A police helicopter from Torshaven and officers arresting Sea Shepherd volunteers during the whale poaching event known as the Grind, 30 August 2014. Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

By Captain Paul Watson
30 August 2014

Faroes Update

Total Sea Shepherd Arrests 17 All taken by helicopter to Torshaven. Number of whales murdered: 33. Cheering adults and kids on the scene celebrating the death of the whales and the arrests, All excellent images for the case we intend to build against Denmark. Crew arrested from South Africa, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Australia, and France.

[UPDATE]

Faroes Update.

  • Total Sea Shepherd volunteers confirmed arrested: 14
  • Total number of whales killed: 33
  • Total number Sea Shepherd boats seized: 3
  • Total number of pods successfully driven back to sea over the last two months: 3…
  • Evidence of Danish Navy intervention to support the killing of whales: Priceless

Boat Crew Arrested

  1. Bastien Boudoire (French)
  2. Jérôme Bonpied (French)
  3. Guido Capezzoli (French)
  4. Tiphaine Blot (French)
  5. Baptiste Brebel (French)
  6. Antoine Le Dref (French)
  7. Céline Le Dourion (French)
  8. Krystal Keynes (Australian)

Land Crew Arrested

  1. Maggie Gschnitzer (Italy)
  2. Rorigio Gilkuri (Mexico)
  3. Nikki Botha (South Africa)
  4. Monnique Rossouw (South Africa)
  5. Sergio Toribio (Spain)
  6. Alexandra Sellet (France)

Slaughter and Loathing on Sandoy as 33 whales Die in Agony and Nine Sea Shepherd volunteers are Arrested by Faroese Police and the Danish Navy

By Captain Paul Watson
30 August 2014

For the last 85 days, Sea Shepherd has been able to find and escort whale pods away from the Faroe Islands. We have documented the activities but have not released them so as to not anger the whalers. Today a pod of 33 pilot whales came so close to a killing bay on Sandoy that the thugs from that island were able to get to them rather quickly. Sea Shepherd land crew made it to the beach and into the water as three Sea Shepherd three fast boats arrived on the scene before the killing began. Unfortunately a police helicopter from Torshaven and vessels from the Danish Navy made it to the Bay at the same time. The Danish Navy ordered the boats to stand off. We have not heard back from the boats so we do not know what their situation is. We do know the entire Sandoy land team has been arrested and 33 pilot whales are dead on the beach.

  • Maggie Gschnitzer (Italy)
  • Rorigio Gilkuri (Mexico)
  • Nikki Botha (South Africa)
  • Monnique Rossouw (South Africa)
  • Sergio Toribio (Spain)
  • Alexandra Sellet (France)

Confirmed that the Danish Navy has taken three Sea Shepherd fast boats - the Loki, the Mike Galesi, and the B.S. Sheen. 9 boat crew arrested. Total arrests now 17. Sea Shepherd land crew from Torshaven prevented by Police Road Blocks from approaching within a kilometer of the beach.

Now that this slaughter has taken place, we can mention that over the last 82 days, Sea Shepherd boat crews have deflected three pods of whales away from the island before the killers could spot them. Unfortunately covering 18 islands is a difficult task but I am proud of the fact hat our volunteers saved those whales and made a valiant attempt to save these 33.

The positive side of this encounter is we now have evidence to implicate the Danish government and Sea Shepherd will take this evidence to the European Parliament to demand that action be taken against Denmark for collaboration with an illegal slaughter of whales. No European member of the EU may be involved with whaling and although the Faroese is not a member of the EU they receive massive subsidies from the EU through Denmark. The Faroese may be exempt but Denmark is not and now we have the evidence that pilot whale blood in on the hands of Danish sailors and Danish Police, What is rotten in the Faroes is also very much rotten in Denmark. [more]

Slaughter and Loathing on Sandoy as 33 whales Die in Agony and Nine Sea Shepherd volunteers are Arrested by Faroese Police and the Danish Navy

image

26 August 2014 (SimplyInfo) – TEPCO made the startling admission today at a press conference that the plant is leaking 8 billion bequerels per day (8 gigabequerels).

