Minggu, 28 Februari 2021

Spain: Shipload of cattle to be killed after 2 months at sea - Minneapolis Star Tribune

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MADRID — Nearly 900 cattle that have been on a ship traveling the Mediterranean Sea for two months will be sacrificed after veterinarians deemed them no longer fit for export, Spanish authorities said.

A total of 895 cattle set sail from the Spanish port of Cartagena on Dec. 18 in the cargo ship named Karim Allah destined for export to Turkey. Turkish port authorities, however, refused to let them disembark, reportedly due to suspicions about their health.

After a second failed attempt to unload the cattle in Libya, the boat returned to Cartagena, where Spanish authorities ordered it to dock on Thursday.

After an official inspection by government veterinarians, Spain's minister of agriculture said animals were to be sacrificed. Veterinarians judged them to be both unfit either for transport to another country of for their return to Spain.

The ministry said the cattle originally left Spain with the proper health authorizations.

Animal rights groups have denounced the slaughter of the livestock.

"This is yet another wake-up call to urgently end live export," the Eurogroup for Animals said.

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Will California’s desert, Salton Sea be transformed into Lithium Valley? - Desert Sun

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California’s desert is littered with remnants of broken dreams — hidden ghost towns, abandoned mines and rusty remains of someone’s Big Idea. But nothing looms larger on an abandoned landscape than the Salton Sea, which languishes in an overlooked corner of the state.

The water shimmers and broils in the desert like a rebuke: born of human error, made worse by 100 years of neglect and pollution. California’s largest lake is also one of its worst environmental blights, presenting a problem so inverted that its toxic legacy intensifies as its foul water disappears. 

For generations, Imperial Valley residents have been breathing in a Periodic Table of minerals and metals, as well as agricultural chemicals. But for all the misery that these receding waters have unleashed — asthma and other respiratory ailments triggered by dust clouds — the Salton Sea now offers a potential way out: A bounty of lithium, called “white gold,” one of the planet’s most prized elements, used to manufacture batteries that power electric cars and drive a fossil-fuel-free future.

And the state of California wants to be in on it.

The California Energy Commission has stepped in as an angel investor, doling out $16 million in grants to a handful of companies to determine if it’s technically and commercially feasible to extract lithium from the brine that geothermal plants are already pulling from the Salton Sea.

One of the recipients, CalEnergy Resources, a subsidiary of the giant Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables, is using $6 million in state grants to piggy-back a lithium-extraction pilot project onto its existing geothermal plants near Calipatria, at the southeast end of the dying sea. The company, which expects to break ground soon, will build a small-scale demonstration plant to begin operating next year. Should all go well, it envisions that it could eventually produce nearly a third of the world’s lithium.

More: Salton Sea: Congressmen Ruiz and Vargas reintroduce bill to address New River pollution

From the standpoint of California public policy, the project offers a unique intersection of two state priorities: increasing sources of renewable energy and encouraging new battery technology for electric cars and energy storage. The state’s target for electric cars, for example, could use a boost. Gov. Gavin Newsom last year directed the state to ban all new gasoline-powered cars by 2035.  

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, a Democrat from Coachella, gave the idea a jump start last year, writing a law that created the Lithium Valley Commission, an optimistic reference to the economic juggernaut that is Silicon Valley. The blue-ribbon commission members, appointed by state agencies, legislators and the governor, hold their first meeting today, and will file a report to lawmakers next year.

State officials envision not just lithium extraction and power plants, but also constructing links along the supply chain, battery-building facilities, electric vehicle manufacturing plants and everything else local authorities can dream of.

Such an expansive project would transform the entire Imperial Valley, home to 174,000 people, 85% Latino, who face chronically high unemployment and few job opportunities outside farm fields. 

But environmental justice advocates worry about the potential impacts of additional waste and air pollution from extracting and processing lithium at the Salton Sea. Since it’s an experimental technology, the environmental effects have not been analyzed yet.

The Imperial Valley already is perennially ranked at the top of California’s most polluted places — with all the serious health problems that go along with it. 

