Jumat, 31 Juli 2020

Marine vehicle deep under sea, complicating rescue search - The Associated Press

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A military seafaring assault vehicle that sank off the coast of Southern California is under hundreds of feet of water, putting it beyond the reach of divers and complicating rescue efforts for eight missing troops, officials said Friday.

Still the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. David Berger, said the search was continuing while he was suspending waterborne operations of all of its more than 800 amphibious assault vehicles across the branch until the cause of the accident is determined. He said the move was out of “an abundance of caution.”

Berger said the focus now should be on the troops and their families. One of the eight Marines who were rescued died at a San Diego hospital. Two Marines remained hospitalized with injuries but were stable and out of the intensive care unit.

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A total of 16 troops — 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman — were on board when the amphibious assault vehicle started taking in water Thursday evening as it was about a half mile (more than 1,000 meters) from the shores of San Clemente Island.

They had just completed a routine training exercise and were heading back to the Navy ship with a dozen other amphibious assault vehicles, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, the commanding general of the Marine Expeditionary Force.

Troops on board two other amphibious assault vehicles responded quickly but could not stop the 26-ton vehicle from sinking, Osterman said.

“It’s a very tragic situation,” Osterman said, adding that his thoughts and prayers are with the troops and their families.

Military ships, small boats and helicopters continued searching the choppy seas for the missing Friday amid moderate to strong winds. The Navy-owned island is about 70 miles (112 kilometers) offshore from San Diego.

The Navy and Coast Guard were discussing ways to reach the sunken vehicle to get a view inside it, Osterman said.

All of the Marines on the vehicle, which resembles a seafaring tank, were attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They ranged in age from 19 to early 30s and all were wearing combat gear, including body armor, Osterman said. Each troop also had flotation devices.

The vehicle is designed to hold up to 24 people with 280 pounds of equipment each, Osterman said. He said there were three water-tight hatches and two large troop hatches and that it is designed to be naturally buoyant.

Thursday’s accident marks the third time in recent years that Camp Pendleton Marines have been injured or died in amphibious assault vehicles during training exercises. The vehicles have been used since 1972, and continually refurbished. Marine Corps officials said Friday they did not know the age or other details of the one that sank.

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In 2017, 14 Marines and one Navy sailor were hospitalized after their vehicle hit a natural gas line, igniting a fire that engulfed the landing craft during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton, the sprawling coastal Marine Corps base north of San Diego.

And in 2011, a Marine died when an amphibious assault vehicle in a training exercise sank off the shores of Camp Pendleton.

The Marines use the vehicles to transport troops and their equipment from Navy ships to land. They are nicknamed “amtracs” because the original name for the vehicle was “amphibious tractor.”

The armored vehicles outfitted with machine guns and grenade launchers look like tanks as they roll ashore for beach attacks, with Marines pouring out of them to take up positions.

The Marine Expeditionary Force is the Marine Corps’ main war-fighting organization. There are three such groups which are made up of ground, air and logistics forces.

___

This story has been corrected to say the craft was one of 13 involved in an exercise, not one of more than a dozen.

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July 31, 2020 at 05:49PM
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Marine vehicle deep under sea, complicating rescue search - The Associated Press

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SC sea turtles log average nesting year as social distancing complicates conservation efforts - Charleston Post Courier

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South Carolina loggerhead sea turtle nesting was off to a slightly above-average start at the end of July, though the nest count so far trails a record year in 2019. 

But this season has been markedly different for the corps of volunteers that help to patrol beaches and protect below-sand caverns of eggs. Social distancing rules have severely limited volunteers' interactions with the public. 

Linda Mataya, who leads a group of volunteers in North Myrtle Beach, said some beachgoers became hostile when she told them to back up from a recent hatch.

"A lot of people gave me a hard time about it. They said I had no authority to do that. They said they had the right to be over the turtles taking pictures," Mataya said. "I thought there was going to be fistfights."

As Hurricane Isaias approaches the coast, there's also the risk that nests will be overwashed by storm surge, suffocating future hatchlings before they can emerge. Hurricane Dorian and strong autumnal king tides in 2019 served to eat away at that year's hatch success

Sea turtles nesting earlier in SC and Southeast as climate change takes hold

The turtle species that nest along the coast — dominated by the 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle — largely finish nesting by the beginning of August. At least 4,384 nests, or 83 percent of all those laid so far, have yet to finish their two-month incubation period, while the Atlantic churns out tropical cyclones like Isaias on an earlier-than-normal schedule. 

Michelle Pate, coordinator of the S.C. Marine Turtle Conservation Program, was working on several last-minute preparations on Friday morning as she spoke with The Post and Courier.

State staff had to remove ATVs and other equipment quickly from undeveloped barrier islands around Charleston before Isaias approached.

nest 4.JPG

Sea Turtle nests are marked in the dunes on Isle of Palms on Monday, July 27, 2020. Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Changes for volunteers

Social distancing rules from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, which certifies local sea turtle monitoring groups and oversees the conservation program, have made this season less of a public event. 

Every morning during the nesting season, volunteers across the state walk the beach in their respective towns and look for signs that a turtle has come ashore overnight — usually a broad ripple of flipper indentations in the sand. They mark the nests' locations so that beachgoers don't trample them, and in some cases may dig up a nest and remove the eggs to a safer location. 

