A study led by the University of California Davis found that installing small, hexagonal structures across coral reefs is a successful strategy for rehabilitating coral reefs. These structures called spiders have increased coral coverage in the center of Indonesia’s Coral Triangle from 10% to 60%. They also stabilize rubble and allow for water to flow through freely. This method is cost effective and can easily be applied to coral reefs around the world. These spiders also allow for coral reefs to regrow and acclimate to worsening ocean conditions. Coral bleaching also affected less than 5% of the coral in the areas with spiders.
It is very important to develop techniques to protect coral reefs. They benefit aquatic life and are important ecosystems, but they also help humans economically. This is because they are the foundations for many fisheries and also attract tourists which provides jobs. Coral reefs also provide natural coast security and a food source for many families. Developing strategies to protect them requires a lot of research, but it is important to help the environment and humans.
Peter Edmunds, from California State University Northridge, visited coral reefs near St. John after they were hit by back-to-back category 5 hurricanes. He anticipated that the reefs would be completely destroyed, but found that there were minor impacts. This is because the coral reefs had become so used to harmful environmental changes that they were resistant to the impacts of the hurricanes. This may sound positive; however, it is not necessarily good news since these reefs didn’t have major changes because they are already extremely degraded. These reefs are in such bad condition that they consist mainly of seaweed and a small amount of corals.
I think this discovery shows the importance of monitoring ecosystems and the impacts of environmental damage. Edmunds knew the minor changes wasn’t good news because he had been researching these reefs for 31 years and saw how unhealthy they were. If he just discovered these reefs and saw there was little damage, he may have thought environmental impacts on coral reefs aren’t severe. I think it is important to have funding for environmental research and to monitor impacts of major events such as hurricanes.
Scarborough Bull went to Occidental College in California to discuss decisions about oil rigs that are no longer being used. Many people have differing ideas on what to do about oil rigs that have become aquatic habitats. Some have a preservationist mindset and believe it is best to restore the sites where oil rigs are to their original conditions, while others believe it is best to turn old platforms that are no longer in use into coral reefs. The European Union is following the preservationist strategy, while old platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are being turned into reef habitats.
I think that it is better to turn these old platforms into reef habitats. It is much cheaper to turn old platforms into reef habitats then completely remove them because removing them involves completely removing them from the sea floor and then disposing of them. In order to convert an oil rig into a reef habitat, toxic materials need to be removed from the structure, which is much cheaper than completely removing them.
Over 6,000 oil rigs are currently in the oceans across the world, and it is very common for them to turn into vertical coral reefs. Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have studied oil rigs that have become reefs in order to inform California voters and policymakers about what to do with oil rigs that are no longer being used. These rigs are now home to multiple species of aquatic life, and the goal of the paper written by these researchers, called Ocean and Coastal Management, is to spread awareness of what is best for these new reefs.
The petroleum that comes from these platforms has a negative effect on the environment and these platforms also have risks of creating oil spills; however, they provide unique ecosystems. They provide a three dimensional habitat for animals to live in, and the open construction allows for currents to pass through that bring nutrients. I think that since these oil rigs have both negative and positive environmental impacts, it is important that researchers like the ones at UCSB are studying them so people can make informed decisions.
Doctor Peter Edmunds from California State University led a new study that discovered 38 coral oases in the Pacific. The study is called “A framework for identifying and characterising coral reef ‘oases’ against a backdrop of degradation,” and they found three types of coral oases. Escape oases are coral reefs that have avoided disasters such as bleaching and hurricanes, resist oases are coral reefs that are likely to be able to resist environmental changes, and rebound oases are coral reefs that have suffered damage and recovered. The study also found that in some areas where there has previously been damage done to coral reefs, new and healthier reefs have been established.
I think that since coral reefs are important ecosystems and are often negatively affected by environmental changes, it is great that researchers are finding coral oases that are able to resist and rebound from dangers such as coral bleaching, predator invasions, and hurricanes. I also think that scientists may be able to study these new discoveries and see why certain coral reefs can resist coral bleaching, and use their findings to help weaker coral reefs.
Scientists discover genetic basis for how harmful algal blooms become toxic. (2018, September 27). Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-scientists-genetic-basis-algal-blooms.html
Students at UC San Diego and scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute found a cluster of genes associated with the production of domoic acid in the species Pseudo-Nitzschia. These genes contain the biological instructions for producing the toxin and thus can be used to find out what oceanic conditions turn the production on or off. The scientists found that phosphate limitation and an increased level of carbon dioxide causes these phytoplankton to release domoic acids that can then be harmful to the rest of the ecosystem. The scientists plan to use this research to assist in predicting the toxicity of algal blooms.
