Unprecedented Level of Coral Bleaching Enters Year 4:
- Mass die off due to warming sea temperatures will continue to plague reefs all across the world in 2017. This will be the fourth year in a row that coral populations will experience large quantities bleaching, a response to stress in which coral rid themselves of the symbiotic algae they use to survive. New bleaching has already been reported in a northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Australia, in a section of coral that had already had its population cut in half in 2016. The Great Barrier Reef has been hit particularly hard as its surface waters have heated rapidly the last few years due to a combination of global warming and a storm in the Pacific spreading warm surface water. New projections suggest that by 2040 coral bleaching will be a yearly occurrence and could spell an end to coral reefs everywhere.
New Study Paints Tires and Clothes as Sources of Ocean Plastic Pollution:
- It has long been known that the floating islands of trash located in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans represent a major problem in ocean pollution. They break down into what are called microplastics and enter the food chain at the smallest levels. The microplastics leach chemicals into the organisms that ingest them. As the chemicals go up levels in the food chain they increase in concentration, a process called biomagnification. A new study suggests that tires and clothes are a major source of these microplastics, but not from floating in the ocean. The tires and textiles break down into microplastics through every day use and enter the ocean directly, representing 15-30% of plastic pollution in the waters.