Clean Our Oceans Project today went to People’s Park in Valenzuela, Bulacan to showcase the upcycled products that the NGO and Nestlé Philippines helped to create using plastic waste such as sachets and plastic bottles. These plastics won’t go to the landfills or be found in the ocean thanks to their efforts. Last month, CoOP collected more than 200kgs of plastics at Nestlé Philippines. You can read about it here.
May Balik sa Plastik is Nestlé’s first initiative to manage residual waste and turn it into recycled and upcycled plastics in Metro Manila. The world’s largest food company has partnered with CoOp to capture these plastics and turn them into durable goods that can be used.
This is an event that was held in cooperation with Valenzuela, Bulacan Mayor Gatchalian and Nestlé Philippines. People were able to view the products that they helped to create by upcycling their plastics. These products include crates, food trays, and rubbish bins. If you would like to help to clean our oceans, contact us for more information.
Researchers studying marine plastics on Australia’s Cocos Islands, which is comprised of two coral atolls, have estimated that there are more than 414 million pieces of trash on the islands, and the vast majority of that plastic pollution is buried in the sand, not visible to the naked eye without digging. Because this plastic is buried, and people who conduct surveys of plastic pollution on the world’s coastlines don’t look for buried rubbish, the amount of plastic pollution is much more magnified than previously thought, the scientists wrote in their paper, titled “Significant plastic accumulation on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Australia.”
“Plastic pollution is now ubiquitous in our oceans, and remote islands are an ideal place to get an objective view of the volume of plastic debris now circling the globe,” University of Tasmania research scientist, Dr. Jennifer Lavers, lead author of the study, said in a statement released by the university. “Islands such as these are like canaries in a coal mine and it’s increasingly urgent that we act on the warnings they are giving us,” Lavers said.
The researchers estimate that islands in the Indian Ocean are littered with more than 238 tons of plastic, including 977,000 shoes and 373,000 plastic toothbrushes.
“Our estimate of 414 million pieces weighing 238 tons on Cocos (Keeling) is conservative, as we only sampled down to a depth of 10 centimetres and couldn’t access some beaches that are known debris ‘hotspots’.
“Unlike Henderson Island (which the researchers dubbed the most densely plastic-polluted island in the world), where most identifiable debris was fishing-related, the plastic on Cocos (Keeling) was largely single-use consumer items such as bottle caps and straws, as well as a large number of shoes and thongs,” Dr. Lavers said.
The researchers say these remote islands, because there are no real efforts to clean the debris from the shorelines, are ideal barometers into debris accumulation trends.
While coral reefs around the world are dying from the effects of ocean acidification and global warming, one little section of the world, Kāne’ohe Bay off the windward side of Oahu, Hawaii, is defying that trend, as certain species of the corals in the bay are actually thriving.
Researchers with the University of Hawaii at Manoa are calling these corals super corals, because not only are they thriving in warm and acidic waters, the corals survived a massive sewage spill in the bay around 30 years ago. They hope that the corals offer a study for reef resilience.
“We won’t save every coral or every reef — many are already gone — but neither is it inevitable that we are going to lose all of them,” Christopher Jury, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii, told DiscoverMagazine.com. “If we seriously reduce the rate of climate change and the intensity of local stressors, we can still give the survivors a chance.” Jury is the lead author of the study that describes how these corals are surviving one of the most heavily used and popular bays in Hawaii.
The bay suffered from dredging, coastal development and the dumping of sewage from 1930 to 1970, killing 95 percent of the bay’s corals. In 1978, the sewage outlets were relocated and the corals began to thrive again, according to the study. Between 50 percent and 95 percent of the corals recovered by 1998, in what Jury said was in waters that are warmer and more acidic than neighboring bodies of water.
“I began to realize that the temperature and chemistry conditions in Kāne’ohe Bay are very similar to the conditions that many people predict will kill corals off globally, yet the reefs in the bay seem to be thriving, making the area incredibly valuable as a possible window into the future,” Jury told DiscoverMagazine.com.
The researchers collected frags from the three dominant coral species in Kāne’ohe Bay and neighboring Waimānalo Bay: Montipora capitata, Pocillopora acuta and Porites compressa. While the bays are just 11 miles from each other, Waimānalo Bay has better reef water exchange with offshore waters than does Kāne’ohe Bay. And you would expect Waimānalo Bay corals to fare better, but in the research lab, they did not.
The coral frags were then brought into a laboratory where they were assessed for pH and temperature tolerance. The Kāne’ohe Bay corals Poc. acuta and M. capitata were more tolerant of the higher temperatures than the same species from Waimānalo Bay while Por. compressa, didn’t show any difference between the locations. Ph didn’t factor into the survival of any of the species.
The researchers also noted that the corals from Kāne’ohe Bay not only tolerated the warming water temperatures and the more acidic water of the bay, but they also grew faster than the frags taken from Waimānalo Bay.
“In contrast with many projections, we find that at least these corals do in fact harbor a lot of individual variation for temperature and chemistry tolerance and that the hardy members of the population were able to drive rapid reef recovery in Kāne’ohe Bay in spite of the warmer, more acidic conditions found there,” Jury said.
The complete paper “Adaptive responses and local stressor mitigation drive coral resilience in warmer, more acidic oceans” can be read on the Royal Society Publishing website.
