other vital activities more than 13.5 million times.

There’s no time to waste. Urge the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior to abandon the government’s proposal to allow seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic!

Dolphins and whales rely on sound for feeding, communication, and navigation. If we don’t act now, these sensitive creatures will be exposed to an intense acoustical assault.

Seismic exploration involves arrays of high-volume air guns that are towed behind ships, continuously firing intense impulses of compressed air — almost as loud as explosives.

Opening up the Atlantic Ocean to seismic exploration for offshore oil and gas would cause incredible harm to ocean wildlife like whales and dolphins and to multi-billion dollar fishing, tourism, and recreational industries that support hundreds of thousands of American jobs. All of this just to make it easier for oil companies to find new sites in our oceans for offshore drilling.

Please do your part to stop this devastatingly harmful act and sign the petition!!!

We simply cannot allow it. If you live in the United States, click below to tell the Secretary of Interior to abandon plans to allow seismic testing in the Atlantic.  I am writing to Oceana to ask if they will amend their info fields in the petition to allow people from other countries to help.

http://act.oceana.org/letter/l-seismic-vp/?akid=2584.962452.8zJuCr&rd=1&source=mailing&t=2&utm_campaign=seismic&utm_medium=mailing&utm_source=advocacy

CHINESE “SNOW DRAGON” ICEBREAKER FIRST

Chinese icebreaker sails to Atlantic Ocean and back via Arctic route, marking first for China

 

In this photo, provided by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, is harbored in Shanghai, after an 85-day scientific quest across the Arctic ocean, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. The Chinese icebreaker has docked at Shanghai after becoming the first Chinese vessel to cross the Arctic Ocean. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Pei Xin)  

BEIJING, China – A Chinese icebreaker docked Thursday at Shanghai after becoming the first vessel from China to cross the Arctic Ocean, a landmark trip that is part of Beijing’s efforts to expand its presence in the Arctic.  With melting icecaps accelerating the opening of new shipping routes and the exploration of oil, gas and mineral deposits in the Arctic, China has been eager to gain a foothold in the region.   The icebreaker Snow Dragon returned to Shanghai after wrapping up a three-month mission that took it from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic via the Arctic, the Shanghai-based Polar Research Institute of China said in a statement. The vessel’s 119 crew members completed an oceanic survey in waters around Iceland with their Icelandic counterparts.  Though it has no territorial claims in the Arctic, China has been lobbying for permanent observer status on the eight-member Arctic Council in a bid to gain influence.  During summer months when they are passable, Arctic shipping routes between China and Europe are 40 per cent faster than travelling through the Indian Ocean, the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.  The institute’s statement said Snow Dragon gained “first-hand information about navigation in Arctic sea lanes as well as the oceanic environment, and carried out useful exploration and practice for our nation’s ships that use Arctic passages in the future.”

The following excerpts are taken from ShanghaiDaily.com, ‘Bai steers a steady course to an Arctic first’, by Evan Liang, 9.27.12

A LOCAL university teacher has become the country’s first woman to have sailed across the Arctic Ocean.  Bai Xiang’en, 28, was one of four people at the helm of China’s only icebreaker Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, on an expedition from July to September… be part of the 90-day science exploration… “The journey has greatly improved my navigation skills,” she said… Bai was the only woman among four people selected due to her extensive knowledge and experience of sea travel… while teaching at the university’s Merchant Marine College… Bai said sailing in the East Siberian Sea presented an enormous challenge, with its floating pack ice and icebergs. She had to exercise extreme caution at all times to avoid hitting icebergs or getting trapped between sheets of ice.

Link ~  http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Chinese+icebreaker+sails+Atlantic+Ocean+back+Artic+route+marking/7305937/story.html#ixzz28Ab4d5rV

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/28/chinas-snow-dragon-icebreaker-makes-85-day-voyage-to-become-countrys-first-vessel-to-cross-arctic-ocean/

SENSELESS CRUEL SLAUGHTER OF BABY HARP SEALS

“Please help stop September 15 deadline for death of Harp Seals at Aquarium des Iles, Quebec, Canada”

We are writing to urge you and your organizations to take immediate steps to help save the lives of Zak and Mika, two captive 6-month old Harp Seals pups. They were captured from the wild this spring as newborn pups by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO-MPO) for the purpose of providing them to the Aquarium des Iles in Quebec for tourism display.