“Disadvantaged communities are always going to be on the losing end,” said Luis Olmedo, executive director of Comite Civico Del Valle, a health and social services organization in Brawley. 

“Do we see opportunity for jobs, do we see opportunity for economic benefit for community development? We see all of that, but unfortunately the way the system is set up right here in this region, the monies are not reaching those vulnerable disadvantaged populations.”

On the ‘Toxic Tour’

Geothermal plants at the Salton Sea, with their huffing stacks and snaking pipelines, are difficult to miss, jutting up from the Imperial Valley’s flat desert floor. 

Getting to the facilities requires negotiating narrow county roads bordering alfalfa fields and past teeming cattle feedlots. But the out-of-the-way plants are not out-of-mind to valley residents. They are included on a local group’s “Toxic Tour” when state officials come to town.

Even as Garcia ushers in a project that could invigorate the economy of his ailing district, he is adamant that whatever future industry materializes, it cannot make things worse in the environmentally-challenged region.

“One of the main principles is to do no harm,” Garcia said.  “A lot of information is still to be gathered and understood before we are able to determine that this is going to be the best thing to happen and will have the return investment from a social, human health, economic perspective. Otherwise, we are not meeting the overall goals.

“It would do us no good if all we were doing is extracting the minerals and leaving behind an environmental mess on top of an existing mess that we are making strides to address. We cannot regress.”

This “mess” was created in 1905, when engineers cut into the west bank of the Colorado River, diverting water to slake the thirst of Imperial County’s agricultural field. Water sluiced into the valley. Heavy flooding overwhelmed the man-made channels, and for two years the river ran unimpeded into the Salton Basin.

The floodwaters were tamed, but the great lake, cut off from its freshwater supply, began the inexorable process of evaporating and receding. It stayed alive with surplus agricultural water and runoff, but the tainted water that fed the sea began to lay down generations of toxic sludge buried in sediment.

Fish died, migratory birds that fed on them detoured and the yacht clubs, marinas and shoreline vacation homes were left stranded in muck. The exposed lake bed’s mineral-laden soil is whipped by frequent winds, and the dust clouds contribute to the region’s chronic respiratory health problem. 

Today the Salton Sea’s nearly 350 square miles of shallow water remains one of the state’s most stubborn and expensive repair jobs, and as each new restoration plan is unveiled but not implemented, the legacy continues to make residents sick.

“The community faces high rates of asthma and respiratory conditions that have been existing ever since this valley was created. You have all different sources of pollution, the sea being one of the strongest ones, and the (geothermal) plants out there,” said Miguel Hernandez, co-chair of the Environmental Justice Enforcement Task Force for Imperial Valley and the Eastern Coachella Valley.

Anyssa Garcia has lived in Brawley, population 26,000, a dozen miles from the southern edge of the Salton Sea, her entire 21 years. Her family and friends are frequently sick with respiratory illness.

“My mom and my cousins have asthma, I see the struggle they go through,” she said. “Everyone carries an inhaler. I’m paying more attention to the air we breathe now.”

According to University of Southern California researchers, Imperial County’s children visit emergency rooms and are hospitalized for asthma at double the rate of the state average. Another measure shows double the state rate of active asthma among adults older than 65. 

Anyssa Garcia said the environmental problems are so intractable that she longs to join the diaspora of young people away from the valley. 

 “I’ve never seen my family struggle like this,” she said. “I would love to get out of this valley, the conditions here are very unhealthy.”

State officials just launched a $200 million wetlands and air quality project, part of a pledge to spend nearly a half-billion dollars to restore the lake for fish and birds and cover the exposed playa to control the dust.

The lithium extraction efforts are not connected to the Salton Sea restoration projects, but there is a great temptation to conflate them and imagine how the lithium bonanza might improve the health of both the lake and those who live around it. At least one geothermal developer has floated the idea of contributing to  a long-term fund dedicated to lake remediation. 

To David Hochschild, chairman of the California Energy Commission, it’s inevitable, and even fitting, that the Salton Sea’s lithium windfall might be leveraged to fix its age-old problems.