After a nest hatches, volunteers complete an "inventory," or record how many hatchlings emerged and how many eggs failed to hatch at all. 

Volunteers used to invite beachwalkers to watch the process, but no more. 

"We have to get out there just at first light and do this very quickly, so that we don't have crowds like we used to," said Mary Pringle, who leads the Island Turtle Team of volunteers on Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms. 

IMG_7795Mary Pringle and Christel Cothran at Green Nest-mff.jpg

Volunteers Mary Pringle and Christel Cothran work at a green sea turtle nest on Isle of Palms in June 2020. Barbara J. Bergwerf/Provided

It's affected volunteers, too. Pringle said participants on the islands often don't get the chance to watch nest inventories for the egg clutches they found earlier in the season because teams of workers are limited to just two people.

Social media has made these events, particularly nest hatches, something beach visitors have come to expect, Pate said. While that's a positive thing for conservation awareness, it's led to some entitlement.

"People seem to put it on their bucket list — 'Oh, I've got to see it' — and there's an expectation from them," Pate said. "There is some real conservation work that’s trying to get done, and during this pandemic we do need you take a step back."

An average year

Last year, more than half a million hatchlings emerged from more than 8,500 nests on the state's beaches. So far in 2020, almost 5,300 nests have been laid.

It's not necessarily worrying that 2020 has reverted closer to the annual average, Pate said. Mother turtles only nest every two to three years, so conservationists expect some up-and-down.

DSC_0713 Tee Johannes-mff.jpg

Volunteer Tee Johannes walks sea turtle hatchlings to the edge of the water at sunrise on July 27, 2020. Barbara J. Bergwerf/Provided

On Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, a habitat that regularly hosts a large chunk of the annual nests, the lays so far are approaching 2,300, Refuge Manager Sarah Dawsey said. That would still be the reserve's third-best season on record. 

Dawsey was also closely watching Isaias, however, and whether it might cut into the hatch success.

Tropical cyclones don't just run the risk of suffocating nests with water, they can also push additional sand on top of the egg caverns. After Hurricane Dorian last year, volunteers had to dig down through 5 feet of additional sand to complete nest inventories. 

With a smaller group of people working this year under distancing rules, that could provide a challenge. 

"That's a lot of work to an already overworked volunteer group," Dawsey said.

King tides and Hurricane Dorian ate away at SC's record turtle nesting season

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August 01, 2020 at 06:52AM
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Marine sea tank sinks with 16 aboard; 1 dead and 8 missing - Minneapolis Star Tribune

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SAN DIEGO — An amphibious assault vehicle carrying 15 Marines and a Navy sailor sank near a military-owned island off the coast of Southern California, leaving one of the Marines dead and eight missing, authorities said Friday.

They were traveling in the vehicle that resembles a seafaring tank from the shores of San Clemente Island to a Navy ship Thursday evening when they reported the vehicle was taking on water, said Lt. Cameron H. Edinburgh, a Marine Corps spokesman for Camp Pendleton.

Two Marines who were rescued were injured, with one hospitalized in critical condition and the other in stable condition, a Marine Corps statement said.

Military ships, small boats and helicopters on Friday were searching choppy seas for the missing amid moderate to strong winds. The Navy-owned island is about 70 miles (112 kilometers) offshore from San Diego.

All of the Marines on the vehicle were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and were involved in a routine military exercise when the vehicle started taking on water, the Marine Corps said.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask that you keep our Marines, Sailors, and their families in your prayers as we continue our search," Col. Christopher Bronzi, the unit's commanding officer, said in a statement from the Marine Corps.

Thursday's accident marks the third time in less than a decade that Camp Pendleton Marines have been injured or died in amphibious assault vehicles during training exercises.

In 2017, 14 Marines and one Navy sailor were hospitalized after their amphibious assault vehicle hit a natural gas line, igniting a fire that engulfed the landing craft during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton, the sprawling coastal Marine Corps base north of San Diego.

And in 2011, a Marine died when an amphibious assault vehicle in a training exercise sank off the shores of Camp Pendleton.

The Marines use the amphibious assaults vehicles to transport troops and their equipment from Navy ships to land. They are nicknamed "amtracs" because the original name for the vehicle was "amphibious tractor."

The armored vehicles outfitted with machine guns and grenade launchers look like tanks as they roll ashore for beach attacks, with Marines pouring out of them to take up positions.

The Marine Expeditionary Force is the Marine Corps' main warfighting organization. There are three such groups which are made up of ground, air and logistics forces.

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August 01, 2020 at 12:15AM
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Australia will use robot boats to find asylum seekers at sea - New Scientist

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The Bluebottle uncrewed vessels can operate autonomously at sea

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Australia is deploying a fleet of uncrewed robot boats to patrol its waters and monitor weather and wildlife. They will also flag boats potentially transporting asylum seekers, a plan that has concerned human rights groups.

The 5-metre-long vessels, known as Bluebottles after an Australian jellyfish, look like miniature sailing yachts. They use a combination of wind, wave and solar power to maintain a steady 5-knot speed in all conditions.