~ PLEASE HELP ME AND MANY OTHERS BY SIGNING THIS PETITION ~

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/867/025/075/please-help-stop-september-15-deadline-for-death-of-harp-seals-at-aquarium-des-iles-quebec-canada/

As disturbed as I am about this desperate situation I thought we should learn a bit about the Harp Seal, so I am including some information that I found on the Wikipedia site.

 The harp seal or saddleback seal is a species of earless seal native to the northernmost Atlantic Ocean and parts of the Arctic Ocean. It now belongs to the monotypic genus Pagophilus. Its scientific name, Pagophilus groenlandicus, means “ice-lover from Greenland”, and its synonym, Phoca groenlandica means “Greenland seal”.

 

The harp seal has a black face with silvery-gray body. Its eyes are pure black. It has black harp or wishbone-shaped markings on the back. They exhibit little sexual dimorphism.  The baby harp seal (pup) has a yellow-white coat at birth, but after three days, the coat turns white and stays white for about 12 days. Adult harp seals grow up to be 1.7 to 2.0 m (5 to 6 feet) long and weigh from 140 to 190 kg (300 to 400 pounds).

 The harp seal population is found in three separate populations, each of which uses a specific breeding site. The western North Atlantic stock, which is the largest, is located off eastern Canada. This population is further divided into two separate herds based on the breeding location. The Front herd breeds off the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, and the Gulf herd breeds near the Magdalen Islands in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. A second stock breeds on the “West Ice” off eastern Greenland. A third stock breeds on the “East Ice” in the White Sea, which is off the coast of Russia. Breeding occurs between mid-February and April, and varies somewhat for each stock.

THE THOUGHT OF NEEDLESS SLAUGHTER like this TO ME is simply unforgivable! 

wHAT ALSO REALLY BOTHERS ME IS THE FACT THAT THE AQUARIUM MADE A BOATLOAD OF MONEY FROM TOURISTS WHILE THE PUPS WERE ON DISPLAY!!!

Thank you all so very much for your caring enough to help out!

ENDANGERED SHARK POPULATIONS

Just after publishing my June 6, 2012 blog,”OMG – Great White Shark versus kayaker”, I received a current WWF newsletter featuring the concern of endangered shark populations.

I am including excerpts from that article and urge you to visit WWF’s site to read through comments submitted and related links.

May 14, 2012
Posted by staffblogger Jarrett Corke, Shark Project Coordinator, WWF-Canada

For as long as I can remember, sharks have been my passion… Over the past year, I’ve been working at WWF-Canada on shark conservation in Halifax, Nova Scotia, tackling the most pressing issues for Atlantic sharks.

So when I received an envelope last week addressed to Mr. Jarrett Corke with the words ‘To the General Shark Scientists of the World’ written in pencil along the edge, I was intrigued.  Inside were two letters, … the first letter. Written by the father of an exceptional young boy by the name of Jack Titterrell from Bowmanville, Ontario, the letter explained that his son had taken it upon himself to create these signs in the hopes of spreading his message – save the sharks. The second letter, dictated by Jack to his father, explained why he thinks people should take more care to avoid the unnecessary killing of sharks.”

Jack’s reasons (See the blog for the information included in each numbered section) included: 

1)Sharks are endangered and I want them to survive.”…
2) “Sharks are nature and swim so fast.”
3) “If they don’t survive, they will become extinct.”
Jack is right to be concerned. Sharks are in trouble and they need our help. The loss of these predators may have direct and indirect effects on marine ecosystems, not only impacting other marine organisms, but us too – the human communities that rely on ocean resources.
To learn more about what we do to help protect sharks, visit - http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/species/sharks/

http://blog.wwf.ca/blog/2012/05/14/dear-general-shark-scientists-of-the-world/?utm_source=panda_mail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=panda_mail_June_2012

CANADIAN SHARKS THREATENED PLUS AWESOME VIDEO

Please read, “Help Save Canada‘s Sharks” Posted by staffblogger By Jarrett Corke, Shark Project Coordinator, WWF-Canada May 14, 2012

http://blog.wwf.ca/blog/2012/05/14/dear-general-shark-scientists-of-the-world/?utm_source=panda_mail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=panda_mail_June_2012

At the end of this topic I’ve included Jonathan Bird‘s video,Shark Biology” (Webisode 45) as I’m utterly amazed to learn so many astonishing facts, as Jonathan swims among the sharks.  What an incredible insight into this endangered species!   This is a 10 minute video and is definitely worth watching – A MUST SEE!!
 - Jonathan swims with blue sharks and tries to pet one – will he get bitten?…
 - an underwater cave hold a deep surprise…
 - Jonathan swims with the largest toother animal on earth, the sperm whale…

       PROTECTING CANADIAN SHARK POPULATIONS

http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/species/sharks/

Most sharks are vulnerable to overexploitation due to their slow growth, late maturity, low reproductive rates, and long life. Globally, sharks…are among the most threatened marine vertebrates on Earth. Large open-water or ‘pelagic’ sharks, such as great whites, are among the most threatened. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, it is estimated that 60% of pelagic sharks are currently threatened with extinction. As many of these species are wide-ranging top predators, their loss may have far-reaching consequences for marine ecosystems.

