People waking up in the Australian Outback Friday morning, along with other parts of the Pacific, were among the lucky few to witness a “ring of fire” solar eclipse, as the moon slipped between the Earth and the sun, covering everything but a blazing ring of light around the edges.
(DETAILS: Solar Eclipse Turns Sun into ‘Ring of Fire’)
The eclipse lasted between three and six minutes, depending on its location, and blacked out around 95 percent of the sun at its peak.
Source: The Weather Channel
- ‘Ring of fire’ eclipse crosses Australia, Pacific (miamiherald.com)
- ‘Ring of Fire’ solar eclipse puts on a dazzling show in Australian Outback (science.nbcnews.com)
- Solar Eclipse: ‘Ring of Fire’ Eclipse Expected in Australia on Friday (scienceworldreport.com)
- ‘Ring of fire’ eclipse crosses Australia, Pacific (nzherald.co.nz)
If you were to travel from the United States of America to Japan, you would most likely encounter what could be described as the world’s largest waste dump: a 100,000 tonne expanse of debris floating around a large region of the Pacific Ocean. ENN reports
The total area of this phenomenon has been said to equal the size of continental U.S., but the truth about its true size remains unknown.
Captain Charles Moore first discovered the ‘Pacific garbage patch‘ in 1997. The area in which rubbish gets caught up is known as a gyre, which can be described as a large-scale circular feature made up of ocean currents that ultimately traps waste and moves it around the region.
Plastics constitute 90 percent of all trash in the world’s oceans with 20 percent of this waste being dumped from ships and oil platforms. The rest comes from land.
Plastic is of course, a very useful product; durable and stable, yet it is these very properties that deem it troublesome in marine environments.
“The polypropylene and the polyethylene that make up the majority of floater plastics and consumer plastics are just a little bit lighter than water. So if it’s rough they get pushed down under. When it’s really calm, all these bits and pieces can float to the surface,” Charles Moore told the Earth Island Journal.
To Moore, it is clearly a land-based problem and he believes that what drives the market and what subsequently runs off the streets into our oceans is all part of the same problem.
A one-liter plastic bottle, when in seawater, can reduce to so many small pieces that it is possible a single fragment could be found on every beach in the world. The entire marine food-web is suffering as a result. The breakdown of plastics into small pieces allows them to mimic the prey of all marine animals, from zooplankton to whales. When plastic is so prevalent that it fills up a creature’s stomach, it turns off the desire to feed. If an organism doesn’t put on fat stores for reproduction and migration, its population will crash. Floating plastic will even act as transport for some organisms, introducing them to areas where they could be problematic to resident species.
Seventy percent of the plastic waste sinks to the ocean floor and this mass of waste causes considerable damage to bed-dwelling organisms. In the worst case scenario—suffocation.
Plastics are also very good sponges, as such they are often used in oil clean-ups. But Moore explains that “petroleum-derivative toxins are sticking to these plastics, delivering these toxicants to marine creatures from the very base of the food-web to the top, in addition to killing millions by entanglement”.
- 19-Year-Old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From the World’s Oceans (inhabitat.com)
- What Is The Plastic Soup? – 6 May 2013 (lucas2012infos.wordpress.com)
- Garbage Patch, the newest country (thestar.blogs.com)
Crash! Conservationists also warned that the vast majority caught were juveniles and had never reproduced . The Guardian reports
The bluefin tuna, which has been endangered for several years and has the misfortune to be prized by Japanese sushi lovers, has suffered a catastrophic decline in stocks in the Northern Pacific Ocean, of more than 96%, according to research published on Wednesday.
Last week, one fish sold in Japan for more than £1m, reflecting the rarity of the bluefin tuna and the continued demand for its fatty flesh, which is sold for high prices across Asia and in some high-end western restaurants.
Bluefin tuna is one of nature’s most successful ocean inhabitants, the biggest of the tuna and a top-of-the-food-chain fish with few natural predators. But the advent of industrial fishing methods and a taste for the species among rich sushi devotees have led to its being hunted to the brink of extinction.
If current trends continue, the species will soon be functionally extinct in the Pacific, and the frozen bodies held in a few high-security Asian warehouses will be the last gasp the species.
More than nine out of 10 of the species recently caught were too young to have reproduced, meaning they may have been the last generation of the bluefin tuna.
Amanda Nickson, of the Pew Environment Group, which produced the latest report, said: “There is no logical way a fishery can have such a high level of fishing on juveniles and continue.”
She said that urgent measures needed to be taken in order to preserve stocks and allow them to recover. “The population of Pacific bluefin is a small fraction of what it used to be and is in danger of all but disappearing,” she said. “It’s a highly valuable natural commodity and people naturally want to fish something that gives them such a high return.”
She called for fishing of the species to be halted as a matter of urgency. Although there are measures to manage the exploitation of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic, and some measures in the eastern Pacific, the main spawning ground for Pacific bluefin tuna in the western part of that ocean is not managed. The main fishing fleets exploiting the stocks are from Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the US, and the high value of the few remaining fish is a further encouragement to fishermen to hunt down the last of the species. A single specimen could make the catchers rich for life, and without catch limits and rigorous enforcement, there is nothing to stop fishermen pursuing them.
