It’s hard to keep up with the latest news on the Internet. We all have information and headlines constantly streaming at us via Facebook, Twitter, email and news sites. We realize the Ocean Portal is a part of that noise. But since we are attempting to stay up-to-date on everything ocean, we thought, why not let you know what we are reading? Here’s our inaugural post. We will plan to give you an idea of what is going on in the ocean-world every two weeks or so. Nothing serious, just a place where you can grab the best of ocean news.
Protecting Ocean Spaces
In the past month alone, President Obama has designated almost 450,000 square miles of ocean space as protected. First with an expansion to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and then with the creation of the first Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean— the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument—off the coast of New England.
Nowhere to Run
Sea ice plays an important role in the lives of the roughly 25,000 polar bears that live in the Arctic. The earlier melting of sea ice in the spring and later ice growth in the fall means that the hunting, movement and breeding of the bears is impacted. Researchers used 35 years of satellite records to show that every habitat used by the polar bears will be changed by the changing climate.
The Next Big Extinction
Extinction of species isn’t a new phenomenon, but the mechanisms behind extinction certainly vary. In a new study, researchers found that when it comes to the ocean today, the larger the animal the higher the threat of extinction, while in the past, the threat of extinction was more equally distributed amongst species of all sizes. The researchers also note that this suggests the current threats to the ocean are more related to fishing and other large-scale removal of species rather than climate change. There’s hope though. The lead author of the study, Jonathan Payne, tells The Washington Post, “I talked to a couple of people who said they found this a very discouraging result, I tend not to look at it that way. I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the oceans, because we haven’t impacted them much yet.”
Our Ocean Conference: a reason for #OceanOptimism from Obama
The third Our Ocean Conference was held in Washington, D.C. last week. Hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, it brought together hundreds of environmental leaders, scientists, and organizations to talk about issues facing the ocean, as well as university students to attend a parallel event, “Our Ocean, One Future: Leadership Summit.” President Obama and Secretary Kerry both spoke about their hope and optimism for the future of the ocean. President Obama said about the return of bird populations and resilient coral reefs on Midway Island, “And that, too, was a great cause for optimism because it reminded us that nature is actually resilient if we take care to just stop actively destroying it -- that it will come back. And certainly the oceans can come back if we take the steps that are necessary. I saw it. It was right there -- evidence of the incredible power of nature to rebuild itself if we're not consistently trying to tear it down.”