Good news for sharks

CITES in Bangkok :  Scalloped Hammerhead SharkGood news for sharks!  After years of being killed in unsustainable levels, they’ve finally received international recognition of their threatened numbers and a degree of protection in the form of fishing permits to limit catches (manta rays also received some protection).  While on the surface this is encouraging news, keep in mind that catch limits have applied to tuna for years, and been routinely ignored by all but the Sea Shepherds who took it upon themselves to document and stop illegal fishing activities.  So, forgive me a bit of pessimism about this latest move to protect sharks.  It’s a step in the right direction, but in no way can we consider this matter resolved.  Note too that this protection applies to only six species of sharks, out of an estimated 450 (of which about one third are endangered).

New type of bacteria discovered in Antarctica

Not surprisingly, when Russian scientists drilled into an isolated subglacial lake in Antarctica that had been sealed off from the rest of the world for thousands, maybe millions, of years, they discovered and entirely new type of bacteria that didn’t resemble anything like what’s been found on this planet so far.  Amazing stuff…read more here.

Avoid whales with your ship – there’s an app for that

whalealert-02.jpg.492x0_q85_crop-smartWe’re probably all tired of hearing ‘there’s an app for that’, but it’s just too cool in this case…there’s an iPad app to help ship captains avoid whales in some shipping routes.  Ship/whale collisions are a big deal for the whales, especially endangered Right Whales (not such a big deal for the ships).  This app only covers areas close to shore where detection buoys have been set up, but still, it’s a start, and a cool one at that.

(via Treehugger)

Using DNA for data storage

Scientists have figured out how to use DNA for data storage, by storing the data in ternary format (zeros, ones, and twos) rather than binary (ones and zeros) like typical computers.  This isn’t just theoretical…they stored and retrieved an audio recording of Martin Luther King, and other information as well.  This has the potential to store massive amounts of data in a very compact space for long periods of time…it’ll be interesting to see how this technology is applied in the coming years.  Read more here.

This does make me wonder though…if we can manipulate DNA to this level…do we then have the potential to create new forms of life?  We’re a long ways away from understanding the entire DNA code and being able to ‘program’ a new strand of DNA to do something, but that won’t stop people from trying.

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