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The Sea Cucumber’s Vanishing Act

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Coastal communities don’t always realize their sea cucumbers are targets of a voracious, international fishery until it’s too late.

Soft, slimy, and wrinkled, they looked like a heap of waterlogged, disembodied phalluses. The photographs, snapped by bystanders in the spring of 2015, showed sea cucumbers being hauled away from Hawai‘i’s beaches by the truckload. The animals slid over one another in a pool of mucus. As the images began spiraling through social media channels, locals reacted with surprise and dismay.

Sustainable management of wild fisheries, especially small-scale fisheries, is critical for achieving local food security and poverty reduction in many developing countries, including many Feed the Future countries.

A turtle rescued from a Queensland port in Australia could be the first hybrid of its kind in the country.

The turtle, rescued by a passerby after it became tangled in a crab pot, appears to be a cross between a hawksbill and a green turtle. The turtle was taken to the Reef HQ Aquarium’s turtle hospital on the Great Barrier Reef, where vets removed fish hooks lodged in the turtle’s mouth. It was then sent to the James Cook University’s veterinary school, where more analyses were conducted to make sure it was healthy.

Due to an increase in industrial activities, such as mining and logging, just under half of all natural World Heritage sites are under threat, according to a new report by WWF International. In it, they warn that many sites of outstanding importance, from the Great Barrier Reef to Machu Picchu, are at risk and could be badly damaged. This would threaten the income and livelihoods of an estimated 11 million people who live in and around these sites, as well as those who rely on them for work and resources.

The shrimps that sustain penguins, seals and whales in the Antarctic peninsula are getting scarcer, under threat from climate change and fishing. At stake is a pristine marine environment that scientists call one of the world's last wildernesses. Video provided by AFP.


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UPDATE: Great Barrier Reef

One of Australia’s most important natural assets, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), is being affected by the worst ever bleaching in its history, amid warmer than average water temperatures associated with this summer’s major El Niño event and against a background trend of ongoing ocean warming.

With extensive coral bleaching having been predicted as far back as October last year, Terry Hughes at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies convened the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce to document the bleaching, both from the air and at close quarters. With our survey work still ongoing, a bleak picture is emerging: more than 1,000 km of the Great Barrier Reef shows signs of significant bleaching.

Oceans around the world face a fierce array of threats: plastic pollution, overfishing, acidification, climate change and more.

This infographic from the World Bank highlights the importance of oceans to the health of the planet and economies around the world.

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