Sydney-based Ocius Technology delivered the prototype in 2017 and Australia’s Ministry of Defence has now awarded an AU$5.5 million (£3m) …

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Kamis, 30 Juli 2020

Seal lice can survive the pressure found 4000 metres under the sea - New Scientist

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The lice that live on elephant seals can survive the pressures of the deep sea

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Seal lice – blood-sucking marine insects that live on seals, sea lions and walruses – can survive the crush of the deep ocean, withstanding the equivalent of pressures found 2000 metres deep for several minutes. One louse even survived the pressures found at 4000 metres deep.

Seal lice (Lepidophthirus macrorhini) live out their entire lifecycle on their marine hosts, and previous research has shown that these insects survive being submerged in seawater for days by entering an immobile, low metabolism state …

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Deep-sea anglerfishes have evolved a new type of immune system - UW News

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July 30, 2020

female anglerfish with male attached

A female anglerfish, the Spinyhead Seadevil (Photocorynus spiniceps), with a tiny parasitic male attached to her back. Deep-sea anglerfishes such as this are found in all oceans around the world, yet the roughly 160 known species are extremely rare.Ted Pietsch/University of Washington

Deep-sea anglerfishes employ an incredible reproductive strategy. Tiny dwarfed males become permanently attached to relatively gigantic females, fuse their tissues and then establish a common blood circulation. In this way, the male becomes entirely dependent on the female for nutrient supply, like a developing fetus in the womb of a mother or a donated organ in a transplant patient.

In anglerfishes, this unusual phenomenon is called “sexual parasitism” and contributes to the reproductive success of these animals living in the vast space of the deep sea, where females and males otherwise rarely meet.

Now scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Germany and the University of Washington have figured out why female anglerfishes so readily accept their male mates. Their findings are published July 30 in Science.

The extraordinary reproductive strategy employed by deep-sea anglerfishes has posed an enigma that has persisted for a century, ever since the first attached fishes were discovered by an Icelandic fisheries biologist in 1920.

“How is it possible that genetically similar organisms — in this case, members of the same species — accept each other so readily when tissue rejection is the usual and expected result of any such union?” said co-author Ted Pietsch, professor emeritus at the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “Just witness the difficulties surrounding organ transplantation in humans. We now see great potential down the road for a better understanding of the problem.”

a female anglerfish with a male attached

A female anglerfish, known as the Black Seadevil (Melanocetus johnsonii), with a relatively tiny parasitic male attached on her underside. This attachment contributes to the reproductive success of these animals living in the vast space of the deep sea, where females and males otherwise rarely meet.E.A. Widder/Ocean Research & Conservation Association

Deep-sea anglerfishes are found in all oceans around the world, yet the roughly 160 known species are extremely rare. They lure their prey in the inky-black ocean darkness at depths between 300 and 5,000 meters (980 and 16,400 feet) using a bioluminescent fishing apparatus placed on the tip of the snout — hence the “angler” in their common name. Their enormous, toothy mouth and expandable stomach enable them to capture and devour prey larger than themselves in a single instantaneous gulp.

Deep-sea anglerfish males are a fraction of the size of the females — in the most extreme cases, females may be more than 60 times the length and about a half-a-million times as heavy as the males. The males don’t have a luring apparatus; instead, most have large, well-developed eyes and huge nostrils, which help them home in on a species-specific chemical attractant emitted by the females.

For decades, researchers have wondered how this rare phenomenon happens in anglerfish. Several years ago, Dr. Thomas Boehm, a medical doctor and immunologist at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Germany, and the UW’s Pietsch, an ichthyologist and the world’s expert on anglerfishes, set out to study the genomes of different anglerfish species.

They began by looking at the structure of major histocompatibility (MHC) antigens. These molecules are found at the surface of the body’s cells and signal alarm to the immune system, when the cells are infected by a virus or a bacterium.

To make sure that all pathogens are efficiently recognized, the MHC molecules are extremely variable, so much so that it is hard to find identical or near-identical forms in any two individuals of a species. This feature is at the root of the tissue-matching problem that plagues human organ and bone marrow transplantation. To their great surprise, the researchers found that anglerfishes that utilize permanent attachment largely lack the genes that encode these MHC molecules, as if they had done away with immune recognition in favor of tissue fusion.

Additionally, they found that the function of killer T cells, which normally eliminate infected cells or attack foreign tissues during the organ rejection process, was also severely blunted, if not lost entirely, in anglerfishes. Further analysis also indicated that antibodies, another powerful weapon in the arsenal of immune defense, are missing in some anglerfish species.

“For humans, the combined loss of important immune facilities observed in anglerfishes would result in fatal immunodeficiency,” Boehm said.

The researchers found that anglerfishes lack the genes responsible for tissue rejection and instead use much improved innate facilities to defend themselves against infections, a most unexpected solution to a problem that is faced by all living things. In other words, their new type of immune system is very unusual among the tens of thousands of vertebrate species.

The study thus shows that despite several hundred million years of co-evolutionary partnership of innate and adaptive functions, vertebrates can survive without the adaptive immune response previously considered to be irreplaceable.

“We find it remarkable that the unusual mode of reproduction was invented several times independently in this group of fishes,” Pietsch said.

Although the details of the improved innate immune response in anglerfishes remain to be discovered, the results of this study point to potential strategies that enhance innate immune facilities in human patients who suffer the consequences of inborn or acquired impairment of immune facilities.

Other co-authors are Jeremy Swann, Stephen Holland and Malte Petersen of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics.

