Senin, 30 November 2020

Israel-Lebanon sea border talks postponed - Reuters

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BEIRUT/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel scheduled for Wednesday have been postponed, and U.S. mediators will now contact the two old foes separately, Israeli and Lebanese officials said on Monday.

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The negotiations were launched in October, with delegations convening at a U.N. base to try to resolve a dispute about their maritime border that has held up hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich area.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said it had been agreed with the Americans that talks would be postponed for a few weeks.

“In the interim, they will do some shuttling in order to better prepare the next round of talks,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.

The talks are the culmination of three years of diplomacy by Washington.

Disagreement over the sea border has discouraged oil and gas exploration near the disputed line.

The sides presented contrasting maps for proposed borders in October, sources said at the time.

“HURDLES AND BUST-UPS”

Steinitz said last week there had been no breakthrough after four rounds of talks and that Lebanon had “so far presented positions which add up to a provocation”. He said he expected “many more hurdles and bust-ups” but hoped a breakthrough could be reached in a few months.

A Lebanese security source said the reason for the delay was Israel’s rejection of Lebanese proposals.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said this month the demarcation line should start from the land point of Ras Naqoura, as defined under a 1923 agreement, and extend seaward in a trajectory that a security source said extends the disputed area to some 2,300 sq km (890 sq miles) from around 860 sq km.

Steinitz said Lebanon had now changed its position seven times and was contradicting its own assertions.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, has said the talks are not a sign of peace-making with Israel.

Israel already pumps gas from huge offshore fields but Lebanon has yet to find commercial gas reserves in its own waters.

Agreement to hold the talks was announced weeks after the United States stepped up pressure on Hezbollah’s allies in Lebanon, imposing sanctions on a senior politician from its main Shi’ite ally, the Amal party.

Reporting by Beirut bureau and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Ed Osmond and Gareth Jones

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Plastic contaminants harm sea urchins - Phys.org

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Plastic contaminants harm sea urchins
The skeleton (green) and nervous system (magenta) of sea urchin larvae are affected by chemicals from microplastics. Left - not treated. Right - treated. Credit: Periklis Paganos

Plastics in the ocean can release chemicals that cause deformities in sea urchin larvae, new research shows.

Scientists soaked various plastic samples in seawater then removed the plastic and raised sea urchin embryos in the water.

The study, led by the University of Exeter, found that urchins developed a variety of abnormalities, including deformed skeletons and nervous systems.

These abnormalities were caused by chemicals embedded in the plastics leaching out into the water, rather than the plastics themselves.

The plastic-to-water ratio in the study would only be seen in severely polluted places, but the findings raise questions about the wider impact of plastic contaminants on .

"We are learning more and more about how ingesting plastic affects ," said Flora Rendell-Bhatti, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

"However, little is known about the effects of exposure to chemicals that leach into the water from plastic particles.

"This study provides evidence that contamination of the marine environment with plastic could have direct implications for the development of larvae, with potential impacts on wider ecosystems.

"Our work contributes to the growing evidence that we all need to help reduce the amount of plastic contamination released into our natural environment, to ensure healthy and productive ecosystems for future generations."

Dr. Eva Jimenez-Guri, also of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, added: "Many plastics are treated with chemicals for a variety of purposes, such as making them mouldable or flame retardant.

Plastic contaminants harm sea urchins
Developing sea urchin larvae are affected by chemicals from marine microplastics. Left - not treated. Right - treated. Credit: Eva Jimenez-Guri

"If such plastics find their way to the oceans, these chemicals can leach out into the water.

"Plastics can also pick up and transport chemicals and other environmental contaminants, potentially spreading them through the oceans."

The study used pre-production "nurdles" (pellets from which most plastics are made) from a UK supplier, and also tested nurdles and "floating filters" (used in water treatment) found on beaches in Cornwall, UK.

For the tests, each plastic type was soaked in seawater for 72 hours, then the plastic was removed.

Analysis of the water showed all samples contained chemicals known to be detrimental to development of animals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls.

Water from the different kinds of plastic affected urchin development in slightly different ways, though all sample types led to deformity of skeletons and nervous systems, and caused problems with gastrulation (when embryos begin to take shape).

The study also raised urchin embryos in that had contained 'virgin' polyethylene particles that had not been treated with additive chemicals or collected any environmental pollutants.

These urchins developed normally, suggesting that abnormalities observed in other samples were caused by industrial additives and/or environmentally adsorbed contaminants—rather than the base plastics themselves.

Nurdles and floating filters are not waste products, so they are not deliberately discarded, but the study highlights the importance of preventing their accidental release.

The researchers say most plastics may have similar effects as those in the study, so the findings emphasize the importance of finding alternatives to replace harmful additives, and reducing overall marine pollution.


Explore further

Plastic in the UK: Practical and pervasive—but problematic

More information: Flora Rendell-Bhatti et al, Developmental toxicity of plastic leachates on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, Environmental Pollution (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115744

Citation: Plastic contaminants harm sea urchins (2020, November 30) retrieved 30 November 2020 from https://ift.tt/39tCua8

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Friends and family raise nearly $100000 for fishermen lost at sea - Press Herald

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A campaign to help the families of four fishermen lost at sea last week was approaching $100,000 Sunday night.

The fundraising effort on the for-profit crowd funding platform called GoFundMe had raised just over $95,000 to ease the financial burdens of the four crewmen’s families.  The Portland-based fishing vessel Emmy Rose sank off the coast of Massachusetts during the early morning hours of Nov. 23. The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for the men on Tuesday evening.

