oceans

In the foreground a plesiosaur, and the left an ichthyosaur, feature in this reconstruction of a Cretaceous ocean in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. The absence of oxygen in deeper waters led to the preservation of the fossil riches we enjoy t

Ancient 'dead seas' offer a stark warning for our own future

Richard Pancost
University of Bristol
| 29th January 2016
For long periods animals in ancient oceans could live only in shallow surface waters, above vast 'dead zones' inhabited only by anoxic bacteria, writes Richard Pancost. Human activity is now creating immense new dead zones, and global warming could be helping as it reduces vertical mixing of waters. Could this be the beginning of something big?

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Children playing on a 'plastic beach' at the mouth of Versova Creek near Mumbai - an area formerly home to large tracts of mangroves and Great Egrets. Photo: Ravi Khemka via Flickr (CC BY).

Humans will be remembered for leaving a 'plastic planet'

Oliver Tickell
| 28th January 2016
Long after we go extinct the human presence on Earth will be marked by a geological stratum rich in plastic garbage, according to a new study. Long-lived plastics are already widespread over the ocean floor, and there's a lot more on its way. Forget the 'Anthropocene' - the human era should rightly be called the Plasticene.

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The Pacific Egret, with its small naval cannon visible, left and right, on its rear deck. Left, its companioin vessel, the Pacific Heron. Photo: Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment via Facebook.

Too much of a bad thing? World awash with waste plutonium

Paul Brown
| 24th January 2016
As worldwide stocks of plutonium increase, lightly-armed British ships are about to carry an initial 330kg of the nuclear bomb metal for 'safekeeping' in the US, writes Paul Brown. But it's only the tip of a global 'plutonium mountain' of hundreds of tonnes nuclear power's most hazardous waste product.

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Frozen tuna at the early morning fish auction at the Tokyo Fish Market. Many of the tuna sold here are of endangered species such as bluefin and bigeye. Photo: Scott Lenger via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Oceans running out of fish as undeclared catches add a third to official figures

Christopher Pala
| 19th January 2016
The global catch of fish and seafood is falling at three times the rate reported by the United Nations and urgently needs to be slowed to avoid a crash, reports Christopher Pala. The finding comes in a new study for Nature which quantifies the huge illegal industrial fish pillaging taking place around the world, together with artisanal catches, which in 2010 added over 50% to UN estimates.

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Otters waiting for fish at Loch Creran, West Highlands, Scotland. Photo: Jennie Rainsford via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Connecting with nature through wildlife, place and memory

John Aitchison
| 19th January 2016
Some of us are fortunate enough to have close relationships with the nature around us, writes John Aitchison. But what about everyone else? We must find ways to make people feel like old friends with wildife near and far, and feel that their wild homes and habitats are extensions of our own. And hence, that they are as deserving of our care as human neighbours - if not more so.

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Orca watching in Puget Sound with Jim Maya. Photo: Robbert Michel via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Sewage treatment essential to save Puget Sound orcas

Dr Sierra Rayne
| 20th December 2015
Orcas from Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia are under threat,in large part due to toxic organic compounds in the marine food chain, writes Sierra Rayne. To give them a fighting chance, the nearby community of Victoria, British Columbia must install advanced sewage treatment - rather than just dump its wastewater largely untreated into the orcas' ocean home.

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Coccolith. Photo: ZEISS Microscopy via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

COP21 warned on global warming's evil twin - acidifying oceans

Tony Juniper
| 3rd December 2015
Increased atmospheric CO2 is doing much more than warming the Earth, writes Tony Juniper - it's also acidifying oceans, something that is already having major impacts on ocean ecology in the Southern Ocean and the North Atlantic. Likely effects: more CO2 in the atmosphere, more jellyfish.

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Dulse growing on kelp as an epiphyte: a feast fit for a king. Photo, Fiona Bird.

Seaweed on the shore, seaweed in the kitchen

Fiona Bird
| 26th November 2015
Fresh or dried wild seaweed may be on sale in a supermarket near you, writes Fiona Bird. But much better than supporting what may be unsustainable harvesting, gather your own at low tide on rocky shores, picking just enough for your needs. Once a poverty food, seaweed is now a sought after ingredient that expresses the 'fifth taste', umami.

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Ice may be breaking off the Antarctic's sea shores, but in its vast centre, ice mass is growing three times faster. Photo: Glacier in Penola Strait, Antarctica, by Liam Quinn (CC BY-SA).

NASA: mass gains of Antarctic ice sheet exceed losses

Maria-José Viñas
NASA
| 4th November 2015
Antarctic glaciers are famously losing ice around the margins of the continent, writes Maria-José Viñas. But a new study from NASA shows that those losses are offset three times over by ice thickening in central Antarctica, causing sea levels to drop. However the net ice gain may run of steam in coming decades.

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Floods in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2004. 17% of the country may be permanently inundated by rising seas by 2050, displacing 18 million people. Photo: dougsyme via Flickr (CC BY).