  • 5 billion bq of strontium-90
  • 2 billion bq of cesium-137
  • 1 billion bq of tritium (later corrected to 150 billion bq)

This is the ongoing daily release to the Pacific. These release numbers are also within the realm of what some oceanographers have been warning about since last year, that there was an ongoing and considerable leak to the sea. According to journalist Ryuichi Kino TEPCO said this may be due to failings of some sort within the “glass” wall at the sea front. This is an underground wall made in the soil by injecting a solidifying agent to block water flow.

This daily release would add up to 11,680,000,000,000 = 11 terabequerels over 4 years time in addition to the initial sea releases during the meltdowns. […]

*** Update 2***

It was pointed out last night that the tritium number quoted by TEPCO in the press conference does not match the graph they released to METI. The TEPCO rep gave the verbal reading of 1 billion bq per day. The chart shows 150 billion bq per day of tritium. The other numbers stated by the TEPCO rep seem to match the chart. This change increases the total numbers to 4710 billion bq per month at the current 2014 rate. The bulk of this is tritium. This number change would make one year at the 2014 rate 1,719,150 billion bq for an annual total 1.7 Petabecquerels in a year at this rate. [more]

TEPCO Drops Bombshell About Sea Releases; 8 Billion Bq Per Day

Median Household Net Worth, by Net Worth Quintiles: 2000 to 2011. All dollar figures are in 2011 constant dollars. The inflation adjustment factor of 1.34 was used to convert 2000 figures into 2011 dollars. Median net worth statistics within quintiles of the net worth distribution are at the 10th, 30th, 50th, 70th, and 90th percentiles. The first, or the bottom, net worth quintile includes households with zero or negative net worth. Net worth may be zero or negative because a household’s gross wealth is zero or because the value of a household’s liabilities exceeds the value of its assets. Due to weighting, the median of the third quintile may not exactly match the median of the overall net worth (or debt) distribution. Graphic: Vornovitsky, et al., 2014

By Robert Frank   
21 Aug 2014

(CNBC) – The gap between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans widened over the past decade, according to a new report from the Census Bureau. It also grew between younger and older families.

The report on household net worth showed that median net worth for the country as a whole declined by 6.8 percent between 2000 and 2011, to $68,828 from $73,874, in constant 2011 dollars. But the results varied dramatically by wealth group.

Those in the bottom quintile, or lowest 20 percent, had a negative median net worth of $6,029 in 2011, compared with negative $905 in 2000. Those in the second-lowest quintile saw their assets drop by nearly half, to a median of $7,263 in 2011 from $14,319 in 2000.

Those in the top quintile, however, saw their net worth grow by more than 10 percent, to $630,754, over the same period. While the report doesn't give a reason for the diverging paths, wealthy families have benefited more from the rise in stock markets and rebounding home values, while those at the bottom are still feeling the impact of high unemployment. [more]

Wealth gap widened between rich and poor, young and old

A child walks on a plastic-covered beach. Photo: via paleonouveau.com

By Charles J. Moore
25 August 2014

LOS ANGELES (The New York Times) – The world is awash in plastic. It’s in our cars and our carpets, we wrap it around the food we eat and virtually every other product we consume; it has become a key lubricant of globalization — but it’s choking our future in ways that most of us are barely aware.

I have just returned with a team of scientists from six weeks at sea conducting research in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — one of five major garbage patches drifting in the oceans north and south of the Equator at the latitude of our great terrestrial deserts. Although it was my 10th voyage to the area, I was utterly shocked to see the enormous increase in the quantity of plastic waste since my last trip in 2009. Plastics of every description, from toothbrushes to tires to unidentifiable fragments too numerous to count floated past our marine research vessel Alguita for hundreds of miles without end. We even came upon a floating island bolstered by dozens of plastic buoys used in oyster aquaculture that had solid areas you could walk on.