Rosalee Varian, the daughter of the boat’s owner, Rink Varian, created the GoFundMe account. She told the Press Herald last week that the funds will be divided four ways.

The fishermen who lost their lives at sea have been identified as Robert Blethen Jr. of Georgetown, Jeff Matthews of Portland, Ethan Ward of Pownal, and Mike Porper of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Blethen served as captain of the 82-foot vessel. The boat was headed toward Gloucester when it sank.

“The crew on the Emmy Rose were honorable men. All were extremely passionate about the fishing industry, but most importantly, they loved and cared for their families more than anything in the world,” Varian said in a statement posted on the campaign site.

The Sustainable Harvest Sector, a group of 100 fishing vessel owners and operators representing the New England ground fishing industry, said it will post information about memorial services for the crew members once those plans become known. A candlelight vigil was held on the Portland waterfront last Wednesday for the crew.

The Emmy Rose sank early Monday roughly 22 miles northeast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, where 30-knot winds were whipping up 6- to 8-foot waves. Officials from the Coast Guard said it could take months before the cause of the sinking can be determined.

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China Oil Giant CNOOC Targeted by U.S. After Years of South China Sea Tension - Bloomberg

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Minggu, 29 November 2020

40 sea turtles transported to Florida for treatment as number of 'cold stunned' turtles surges - Fox News

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Forty critically-endangered sea turtles will receive special treatment in Florida after suffering “cold stunning” off the Massachusetts coast, according to reports.

The juvenile turtles washed ashore in Cape Cod, left stranded and unable to move as temperatures drop in the North Atlantic. Once rescued, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were flown to the Florida Keys to rehabilitate.

Normally, the turtles would receive treatment at local aquariums, but the sheer number of turtles washing ashore this season has forced scientists to seek help from other states, according to the South Florida Reporter.  

FLORIDA DUCK HUNTERS ENCOUNTER 'MONSTER' ALLIGATOR SNATCHING QUARRY, VIDEO SHOWS

“Hundreds of turtles are washing up on the beach,” said Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach. “More than the capacity that the aquariums up there can take care of, so they are being flown to the Turtle Hospital to warm up and have care for these critical animals.”

Earlier in November, a 350-pound loggerhead turtle washed ashore in Cape Cod, requiring a titanic effort to shift it to a local aquarium for care and rehabilitation.

The New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy took in more than 40 turtles over two days before Thanksgiving, bringing the total to 66 turtles being treated at the facility.

FLORIDA MAN SAVES DOG FROM ALLIGATOR, SMOKES CIGAR THE WHOLE TIME

Sea turtle strandings have become an annual event on Cape Cod, occurring when the turtles are unable to navigate away before the water temperature drops. A variety of turtles, including Kemp’s ridleys and loggerheads as well as leatherbacks, are treated for life-threatening conditions.

Zirkelbach said that the most critically ill turtles may be suffering additional complications, such as pneumonia or infections.

“They could be at the Turtle Hospital anywhere from 30 days to a year’s time, depending on their condition when they arrived here,” she said. “Once we warm them up, they’re going to go to another part of Florida to be returned to the ocean and that’s our goal with these 40 turtles.”

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Florida is also playing host to dozens of other “cold-stunned” turtles flown down from New England for rehabilitation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Sea levels rise despite climate | Letters | missoulian.com - The Missoulian

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The Boone and Crockett Club has declared climate change puts the world's wildlife at risk (Nov. 21).

Data shows sea levels rising in the USA. Yes, they are.

Sea levels keep rising no matter what the climate does. Why does this happen? Space dust and erosion. When the seas fill up with dirt, the sea levels rise.

Why do sea levels only rise in the USA? Maybe because we drink a lot of beer.

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How the Port of Everett is preparing for a rising sea level | HeraldNet.com - The Daily Herald

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EVERETT — Pigeons swoop in elegant arcs above the marina, sunset glints off historic hillside houses and a tricycling boy pedals toward the edge of the Fisherman’s Harbor dock.

With so much competing for their attention, his strolling parents could easily miss a clue that the Port of Everett is adapting to climate change: The pilings that secure the new stretch of dock are taller than those at the older west end.

The additional two feet will allow the dock to float higher as global warming causes sea levels to rise. If that isn’t enough leeway to accommodate future king tides, extensions can be welded to the pointy-topped columns, said Erik Gerking, director of environmental programs for the port. While visible, the pilings at the state’s largest public marina are not his top climate change concern.

“The biggest issue that we will have involves bulkheads and shoreline – having those high enough,” he said.

Adapting to sea level rise is an obvious need at the Port of Everett. But there are many ways in which climate change can impact the public port district’s role as seaport, recreational center, business and now a housing hub. This fall, port staff raised those concerns in a climate change memorandum that Gerking presented to port commissioners.

Some of the questions raised in the memo involve the seaport’s bottom line. For example, extreme weather, fires, flooding and sea level rise are expected to hammer the U.S. economy this century. Will the drop in gross domestic product reduce the amount of goods leaving the port, which now add up to $21 billion a year? Globally, economic production is projected to decrease 23% by 2100 as compared to a world without climate change.

Mounds of fill dirt at the Port of Everett Marina, to be used to help elevate certain sites around the waterfront in anticipation of rising sea levels. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mounds of fill dirt at the Port of Everett Marina, to be used to help elevate certain sites around the waterfront in anticipation of rising sea levels. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

For now, questions about economic disruption are unanswerable, just as it’s impossible to say how high and fast the waters of Puget Sound will rise.