This work was supported by the Max Planck Society, the Ernst Jung Foundation for Science and Medicine, the European Research Council and the National Science Foundation.

For more information, contact Pietsch at twp@uw.edu and Boehm at boehm@ie-freiburg.mpg.de.

This post was adapted from a Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics release.

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Chinese long-range bombers join drills over South China Sea - Military Times

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BEIJING — China said Thursday that long-range bombers were among the aircraft that took part in recent aerial drills over the South China Sea amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over the strategic waterway.

The exercises included nighttime takeoffs and landings and simulated long-range attacks, Defense Ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said. Among the planes were H-6G and H-6K bombers, upgraded versions of planes long in use with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force, Ren said.

He said the exercises had been previously scheduled and were aimed at boosting pilot abilities to operate under all natural conditions. It wasn’t clear whether live bombs were used.

Ren’s statement appeared to distance the drills from recent accusations exchanged between the sides over China’s claim to virtually all of the South China Sea, which it has buttressed in recent years by building man-made islands equipped with runways.

Aircraft from Carrier Air Wings (CVW) 5 and 17 fly in formation over the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force on July 6, 2020, in the South China Sea. The aircraft carriers USS Nimitz (CVN 68), right, and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and their carrier strike groups are conducting dual carrier operations in the Indo-Pacific as the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force. (MC3Keenan Daniels/Navy)
US rejects nearly all Chinese claims in South China Sea

The Trump administration escalated its actions against China on Monday by stepping squarely into one of the most sensitive regional issues dividing them and rejecting outright nearly all of Beijing’s significant maritime claims in the South China Sea.

The U.S. this month for the first time rejected China’s claims outright, prompting Beijing to accuse it of seeking to create discord between China and its neighbors. Five other governments also exercise claims in the South China Sea, through which around $5 trillion in trade is transported annually.

Previously, U.S. policy had been to insist that maritime disputes between China and its smaller neighbors be resolved peacefully through U.N.-backed arbitration. But in a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. now regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims outside its internationally recognized waters to be illegitimate. The shift does not involve disputes over land features that are above sea level, which are considered to be “territorial” in nature.

“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” Pompeo said.

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) steam in formation on July 6, 2020, in the South China Sea. (MC3 Jason Tarleton/Navy)

Although the U.S. will officially continue to remain neutral in the territorial disputes, the announcement means the administration is in effect siding with governments which oppose Chinese assertions of sovereignty over maritime areas surrounding contested islands, reefs and shoals.

In other comments Thursday, Ren criticized stepped-up military cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy that China claims as its territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. Washington and Taipei have no formal diplomatic ties but the U.S. is the island’s key provider of defensive arms and is legally obligated to treat threats to the island as matters of grave concern.

“The U.S. must realize that China is destined to unify (with Taiwan), and China is destined to realize its great rejuvenation,”” Ren said.

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Rising Seas Could Menace Millions Beyond Shorelines, Study Finds - The New York Times

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As global warming pushes up ocean levels around the world, scientists have long warned that many low-lying coastal areas will become permanently submerged.

But a new study published Thursday finds that much of the economic harm from sea-level rise this century is likely to come from an additional threat that will arrive even faster: As oceans rise, powerful coastal storms, crashing waves and extreme high tides will be able to reach farther inland, putting tens of millions more people and trillions of dollars in assets worldwide at risk of periodic flooding.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, calculated that up to 171 million people living today face at least some risk of coastal flooding from extreme high tides or storm surges, created when strong winds from hurricanes or other storms pile up ocean water and push it onshore. While many people are currently protected by sea walls or other defenses, such as those in the Netherlands, not everyone is.

If the world’s nations keep emitting greenhouse gases, and sea levels rise just 1 to 2 more feet, the amount of coastal land at risk of flooding would increase by roughly one-third, the research said. In 2050, up to 204 million people currently living along the coasts would face flooding risks. By 2100, that rises to as many as 253 million people under a moderate emissions scenario known as RCP4.5. (The actual number of people at risk may vary, since the researchers did not try to predict future coastal population changes.)

“Even though average sea levels rise relatively slowly, we found that these other flooding risks like high tides, storm surge and breaking waves will become much more frequent and more intense,” said Ebru Kirezci, a doctoral candidate at the University of Melbourne in Australia and lead author of the study. “Those are important to consider.”

Areas at particular risk include North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland in the United States, northern France and northern Germany, the southeastern coast of China, Bangladesh, and the Indian states of West Bengal and Gujarat.

This flooding could cause serious economic damage. The study found that people currently living in areas at risk from a 3-foot rise in sea levels owned $14 trillion in assets in 2011, an amount equal to 20 percent of global G.D.P. that year.

The authors acknowledge that theirs is a highly imperfect estimate of the potential costs of sea-level rise. For one, they don’t factor in the likelihood that communities will take action to protect themselves, such as elevating their homes, building sea walls or retreating inland.

The study also did not account for any valuable infrastructure, such as roads or factories, that sits in harm’s way. A fuller economic accounting would require further research, Ms. Kireczi said.

There are already signs that periodic flooding is wreaking havoc along coastlines. A July analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that high-tide flooding in cities along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast has increased fivefold since 2000, a shift that is damaging homes, imperiling drinking-water supplies and inundating roads.

