Plastic Pollution and Penguins?

Many people may see plastic pollution as a local issue, but did you know that small pieces of plastic have made their way to super remote locations? Plastic pollution has been documented in Antarctica, one of the most remote locations on the planet, for decades. Now though, scientists are finding out that microplastics, which are harmful to marine life, are also making their way to Antarctica. Researchers documented similar levels of microplastics in Antarctica as other, less remote locations globally. While many come from marine industry, we can all help solve the problem by putting less plastic into the environment.

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Blue Carbon and Green Kelp: Kelp forests could reduce carbon emissions

Blue carbon is the carbon that is stored within marine ecosystems. It is being used more frequently within global carbon budgets, which are calculated to help us reduce climate change. Historically, only tidal marshes, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds have been used in calculating stored carbon for carbon budgets. A team of researchers from Norway wanted to see if kelp forests could significantly contribute to carbon storage. They studied the kelp forests along Australia’s southern coast and found their storage potential to be similar to that of the other historically used ecosystems. Conserving and restoring kelp forests could therefore increase carbon storage and help reduce climate change.

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Sharks on Camera: Can Drones Be Used to Prevent Shark Attacks?

Sharks are an important part of marine ecosystems, but they often have a bad reputation because of an increasing frequency of shark attacks. Traditional methods of deterring sharks are harmful to sharks and other marine animals, so environmental managers are starting to use methods of shark detection to keep beachgoers safe. A team of researchers studied the effectiveness of using drones to detect sharks in an effort to decrease shark attacks.

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Large Carnivores on the Rise

Many large carnivores have been increasing in number along with people, which could lead to more conflicts between the carnivores and people. Wolves in particular are starting to make a comeback after their population sizes were reduced due to hunting and loss of prey. It is important to bring wolves back because they play an important role in maintaining the balance of an ecosystem by controlling the population size of their prey. Their reintroduction and increasing population sizes have led to research to figure out how wolves and people can live peacefully together.

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Learning through Observing: Social learning occurs across vertebrate species

Social learning is widely thought to be something done only by species with social lives. However, recent research is showing that even more solitary species participate in social learning. A team of researchers from Australia tested the ability of a solitary shark species to learn through observing and mimicking members of their own species. They found that these particular sharks are capable of learning in this way, which contributes to our understanding of these animals’ lives and what we can do to conserve them.

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Coral reefs are in hot water: Could upwelling save the day?

Coral reefs do best in warm water, but when the water gets too hot, they bleach. Upwelling, which brings cooler water from the deeper parts of the ocean, occurs worldwide, including where coral reefs can be found. With climate change, ocean temperatures are increasing and coral bleaching events are happening more frequently. Could upwelling help protect coral reefs from hot water?

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Ghost Forests: Are they as scary as they sound?

Sea level rise has been accelerating over the last century, which will impact coastal ecosystems and their animals. Scientists have set out to study the conversion of forests to wetlands that is occurring with sea level rise, which results in the formation of ghost forests. While the loss of these forests is problematic, the resulting gain in wetland may actually be beneficial, making ghost forests less scary than they sound.

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