Earthquakes, superstorms ... and other little-known perils of climate change

Matthew Blackett
Coventry University
| 2nd November 2015
Climate change will impact the world in many ways, writes Matthew Blackett. Some of them may be good, like more rain in African drylands and coral atolls adapting to rising seas. But most of them - like coastal flooding, long term drought, earthquakes and stronger tropical storms - will be very challenging. We must increase the resilience of the most vulnerable countries without delay.

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A bamboo-net FAD on Farquhar Atoll, Seychelles. Photo: ICS.

Time to curb FADs, the tuna industry's floating atoll destroyers

Dr Cat Dorey
Greenpeace
| 14th October 2015
Declining tuna stocks are not the only consequence of an out-of-control tuna industry, writes Cat Dorey. A major tuna fishing method used in tropical seas is causing serious damage to coral reefs and attracting a huge 'bycatch' of sharks and other species. Now responsible producers and retailers are taking matters into their own hands - and you can help!

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Easter Island butterfly fish are one of at least 140 species endemic to the regions waters. Photo: Eduardo Sorenson, The Pew Charitable Trusts (CC BY-SA).

Easter Island is the perfect spot for a marine reserve

Callum Roberts
| 12th October 2015
Chile's announcement of a 630,000 sq.km marine protected area around Easter Island is altogether welcome, writes Callum Roberts. It forms part of a trend of very large marine reserve declarations that will play a vital role in preserving endangered fish stocks and vital oceanic biodiversity.

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Nurdles found on the beach near Newquay in recent weeks. Photo: Tracey Williams / Rame Peninsula Beach Care.

Millions of plastic pellets contaminate Cornwall beaches

The Ecologist
| 5th October 2015
Cornish beaches are awash with millions of 'nurdles', tiny wildlife-choking plastic pellets presumed spilled from an rogue shipping container. As England's plastic bag charge comes into force, it's a sign that there's still a long way to go to rid our seas of the plastic menace.

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Killer Whales in Monterey Bay, California - helping to sequester the carbon emissions from those smokestacks in the background. Photo: © John Krzesinski 2012 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Predators keep the oceans' carbon pump ticking

Peter Macreadie
Euan Ritchie
Graeme Hays
Trisha B Atwood
| 29th September 2015
By keeping marine herbivores in check, predators from sharks to crabs are essential to keep the oceanic 'carbon pump' working - with seaweed and plankton fixing atmospheric carbon and bearing it down to deep waters and sediments before getting munched. It's time to give ocean predators the protection they deserve, for climate's sake.

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Burn all our fossil fuels, and all the ice in Antarctica will melt, causing sea levels to rise 58m. The Ellsworth Range in Antarctica as seen from the IceBridge DC-8, 22nd October 2012. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY).

Let fossil fuels rip for an ice-free Antarctica

Tim Radford
| 18th September 2015
Scientists warn that burning up the planet's remaining fossil fuel would cause all Antarctic ice to melt and lead to 58m of sea level rise over 10,000 years, writes Tim Radford. But devastating impacts would strike much sooner, with oceans rising by 3m a century for the next millennium.

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TidalStream T36 at FORCE Berth, Bay of Fundy. Photo: still from Youtube video by Windmill John (see embed).

Floating turbines could harness the awesome power of the tides

Ross Jennings
| 18th September 2015
Tides in the UK's coastal waters could be generating 10GW of clean power, representing half of Europe's tidal resource, writes Ross Jennings. So far it's going unexploited, but a new generation of lightweight, low cast tidal turbines that float off the surface could soon get that electricity into our homes and businesses.

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Felled tree in the coastal rainforest of Oregon, USA. Photo: Francis Eatherington via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Biosphere collapse: the biggest economic bubble ever

Glen Barry
| 14th September 2015
Worried about debt, defaults and deficits? Save up your concern for the real problem, writes Glen Barry. The systematic destruction Earth's natural ecosystems for short-term profit is the 'bubble' that underlies economic growth - and if allowed to continue its bursting will leave the Earth in a state of social, economic and ecological collapse.

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Construction will soon begin at the Fylde solar farm in Lancashire. Toyota Solar Array under construction at Burnaston, UK. Photo: Toyota UK via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Solar farm approved at rejected fracking site

Ben Lucas
DeSmog.uk
| 11th September 2015
A stones throw from where Cuadrilla lost its bid to develop a fracking operation in Lancashire, a solar farm has just won planning permission with widespread local support, writes Ben Lucas. However a 194-turbine offshore wind farm near the Isle of Wight has been refused planning consent.

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A lone surfer stands on a plastic strewn beach. Photo: SAS.

Cleaning the waves: Surfers Against Sewage turns its fight to ocean plastic

Summer Brooks
| 2nd September 2015
For 25 years, a group of eco-aware surfers have been campaigning for cleaner waves, writes Summer Brooks. SAS was founded in 1990 to tackle sewage discharges into UK coastal waters, and now, bigger and stronger than ever, they are turning their focus to the global problem of ocean plastic - both picking it up on our beaches, and pushing for long term, global solutions.

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