The new study tries to improve projections of future coastal flooding risk by combining existing models of sea-level rise, tides, waves, storm surges and coastal topography, while checking those models against data gathered from tidal gauges around the world. Past research, Ms. Kirezci said, had not looked in such detail at factors like breaking waves that can temporarily lift local sea levels.

“Trying to model extreme sea levels and storm surge is an extremely complicated problem and there are still lots of uncertainties,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University who was not involved in the study. But, he said, it was critical for scientists to develop good estimates, because if cities like Boston or New York hope to build costly new storm surge barriers or other defenses, they’ll need to plan decades before higher sea levels arrive.

The new study found that only one-third of future coastal flooding risk came from rising sea levels that would permanently submerge low-lying areas. Two-thirds of the risk came from a likely increase in extreme high tides, storm surges and breaking waves. In many coastal areas, the type of rare flooding that historically occurred once every 100 years, on average, could occur every 10 years or less by the end of the century.

Scientists say the world’s nations can greatly reduce future flooding risks by cutting emissions rapidly, especially since that could lower the odds of rapid ice-sheet collapse in Antarctica that would push up ocean levels even higher than forecast later in the century.

But, Dr. Oppenheimer added, the world has now warmed so much that significant sea-level rise by 2050 is assured no matter what happens with emissions. “That means we also need to start preparing to adapt now,” he said.

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Sea Turtles Thriving During COVID-19 Pandemic - Spectrum News

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas -- South Padre Island is home to the Kemp’s ridley turtle, a turtle that’s on the critically-endangered list.   


What You Need To Know

  • Nonprofit working to keep sea turtles safe near Texas Gulf

  • COVID-19 has restricted visitors from visiting educational halls, tanks

  • Seasonal hatching that usually gathers thousands had to go virtual

  • Nonprofit asking for donations

A nonprofit is doing everything it can to keep them alive and existing. Sanjuana Zavala’s fascination with marine life and the ocean keeps her coming back to work every day.

She’s the marketing and PR manger for Sea Turtle, Inc.

"It really is a dream to work for such a wonderful organization and to be able to directly impact the environment with our causes," said Zavala.

But COVID-19 is making it different for the nonprofit--the rehab clinic is empty.

"They are minimizing time with their public so they come in and do what they need to do with the sea turtles after hours, either in the morning or afternoon," said Zavala.

Capacity limits mean fewer people are walking through the educational halls and turtle tanks.

"We do have a lot less visitors coming to our facility, which means we are not making the same amount of money that we would have had it been a normal summer," said Khrystyne Jamerson, education director for Sea Turtle, Inc.

But money is what this nonprofit depends on. Ironically, though, the ones really benefitting from the lack of visitors are the turtles themselves.

Watching the hatchlings release online was the only way to attend this summertime event that usually draws thousands to the Texas Gulf Coast.

"Nesting season starts in April and peaks in May,” said Marina Devlin, conservation coordinator for Sea Turtle, Inc. “And those were the two months that we had a lot of the shelter-in-place laws put in our county."

Because of that, 85 sea turtle nests were protected and more than 4,000 Kemp's ridley hatchlings were released.

That's more than average--and don't forget Hurricane Hanna was in the mix.

"So after Hurricane Hanna hit, which was a category 1 hurricane, not a lot of damage happened this time,” said Zavala. “We were pretty lucky."

Overall, Sea Turtle, Inc. closed for 65 days due to COVID-19.

"But we were gracious with our supporters that held on to us and wished us well during this pandemic," said Zavala.

This support is needed for these slow, hard-shelled creatures that need a little extra help to avoid extinction.

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Sea nettles nettle some OBX beachgoers - The Outer Banks Voice

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Sea nettles nettle some OBX beachgoers 

By on July 29, 2020

It’s the season for stinging jellies

Flags warn OBX beachgoers of sea creatures to avoid. (Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue)

Along with warm ocean temperatures and crystal-clear water these past few weeks, Outer Banks beachgoers have been seeing another sign of summer lately — jellyfish. Having to navigate their way around these ocean critters that can deliver an annoying sting, along with a recent increase in sea lice, has some folks opting to stay on the dry sand.

While sea nettles and other types of jellyfish may seem more ubiquitous in the last week or so, local experts say that’s pretty typical for this time of year and add that they play an important role in the ocean’s ecosystem food chain.

“We tend to get jellies in the summer over the course of a long hot stretch of weather,” said Terri Kirby Hathaway, a marine education specialist at North Carolina Sea Grant.  And the clear ocean water that has graced the Outer Banks on and off over the last few weeks has certainly helped beachgoers more easily spot them.

Sea nettles, which tend to thrive in warmer waters, can deliver a nasty, but non-dangerous sting if someone brushes up against it. They usually have a red or white tinge and tentacles, and Hathaway says they are typically the ones responsible for “the sting that we feel.”

Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue, which this year began flying flags on the beaches to alert beachgoers when jellyfish and other concerning sea life are more prevalent, has hoisted the flags off and on over the course of the summer. But Ocean Rescue Director David Elder says   the amount of jellyfish this summer has been on par with other years.

Jennette’s Pier Director Mike Remige concurs, adding that as a surfer, he hasn’t seen any more jellyfish than during a normal year. But sea lice, which are mostly blue crab larvae, have been increasingly prevalent in recent days and can cause intense itching.  Remige noted that the larvae are entering their second gravid period in late July and early August, making it more likely that beachgoers could swim through a patch of these tiny sea creatures.

