News from issue 155 Aug/Sept – international

Chinese Inventor Builds Sub to Take Divers to the Mariana Trench

News_intl_subA Chinese scientist is planning to open up the deepest parts of the oceans to divers and explorers with a radical new submarine system.

This week Cui Weicheng launched the mothership and a prototype of his deep water three-man sub in the first stage of his ambitious plans to broaden exploration to the rarely visited extreme depths of the world’s ocean.

–Dive magazine, read more:


Continental Drift Created Biologically Diverse Coral Reefs

Nowhere today is the biodiversity of corals and reef-inhabiting fish higher than in the tropical waters around Indonesia and its neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. “To understand the reason for this diversity, you have to look back 100 million years — to a time when present-day South America and Africa still formed a common supercontinent and today’s India was an island in Earth’s southern hemisphere,” says Loïc Pellissier, Professor of Landscape Ecology at ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.

For the first time ever, an international research team under his direction studied the geographical pattern by which new species of corals and reef fish evolved over the millions of years of evolutionary history using a computer model. The scientists were able to show that the drift of the continental plates was the likely driving force behind the emergence of new species.

–Geology Page, read more:

San Diego Bans Plastic Bags

The San Diego City Council voted 19 July to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies and corner markets.

The goal of the new ordinance is to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags, decreasing the number of plastic checkout bags used every year. San Diego goes through roughly 700 million plastic bags a year, with only three percent of them being recycled, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

–EcoWatch, read more:


Vaquita Porpoises May Go Extinct in 2022

The world’s rarest marine mammal has found itself becoming rarer and rarer each year. Now, according to a report presented this month to Mexico’s Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources and the Governor of Baja California, only 60 vaquitas remain in the Gulf of California – representing a decline of more than 92 percent since 1997.

Vaquita porpoises, Phocoena sinus, are found only in the upper area of Mexico’s Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), a body of water squeezed in between Baja California Peninsula and the Mexican mainland. The world’s smallest porpoise was only discovered in 1958 and a little over half a century later, they are on the brink of extinction.

–Underwater360°, read more:



Lionfish Now Invading the Mediterranean Sea

News_intl_lionfishIf you thought lionfish were a problem only off South Florida and the Caribbean, think again. The Mediterranean Sea is the latest area to see a lionfish invasion, with the invasive species having colonized Cyprus’ southeast coast over the past year, according to the academic journal Marine Biodiversity Records.

The recent widening of the Suez Canal and an increase in water temperatures are possible reasons for the fish’s presence.

–Deeper Blue, read more:

Imagine the Ocean of the Future: Cephalopods Flourish

In ‘Global proliferation of cephalopods’, a paper in <<<Current Biology>>>, an esteemed group of marine biologists reports that the population of octopuses (and other cephalopods) is booming thanks to its ability to adapt quickly to ocean acidification and temperature change, which is killing off other types of marine life at alarming rates.

The researchers used by-catch numbers (the numbers of cephalopods accidentally netted by commercial fishermen) as a proxy for population numbers.

At this rate, as Annalee Newitz points out, “cephalopods may be among the species who are poised to survive a mass extinction in the oceans, leading to a future marine ecosystem ruled by tentacles.”

–Boingboing, read more:




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