Scientists map global routes of ship-bourne invasive species
byMatt McGrath | BBC News
Scientists have developed the first global model that analyses the routes taken by marine invasive species.
The researchers examined the movements of cargo ships around the world to identify the hot spots where these aquatic aliens might thrive.
Marine species are taken in with ballast water on freighters and wreak havoc in new locations, driving natives to extinction.
The research is published in the Journal Ecology Letters.
There has been a well-documented boom in global shipping over the past 20 years and this has led to growing numbers of species moving via ballast tanks, or by clinging to hulls.
Some ports such as San Francisco and Chesapeake Bay have reportedseveral exotic new species arriving every year. Economic estimates indicate that marine invaders can have huge impacts that last for decades.
Now, scientists from the UK and Germany have developed a model that might help curb these unwanted visitors. They obtained detailed logs from nearly three million voyages that took place in 2007 and 2008.
“Our model combines information such as shipping routes, ship sizes, temperatures and biogeography to come up with local forecasts of invasion probabilities,” said Prof Bernd Blasius from the University of Oldenburg.
While this is a mathematical model, the researchers were able to adjust it by carrying out field observations. They were able to estimate the probability that a species can survive a journey and establish a population in a subsequent port of call.
“It is called ecological roulette,” said Dr Michael Gastner from the University of Bristol.
“The probability of winning from the perspective of the invader is really tiny - but because the number of attempts are now growing with more and bigger ships, you play this roulette so often that you become a likely winner sooner or later,” he added.
The team says that the key hotspots for invasion are Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Panama and Suez canals. Cooler climates like the North Sea are less likely to be troubled, unless ships come from similar waters such as the east coast of the US. They conclude that very long trips are less likely to be a cause for concern.
Merry Shellmas - I decided to make this post rebloggable so you can spread the word!
Got that? ;-)
She shouldn’t sell seashells on the seashore. And neither should you!
100 years of unprovoked shark attacks (1912-2013)
Andrew Barr and Richard Johnson | National Post
Surfer numbers have increased dramatically since the 1950s and advances in wetsuit technology mean people are going into the water all year round and staying out in the surf for longer periods, all of which increases the odds of someone being attacked by a shark. With this in mind, the National Post’s graphics team takes a look at the century in unprovoked shark attacks.
Blue = Male survivor
Pink = Female survivor
Black = Fatality
Looks pretty colourful to me.
Read more here including a break down of activities during the attacks and a close up of injury location (if any).
This is a great visual back up for this (Attn: NERDS: Free journal article). Remember when I posted about a new paper seeking to reclassify human-shark interactions? No? That’s ok. Here’s a snippet from the abstract:
There are few phrases in the Western world that evoke as much emotion or as powerful an image as the words “shark” and “attack.” However, not all “shark attacks” are created equal. Under current labels, listings of shark attack may even include instances where there is no physical contact between shark and human. The dominant perception of intent-laden shark “attacks” with fatal outcomes is outdated as a generic term and misleading to the public. We propose new descriptive labels based on the different outcomes associated with human–shark interactions, including sightings, encounters, bites, and the rare cases of fatal bites. We argue two central points: first, that a review of the scientific literature shows that humans are “not on the menu” as typical shark prey. Second, we argue that the adoption of a more prescriptive code of reporting by scientists, the media, and policy makers will serve the public interest by clarifying the true risk posed by sharks and informing better policy making.
Meet Taina Uitto, a passionate conservationist who lives her life without plastic. Her incredibly inspiring blog covers the ups and downs of the challenge.
Check it out for some Monday Inspiration, some tips and tricks on reducing plastic consumption!
…They’ve had similar enemies, life histories and PR problems.
Tara Haelle | Slate
Shark conservation has been growing for years, grabbing similar attention to the plight of the whales in the 70’s and 80’s (and 90’s).
With a common ‘enemy’ in mankind, older sexual maturity, long gestation times and low litter sizes, sharks and whales have a lot more in common than you might think.
Check Tara Haelle’s article on the recent milestones in Shark conservation.
A cool new way climate change is killing bivalves
We already know that carbon-dioxide-filled, acidic ocean water is no-good, very-bad news for mussels and other underwater shelled creatures, causing their shells to dissolve. But, as these things so often go, it turns out that climate change is even worse for bivalves than we thought: It’s unleashing an awkward kind of anti-puberty on them. They’re growing smaller and weaker, and now we find out that they’re basically losing their hair.
New research published in the journal Nature shows that mussels’ proteinaceuous byssal threads — the little stringy bits that allow them to stick their bodies on stuff — are particularly susceptible to ocean acidification. The researchers found mussels’ little stringy bits were 40 percent weaker when exposed to elevated CO2 levels, even when their shell strength and tissue growth weren’t affected…
(read more: Grist.org) (photo: Sapphire/Flutterby)
Dear Hon. Rama,
My name is Anna Oposa, co-founder of Save Philippine Seas, an independent movement to protect our country’s marine resources. I was born in Cebu City and am currently based in Malapascua, Cebu, to pursue a project to enhance the protection of thresher sharks in Monad Shoal and…
Nicely said, Anna!
Note the carefully laid out arguments, provision of solutions to the problem and the polite tone of the letter. We can demand better from our Governments, and we can do it in a respectful manner. Harsh words and angry tones won’t get you very far….
Oceanic White Tip Shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) passes CITES Appendix II proposal!
Today marks the CITES debate to regulate trade in the products of 4 elasmobranchs. First up was the Oceanic White Tip, which passed with a narrow 2/3 margin of votes - 68.66%.
An Appendix II listing does not mean NO trade, but regulated and sustainable trade.
This is brilliant news, and let’s hope it sets precedent for the other species. However the battle isn’t over. The result has to be formally adopted in the final plenary on Thursday.
Next up for debate are the Hammerheads!
Fins crossed for all of them!
FYI: Social media coverage of the CITES meeting is huge. You can follow live tweets from the meeting with:
Running commentary is also coming from the ever-awesome @whysharksmatter
Today is a BIG day for shark conservation. The data collected with blood, sweat and tears of shark researchers is vital and highly influential to the decision making process. It is the ammunition needed to defend against the politics that surround shark fisheries. So today is a BIG day for science as well!
Photo: Oceanic White Tip - Brian Skerry
Photo: Yours truly with Waqi White Tip from Shark Defenders
Dr Kathy Townsend from Turtles in Trouble with the debris extracted from a coastal sub-adult flat back turtle in Moreton Bay, Australia. Much of this was plastic bag remnants.