“It’s not possible to work in a region like the Salton Sea and not deal with the pre-existing issues, which are substantial,” he said.

Extracting ‘white gold’

Although the costliest of clean energy options, geothermal is in many ways the ideal renewable energy — not dependent on wind blowing or sun shining, and ever-ready to provide reliable power. 

“Lithium is the oil of the clean energy future,” Hochschild said. “I do think the revenue from the industry as it grows can be part of the solution. What I think you’re going to see over time is rather than geothermal facilities that produce lithium on the side, it will be that lithium facilities produce geothermal power on the side.”

CalEnergy’s 23 geothermal wells pull up naturally superheated water from deep beneath the salty lake and use the steam created to run turbines, providing reliable renewable energy to the state’s power grid. The brine is brimming with lithium and other coveted elements, including cobalt and zinc. 

The pilot project will extract lithium from the brine, then, in a two-part process, convert the raw material first into lithium chloride and then into battery-grade lithium hydroxide. The company aims to have the two small processing plants operating next year.

CalEnergy hopes that lithium plants will have the side benefit of lowering the price of geothermal energy, making it a more competitive renewable power source.

“If successful, lithium could be the tail that wags the geothermal dog,” said Jonathan Weisgall, vice president for government relations at Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which has committed $40 million to the ongoing research. The federal Energy Department awarded its Salton Sea project a $15 million grant.

While lithium extraction projects at the Salton Sea are still unproven, the idea is “tantalizing and intriguing” said Rod Eggert, deputy director of the Critical Materials Institute at the Colorado School of Mines. As investors anticipated the growth in demand for lithium-ion batteries 10-15 years ago, he said, developers began to look at unconventional sources for the element, including geothermal brine.

Two types of lithium harvesting take place in the world today: open pit mines, found in Australia, and vast evaporation ponds in the Lithium Triangle — Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. China also produces lithium, and there is one production facility in Nevada. 

“As with any resource extraction, there are environmental consequences that need to be managed,” Eggert said. 

In countries where lithium is mined, the process uses a lot of water, and contaminates waterways with acid and other hazardous materials. 

If California industries do develop the new lithium-geothermal process that carries a small environmental footprint, it would likely create a competitive edge globally, Eggert said.

“It’s a tantalizing opportunity,” he said, “but it hasn’t been demonstrated.”

Jobs and toxic substances

As with most industrial processes, the geothermal power plants at the Salton Sea emit air pollutants and create waste: The plants unearth hazardous minerals, such as arsenic, lead and barium.

“Not only is geothermal generating an economic benefit, but it’s also generating waste streams and emissions, and has been doing so for years,” said environmental justice advocate Olmedo. 

Olmedo, a member of the Lithium Valley Commission, said he intends to make sure that the group is not so dazzled by the promise of jobs and revenue that it overlooks potential environmental issues from lithium extraction and processing. 

“We support economic development, but we support responsible economic development where we are not adding burdens to the already disadvantaged environmental justice community,” he said.

Imperial County planners exempted the lithium pilot project from environmental review requirements because the existing geothermal plant is already permitted. Full-scale commercial plants, however, would require environmental impact studies and new permits.

Most of the waste, which contains heavy metals, is reinjected in the ground from which it came, but some waste is held temporarily in ponds that are regulated by state officials to protect groundwater. The water board concluded that the lithium extraction would not alter the chemical properties of the waste, according to its 2020 report.

“We don’t anticipate any environmental issues,” Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s Weisgall said. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Riverside will test the demo project’s waste and emissions, he said.

Yet Katie Burnworth, who monitors the Salton Sea for the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District, said she worries that the waste might be hazardous. “It’s a dangerous, dirty process, with a lot of unknown material,” she said.

In 2006, CalEnergy’s geothermal facility was cited by state authorities for failing to properly dispose of hazardous materials after an inspection found elevated levels of arsenic and lead had been released into the environment. The company in 2007 entered into a consent agreement with state officials requiring a cleanup. 