Plastics are now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide. Pushed by winds, tides and currents, plastic particles form with other debris into large swirling glutinous accumulation zones, known to oceanographers as gyres, which comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet’s ocean surface — roughly 25 percent of the entire earth.

No scientist, environmentalist, entrepreneur, national or international government agency has yet been able to establish a comprehensive way of recycling the plastic trash that covers our land and inevitably blows and washes down to the sea. In a 2010 study of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, my colleagues and I estimated that some 2.3 billion pieces of plastic — from polystyrene foam to tiny fragments and pellets — had flowed from Southern California’s urban centers into its coastal waters in just three days of sampling.

The deleterious consequences of humanity’s “plastic footprint” are many, some known and some yet to be discovered. We know that plastics biodegrade exceptionally slowly, breaking into tiny fragments in a centuries-long process. We know that plastic debris entangles and slowly kills millions of sea creatures; that hundreds of species mistake plastics for their natural food, ingesting toxicants that cause liver and stomach abnormalities in fish and birds, often choking them to death. We know that one of the main bait fish in the ocean, the lantern fish, eats copious quantities of plastic fragments, threatening their future as a nutritious food source to the tuna, salmon, and other pelagic fish we consume, adding to the increasing amount of synthetic chemicals unknown before 1950 that we now carry in our bodies.

We suspect that more animals are killed by vagrant plastic waste than by even climate change — a hypothesis that needs to be seriously tested. During our most recent voyage, we studied the effects of pollution, taking blood and liver samples from fish as we searched for invasive species and plastic-linked pollutants that cause protein and hormone abnormalities. While we hope our studies will yield important contributions to scientific knowledge, they address but a small part of a broader issue.

The reality is that only by preventing synthetic debris  — most of which is disposable plastic — from getting into the ocean in the first place will a measurable reduction in the ocean’s plastic load be accomplished. Clean-up schemes are legion, but have never been put into practice in the garbage patches. [more]

Choking the Oceans With Plastic

By Kristina Bravo
27 August 2014 

(Take Part) – The sight of two suffocating turtles, on their backs with fins tied up, horrified tourists on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. Thanks to their quick thinking, the animals were returned safely to sea.

A video posted on YouTube Monday shows tourists rescuing two loggerhead turtles, each weighing about 250 pounds. Chris Skone-Roberts, a professional rescue diver and former paramedic, first spotted the reptiles. When he tried to douse them with water, a woman angrily pulled him off—claiming they were hers. It’s presumed that once the turtles suffocated to death, she would have sold their meat on the black market.

Skone-Roberts alerted the police and then rallied a group of divers and other tourists to help the animals. They poured buckets of water over them for about 30 minutes to revive them. On regaining consciousness, they were transferred to wooden carts and wheeled to the sea.

“Sometimes, you are faced with a situation so outrageous that you have no other choice than to intervene and right a wrong,” said Skone-Roberts, according to Western Daily Press. “These poor creatures are endangered enough, but to leave them to die like this was inhumane, so we had to act.”

Members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society came to the site and helped the turtles swim away. [more]

Watch the Heart-Stopping Rescue of Two Sea Turtles From a Meat Hunter

Monarch butterfly resting on fennel, at the Pismo Butterfly Grove, California. Photo: docentjoyce / Wikimedia Commons

Contact:  Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 522-3681
Abigail Seiler, Center for Food Safety, (443) 854-4368
Lincoln Brower, Sweet Briar College, (434) 277-5065
Sarina Jepsen, Xerces Society, (971) 244-3727
26 August 2014

WASHINGTON (CBD) – The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety as co-lead petitioners joined by the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies, which have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years. During the same period it is estimated that these once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.

“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range,” said Lincoln Brower, preeminent monarch researcher and conservationist, who has been studying the species since 1954.