So far, port planners have taken a rise of 2 to 3 feet into consideration, based on University of Washington research. But Gerking’s memo explains that “this is a statistical model that requires updating as new science and data become available.” It cites a 2015 UW report that concludes sea level in Seattle could be anywhere from 4 to 56 inches higher by 2100, compared to 2000. The dramatic difference is based on the success or failure of efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

As the City of Everett’s new Climate Action Plan notes, the rate at which sea level rises in Puget Sound depends on the rate of global sea level rise and regional factors, such as currents, wind patterns, location and elevation.

There is some good news for the Port of Everett. It’s in a growth phase. Building taller steel bulkheads and wharves, to say nothing of elevating buildings, is much less expensive than adapting existing ones to rising waters.

“There’s probably some incremental cost we’re incurring in construction, but it would pale in comparison to a retrofit,” said Gerking.

A corner of Boxcar Park that the Port of Everett will turn into an elevated beach. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A corner of Boxcar Park that the Port of Everett will turn into an elevated beach. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The port’s Waterfront Place District was built on 3-foot-higher landscape, which hides an elevated stormwater system and utilities. The newest part of the district features Fisherman’s Harbor, under-construction apartments and the Indigo Hotel. Just beyond the hotel, a considerable hill of dirt awaits plans to elevate future buildings. In the distance, the Weyerhaeuser Building towers above the shoreside Boxcar Park. The ornate historic structure was relocated high, and hopefully dry, for its future as a marine clubhouse and entertainment venue.

The 65-acre Waterfront Place used to be the Everett Shipyard. Like former polluted industrial sites throughout the port’s 3,000 acres, it had to be cleaned up before it could be developed. Sea level adaptation is one more factor in the complex and expensive cleanup projects, six of which are still active, according to the port’s 2020 Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Report.

Erik Gerking, director of environmental programs for the Port of Everett.

Erik Gerking, director of environmental programs for the Port of Everett.

The 20-page report includes a quick summary of the port’s climate change strategy. It’s not called a plan, Gerking said, because a strategy is easier to update. He sees value in being nimble.

“The information, the science, the regulations evolve with time,” he said.

The strategy calls for a widespread assessment of infrastructure or properties that might be vulnerable to sea level rise. That assessment hasn’t been scheduled or funded yet.

At the port’s north end, along the Snohomish River, a former mill site has already been decontaminated and elevated 3 to 5 feet. It is now the Riverside Business Park. The same process is underway at a second former lumber site, now called Bay Wood, near the mouth of the river. Bay Wood is exposed to Puget Sound waves and wind, requiring restoration of a storm-resistant shoreline.

Researchers aren’t predicting more storm surges due to climate change, Gerking said, but higher sea level could make storm-driven waves more destructive. Meanwhile, hazards are coming from inland in the form of more intense floods caused by earlier mountain snowmelt.

Flooding erodes riverbanks. That washes sediment into the river. At low tide, a sandbar is now exposed in Port Gardner, sometimes leaving boaters stranded as they approach the port’s 10th Street docks at low tide. The obvious solution is dredging, though the Corps of Engineers is looking at ways to make that more effective as the amount of sediment coming downstream increases. Deflecting sediment from the boat launch is also being considered.

The corps regularly dredges the river to keep navigation open. One upside to that, Gerking said, is that it yields an abundance of sediment that’s clean enough to use on construction sites. For example, big piles of river sand are being used to cover and elevate the former Kimberly-Clark mill property at the south end of the port.

Reducing its own carbon footprint is part of the port’s climate strategy. That includes buying fuel-efficient heavy equipment such as forklifts. Gantry cranes — those hulking metal creatures that unload ship cargo — are powered by electricity.

Air pollutants, including the greenhouse gases carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, dropped at the Port of Everett from 2005 to 2016. That’s according to emissions inventories taken by the Puget Sound Maritime Air Forum. Emission sources include everything at the waterfront, from ships to recreational boats to train locomotives.

(Port of Everett)

(Port of Everett)

The seaport’s South Terminal has been modernized with conduits and utility hatches that would allow ships to turn off their diesel engines and plug into the region’s clean hydropower grid. But the needed power receptacles can’t be installed yet. To the frustration of ports up and down the coast, the shipping industry has yet to announce a standard design for the giant plugs.

The port also plans to increase its short-distance sea shipping, which involves moving cargo between Puget Sound ports and Everett using tugs and barges. That approach, which is already used for aerospace parts, results in a 98% reduction in emissions over trucking cargo, Gerking said.

Also on the plus side of the port’s greenhouse gas ledger are the 377 acres of wetlands that the port owns at Union and Blue Heron sloughs in the Snohomish River estuary. The sloughs serve as conservation banks. When the port needs to make up for the loss of salmon spawning habitat caused by waterfront construction, it funds restoration efforts in the sloughs. As it turns out, wetlands do a great job of capturing and holding carbon in the soil. Better even than forests.

Greenhouse gas reduction is also on the radar at Naval Station Everett, which is sandwiched between the port’s north and south ends. According to its energy manager, Max McAllister, the base has reduced its energy use by half since 2003. It has installed solar panels, switched to mostly hybrid and electric vehicles, and replaced all lights with LEDs.