At the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the Basel Convention, governments in attendance acted to restrict what they call rampant plastic waste exports, requiring countries that are exporting contaminated or mixed plastic waste, to receive prior informed consent from the receiving countries. The Basel Convention is a multilateral international agreement that governs all transboundary movements of hazardous waste for recovery or disposal.
The new rule is in response to developed countries offloading their plastic waste to developing countries in Southeast Asia after China stopped importing plastic waste in 2018.
Countries at the conference noted the increase in marine plastics pollution and microplastics pollution in the world’s oceans and the negative impact these man made materials are having on marine biodiversity, fisheries, tourism, local communities and ecosystems around the world. The concerns over hazardous chemicals found in plastics was also discussed.
The plastic wastes actions adopted at the conference include:
Removing or reducing the use of hazardous chemicals in plastics production and at any subsequent stage of their life cycle.
Setting of specific collection targets and obligations for plastics producers to cover the costs of waste management and clean-up.
Preventing and minimizing the generation of plastic waste, including through increasing the durability, reusability and recyclability of plastic products.
Significant reduction of single-use plastic products.
“With this amendment, many developing countries will, for the first time, have information about plastic wastes entering their country and be empowered to refuse plastic waste dumping,” Dr. Sara Brosché, IPEN Science Advisor said in a statement released to the media. “For far too long developed countries like the US and Canada have been exporting their mixed toxic plastic wastes to developing Asian countries claiming it would be recycled in the receiving country. Instead, much of this contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned, or finds its way into the ocean.”
The decision by the UN will have the biggest impact on the United States, because it is not a signatory of the Basel Convention, and the rules prohibit the export of listed wastes from countries that have not ratified the convention.
SeaWorld, the amusement company that had showcased captive killer whales (Orcinus orca) in its theme parks for decades until 2016, announced that it is publishing 20 years of blood data on its captive whales. This is in an effort to help scientists who study wild killer whales to determine how they should proceed, if at all, in helping stranded or sick orcas.
“For us, collecting blood from free-ranging killer whales is exceedingly difficult, so it’s something we would rarely ever do,” Deborah Fauquier, a veterinary medical officer at the National Marine Fisheries Service, told Komo News. “Having partners that are in the managed-care community that can provide us with blood values from those animals is very useful. It’s giving us a very robust baseline data set that we haven’t had previously for these whales.”
The data includes more than 2,800 blood tests from 32 whales dating from 1993 to 2013. These blood values include cholesterol, platelet count, triglycerides and others.
Today, 17 of the company’s 20 whales were born in captivity. The company, which devastated the Pacific Northwest’s southern resident orcas in the 1960s and 1970s when it killed 13 orcas and took 45 for entertainment purposes, according to the Center for Whale Research on Washington’s San Juan Island, in 2016 ended the captive breeding program as well as the Shamu show in response to public outcry.
“Our stance is to do research with our animals to try to help this population now, and that’s what we’re doing,” Todd Robeck, SeaWorld’s vice president of conservation research, said of the Pacific Northwest’s resident orcas. ”That’s why I got into what I do — to try to help animals in the wild, “ Robeck told Komo News.
The company pledged $10 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program, in an effort to help the southern resident orcas.
Robeck, one of the lead authors of the review of SeaWorld’s orca data, said that while there will be some differences between the values for captive and wild whales due to climate, diet, and other factors, the results should provide a baseline to compare data from blow samples or fecal samples. SeaWorld is also studying the effects of toxin build up in adult whales and how those toxins are transferred to calves.
“It’s something that could only be done with our animals,” Robeck said. “It’s an example of how we are dedicated to participating in the wellbeing of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest and around the world, and how research with our animals is vital in answering some of these questions about how to address the needs of the animals in the wild.”
The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is the most fearsome ocean going predator to man, but when killer whales (Orcinus orca) are around, they flee en masse, according to a study by researchers with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The study, which tracked 165 great white sharks between 2006 and 2013, and observations around the Southeast Farallon islands since 1987, a known seal rookery, noted that all great white sharks in the vicinity of the Farallons would leave en masse when killer whales were around the islands, even if the orcas were just passing through.
“What we saw was that when orcas came close to the island during shark season, all of the sharks would take off,” Salvador Jorgensen, a Monterey Bay Aquarium researcher and lead author of the study told the San Francisco Chronicle. “As a predator that has been successful for millions of years, that may be the card white sharks know how to play that has kept them alive so long — knowing when to fold.”
The researchers noted that the fear the great whites have of the killer whales is so strong that the sharks don’t return to the islands for the rest of the feeding season, and sometimes would stay away from the islands that provide rich, fat seal prey for as long as a year.
And there is certainly a reason for great whites to fear the largest member of the dolphin family. They are prey for killer whales. In 1997 off the Farallon Islands, a group of whale watchers witnessed a killer whale attack and kill a great white shark, feeding on the liver of the dead shark. In 2000, a similar event caused 100 great white sharks to leave the area. One tagged great white shark dove down to a depth of 500 meters and swam to Hawaii.
Great white sharks can grow up to 20 feet in length and weigh 7,000 pounds, while killer whales grow between 22 and 26 feet and weigh 12,000 pounds. It is not known how the sharks can detect the presence of killer whales in the vicinity, but the researchers have their theories.
“My gut feeling, and this is the topic of future work, is that the sharks are able to detect the orcas using their sense of smell,” Jorgensen said. “The smell that orcas have swimming around in the water is probably something that every shark can sense.”
The complete paper, “Killer whales redistribute white shark foraging pressure on seals” can be read in its entirety on the Scientific Reports website.