UN finally realizes the oceans need protection…

There’s a glimmer of hope for this planet’s oceans, as the UN seems to be drawing near to an agreement to help regulate what needs to be kept in the seas, instead of focusing just on how much is taken out.  It’s a promising step, but c’mon, if the global community were good at enforcing stuff like this, then why are the Sea Shepherds being kept so busy in the southern ocean this year going after illegal fishing operations?  Well, I guess it’s a step in the right direciton.

Read more at Scientific American.

Unsustainable shark fishing

The BBC reports that globally, around 100 million sharks are being killed each year.  This is a mind-boggling number and anyone who thinks we can deplete the numbers of an apex predator at that rate without consequences is a fool.  I’m scared of what the future brings to our society when we are so blatantly altering the ecosystem that future generations will depend upon, without being able to really understand what these changes will actually mean.  It’s stupid and selfish.

The rise of ocean levels

Check out this chart (from phys.org)…while at first glance it shows the rise in ocean levels over the past twenty years, more importantly, it shows how when it comes to climate, you need to look at multi-year trends, not what’s happening in one particular year.  This chart shows that ocean levels actually decreased in 2010-2011, and if you only looked at that fact, you might think that there’s no cause for alarm.  However, look at the longer trend and you’ll see a very different story.

Oh, as for WHY the ocean levels dropped…that period coincided with a strong La Niña effect which temporarily shifted more than normal water from the ocean to the continents (via rainfall), a short-term effect that was canceled out once that water finished making its way back to the oceans.

Caffeine in the ocean

Here’s a nice reminder of how our actions influence the environment around us.  Researchers at Portland State University found high caffeine levels in the ocean off the Oregon coast, which is attributed to human activity.  Remember, this ecosystem we live in is complex and connected…our actions can have far reaching impact.

You can read more about this study over at phys.org.