Ships at pier, usually U.S. Navy destroyers, switch to the power grid when in port. When it comes to sea level rise, 2019 federal law requires it be taken into consideration during building design, but no construction is planned at the 26-year-old base.

Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber sees climate change adaptation as a decades-long effort that needs to be integrated in short, medium and long-range plans. “Climate change is among many other environmental efforts the port is engaged in to ensure our mission can be accomplished sustainably,” she said.

Clearly, the port’s attention to climate change is driven by economic pragmatism as well as good intentions. There’s no point fostering economic development at the waterfront only to have it flooded.

Gerking serves on the climate change committee of the Washington Public Ports Association. His employer is among the largest of the group’s 75 members, and its Snohomish County location brings with it abundant exposure to the threats of a warming world.

“We’ve got the mountains, we’ve got the sea, we’ve got the rivers,” Gerking said. “We’re on the front lines of this.”

Everett writer Julie Titone can be reached at julietitone@icloud.com.

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November 29, 2020 at 04:30PM
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RAF jets scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft over North Sea - BBC News

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image copyrightRAF
image captionTwo RAF Typhoons were involved in the intercept operation over the North Sea
Two RAF fighter jets were scrambled to intercept Russian military aircraft flying over the North Sea on Saturday.

The Typhoons were launched from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray after two Russian Tu-142 Bear F planes were detected near UK airspace.

The RAF said the Russian aircraft were used for anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol.

It added that it was "essential" their movements were "carefully monitored" when operating so close to the UK.

A statement also said Russian military aircraft flying within "the UK Flight Information Region" could be a "hazard" in the busy airspace over the North Sea.

Such aircraft do not "squawk" by transmitting information on their position and movements to UK air traffic controllers, causing civilian planes to be re-routed to prevent them flying too close.

'Fantastic job'

The Typhoons "shadowed" the Russian planes on Saturday to "deter this unprofessional activity and mitigate risks associated with Russian military aircraft flying in this busy international airspace", the RAF said.

An RAF Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire was also deployed to provide air-to-air refuelling for the Typhoons, while Nato allies assisted with monitoring the Russian planes.

Controllers from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire coordinated the mission, liaising with Nato partners at the Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany.

An RAF spokesman said: "The crew did a fantastic job, locating aircraft that were not easy to detect very quickly.

"Again, the RAF has scrambled to defend the interests of the UK and Nato. It demonstrates the efficiency and resilience of our personnel, aircraft and systems."

The RAF jets were launched at 08:00 on Saturday and the incident concluded by early afternoon.

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Sabtu, 28 November 2020

After a bumpy Thanksgiving journey, 30 cold-stunned sea turtles from Cape Cod arrive in New Orleans - The Boston Globe

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“I have always said truly special people work in the business of animal conservation; this has proven to be true so many times in my 30 years doing this work,” Connie Merigo, manager of the marine animal rescue department at the aquarium said in a statement.

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On Cape Cod, the Mass. Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife has rescued dozens of cold-stunned turtles since election day. The 30 Kemp ridley turtles were taken to the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in Quincy and to the National Marine Life Center in Bourne to be stabilized. Then, they were to be taken to other rehabilitation hospitals along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico for further treatment, the statement said.

On Wednesday, the turtles were headed to the Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network’s Aquatic Center in New Orleans.

But pilots from Turtles Fly Too, a nonprofit that transports critically endangered species, faced strong headwinds and storms causing them to “twice to refuel and change course to avoid winds,” the statement read.

When the plane refueled for a second time in Chattanooga, more trouble soon followed. A rock kicked up when pilots tried to take off, which struck and damaged the propeller. The plane couldn’t fly, the statement said.

A call went out to help the turtles now stranded at the airport.

Staff from the Tennessee Aquarium, located in Chattanooga, went to the airport and brought the turtles to its facility, working with veterinarians from the New England Aquarium to care for them.

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“When we learned the plane could not reach its final destination, a flurry of calls went out, and within an hour, we had safe, warm overnight housing secured for these turtles,” Merigo said. “The zoo, aquarium, and sea turtle rehab network rallied around us in record speed.”

Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine assisted in the efforts.

And a plan was made quickly to get the turtles back on track to New Orleans. The turtles were loaded into a shuttle bus and driven by the Turtles Fly Too pilots on Thanksgiving afternoon, where Coastal Wildlife’s staff met them halfway and continued the rest of the journey.

The turtles arrived to New Orleans in good condition but will require “significant care before being released back into the wild,” the statement read.

“We were more than happy to jump in and offer assistance with their rehabilitation,” said Gabriella Harlamert, a marine rescue coordinator for Coastal Wildlife. “This effort would not have been possible without the generous collaboration of organizations across the country.”


Breanne Kovatch can be reached at breanne.kovatch@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @breannekovatch.

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North Korea toughens rules of entry to sea to fight virus - The Associated Press

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is further toughening restrictions on entering seawaters as part of elevated steps to fight the coronavirus pandemic, state media said Sunday, two days after South Korea said the North had banned sea fishing.

The Korean Central News Agency reported the country is mobilizing more anti-virus units and establishing strong steps to “completely remove uncivilized and unhygienic elements that could help make room for the spread of an epidemic” at winter. Some experts say the coronavirus can spread more broadly during cold weather when people typically spend more time indoors.

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KCNA said officials were building firm anti-epidemic measures along border areas to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country. In front-line coastal areas, authorities were working out more stringent rules for venturing out at sea and collecting filthy materials in the waters, according to KCNA.