Another of the company’s power plants at the Salton Sea was fined by the air district for operating for seven years without an emissions permit.

The CalEnergy plants emit several toxic air pollutants, including hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and fine particles, according to state Air Resources Board reports. 

Imperial County is eager to work with the industry to streamline the permitting process for lithium production.

“We’ve got to let them know that we want them here by making the permitting and planning process as least hard as it can be,” said Tim Kelley, CEO for the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp., a public-private organization. “It’s never going to be easy and we want to make it easier for them.” 

Unemployment in the rural county hovers at 18%, about twice the state average. “Our biggest exports are water, crops and people,” Kelley said. “We want the jobs.”

CalEnergy, which employs about 250 people, estimates it would double its workforce if lithium production takes off.

“The first thing they are dangling is jobs, said Eric Reyes, an organizer with the group Amigos de la Comunidad. “We are all for jobs. But we cannot let everyone do whatever they want. Our community has a history of bending over for industry. We need to be smarter now. We are on the cusp of environmental disaster.”

James C. Hanks, president of the Imperial Irrigation District, which leases land to three geothermal operations, welcomes the potential for growth, but said desert denizens are ever-watchful for speculators. 

“The toughest part is sorting through and figuring out who’s the real deal or not,” said Hanks, who also serves on the state’s new Lithium Valley Commission.

Business as usual is not going to be acceptable this time, Olmedo said. Jobs and a healthy environment are the goals. Whatever economic boon the county has gained from past development has not improved life in the region’s poorest communities, he said.

“They’re not getting more libraries. They are not getting better schools. They are not getting better community services,’” Olmedo said. “They are not getting better health care. They are getting nothing but sickness and exposure to unhealthy conditions.

“We are fighting two fronts. One is supporting this huge opportunity. The other is whether those dollars are going to benefit the population of this region. Now the real work begins.”

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'Ghosts of the Sea': Shark report hits home for Clayton couple - NNY360

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‘Ghosts of the Sea’ Report of shark decline hits home for Clayton couple

Lemon sharks on patrol slightly below the surface at dusk in the Bahamas at a shark sanctuary. Courtesy David Doubilet/Undersea Images

A jaw-dropping report last month in the Journal Nature reported that many species of sharks are at the point of no return.

“We find that, since 1970, the global abundance of oceanic sharks and rays has declined by 71% owing to an 18-fold increase in relative fishing pressure,” the report reads. “This depletion has increased the global extinction risk to the point at which three-quarters of the species comprising this functionally important assemblage are threatened with extinction.”

For decades, Clayton residents David Doubilet and Jennifer S. Hayes have come face-to-face with sharks all over the world and they have shared shark tales and other stories of their underwater dives and their encounters with various wildlife for National Geographic’s “Live” series all over the world, including two at the Clayton Opera House in July of 2018.

“I’m surprised they say only 70% decline,” Ms. Hayes said, noting the drop is especially noticeable in Asia-Pacific waters. “I suspected it would be even higher if we could get accurate estimates.”

Ms. Hayes and Mr. Doubilet are the authors of the 2009 National Geographic book, “Face to Face with Sharks,” which focuses on how our fear and ignorance puts the diverse family of sharks in great danger.

‘Ghosts of the Sea’ Report of shark decline hits home for Clayton couple

Sharks swim at Fakarava, French Polynesia, where they are thriving. Courtesy David Doubilet/Undersea Images

Mr. Doubilet, a native of New Jersey, is one of the most prolific photographers for National Geographic magazine and has been a contract photographer for the magazine since 1976. He has spent more than five decades exploring and documenting the far corners of the world from beneath interior Africa, remote tropical coral reefs, rich temperate seas and recent projects beneath the polar ice. He is an honorary fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of London and has been inducted into the International Diving Hall of Fame.

Mr. Doubilet and Ms. Hayes are trustees at the Shark Research Institute.

Ms. Hayes, an aquatic biologist, is a graduate of South Jefferson Central School, Adams. After graduating from SUNY Potsdam with a bachelor’s degree in biology, she earned advance degrees in aquatic biology and fisheries at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and zoology and marine biology at the University of Maryland. She is the author of numerous articles on marine environments.

