Legal harvest of marine turtles tops 42,000 each year
A new study reveals that 42 countries permit the harvest of sea turtles. The researchers estimate that more than 42,000 turtles are caught in these fisheries every year. This is the first comprehensive study to review the numbers of sea turtles caught legally and determine how that compares with other threats faced by sea turtles. They studied all seven species of sea turtles (which are all endangered) and found that over 80% of the 42,000 are green turtles. The majority of fisheries are located in the wider Caribbean region. The researchers suggest that legal fishing is only a fraction of sea turtle mortality and that the bigger threats come from illegal fisheries and bycatch.
Scientists Discover the Underlying Mechanism of Heart Failure in Fish Exposed to Oil Spills
Since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists have known that even minor levels of oil pollution can damage the hearts of developing fish, but until now, they didn’t know exactly how it happened. Researchers from NOAA Fisheries and Stanford University recently published an article describing how compounds in oil called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can disrupt normal cardiac function in young bluefin and yellowfin tuna by blocking ion channels in their heart muscle cells. Understanding the exact mechanism will help researchers more accurately assess the impact of oil pollution on natural resources.
Sea Lion Whisker Patterns Could Be Key to Conservation
There’s a great opportunity for citizen scientists to help endangered Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea). The Whisker Patrol needs help with a new method that could be used to track and identify individual sea lions based on their facial whiskers. If the project successfully develops a new methodology using whiskers, it could eventually replace the current “trap and tag” method, which is stressful for the sea lions and potentially dangerous for them and the researchers. Citizen scientists are needed to (carefully) take photos of sea lions on Australian beaches.
Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.