North Korea has maintained no single virus case has been found on its territory, a claim widely questioned by outside experts. Despite its claim, North Korea has swiftly sealed its borders, flew out diplomats and isolated residents with symptoms. A major outbreak in North Korea could have devastating consequences because of its broken health care system and a chronic lack of medicines.

North Korea has previously mentioned a restriction on entering the sea. Sunday’s report came after South Korea’s spy service told lawmakers Friday that the North’s anti-virus steps included a ban on fishing and salt production at sea, as well as and the lockdown of the capital, Pyongyang, northern Jagang province and other areas.

Lawmakers who attended the closed-door briefing also cited the National Intelligence Service as saying that North Korea executed an official for breaching regulations restricting the import of goods in August and a money changer for a falling exchange rate in October.

Ha Tae-keung, one of the lawmakers, quoted the agency as saying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is displaying “excessive anger” and taking “irrational measures” over the pandemic and its economic impact.

In September, South Korea accused North Korea of fatally shooting a South Korean fishery official found in the North’s waters before burning his body apparently in line with an anti-virus policy that involves shooting anyone illegally crossing the border. North Korea later acknowledged and apologized for the killing, but claimed it only burnt his floating device, not his body.

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Cold-stunned seals, sea turtles appear on LI beaches - Newsday

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Walking a North Shore beach? Look out for young, salad-plate-sized endangered green or Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Suffering from hypothermia, drifting helplessly in the waves or washed ashore, they likely are doomed without expert care.

But with seals, stay away at least three bus lengths or 150 feet if they are on the sand — or risk a fine of up to $100,000 and one year in prison — unless they are clearly ailing, say experts, overloaded with calls to hotlines reporting healthy grey, harp, harbor and hooded seals.

Fearing record strandings of cold-stunned sea turtles, rescuers hope people will to learn how to spot them — and whether a seal truly needs help.

Part of the problem with seals seems to be that New York City folks who moved to Long Island to avoid the pandemic are just not used to seeing them on beaches, especially after summer, experts said.

Erroneously assuming they need help, they are pouring water on them, offering food, trying to push them back into the sea, and even in one case, picking a healthy seal up and driving it to the Riverhead New York Marine Rescue Center, experts said. And some have let their dogs chase seals.

The center says it received 16 reports of such interactions from January to June, more than any recent period. So far this year, the 24-hour hotline has gotten 1,796 calls, also up from last year.

With the outdoors one of the few and most prized refuges from the novel coronavirus, "You have the potential for more people to see these animals who haven’t gone through a winter" out East before, Rob DiGiovanni, chief scientist at the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, a Hampton Bays nonprofit, said by telephone.

As winter begins to bite, seal pups, recently weaned and perhaps not yet skilled at foraging for herring or bunker fish, may be enjoying the same sun, sand and rest drawing people to the shores from Orient Point to Staten Island. Possibly due to climate change, "We’re seeing animals arrive earlier and stay longer," DiGiovanni said.

Finding stranded turtles

Scan for small, perfectly round objects in the waves or perhaps hidden in seaweed on the North Shore; strandings are unusual on the South Shore because once past Montauk they tend to be carried farther out to sea, experts say.

The best time is right after high tide — especially if the winds are coming out of the northwest.

Monday’s strong storm will be of little help. It is blowing up from the south to southeast, across the Sound and toward Connecticut, explained David Radell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Islip office.

Cold-stun season ripples down the Eastern Seaboard from the epicenter — Cape Cod. Its bent-arm shape traps young Kemp’s ridleys and greens in the bay, said Connie Merigo, director of the rescue and rehabilitation program at Boston’s New England Aquarium.

Strandings there are skyrocketing. "We just crossed the 300 mark," already more than all last year, she said.

The 1- to 3-year-old sea turtles may have been floating helplessly since September; they cannot regulate their own temperatures, and succumbing to hypothermia, dehydration and starvation set in. "They become buoyant, and kind of float at the surface," said Maxine Montello, Rescue Program director at the Riverhead marine center, borne along wherever the winds and tides take them.

In 2014, more than 1,000 of these two species stranded in Massachusetts; 690 were alive, Merigo said. Two factors seen then — mild autumn temperatures on land and strandings before water temperatures fall below the usual benchmark of 50 degrees — recurred this year, she said.

The Riverhead rescue is caring for a dozen Kemp’s ridley youngsters: two Long Islanders, "Slash" and "Axel" — this year’s naming theme is rock and roll — and 10 from the New England Aquarium, to prevent it from becoming overloaded, officials said.

Slash’s plight is particularly perilous; a boat strike probably badly damaged her shell, which protects her internal organs, and broke a flipper rescuers hope to splint, Montello said.

This youngster was spotted on Nov. 4 by someone walking along the shore near Eatons Neck, a hook-shaped peninsula on the North Shore about 55 miles east of Manhattan by car. "A kayaker was able to grab the animal," said Montello. Axel was found in Montauk Lake on Nov. 24.

With the turtles typically weighing just a kilogram or two, experts say it is just about impossible to figure out their age or sex. One kilogram is 2.2 pounds.

Adults apparently have learned when to head south to warmer waters. "It’s pretty weird to get an adult," Merigo said. "They’re savvier."

Spotting the sick seal

Look for alertness and what Montello calls a banana shape, with both the head and tail raised.

Seals may try to scare off people — and any dogs — by growling and displaying their sharp claws by scratching their faces or bodies. "Those are all kind of cues to leave them alone," she said. If a seal does not instantly rouse, it may have simply fallen into a deep sleep. Also, wild animals can bite.