Twenty-eight species of shark have been reported in Canadian waters … Close to half of these species are considered to be globally threatened; still most Canadians remain unaware that sharks regularly occur in our waters…

 
 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN THREATS TO SHARKS IN CANADIAN WATERS?

In Canada, unsustainable fishing practices, in particular the unintentional capture of sharks in fisheries targeting tunas, swordfish or groundfish have caused shark populations to drastically decline.

Bycatch - ‘Bycatch’, or the unintentional capture of non-target species in commercial fisheries, is perhaps the single most significant threat to sharks in Canadian waters. Little is known about the distribution of sharks in Canadian waters and ways to minimize the incidence of bycatch and overall shark mortality…

Demand for shark fins - Shark ‘finning’, the removal of only the fins from sharks and dumping the remainder while at sea, is illegal in Canada; however, Canada is importing unsustainable shark products, including fins, for consumption and, globally, the growing trade of shark fins has become a threat to many shark species. The fin trade today is considered to be a primary driver in shark exploitation.

Changes in the marine environment - Destructive fishing activities, marine waste and coastal developments can have serious impacts on marine habitats which sharks depend on. Climate change impacts on the marine ecosystem can also be a cause of concern for sharks, particularly in terms of how population distributions and habitats for sharks, as well as their prey, may be affected.

VIDEO OUTLINE of Jonathan Bird’s, “Blue Sharks“:

Jonathan joins Charlie Donilon on his shark charter boat in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and learns about how shark tagging has shed light on the biology of and behavior of Blue sharks. Tagging has shown that these incredible swimmers actually migrate completely across the Atlantic ocean. Jonathan tries his hand at tagging a shark and then swims with Blue sharks. We also learn that Blue sharks are not nearly as vicious as they have been reputed to be, and the divers are actually able to pet the sharks!

CANADA’S GREAT LAKES ARE IN TROUBLE

CANADA’S GREAT LAKES ARE IN TROUBLE

The following excerpts are taken from “Our Great Lakes Commons: A Peoples Plan to Protect the Great Lakes Forever”, by Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians.  I’ve also included some information from Environment Canada.

I encourage you to watch the video, “Incredible by Any Measure…the Great Lakes”, created by The Nature Conservancy, that I’ve placed at the end of this blog – a wealth of information and incredible cinematography.

The Great Lakes of North America form the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, holding more than 20 per cent of the world’s surface freshwater and 95 per cent of North America’s. Add to this the groundwater underlying and feeding the Great Lakes or its tribu­tary streams and lakes, and the percentage is closer to 25 and 97 per cent respectively. The Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, which is their primary flow outlet to the Atlantic Ocean, are bordered by two Canadian provinces: Ontario and Quebec, and eight U.S. states…

The Great Lakes have a unique biodiversity and are home to more than 3,500 species of plants and animals. They were formed over 20,000 years ago when the last glacier continental ice sheet retreated. The Great Lakes provide life and livelihood to more than 40 million people and are the economic centre at the heart of the continent. They are, however, under serious threat from a wide variety of demands and sources… There is a misconception that the Great Lakes replenish themselves each year with rainwater. This is not true.

. . . we have built our economic and development policies based on a human-centric model and assumed that nature would never fail to provide, or that, where it does fail, technology will save the day. We have polluted, diverted and mismanaged the planet’s finite supplies of water to the point that they are now dangerously close to collapse in many parts of the world . . . The waters of the Great Lakes are no exception to this rule.

 The Great Lakes – some vital statistics

The five Great Lakes  hold one-fifth of the fresh water on the earth’s surface and 80 percent of the lake and river water in North America. The Great Lakes basin, including the water and land area that drains into the lakes, covers 766,000 square kilometres (295,700 square miles). The shoreline of the five Great Lakes and the connecting rivers stretches for 17,000 kilometres (10,200 miles), long enough to reach nearly halfway around the world. The water of the Great Lakes flows from the middle of the continent to the Atlantic Ocean.  The lakes contain the world’s largest system of freshwater islands, some of which are refuges for rare and endangered species. About five million people fish in the Great Lakes. Close to one million boats, mainly pleasure craft operate on the Great Lakes.