Nickson said: “This assessment shows just how bad the situation really is for this top predator. This highly valuable fish is being exploited at almost every stage of its life cycle. Fishing continues on the spawning grounds of this heavily overfished tuna species.”
About two-thirds of the world’s tuna comes from the Pacific, but bluefin tuna accounts for only about 1% of this. For years, the species was neglected in fisheries management, being lumped in with other more prolific species. But in recent years it has become clear that it was in danger, from overfishing and its own biology – being bigger than other tuna, it takes longer to come to sexual maturity, which scientists estimate takes between four and eight years, which limits its reproductive ability and makes it more vulnerable to the predations of modern industrialised fishing techniques.
- Tuna Species Sold at Record Price Faces Overfishing, Study Says – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Bluefin tuna sells for record $1.76 million in Japan; sushi anyone? (grindtv.com)
- Tuna Numbers Reduced By Over 96 Percent (news.discovery.com)
- Overfishing Causes Pacific Bluefin Tuna Numbers to Drop 96% (ecowatch.org)
- Pacific bluefin population down 96.4% (worldfishing.net)
- Bluefin tuna sells for record S$2.14m in Tokyo (todayonline.com)
The Japanese government says it will look into international monitoring of fish products after low levels of radiation were found in bluefin tuna in Californian waters. A report shows radiation was detected in 15 tuna caught near San Diego in August 2011, about four months after chemicals were released into the water off Japan’s east coast. From The Guardian
- Tuna Contaminated With Fukushima Radiation Found in California (motherjones.com)
- Fukushima Nuclear Radiation Found in Pacific Bluefin Tuna (inhabitat.com)
- Tuna Carry Fukushima Radiation Across Pacific To US (msnbc.msn.com)
- Fukushima Radiation Found in Bluefin Tuna in Calif. (healthland.time.com)
- Bluesun 2600: Japan’s radiation found in California bluefin tuna (sfgate.com)
- Bluefin tuna caught near U.S. show radioactive taint from Japan (oregonlive.com)
- Japan’s radiation found in California bluefin tuna (sfgate.com)
- Radioactive bluefin tuna from Japan found in U.S. waters (rawstory.com)
- Tuna contaminated with Fukushima radiation found in California (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is said to be twice the size of Texas – and is now being added to by debris from the Japanese tsunami. Stephen Moss reports in The Guardian
A motorbike, golf clubs, a football belonging to a Japanese schoolboy: just some of the estimated 4.8m tonnes of debris swept into the sea by last year’s tsunami in Japan, bits of which have already washed up on the shores of Alaska and Canada. Around two-thirds of it sank off the coast of Japan, but the rest is now drifting across the Pacific towards North America, stretching across an estimated 4,000 miles of ocean.
Much of it will swirl around for ever in the fabled garbage patch in the north Pacific. The problem with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is that it’s hard to spot. Most of it consists of tiny bits of plastic, forming a thin and constantly shifting film on the surface of the ocean. Garbage patchologists say it’s twice the size of Texas, but there are also garbage-patch deniers who claim it’s a fraction of that size.
Bill Francis at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in California likens it to “a big toilet that never flushes”. Donovan Hohn, author ofMoby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea, who traced the journey of thousands of Floatee bath toys that tumbled overboard en route from Hong Kong to Tacoma, Washington in 1992, says he imagined it as a floating junkyard, but that in reality it’s a marine desert where little life can survive. “If you went fishing in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” he writes in Moby-Duck, “all you’d likely catch aside from garbage is plankton.”
Hohn’s mock-heroic quest has a serious subtext: the trashing of the oceans. The smaller islands and reefs of Hawaii are the indices of that poisoning. There is little indigenous pollution, yet they are littered with fishing lines, bottle tops, Lego pieces, golf tees, plastic bottles, toothbrushes, cigarette lighters, syringes, tyres, petrol cans and plastic dinosaurs, swept there by the currents of the north Pacific subtropical gyre (a large system of rotating ocean currents).
The garbage from the Japanese tsunami joins this ocean of debris, including not just Hohn’s yellow plastic ducks, green frogs, blue turtles and red beavers, but loads of basketball shoes and ice hockey gloves lost in similar squalls to that which saw the Chinese bath toys go overboard. No one can blame the Japanese for the latest surge of garbage, but for everything else, the great tide of crap that is flooding the Pacific, we have to carry the can.
- Great Pacific Garbage Patch Awareness Video (spiritandanimal.wordpress.com)
- ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’: The Touching Journey of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (comicsalliance.com)
- Great Pacific Garbage Patch : World’s Biggest Landfill in the Pacific Ocean? (rashidfaridi.wordpress.com)
- Cars & TVs that last 25-years (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (sellingsustainability.wordpress.com)
- Research Draft 2: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (envirowriters.wordpress.com)
- What is the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch? (mnn.com)
- Journey To The Gyre: A Trip Into The Heart Of The Pacific Garbage Patch (gadling.com)
- Research Project Part 2: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (envirowriters.wordpress.com)
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (nesapfich.wordpress.com)