A lone seal is not a sign of trouble; recently weaned pups may be solitary. Until they are sexually mature, adult males may attack them if they join a herd, she said. "They’re allowed to be alone; they’re allowed to haul out."

Unless a seal is encrusted with sand, has a runny nose and eyes, is lying flat, unmoving and unresponsive, has bite wounds or is caught in plastic or fishing line or barbs or otherwise injured, they should not be disturbed, rescuers said. "In the end, most people are trying to help," said Montello. The four-member team does, however, want people to call if in doubt. "If you feel like an animal is in distress, call the 24-hour hotline; we ask for photos and location." The hotline is 631-369-9829; the center's website is nymarinerescue.org.

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November 29, 2020 at 07:15AM
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Storms, broken plane force layover for rescued sea turtles - Lewiston Sun Journal

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BOSTON — They might have gotten there faster by walking, but at any rate, these endangered turtles had a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.

Bad weather, a damaged propeller and an unscheduled stop in Tennessee complicated the rescue of 30 critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that were among hundreds recently found on the beaches of Cape Cod, stunned and almost killed by falling ocean temperatures.

ODD_Rare_Turtles_Rough_Rescue_12475

Rescued Kemp’s ridley sea turtles receive care at Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Wednesday. (Thom Benson/Tennessee Aquarium via AP)

Volunteers and conservation experts initially took the turtles to the New England Aquarium in Boston and the National Marine Life Center on Buzzards Bay, where they began the long rehabilitation process before being moved to wildlife centers along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

A batch of 30 New Orleans-bound turtles had a harder trip than most.

Their plane left Wednesday but had to change course and refuel twice because of storms and strong winds. A rock kicked up during takeoff after the second refueling, in Chattanooga, damaged the propeller and grounded the plane.

Staff members of the Tennessee Aquarium collected the animals and cared for them overnight. On Thanksgiving, the turtles were loaded onto a shuttle bus borrowed from the airport and driven the rest of the way to New Orleans, arriving on Thanksgiving Day.

“When we learned the plane could not reach its final destination, a flurry of calls went out, and within an hour, we had safe, warm overnight housing secured for these turtles,” said Connie Merigo, manager of the New England Aquarium’s marine animal rescue department.

The turtles appear to be in good condition at their new home, operated by the Audubon Nature Institute’s Coastal Wildlife Network, but they will require significant care before they can be released back into the wild, according to the New England Aquarium.

Kemp’s ridley turtles are the smallest sea turtles in the world, growing to a little over 2 feet. They are found in the Atlantic as far north as Nova Scotia but are seen most often in the Gulf of Mexico.


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November 29, 2020 at 02:33AM
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GoFundMe raises over $83K for fishermen presumed lost at sea - New York Post

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Four fishermen lost at sea last week when their fishing vessel, the Emmy Rose, sank off the Massachusetts coast, were “honorable men” who loved their families and the sea, according to a GoFundMe page organized for their grieving families.

“These four men were the best out there. They will be deeply missed, but they will never be forgotten,” the organizer of the page wrote.

The Coast Guard on Tuesday night suspended the search for the four men whose boat sank in eight-foot waves off Provincetown. Crews searched more than 2,000 square miles for 38 hours.

The page, created Wednesday, had raised nearly $83,000 of its $100,000 goal as of Saturday morning. The money funds will go to the families of the Emmy Rose crew who held a candlelight vigil Wednesday night that included about 100 people.

The fishermen were identified on the GoFundMe page as: Capt. Robert Blethen Jr. of Georgetown, Maine; Jeff Matthews of Portland, Maine; Ethan Ward of Pownal, Maine; and Mike Porper, of Gloucester, Mass. An accompanying video of the men showed heartbreaking images of them with their children and parents.

“All were extremely passionate about the fishing industry, but most importantly, they loved and cared for their families more than anything in the world,” the page said.

“Robert, Jeff, Ethan, and Mike would rest in peace knowing that their loved ones are going to receive the support they deserve,” the page said.

The Coast Guard began hunting for the Emmy Rose crew Monday night in stormy conditions. They went to the site where the Emmy Rose supposedly sank, but found only the boat’s emergency beacon, an empty life raft and debris, according to officials.

The Emmy Rose was headed to Gloucester when it sank, according to the Coast Guard.

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November 28, 2020 at 11:11PM
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The Caribbean's sea temple - The Hindu

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It took an epic feat by a former indentured labourer to build the original structure in the sea off the Trinidad coast

“You must visit the ‘Temple in the Sea’. You may have seen bigger temples and more beautiful ones, but this is different.” It was one of the suggestions that I received at the beginning of my tenure as Indian High Commissioner in Trinidad and Tobago. The story behind the temple was too fascinating to ignore.

The single-storey structure, with a semi-oval roof on a similar base and two symbolic domes, represents the vimana style of temple architecture. Connected by a 200-metre pathway to the Gulf of Paria on the western coast of Trinidad, the temple is surrounded by water. It houses the idols of Siva, Hanuman, Durga and others, holds a Sunday service and is open to visitors of all faiths and ethnicities.

The soul of it is the story of Siewdass Sadhu, who first built it, a man of grit, commitment, devotion and dedication, the idiom of the indenture narrative in the Caribbean. He was only seven when his parents, Boodhram and Bissoondayia, brought him from Benares to Trinidad and Tobago, along with his two younger brothers. After the parents passed away, Siewdass finished the remaining indentureship on the sugar estate in Waterloo before visiting India in 1926.