Hathaway cautioned that even if jellies are washed up on the beach or dead, their stinging cells on the tentacles can still function.  “Their tentacles can break off of the bell, yet can still sting even if not connected to the body,” she said, noting that similar to bee venom, some people are more allergic to their sting than others.

Hathaway said that other jellyfish that can be found in Outer Banks waters at this time of year are cabbage-head, or cannonball jellyfish — named after their cannonball shaped bell. “Those are completely harmless,” Hathaway noted. She added that moon jellies — shaped like an umbrella and easily identified by their four distinct horseshoe-shaped gonads — are the most common along the Outer Banks.

There are several reasons why jellyfish can appear in greater numbers during particular periods over the summer and Hathaway cited one of them. “When we get sea nettles, you can usually look back a few days and there was a big rain even in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” she explained.

In the late summer and early fall, consistent southeast winds can cause sea life from the Gulf Stream to visit the Outer Banks coastline, including the more dangerous Portuguese man-o-war and colorful blue buttons, which are not considered dangerous but can deliver a sting. Both are related to the jellyfish.  In the winter, Lion’s Mane and Mushroom Cap jellies are more frequent on the Outer Banks.

While jellies can be pesky to deal with for beachgoers, Hathaway said they serve an important purpose, providing food to Loggerhead and Leatherback sea turtles, as well as ocean sunfish and spadefish.

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July 30, 2020 at 03:30AM
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Rabu, 29 Juli 2020

Melting Arctic sea ice during the summer of 2018 - Science Daily

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As sea ice in the Arctic retreats further and melts faster every decade, scientists are racing to understand the vulnerabilities of one of the world's most remote and unforgiving places. A study appearing July 29 in the journal Heliyon details the changes that occurred in the Arctic in September of 2018, a year when nearly 10 million kilometers of sea ice were lost over the course of the summer. Their findings give an overview at different timescales of how sea ice has receded over the 40 years of the satellite era and show how the summer's extensive decline is linked to global atmospheric processes as far south as the tropics.

At the peak of its melting season, in July 2018, the Arctic was losing sea ice at a rate of 105,500 square kilometers per day -- an area bigger than Iceland or the state of Kentucky. "On the ground, I am sure it would have looked like an excellent summer month in the Arctic, in general, but over the past four decades, September sea-ice loss has accelerated to a rate of 12.8% per decade and 82,300 square kilometers per year," says co-author Avinash Kumar, a senior scientist at the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in India.

The researchers followed the warm water currents of the Atlantic north to the Arctic Ocean and tracked the ice as it subsequently retreated through the Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara, and Barents seas. Thanks to higher temporal resolution and greater satellite coverage than had previously been available, they could also measure the ice's decline through variables such as its thickness, concentration, and volume in addition to its extent throughout the Arctic. This dramatic loss of sea ice culminated at the end of the boreal summer, when in September, the ice had been reduced to a mere third of its winter extent.

Then, the team compared the decline to the previous four decades of data. "In the summer of 2018, the loss of sea ice was three times higher than the reported loss at the beginning of the satellite era," says Kumar. "Our study shows that both the minimum sea-ice extent and the warmest September records occurred in the last twelve years."

"Every year, news pops up of a new record of high temperature or fastest loss of sea ice in the Arctic region, but in the global system, each portion of the planet receiving climate feedback will lead to changes in the other parts as well," Kumar says. "If the sea-ice decline continues at this pace, it can have a catastrophic impact by raising air temperatures and slowing down global ocean circulation." These global impacts are partly why he became interested in trying to decipher the mysteries of the polar regions as a doctoral student studying the coastal zone in India. Now, he works at NCPOR, whose scientific programs, he says, are "truly trans-hemispheric, cutting across from north to south."

The researchers also turned their attention to the atmosphere, where they were able to gain insight into the processes that contribute to the loss of Arctic sea ice. They found not only that September of 2018 was the third warmest on record, but that there was a temperature difference within the Arctic itself: the temperature of the air above the Arctic Ocean (~3.5°C) was slightly higher than that of the Arctic land (~2.8°C).

Their findings provide further evidence that ocean warming around the globe has influenced the natural cycle of the wind and pressure patterns in the Arctic. El Niños, or warm phases in long-term temperature cycles stemming from tropical regions, have long been known to drive extreme weather events around the world and are occurring with greater frequency as the world warms. El Niño cycles in the equatorial Pacific Ocean can carry warm air and water from tropical circulations to the Arctic, spurring the sea ice to melt. As the ice retreats, it cascades the Arctic into a positive feedback loop known as Arctic amplification, whereby the reduced ice extent gives way to darker ocean waters that absorb more of the sun's radiation. As it retains more heat, temperatures rise and more ice melts, causing the Arctic region to heat up faster -- about four times so -- than the rest of the world.

"If the decline of sea ice continues to accelerate at a rate of 13% per decade in September, the Arctic is likely to be free of ice within the next three decades," Kumar says. And just as sea-ice retreat is largely the result of anthropogenic pressures from across the globe, its impacts will be felt worldwide: this work adds to the mounting body of evidence that changes in the Arctic sea ice could be detrimental to weather patterns spanning the globe. He says, "The changes taking place in the Arctic can lead to other changes in lower latitudes, such as extreme weather conditions. The world should be watching tropical countries like India, with our research center saddled close to the beaches of Goa, and trying to understand -- even in a small way -- more about climate change and the polar regions."