Ms. Hayes and Mr. Doubilet make routine trips to the Gulf at Quebec’s Madeleine Islands as part of their tasks for National Geographic to document harp seal pups. In March of 2020, Ms. Hayes was featured from the Gulf on an ABC “Good Morning America” segment as part of its “Extraordinary Earth” series.

One of Ms. Hayes’s graduate degrees’ master theses focused on shark finning and commercial landings in the western Atlantic.

“We need sharks,” Ms. Hayes said. “People tend not to like them, but we sure need them. It’s a case that without them in the ecosystem, the network falls apart a bit.”

From their experiences, the married couple has taken to calling sharks “Ghosts of the sea.”

“They became rare and now seeing them is a gift,” Ms. Hayes said. “You don’t say, ‘Oh my God, there’s a shark in the water. I’ve got to get out.’ Oftentimes now, it’s ‘Oh my God, there’s a shark in the water. I’ve got to get in.’”

‘Ghosts of the Sea’ Report of shark decline hits home for Clayton couple

A batch of dead blue sharks are seen at a shark market in Vigo, Spain. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says the species is the world’s most abundant and heavily fished open ocean shark and is classified as near threatened. Courtesy Jennifer Hayes/Undersea Images

Shark fins targeted

The Journal Nature shark report said that, “Strict prohibitions and precautionary science-based catch limits are urgently needed to avert population collapse, avoid the disruption of ecological functions and promote species recovery.”

Shark fin soup, a delicacy in China, especially served at wedding banquets in the country, is one of the main culprits of the decline of shark numbers. The appetite for it was fueled by a rising middle class in the country.

In the U.S., NOAA Fisheries first banned shark finning in the Atlantic Ocean in 1993 because of the role it played in overfishing. Congress extended the ban to any vessel in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone with the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 and Shark Conservation Act of 2010.

Mr. Doubilet and Ms. Hayes have recollections of seeing mounds of shark fins in a warehouse in Hong Kong. They also recall eye-opening scenes about a decade ago involving shark fins in Vigo, Spain, one of the largest fish shipping ports in the world. They were visiting the port with a Spanish-speaking friend.

“David and I were walking around, going, ‘Look at all these dead sharks!’”

Their friend, Ms. Hayes explained, said that those numbers were nothing compared to three, four and five years prior to their visit.

“I mistakenly said to Leo, ‘That’s really good they’re not fishing so much for them anymore.’ He said, ‘No Jennifer, the sharks have disappeared from the sea. They’re not there to be caught.”

The fewer sharks seen at places like Vigo also relate to a conservation method, Ms. Hayes explained.

“They used to cut the fins off at sea and keep just the fins,” Ms. Hayes said. “You can imagine how long it took to fill up the hold with fins. Now, with conservation efforts in place, they say they have to bring the whole shark carcass back, so their holds fill up faster and fewer sharks are caught.”

The sharks are often caught as a by-product of swordfish fishing, Ms. Hayes and Mr. Doubilet explained.

“The landings are less, the sizes are less and the sharks become something to pay the gas as they have to go further across the Atlantic,” Ms. Hayes said.

Looking back at that trip to Vigo, Mr. Doubilet said, “We saw one longliner, a 68-to-70-foot boat with a crew of about seven, unload 13 tons of blue sharks and 150 to 200 swordfish.”

The Animal Welfare Institute reports that 32 countries, including the United States, have enacted full or partial bans on the practice of shark finning. A growing list of companies, ranging from Amazon to Hong Kong Disneyland, have banned shark fin soup. Many airlines have banned the transport of shark fins.