“We’re at risk of losing a symbolic backyard beauty that has been part of the childhood of every generation of Americans,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The 90 percent drop in the monarch’s population is a loss so staggering that in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio.”

The butterfly’s dramatic decline is being driven by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born. The vast majority of genetically engineered crops are made to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a uniquely potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in Roundup use with Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in midwestern corn and soybean fields.

“The widespread decline of monarchs is driven by the massive spraying of herbicides on genetically engineered crops, which has virtually eliminated monarch habitat in cropland that dominates the Midwest landscape,” said Bill Freese, a Center for Food Safety science policy analyst. “Doing what is needed to protect monarchs will also benefit pollinators and other valuable insects, and thus safeguard our food supply.”

Monarch butterflies are known for their spectacular multigenerational migration each year from Mexico to Canada and back. Found throughout the United States during summer months, in winter most monarchs from east of the Rockies converge in the mountains of central Mexico, where they form tight clusters on just a few acres of trees. Most monarchs west of the Rockies migrate to trees along the California coast to overwinter.

The population has declined from a recorded high of approximately 1 billion butterflies in the mid-1990s to only 35 million butterflies last winter, the lowest number ever recorded. The overall population shows a steep and statistically significant decline of 90 percent over 20 years. In addition to herbicide use with genetically engineered crops, monarchs are also threatened by global climate change, drought and heat waves, other pesticides, urban sprawl, and logging on their Mexican wintering grounds. Scientists have predicted that the monarch’s entire winter range in Mexico and large parts of its summer range in the states could become unsuitable due to changing temperatures and increased risk of drought, heat waves, and severe storms.

Monarchs need a very large population size to be resilient to threats from severe weather events and predation. Nearly half of the overwintering population in Mexico can be eaten by bird and mammal predators in any single winter; a single winter storm in 2002 killed an estimated 500 million monarchs — 14 times the size of the entire current population.

“We need to take immediate action to protect the monarch so that it doesn’t become another tragic example of a widespread species being erased because we falsely assumed it was too common to become extinct,” said Sarina Jepsen, endangered species director at the Xerces Society. “2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, which was once so numerous no one would ever have believed it was at risk of extinction. History demonstrates that we cannot afford to be complacent about saving the monarch.”

“The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect species like the monarch, and protect them, now, before it’s too late,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “We’ve provided FWS a legal and scientific blueprint of the urgently needed action here.”

“The monarch is the canary in the cornfield, a harbinger of environmental change that we’ve brought about on such a broad scale that many species of pollinators are now at risk if we don’t take action to protect them,” said Brower, who has published hundreds of scientific studies on monarchs.

The Fish and Wildlife Service must now issue a “90-day finding” on whether the petition warrants further review.

After 90 Percent Decline, Federal Protection Sought for Monarch Butterfly

The Green Bridge over full water levels in Lake Oroville in July 2011 compared with the almost dry basin in 2014. 2011 Photo: Paul Hames / California Department of Water Resources

By Justin Sullivan
20 August 2014

(theguardian.com) – As the severe drought continues for a third year, water levels in the state’s lakes and reservoirs are reaching historic lows. [more]

Drought in California – in pictures

A natural methane seep on the ocean floor off the U.S. coast. Researchers have discovered 570 plumes of methane percolating up from the sea floor off the eastern coast of the United States, a surprisingly high number of seeps in a relatively quiescent part of the ocean. Photo: 2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition / NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program

By Eric Hand
24 August 2014

(Science) – And up through the ground came a bubbling greenhouse gas. Researchers have discovered 570 plumes of methane percolating up from the sea floor off the eastern coast of the United States, a surprisingly high number of seeps in a relatively quiescent part of the ocean. The seeps suggest that methane’s contribution to climate change has been underestimated in some models. And because most of the seeps lie at depths where small changes in temperature could be releasing the methane, it is possible that climate change itself could be playing a role in turning some of them on.