This work was supported by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, Goa, the Ministry of Earth Science, New Delhi, and the University Grants Commission, New Delhi.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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July 29, 2020 at 11:29PM
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Six sea turtle nests run over on Florida beach, FWC says - FOX 10 News Phoenix

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(Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

Florida wildlife officers are trying to find out who ran over six turtle nests on Captiva Island. They said it appears to have been a golf cart, or similar vehicle, that was used.

According to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, one of their volunteers was on her morning patrol Sunday morning when she noticed tire tracks and stakes on several loggerhead sea turtle nests on Captiva.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials told FOX 13 the condition of the eggs are unknown. 

"Unfortunately more harm could be done by attempting to excavate them to find this out," said Adam Brown, an FWC spokesman. "So we will likely not know until they hatch. "

(Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

FWC is asking for anyone with information to come forward and contact the agency's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. 

The foundation reports the Lee County Sheriff's Office is also investigating, saying it is illegal to drive a motorized vehicle on Captiva's beach without a permit.

They also report that Captiva is experiencing a record-breaking loggerhead nesting season, with 255 nests so far. The previous record was 194 nests back in 2016. 

In Florida, all five of its sea turtle species are either endangered or threatened, meaning it's illegal to harm, harass or kill any sea turtles, their eggs or their hatchlings. 

The Endangered Species Act lists the green, leatherback, hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley turtle as endangered. The loggerhead turtle is listed as a threatened species. 

(Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

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July 30, 2020 at 01:18AM
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Sea Resort 2021 Collection - Vogue.com

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Sean Monahan and Monica Paolini have been taking their Sea collections to Copenhagen for a few seasons now. If these were “normal times,” they’d be on their way to Denmark next week for the spring shows, but that isn’t happening this year for obvious reasons (and, you know, because we’re banned). Sea’s voluminous dresses and un-precious sensibility resonate with the Copenhagen woman; street style photos in the Scandi city often include a few of them wearing Sea dresses with flat boots or sneakers, all the better to biking along the canal. The designers had those women in mind when it came time to photograph their resort collection, so instead of staging a look book shoot, they shipped clothes to friends around the world and asked them to take their own photos. The results include a glimpse of Sea’s new children’s line too: Each woman styled and photographed herself with her daughter or son in miniaturized versions of their looks. Caroline Bille Brahe wore a flowery jumpsuit with Crocs, her daughter Sonya a puffed-sleeve floral tee; Amanda Brooks chose a quilted Liberty jacket and matching pajama pants to pose with her daughter, dressed in a crochet sweater and pearl-studded jeans, with their horse in an English field. Daphne Javitch modeled an airy cotton dress with giant sleeves; her toddler son wore a little denim jumpsuit. Helen Skytte matched her daughter in turquoise florals and sport sandals; and several moms chose pieces with Sea’s signature oversized collars, like a mustard plaid linen coat and a pink acid-wash T-shirt. Like other designers who have cast their friends or employees as models, the photos have a more causal, “real life” air to them, and the clothes register as more wearable too.

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July 30, 2020 at 12:44AM
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Changing seawater hints at future for adhesives from sea creatures - Purdue News Service

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University innovator who studies ocean creatures to develop adhesives is now turning his team’s attention to the changing chemistry of seawater – to see how it may affect the ability of animals to stick – and then use these insights to design adhesives for consumer products.

Jonathan Wilker, a Purdue professor of chemistry and materials engineering, has spent years studying how marine mussels secrete sticky plaques for attaching themselves to wet surfaces. His research group uses these discoveries to create new, biomimetic adhesives for everything from electronics and vehicles to construction structures and cosmetics.

Wilker details his team’s findings in the latest edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research provided support for this work.

Wilker said the mussels’ adhesive is rich in iron, which is thought to help make the attachments strong and flexible. So, his team set out to test what happens when the animals are surrounded by different concentrations of iron. 

“We wanted to understand how mussels’ access to environmental iron might influence the formation and performance of their adhesive system,” Wilker said.

The researchers grew animals in waters with low, regular and excess iron. 

"We found that there was a general trend in which the strength of the mussels' adhesive tracked with iron levels in the surrounding seawater," Wilker said. “When there was less iron, the glue was weaker. More iron than normal brought about the strongest bonding. At an extreme excess of iron, however, performance dropped.”

Beyond understanding how animals make materials, there is a link for this work to ongoing climate change. 

"Most iron in seawater is particulate, in solid forms. Mussels are filter feeders and they collect their food, as well as this iron, by filtering the water," Wilker said. “As the oceans become more acidic, iron transitions from solid to more dissolved forms. In the years to come, if less iron is in solid forms, these filter feeders will have difficulty capturing the iron that they need for making their adhesive. Seeing a fairly direct correlation between seawater iron content and mussel adhesive performance provides us with ideas for designing new and robust synthetic materials.”

Wilker works with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent his innovations. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office recently moved into the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2020, the office reported 148 deals finalized with 225 technologies signed, 408 disclosures received and 180 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact otcip@prf.org for more information.      