‘Ghosts of the Sea’ Report of shark decline hits home for Clayton couple

Sharks swim at Fakarava, French Polynesia, where they are thriving. “You dive there at night, you have to watch where you put your hands, because you might not come home with them,” said aquatic biologist and photographer Jennifer Hayes. Courtesy David Doubilet/Undersea Images

Rebound areas

According to the AWI, nearly two dozen countries have full or partial bans on shark fishing. It is allowed in the U.S. where the waters off the East Coast are home to more than 50 shark species, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

According to NOAA, following significantly lower populations of sharks in the 1980s and 1990s, some species in the Atlantic in coastal U.S. waters have seen a rebound, particularly black tip sharks, sandbar, spiny dogfish and white sharks.

Mr. Doubilet and Ms. Hayes said other areas of the world have seen shark numbers increase because countries have linked the animals to environmental tourism. The couple mentioned their trips to Raja Ampot, Indonesia, as an example as to what can happen when such policies are enacted.

“We spent nearly two years swimming through Indonesia’s waters and saw only two species of sharks, tiny walking sharks and the wonderful Wobbegong — a shark that looks more like a bath mat than a shark and it lays about a lot like a bath mat as well,” Ms. Hayes said. “The rest of the sharks had disappeared into bowls of shark fin soup.”

The Raja Ampot archipelago, known for its coral reefs, is located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea.

In 2013, Raja Ampot created a shark and ray sanctuary of 1 million acres.

“For two years, we never saw a shark in Indonesian waters,” Ms. Hayes said.

‘Ghosts of the Sea’ Report of shark decline hits home for Clayton couple

David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes have collaborated on assignments from the equator to the polar ice, but the Clayton residents have called the St. Lawrence River their favorite part of the world. Courtesy photo

But Ms. Hayes and Mr. Doubilet returned in 2016 through 2018 and they saw the creatures. Popular shark species now at Raja Ampot range from white tip reef sharks to “walking” sharks. Now, tourists can dive in and swim with sharks.

“It’s good to see some places like Raja Ampot say, ‘Protecting our ecosystem is probably economically, a sound thing to do,’” Ms. Hayes said. “It keeps the ecosystem intact, a lot of eco-tourists come, they leave a lot of money there and the fishermen have turned into environmental tour guides. And instead of pulling fish off the reef, they’re sustained by other income.”

“You know what happens when you’re an eco-tour guide there? Your children go to school,” Mr. Doubilet said. “It’s that simple.”

Sharks are also thriving in Fakarava, part of French Polynesia, Pacific Ocean. They’ve been protected there since 2006.

“You dive there at night, you have to watch where you put your hands, because you might not come home with them,” Ms. Hayes said. “I love that, because that’s another symbol of hope. There are places on the planet where they’ve protected these things and it’s incredible to see them.”

Mr. Doubilet said there could be hope for regions in the world that have seen declines in shark numbers.

“It was thought that once you fish the shark population out, it would never come back,” he said. “In some cases, that might be true. In other cases, we’ve seen populations begin to come back.”

Turning the tide

The Shark Conservation Fund estimates that 100 million sharks and rays are killed every year for their “valuable fins, meat, livers and gills and nearly a third of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.”

One key step to recovery would be reducing the demand for shark fin soup, Ms. Hayes and Mr. Doubilet said. Celebrities like Jackie Chan have begun to highlight the consequences of the delicacy.

The fins aren’t designed to add flavor to the soup. Mr. Doubilet said they’re used to create the soup’s texture. And to create the soup requires a repeated process of boiling and drying the fins.

“That’s the amazing thing about it,” he said. “To reach that point is an enormous amount of work. But the end point of it is a gluey and thick, just as if you added flour to the stock.”

“And that has been responsible for eradicating the shark numbers you see in that report,” Ms. Hayes said.

But Ms. Hayes believes the tide may be turning against shark fin soup with it being taken off menus, with celebrities like Mr. Chan raising concern about it and with pledges by youth not to consume it.

‘Ghosts of the Sea’ Report of shark decline hits home for Clayton couple

A mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, swims near Block Island, R.I., in the Northwest Atlantic. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the species as endangered. Courtesy David Doubilet/Undersea Images

“There’s a slow, collective movement to recognize the destructive force of shark finning,” she said. “It’s slowly making a difference, especially for the next generation, who do not need to have shark fin soup to appear at their tables.”