In 1947, he built the temple on a swamp close to the shore owned by the sugar cane company Tate and Lyle. He built its foundation using oil drums filled with concrete and tying them all together with steel. Unfortunately, when he completed it, Tate and Lyle demanded that he demolish it. The court ordered that the temple be demolished and punished Siewdass with a fine of 100 pounds or 14 days in prison for trespassing. He went to jail. However, as soon as he came out, he decided to build the temple in the sea since the sea is “no man’s land”.

Lone pursuit

Carrying a leather bag and two buckets on either side of the handlebars of his bicycle, he transported cement and sand. He created a base using bricks and stone and used cement for the main structure. It took him about 25 years to build the temple on his own. Then, he visited India in the 1970s and took his last breath in the motherland.

The temple later got damaged due to sea erosion. In 1995, Randolph Rampersad, an engineer and third-generation Trinidadian of indenture ancestry, took the initiative to rebuild the temple. Private overseas contributions and support from the then Speaker of Parliament, Occah Seepaul, and Works and Transport Minister and Head of the Unemployment Relief Programme, Jerret Narine, made the construction possible. They completed the temple and the 200-metre pathway in just seven months at $1.5 million. They used slag, a waste product in steel production donated by the Point-Lisas Steel Plant, to construct the pathway. According to Mr. Rampersad, the temple stands on a concrete base inside the water, and in case of an unusual tide, the whole temple, along with its base, can move to prevent any damage to the upper part of the structure. The temple was consecrated on December 10, 1995. The government of Trinidad and Tobago has added it as a national treasure.

The temple has become an integral part of the Trinbagonian identity, pride and diversity cutting across ethnicity. Victor Edwards of the IERE Theatre Production Ltd. directed and staged plays on it in 2012 and 2018.

Today, in the park on the way to the pathway stands tall the statue of Siewdass Sadhu. The statue, inaugurated by the then President of Trinidad and Tobago, Noor Mohamed Hassanali, in 1995 on the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians, remains a testimony to the umbilical linkage between the people of Trinidad and Tobago and India.

(The writer is the Indian High

Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago)

arun.sahu68@gmail.com

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November 29, 2020 at 01:33AM
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Scientists: Rise in sea turtle population unrelated to reduced tourism - West Hawaii Today

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While tourism in Hawaii has declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, sea turtle populations have increased — but scientists say the two are unrelated.

The global decrease in travel throughout 2020 has led to speculation that lockdowns and quarantines have allowed the environment to partially recover from human activity. But while endangered sea turtle populations have seen a rebound in Hawaii this year, experts caution against correlating the two factors.

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“It’s true that there has been a large increase in the number of green sea turtle nests,” said Ryan Jenkinson, head of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Aquatic Resources Division Protected Species Program. “But that’s totally independent of what’s happening with COVID.”

Sea turtles, Jenkinson said, do not reproduce so quickly that a single summer can reverse their declining population, and there is not enough data to suggest what impact, if any, the global lockdown has had on their population.

While Danielle Bass, sustainability coordinator for the state’s Office of Planning, told the state House of Representatives Tuesday that green sea turtle nests on Oahu have been particularly successful over the summer — Marine Corps Base Hawaii reported more than 13 nests on Bellows Beach on Oahu in June, and that 95% of hatchlings survived — Jenkinson said it would be hasty to attribute that success to COVID impacts.

“Turtles don’t make annual schedules,” Jenkinson said.

Jenkinson explained that green sea turtles tend to nest where they themselves hatched, but if that site is unavailable — for example, if there are too many people on a beach between the ocean and the nesting site — they simply find other sites. A high number of turtle nests on one beach, therefore, does not indicate that the number of sea turtles has increased, merely that a greater-than-average number of turtles chose that beach to nest, for whatever reason.

Jenkinson pointed out that certain nesting sites on the minor Hawaiian islands and reefs have been irrevocably lost to climate change, necessitating a search for other sites on the larger islands.

Alex Gaos, research biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Fisheries Science Center, said a decrease in human activity could potentially benefit specific sea turtle nests — “there could be fewer lights to confuse the hatchlings, or maybe there’s fewer drivers running over nests or something,” he said — he pointed out that the lack of human activity could just as easily create false positives.

“If there’s fewer people on the beach, that means hatchlings’ tracks couldn’t be obscured as much, so it might look like there’s more of them,” Gaos said.

In short, Jenkinson said, any increase in the green sea turtle population around Hawaii this year is more likely attributable to years of conservation work dedicated to the recovery of the endangered species, rather than a single summer with fewer tourists than average.

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As for hawksbill sea turtles, the critically endangered species also found in Hawaii’s waters, even less can be concluded. Jenkinson said the DLNR researchers monitoring hawksbill populations were unable to make observations this year — ironically, because of COVID.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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November 28, 2020 at 05:05PM
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Jumat, 27 November 2020

Beijing Takes Its South China Sea Strategy to the Himalayas - The New York Times

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Just in time for its National Day in October, China completed construction of a new village high in the mountains where the Chinese region of Tibet meets the kingdom of Bhutan. A hundred people moved into two dozen new homes beside the Torsa River and celebrated the holiday by raising China’s flag and singing the national anthem.

“Each of us is a coordinate of the great motherland,” a border guard was quoted as saying by an official state news agency, China Tibetan News.