Most of the seeps are thought to be fed by methane stored in hydrates, crystal lattices of water ice that form under low temperatures and high pressures. Harvesting methane from hydrates in the sea floor has already aroused commercial interests; both Japan and the United States have embarked on pilot extraction projects. But the hydrates are also significant for climate scientists: This immense reservoir is thought to contain 10 times as much carbon as the atmosphere. The gas, if it reaches the atmosphere, is far more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat trapper. Even in the more likely event that aerobic microbes devour the methane while still in the ocean, it is converted to carbon dioxide, which leads to ocean acidification. Some scientists have implicated runaway methane hydrate releases in the catastrophic extinctions of marine life at the Permian-Triassic boundary, 252 million years ago.

The present study, published online today in Nature Geoscience, is based on data collected in a survey from 2011 to 2013 by the research vessel Okeanos Explorer. Equipped with a multibeam sonar along its hull, the vessel not only mapped the sea floor along a swath off the coast of North Carolina to Massachusetts, but also recorded reflections in the water column. Gas bubbles of methane stood out as a distinctive signature. Most of the seeps were found at depths of 180 to 600 meters along the upper slope of the continental margin. This is the area where the continental shelf rapidly falls to the 5000-meter-deep abyssal plain of the ocean.

“So far everybody has been looking at small spots. This is the first time anyone has systematically mapped an entire margin,” says Christian Berndt, a marine geophysicist at GEOMAR in Kiel, Germany, who was not involved in the study. It was also a surprise because seeps are typically found above known methane reservoirs, or above regions of active tectonic activity. The continental margin was thought to be virtually devoid of seeps—until scientists studied the sonar data. “They found that there was much more methane coming out than was suspected beforehand,” Berndt says. [more]

Numerous methane leaks found on Atlantic sea floor

Aerial view of cement quarry and limestone hill in Malaysia, owned by international company Lafarge, that is home to a number of species found nowhere else, including a new snail. Photo: Ong Poh Teck / Basteria

By Tanya Dimitrova
24 August 2014

(mongabay.com) – Scientists have discovered a new snail species on a limestone hill near a cement quarry in Malaysia, which as far as they know lives nowhere else in the world. The animal's shell is only one tenth of an inch in size.

"Narrow endemic species are a common occurrence on limestone hills," Jaap Vermeulen, lead author of the new study, told mongabay.com. "A good biologist can quite easily discover several species of endemic invertebrates on an isolated, unsurveyed hill."

Although just unearthed, the miniscule snail is already threatened with extinction. It lives on a limestone hill called Kanthan given as a concession to an international company Lafarge. The cement producer quarries the hill for raw materials. As a result, the snail will be included as Critically Endangered in the next update of the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.

The scientists who discovered the animal named it Charopa lafargei, after the cement company that will decide its fate.

Various views of the shell of the newly discovered snail species, Charopa lafargei, named after international company Lafarge, which will decide the fate of the species. Photo: Vermeulen, et al. / mongabay.com

"I'm not aware of a species threatened with extinction which has been given the name of the company which can determine whether it goes extinct or survives," said Tony Whitten from Fauna & Flora International.

The new snail is not the only endemic species found on the hill. Kanthan is also home to nine plant species that are on Malaysia's Red List of Endangered Plants, one Critically Endangered spider (Liphistius kanthan), one gecko (Cyrtodactylus guakanthanensis) and two snails (Opisthostoma trapezium and Sinoennea chrysalis) that are found nowhere else in the world.

Representatives from Lafarge have attended a number of talks with local environmentalists and discussed potential conservation efforts on the south side of the hill—the confirmed home of the Critically Endangered spider and gecko.

"We are committed to ensuring the preservation of rare biodiversity that may be found on land identified for quarry development," said Jim Ruxton, Senior Vice-President, Industrial Operations, Lafarge Malaysia. [more]

Scientists name new endangered species after the company that will decide its fate

 

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