A few ways we can help keep the environment and wildlife species of our Great Lakes safe.

Keep hazardous materials out of the water. Purchase products that are produced in ways that have a low impact on the environment. Use safe disposal methods for insect and weed killers, paints, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids. Take them to hazardous waste centres for disposal. Take used motor oil to a service station for recycling. Take medicines to a pharmacy for safe disposal. Keep litter, pet waste, leaves, and debris out of street gutters and storm drains. Avoid hosing dirt into storm sewers because it can reduce flow in them and be carried into lakes and rivers. Use low-phosphate or phosphate-free detergents. Use natural pest-control methods. Disconnect downspouts and direct rainwater into a barrel or onto your lawn or garden. Use separate stones and porous materials instead of concrete for walkways, driveways, and patios so that water will seep into the ground rather than draining into the sewer systems. Support car washes that treat or recycle their wastewater and dry cleaners that are using new “green” processes.

 Video – “Incredible by Any Measure…the Great Lakes”

 Links -

http://onthecommons.org/sites/default/files/GreatLakes-Final-Mar2011(2).pdf

http://www.ec.gc.ca/media_archive/press/2005/050526_b_e.htm

WATERSPOUTS – TERRIFYING, SPELLBINDING, VICIOUS, POWERFUL…

A waterspout is a funnel that forms over the water. Waterspouts are much weaker than twisters over the land. When the funnel stretches from the thunderstorm into the ocean or lake, water is the debris that flies in every direction. However, if something like a ship is on the surface of the water then there could be a real threat to the boat. Waterspouts occasionally move inland where their power and danger level increase to that of its viciously twisted sister, the tornado.

What’s happening over the water? Left is one of the better images yet recorded of a waterspout, a type of tornado that occurs over water. Waterspouts are spinning columns of rising moist air that typically form over warm water. Waterspouts can be as dangerous as tornadoes and can feature wind speeds over 200 kilometers per hour. Many waterspouts form away from thunderstorms and even during relatively fair weather. Waterspouts may be relatively transparent and initially visible only by the unusual pattern they create on the water. The above image was taken in 1969 from an aircraft off the Florida Keys, a location arguably the hottest spot for waterspouts in the world with hundreds forming each year. Some people speculate that these waterspouts are responsible for many of the losses recorded in the Bermuda Triangle region of the Atlantic OceanNasa.gov photo credit: Joseph Golden, NOAA

Like folks spellbound by a tornado, people on beaches stand and stare as opposed to dashing for safety. The same awestruck curiosity occurs to some sailors on boats or ships. Once a waterspout forms, it could easily work like a supercell over the land where multiple twisters are spawned. If a waterspout were about to collide with your boat, your best bet might be diving underwater but even that is not guaranteed to save your life. Although you would manage to avoid the debris in the air, not enough is known about the vortex in the water. If could be safe or it could be like diving into the vortex of a maelstrom . . . a death sentence.

A person would need to be far above the water level, such as in a plane or on a mountain, to see the first sign of a waterspout. It starts as a dark spot forming on the ocean. The second phase still could not be seen from a ship, but could perhaps could be felt as the wind shifts and speeds up. If a person on a boat happened to look up at the cloud above when sensing the change in the wind, that person might notice a funnel forming in the clouds even though the vortex on the water’s surface is not clearly visible. As the winds increases, the spray is visible from the vortex on the ocean surface. When a waterspout is fully matured, anyone with eyes to see can watch the funnel reach from the cloud to dip and twist into the water. They also hiss and suck at the water instead of the rumbling growl of a twister on land.

*Waterspouts can also form over lakes or rivers, but are most commonly seen over the ocean. They suck up the water in their path, billowing a water spray like a mushroom cloud against the water surface. Waterspouts can range in size from several feet to more than a mile high, and their width can vary from a few feet to hundreds of feet. It is not uncommon to see more than one water-twister at a time. Some ships have reported seeing as many as 30 waterspouts in a single day.

*Many have been spotted over the Great Lakes.

    Images via: Flame, Flickr, One Mom, Stanford, Majorly Cool, wikemedia,

   Source link -http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2009/08/03/70-viciously-twisted-tornadoes-and-waterspouts/

I’m having such a great time blogging and can’t believe how much I am learning ( I hadn’t heard of a “waterspout” before this and I think they’re awesome !!!)