The problem is, these new “coordinates” are more than a mile inside what Bhutan considers its territory.

The construction, documented in satellite photos, followed a playbook China has used for years. It has brushed aside neighbors’ claims of sovereignty to cement its position in territorial disputes by unilaterally changing the facts on the ground.

It used the same tactics in the South China Sea, where it fortified and armed shoals claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, despite promising the United States not to do so.

This year, China’s military built up forces in the Himalayas and crossed into territory that the Indians claimed was on their side of the de facto border. That led to China’s bloodiest clash in decades, leaving at least 21 Indian soldiers dead, along with an unknown number of Chinese troops. The violence badly soured relations that had been steadily improving.

Even when challenged, China’s territorial grabs are difficult to reverse short of the use of force, as the Indian government has learned. Since the dispute at the border, Chinese troops have remained camped in areas that India once controlled.

Image
Credit...Dar Yasin/Associated Press

“In the end, it reflects the consolidation of China’s control over the area it claims,” said M. Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an expert on China’s military.

Over the past year, China has moved aggressively against many of its neighbors, seemingly with little regard for diplomatic or geopolitical fallout. Its actions reflect the ambition of China’s leader, Xi Jinping, to assert the country’s territorial claims, economic interests and strategic needs around the world.

Mr. Xi often cites China’s historical grievances against foreign encroachment and colonization, using its past to justify its aggressive strategic activities.

The construction of the Himalayan village suggests that China has extended a broader campaign to fortify its southern flanks to include Bhutan, the Buddhist nation of 800,000 people that popularized the concept of “gross national happiness.”

As the construction was underway on that long-disputed border, China added a new claim this summer to nearly 300 square miles of territory in the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, a preserve on the other side of Bhutan from where the village was being built.

In pushing its boundaries, China appears to have brushed aside decades of quiet and ultimately fruitless talks to finalize the two countries’ border. A 25th round of talks this year was postponed because of the coronavirus.

“The Chinese obviously seem to be losing patience,” Tenzing Lamsang, editor of the newspaper The Bhutanese and president of the Media Association of Bhutan, wrote on Twitter.

Credit...Pool photo by Francis Malasig

The dispute stems from different interpretations of a treaty signed in 1890 by two now-defunct imperial powers, the United Kingdom as India’s colonial ruler and the Qing dynasty in China.

The new village is near the Doklam Plateau, where the borders of China, India and Bhutan converge. The plateau was the site of a 73-day standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in 2017 that began over the construction of a road into Bhutanese territory. India, which is obliged to defend Bhutan under a longstanding security pact, pushed troops forward to halt the Chinese work.

Bhutan, which in recent years has felt squeezed between the two giants, poses no military threat to China. For China, control of the area would give its forces a strategic position near a narrow strip of land in India called the Siliguri Corridor.

That area, which Indian military strategists also call the Chicken Neck, connects the bulk of India to its easternmost provinces bordering Bangladesh, Myanmar and China.

Mr. Lamsang noted that Bhutan has long had to defer to India’s security interests. In its repeated talks with the Chinese, Bhutan has so far been unwilling to make any territorial concessions along the western and central borders.

“Given Bhutan’s refusal to concede in the talks or even agree to compromises by China we are now paying a price,” Mr. Lamsang wrote.

Neither the Bhutanese nor the Chinese foreign ministry responded to requests for comment.

Global Times, a Communist Party newspaper that often echoes a hawkish view among Chinese officials, ridiculed the claims that the newly built village was in Bhutan, blaming India for stoking tensions with China’s southern neighbors. A day later, the newspaper warned against “looming foreign forces backing the China-bashing campaign across the Himalayas.”

Credit...Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies

The exact location of the new village, called Pangda, emerged in a series of satellite images published recently by Maxar Technologies, a company based in Colorado. They showed that construction began late last year and was completed, it seems, not long before Oct. 1, China’s National Day. China’s version of the border lies south of the village.

DOKLAM

PLATEAU

Sakteng Wildlife

Sanctuary

Pangda Village

SILIGURI

CORRIDOR

By The New York Times

The images also showed extensive new road-building and the construction of what seem to be military storage bunkers, according to a Maxar spokesman, Stephen Wood. The bunkers are in undisputed Chinese territory, though, indicating that China has sought to build up its military presence along much of the Himalayan border area. The images of China’s new construction were earlier reported by NDTV, a broadcaster in India.

China has made no secret of the construction, as evidenced by several state media reports on the village. One recounted an inauguration ceremony on Oct. 18 that was attended by senior officials from Shanghai, including Yu Shaoliang, deputy secretary of the city’s Communist Party committee.

In China, richer provinces often sponsor development projects in poorer regions, especially in Tibet and Xinjiang. China absorbed Tibet beginning in 1950, with the new Communist government seeking to reassert sovereignty over the Tibetan people and territory that had been lost after the fall of the Qing dynasty. Although the Chinese called its annexation the “Peaceful Liberation of Tibet,” many Tibetans are unhappy with Chinese rule.

Mr. Fravel of M.I.T. said that with its recent construction, China appeared to have backed away from potential compromises that it floated in earlier rounds of border talks with Bhutan, in which it offered to trade swathes of territory.

“Previous compromise ideas from the 1990s may no longer be on the table,” he said, “as China may be unwilling or unlikely to withdraw from territory where it has erected such infrastructure.”

Elsie Chen contributed research.

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November 28, 2020 at 11:40AM
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