Weekly round-up: October 11

A team of scientists has developed 3D-printed, GPS-enabled decoy sea turtle eggs and successfully planted them in nests to help trace illegal trafficking. One decoy – or InvestEGGator – was planted in 101 different nests along four beaches in Costa Rica, of which 25 per cent were taken. Illegally removed or trafficked clutches were located between 28m and 137km from their original site. Eggs were tracked from both olive ridley and green turtle nests – the species are classed as vulnerable and endangered respectively. The study also measured the viability of each nest, and found the presence of the decoys resulted in no significant difference in hatching rates.
Publication Current Biology

Tasmanian devils have returned to mainland Australia for the first time in 3,000 years as part of an ambitious rewilding project to help restore natural ecosystems. As part of a joint effort between Global Wildlife Conservation, Aussie Ark and WildArk, 26 of the marsupials have been released into a 400-hectare wildlife sanctuary on Barrington Tops in New South Wales, with the hope that many more will follow. 

One of the 26 Tasmanian devils released into a New South Wales sanctuary (Aussie Ark)

Aussie Ark president Tim Faulkner said: “In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country. Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia’s beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators. Because of this reintroduction and all of the hard work leading up to it, someday we will see Tasmanian devils living throughout the great eastern forests as they did 3,000 years ago.”

As apex predators but also scavengers, Tasmanian devils help protect vulnerable species by controlling other predators such as feral cats and foxes. Once endemic to the mainland, they now only survive in the wild in Tasmania, but populations have fallen by up to 90 per cent – to around 25,000 – due to the contagious and fatal devil facial tumour disease.
Source Global Wildlife Conservation

Wild sea bass caught in the southern Bay of Biscay has been added to the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘Fish to Avoid’ list due to the negative effects of static nets and pelagic trawls on local dolphin and harbour porpoise populations. The society reports that thousands of cetaceans have been killed as bycatch in the area over the years, and that local populations could disappear entirely.

Good Fish Guide manager Charlotte Coombes said: “When you hear the term ‘dolphin friendly’ it’s most likely you think of tins of tuna. But why do we reserve our interest in dolphin friendly seafood for just tuna? By checking how seafood is caught, and getting familiar with different catch methods, you can ensure that all of your seafood is dolphin friendly, with or without the logo!”
Source Marine Conservation Society

A suspected chemical spill has decimated a 25-mile stretch of Russia’s Pacific coast, killing 95 per cent of marine life in the area. The event is believed to have begun in September, when water along the affected stretch on the Kamchatka peninsula changed colour to a greyish-yellow. In the following days marine animals including seals and octopuses washed up on shore, while local surfers suffered severe retina burns. In the weeks since, pictures and videos have since emerged of beaches and seabed covered with thousands of dead marine creatures, including starfish, urchins and molluscs. 

It is unclear what caused the environmental catastrophe, which the Kamchatka Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology initially denied. It has since revealed the perimeter of a local toxic waste dump, identified by Greenpeace as a possible cause, had been breached.
Source CNN

Satellite images of California’s August Complex of wildfires show more than 1,000,000 acres has been burned or is still burning – an area a fifth the size of Wales – prompting scientists to dub it a ‘gigafire’. As of 9am (PT) on Sunday, October 10, 74 per cent of the fire is contained. Less than 50 per cent of the next largest active fire, Creek Fire in the San Joaquin Valley, is contained, 

The images were captured using the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite.
Source NASA/fire.ca.gov

Reintroduction of seagrass along the Virginia coast over the past two decades has proved a success in more ways than the project initially intended. Since 1999, the distribution of 74.5 million eelgrass seeds in four previously barren lagoons have now created a combined habitat almost 9,000 acres in size, which has not only shown the grass can flourish again, but offers the added benefits of increasing fish and invertebrate numbers, decreasing turbidity (clearer water), and carbon and nitrogen sequestration. In 2008, due to the flourishing eelgrass, a scallop restoration project was initiated, which has also been a success.

The booming habitat stands in contrast to neighbouring areas such as Chesapeake Bay and the Maryland coast, where eelgrass range is declining due to warming temperatures and a decline in water quality.
Publication Science Advances

%d bloggers like this: