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Blog Tags: Ocean Acidification

Ocean Hero Finalists: McKenzy Haber

This is the eighth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured junior ocean hero finalist is Homer, Alaska native McKenzy Haber, who hosted the first ever TEDxHomer Teen conference in 2010, with a theme of sustainability.

McKenzy and several other teens adapted the TED model to get the word out about ocean conservation to 140 teens and adults in Homer, Alaska and 1,800 livestreaming online. The conference included talks about the oceans, climate change in the Arctic and Antarctica, and ecological economics.

At the 9th World Wilderness Congress, also known as WILD9, he gave a plenary speech called "Dear Developed Earth," to world leaders about teen leadership and protecting wild Alaskan waters. “Many delegates came up to me afterward crying and saying how moving it was,” McKenzy wrote via e-mail. Watch it and see why McKenzy is such an inspiration:

WILD9 - McKenzy Haber (English) from The WILD Foundation on Vimeo.


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Guest Post: Bora Bora’s Threatened Reefs

The island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Guest blogger Jon Bowermaster is a writer and filmmaker. In this post, Jon reports on the state of corals in Bora Bora.

Bora Bora, Society Islands, French Polynesia – I dove last week in the beautiful lagoon that surrounds the tall island to have a first hand look at how the coral reef is doing in this South Pacific resort island. The report is not good.

Descending to 90 feet, it was immediately clear that the reef has been hammered in the past few years. I’ve come here every year for the past decade and have seen incredible change.

I spent most of the morning observing the still-growing reef system just 10 to 30 feet below the surface. Although the waters are warm and magnificently clear, invasive predators and natural disaster have both taken big tolls.

Populations of acanthaster -- also known as the crown-of-thorns starfish – mysteriously arrived in Polynesia in 2006. No one is sure exactly how they got here or where they originated, though invasive species are well known for hitching rides on cargo ships and jumping off far from home. Here in the shallows surrounding Bora Bora – as they have done to reefs on nearby Moorea, Raiatea-Tahaa, Huahine and Maupiti – the predatory starfish have devoured hundreds of acres of coral.


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How Might Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Affect the Oceans?

Many of you have inquired via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail about how the Japanese nuclear crisis is affecting the oceans and marine life. There are still a lot of question marks, but here’s what our scientists have to say.

How it could affect marine life in general:

The greatest concern for marine life comes from the radiation from cesium, strontium and radioactive iodine entering the oceans via the smoke and water runoff from the damaged facilities. Small doses of radiation will be spread out over the Pacific Ocean, and monitors on the U.S. West Coast have even picked up slight traces of radiation from the smoke.

Although the levels of cesium and radioactive iodine in the immediate vicinity of the plant have increased and very small amounts of radiation have even been detected in local anchovies (1 percent of acceptable levels), it is not clear whether there will be any long-term or significant impacts on marine life off the coast of Japan or out to sea, according to researchers who studied the marine effects of fallout from nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific and the Chernobyl nuclear accident.


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A Third of Reef Fish Face Extinctions from Climate Change

A blacknosed butterflyfish. © Oceana

When you picture the impacts of climate change, what animal comes to mind? Is it a polar bear floating on a thin chunk of ice, or maybe another cold climate species losing habitat like a walrus or a penguin?

Add butterflyfish to your thoughts about climate change, because a new study predicts that they, along with one-third of all coral reef fish, are losing reef habitat and are locally threatened with extinction from climate change.

Coral reefs are threatened by two aspects of carbon dioxide emissions, ocean acidification and climate change. Corals are susceptible to sustained periods of warmer water temperatures due to climate change, which causes them to bleach when they expel algae, turning them white.


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New Report: It’s Getting Hot Out There

Every year the Endangered Species Coalition creates a report that focuses on 10 species facing extinction that are currently listed or being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

This year’s report, It’s Getting Hot Out There: Top Ten Places to Save for Endangered Species, focuses on critical habitats that support endangered species and are themselves threatened by climate change. Shallow water coral reefs and Arctic sea ice, two important habitats that Oceana works hard to protect, were selected as two of the top 10 most important habitats to protect.

Oceana nominated shallow water coral reefs as a habitat that is important to save from the threats caused by human-produced carbon dioxide emissions: climate change and ocean acidification.


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COP16 Wrap-up: Acidification Gains Visibility

The climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico have drawn to a close, and another year of trying to figure out what to do about climate change has come and gone.

On the bright side, ocean acidification seemed more prevalent than in past years, which is a great triumph for the oceans. Oceana has been working to incorporate ocean acidification into the UNFCCC process, and to gain wider acknowledgement of this consequence of carbon dioxide emissions. This year ocean acidification seemed to be more easily recognized and understood, which is a step in the right direction. Much work remains to be done.


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COP16: Targeting Ocean Acidification

Oceana marine scientist Ellycia Harrould Kolieb is at the COP16 climate negotiations in Cancun.

On Tuesday I spoke at a side event on ocean acidification hosted by IUCN. The panel covered the science, research activities and policy developments surrounding ocean acidification.

On this panel, I spoke about the scientific issues that will need to be addressed in order to effectively incorporate acidification into the UNFCCC process. These are discussions that will need to be informed at the policy level by scientific evidence, and at this stage there is still more work needed to clarify some of these issues on the scientific front.


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Oceans in the Spotlight at COP16

Oceana marine scientist Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb is at the UN climate negotiations in Cancun this week.

This weekend at COP16 started off with style (or perhaps lack thereof) at the NGO party at Señor Frog’s – an infamous nightclub catering to 20-something American spring-breakers in Cancun. The NGO party is a great event that lets the climate community put on their party clothes and let off a little steam - before heading into the second very grueling week of negotiations.

Saturday was Oceans Day, an all-day event that focused on the issues facing the oceans due to increasing carbon dioxide levels. On the agenda this year were ocean acidification (a panel including myself, Carol Turley and Tony Haymet), blue carbon and coastal adaptation.


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Days 3-5 at COP16

Oceana marine scientist Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb, center, sits on a panel at COP16.

Oceana marine scientist Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb is at the COP16 climate negotiations in Cancun.

Last week I decided to take a break from the negotiations and attend a workshop by Google where they released their new technology platform Google Earth Engine.

This is a very exciting development that could be incredibly useful to scientists, NGOs and the general community in monitoring and measuring changes in earth systems. This platform will have reams and reams of satellite imagery data than can then be analyzed with various tools, including statistical and modeling programs. Computations will be done in the “cloud” so that work that would have previously taken many hours to days or even years can be done over very short time periods.


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Ocean Acidification: The Untold Stories

As the first week of the sixteenth meeting of the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico (COP 16) draws to a close, Oceana is releasing a new report on climate change's evil twin: ocean acidification.

Ocean Acidification: The Untold Stories details new findings for many different species of marine life that will be affected by a more acidic ocean.  Coral reef ecosystems will be some of the first casualties of an acidified ocean; impacts to these beautiful and important habitats could have huge consequences for a quarter of the entire biological diversity of the oceans that depend on coral reefs for food and shelter.

Marine life ranging from the smallest plankton to the largest whale may be affected by ocean acidification. Shellfish such as sea urchins, lobsters, sea stars and brittle stars are some prime examples of creatures that could be affected. More acidic oceans are expected to lead to a shortage of carbonate, a key building block that these animals need to build their shells and skeletons.


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