This is an important breakthrough in the study of Pseudo-Nitzschia since we now know how their toxin works and what we can do to prevent it. The hard part is figuring out how to turn the production gene off for so many algae. It will be almost impossible to force evolution through genetic mutation when there are already so many that are still emitting the toxins. Even then, knowing the toxicity level will assist the public in knowing whether or not it is safe to enter water that has a algal bloom in it which will be immensely helpful for people who do not know how to tell.
Rosenbaum, L. (2018, October 03). As algae blooms increase, scientists seek better ways to predict these toxic tides. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.sciencenews.org/article/forecasting-toxic-algae-blooms
The amount of algae blooms present across the nation are beginning to increase. To help prevent or at least prepare for this scientists are looking for ways to predict the blooms and at least be able to warn people that are going to the blooms to stay away from them. In California the amount of the algae Pseudo-Nitzschia increases dramatically during warm-water months. Some species secrete an acid that can cause short-term memory loss, brain damage, or death in humans if ingested. Marine mammals are also being affected by this neurological attack and people have been attempting to rescue them from harm.
The algae are toxic and are heavily affecting the ecosystem, especially for the Native American tribes that live near the area. They harvest the shellfish, but if the shellfish are amnesiacs or brain damaged they are not ideal to consume for a human. This effect that the algae are having on the ecosystem is very important to deal with. If it is not dealt with soon the Natives could be driven out of their home and we could lose a valuable marine ecosystem that stems from that area. Marine mammals must also be protected in order to prevent any further damage to them from the algal blooms.
Southern California’s coast emerges as a toxic algae hot spot. (2018, August 23). Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://news.usc.edu/147515/southern-californias-coast-emerges-as-a-toxic-algae-hot-spot/
Research from USC scientists has indicated that the Southern California coast holds some of the world’s highest concentrations of toxic algae that is dangerous to wildlife and people who eat seafood. The conditions become worse in the spring when upwelling causes nutrients to come to the surface which are then consumed by plankton and other algae. A species named Pseudo-Nitzschia is the culprit behind domoic acid, and a warming Pacific Ocean is causing them to spread ever farther into the ocean. The highest ever recorded domoic acid reading was 52.3 micrograms per liter in San Pedro in 2011, which is 5 times higher than the amount that should cause concern.
This article is alarming and should be a call to action for the California government and scientists around the world. The large amount of toxic algae could be dangerous to our food supply and if it spreads far enough may even contaminate our irrigation systems, thus contaminating our food supply. The sheer mass of algae alone should spur change in how we are acting in regards to the algal blooms that have been appearing near us. It is also shocking that San Pedro has had such a high toxicity level for so long yet we have gone quiet on the issue.
NBC7. (2018, September 03). State Water Board Warns Pet Owners of Algal Blooms. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/State-Water-Board-Warns-Pet-Owners-of-Algal-Blooms-492190321.html
By late August 2018 six people had become sick and twelve animals had either died or fallen ill due to algal blooms in California. The California Water Board listed eight steps designed to prevent falling sick due to an algal bloom. The board also conducted targeted sampling of eight different waterways in California and designed an interactive map to help spot algal blooms.
The board also provided a visual guide to show users how to spot a harmful algal bloom.
This article proves that there is a danger in algal blooms in dead zones that not only affect fish, but humans and other animals as well. People can also spot algal blooms easier due to the visual aid which is useful for our knowledge of how to prevent being affected by it. Algal blooms are dangerous and humanity must begin to take preventative measures against them.
Davenport, C. (2019, February 12). Top Leader at Interior Dept. Pushes a Policy Favoring His Former Client. Retrieved February 17, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/12/climate/david-bernhardt-endangered-species.html
A top official of the Interior Department of the U.S. named David Bernhardt has been attempting to reduce protections that have been made against the Delta Smelt which resides in deltas in San Francisco. He wishes to divert water that the smelt is kept in to farmers in California, but this could have some unintended consequences. It is not only against the EPA which requires that all environmental protection is based on the latest science which states that the smelt must be protected, but if the smelt does die off due to water diversion the area in which it was will become a toxic algal bloom that could kill a dog.
This is relevant to environmental science since the smelt is an endangered species that is an important part of its ecosystem. Not only that, but if they do die off they could cause a large dead zone in San Francisco which would not be ideal and would likely contaminate the already scarce water supply. To fix this the government must listen to its top scientists and realize that the smelt must be protected or there could be much larger problems on our hands than a lack of water for farmers.