“People build up an enormous case about sharks and how fearsome they are and how incredibly dangerous and everything else that surrounds the folktales and the culture of how we view sharks,” Mr. Doubilet said. “They get underwater and they see sharks swimming toward them, back and forth. And they look at this creature and it’s incredibly sculptural. It’s beautiful, elegant and fascinating. A lot of people who do it will come back.”

“Some people are inherently terrified,” Ms. Hayes said. “But a lot of people see them and become curious, especially if you want to learn about them. If you get to know them and understand their value in an ecosystem, and the fact that every fish on this planet is a miracle and the law of nature is so harsh.”

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It Doesn't Take Much Cold To Stun Sea Turtle - National Parks Traveler

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Sea turtles are released back into the Gulf of Mexico after recovering from being stunned by cold water/NPS

It takes seemingly little cold to stun a sea turtle. For humans, 50 degrees is chilly, but for the thousands of sea turtles that were stunned along the Gulf Coast of Texas the past two weeks, it can be deadly.

"Turtles begin to become lethargic and experience other symptoms of cold stunning when water temperatures reach and fall below 50 degrees," Dustin Baker, a ranger at Padre Island National Seashore, wrote in an email. "After turtles are brought to the park, they are brought into indoor spaces varying from 60 to 72 degrees. Because sea turtles are reptiles and are ectothermic (cold blooded), they gradually warm to the temperature of their new environment."

More than 11,500 sea turtles were stunned, and an undetermined number killed, by the cold snap. The key for those who rescued the stunned turtles is to get to them as soon as possible. That's because stunned turtles are unable to swim.

"They float up to the surface and become vulnerable to boat strikes or wash ashore and become stranded. If not rescued quickly, these defenseless animals often die of shock, predation, or trauma due to boat strike," the national seashore's website notes.

Additionally, "Most of the cold stunned sea turtles that the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery rescues are found in inshore waters and shorelines along the bays and inlets of the Laguna Madre, which borders the park to the west. The shallow water here can change temperature rapidly, especially when a strong cold front passes through the area. As a result, sea turtles swimming in those waters may not have enough time to navigate out of Laguna Madre and into the deeper, warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico before becoming cold stunned."

Once turtles have warmed up, they are released back into the ocean as long as the waters aren't too cold. "If they have other illnesses or injuries, they can rehabilitate until they are ready for release," the park website notes.

You can watch some turtles being released back into the gulf in this short video on the national seashore's Facebook page.

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Sabtu, 27 Februari 2021

Why France is flexing its muscles in the South China Sea - South China Morning Post

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China, US tensions over South China Sea to continue under Biden: Report - Business Standard

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Chinese military recently conducted a live-fire drill to test its response to repeated missile attacks in a "far sea" and Washington also has been stepping up reconnaissance activities in the area

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China | South China Sea

ANI  |  Asia 

It seems tensions between and the US over the South Sea will continue under the new US administration as the Chinese military recently conducted a live-fire drill to test its response to repeated missile attacks in a "far sea" and Washington also has been stepping up reconnaissance activities in the area.

According to South Morning Post, there are fresh signs that from the Chinese and the American armed forces that tensions over the will continue.

The Chinese military's Southern Theatre Command conducted a live-fire drill to test its response to repeated missile attacks in a "far sea", state broadcaster CCTV reported on Saturday without saying when or where the exercise took place.

The drill involved the guided-missile destroyer Yinchuan, guided-missile frigate Hengyang, the amphibious dock landing ship Wuzhishan, and the support ship Chagan Hu, according to the report. The Southern Theatre Command is responsible for overseeing the vast waters claimed by China in the

At the same time, the US has been stepping up reconnaissance activities in the area.

The US also sent a reconnaissance aircraft to fly over the off the coast of Taiwan on Saturday, the think tank said in another post.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, something which is contested heavily by several countries in the region.

China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.

China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sun, February 28 2021. 07:05 IST

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February 28, 2021 at 08:35AM
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China, US tensions over South China Sea to continue under Biden: Report - Business Standard

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