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Writer: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, cladam@prf.org 
Source: Jonathan Wilker, wilker@purdue.edu


ABSTRACT

Availability of Environmental Iron Influences the Performance of Biological Adhesives Produced by Blue Mussels

Natalie A. Hamada, Christopher Gilpin and Jonathan J. Wilker

Animals incorporate metals within the materials they manufacture, such as protective armor and teeth. Iron is an element used for adding strength and self-healing properties to load bearing materials. Incorporation of iron is found beyond hard, brittle materials, even being within the soft adhesive produced by marine mussels. Such findings suggest that the bioavailability of iron may have an influence on the properties of a biological material. Experiments were conducted using live mussels in which seawater iron levels were deficient, normal, or in excess of typical concentrations. The weakest adhesive strengths were produced in iron deficient waters.

Increasing seawater iron brought about more robust bonding. Changes in strengths correlated with varied adhesive morphology, color, and microstructural features, likely a result of variations in the degree of iron-induced protein cross-linking. This study provides the first whole animal scale data on how manipulations of bioavailable iron influence the performance of a biological material. Changing ocean chemistries will alter iron bioavailability when decreasing pH shifts elemental speciation from particulate to dissolved, hindering the ability of filtering organisms to capture nutrients. These results show future implications of changing ocean chemistry as well as the resulting abilities of marine organisms to construct essential materials.

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July 29, 2020 at 11:30PM
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Over 200 children stopped at sea and sent to Libyan detention centres; IRC calls for their release - International Rescue Committee

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Of the 200 children trying to reach Europe who have been intercepted at sea and returned to Libya so far this year, almost all have been arbitrarily detained, the International Rescue Committee says.

The majority of those seeking a better life in Europe were Somalian, Eritrean and Sudanese, and most of the children were aged 12-15*. Over a quarter were unaccompanied minors. Some were infants under one year of age. 20 per cent were children with disabilities or children at risk because their caregiver was sick. When the shooting incident took place at the Khoms disembarkation point on Monday night, 15 children were present. They, along with all other children who have been returned from sea, are in urgent need of protection.

However, rather than being provided with the support they are so desperately in need of, most have been sent to live in overcrowded, unsanitary detention centres where they are now at even greater risk - not only of COVID-19, but also of violence and abuse. 

Tom Garofalo, the IRC’s Country Director in Libya, said:

“Absolutely no one should be detained in Libya’s detention centres - least of all a child. Since March this year, we’ve provided emergency medical care to over 3,800 people who were seeking safety in Europe but were brought back to Libya from sea - including over 200 children. Many are in a terrible condition when they are returned: some have been at sea for weeks. Some have seen fellow passengers die before their eyes. When they are disembarked, people who have been through so much need support, especially psychosocial care, but instead they are sent to detention centres where support is extremely limited.

“June was the busiest month this year in terms of the number of people who were stopped at sea and returned to Libya and we will only see the numbers increase as the weather continues to improve. People are desperate to leave Libya because of the conditions they are living in. Every day, they know they could be abducted, detained and held for ransom. Every day, they struggle to earn a living to make ends meet. They do not risk their lives at sea for nothing - it is a last resort as they seek safety for themselves and their families. Detaining them upon their return is not the answer. We urgently need to get people out of detention, to prevent additional people being detained, and to get all those at risk to a place of safety.”

The IRC is calling for an immediate end to arbitrary detention and for those brought back from sea to receive all necessary health care and emotional support. Referrals must also be made for those who need further assistance or specialized services. Additionally, COVID testing capacity across the country must be scaled-up and access to health and protection services for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers must be expanded so that they can receive the care they need - something even more vital during the pandemic. 

The IRC is supporting the Libyan COVID-19 response with training of front-line health workers and the provision of additional isolation units. Our health staff are part of the five Rapid Response Teams the Ministry of Health has created to carry out initial assessments of suspected cases and tracing of their contacts. With most public health facilities closed in Tripoli and Misrata due to a lack of capacity, our mobile support to the Ministry of Health is proving vital in reaching vulnerable communities in this response.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

*This data was collected by the IRC’s health and protection teams, who are permitted only to provide emergency medical care and a few basic supplies to those who are returned, before they are sent to detention centres. 

Since March 1, when the IRC began responding at Libya’s disembarkation points, 29 boats have been brought back from sea and over 3,800 people - including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers - have been disembarked.

About the IRC in Libya

Since August 2016, the IRC has provided emergency and reproductive health services in western Libya. The IRC is one of the few international organizations with a direct presence in Libya with two offices in Tripoli and Misrata. As Libya continues to endure political instability and violence, the IRC is focused on: providing critical healthcare in hard to reach places in western Libya; providing life-saving medicines to primary health clinics, where possible; providing a referral pathway for patients in urgent need; renovating primary health clinics which have been damaged during the conflict; deploying experienced social workers to provide case management and psychosocial support in communities impacted by the conflict.

The IRC has launched a US $30 million appeal to help us mitigate the spread of coronavirus among the world’s most vulnerable populations. We are working across three key areas: to mitigate and respond to the spread of coronavirus within vulnerable communities; protect IRC staff; and ensure the continuation of our life-saving programming as much as possible across more than 40 countries worldwide.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.

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July 29, 2020 at 07:18PM
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