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Navy: Training May Kill Hundreds Of Dolphins, Whales

31 Aug

Tenby Audrey McAvoy / Huffington Post

HONOLULU — Navy training and testing could inadvertently kill hundreds of whales and dolphins and injure thousands over the next five years, mostly as a result of detonating explosives underwater, according to two environmental impact statements released by the military Friday.

The Navy said that the studies focused on waters off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California and Hawaii from 2014 through 2019, the main areas that the service branch tests equipment and trains sailors.

The studies were done ahead of the Navy applying to the National Marine Fisheries Service for permits for its activities. The Navy said that it if hadn’t done so and was later found to have harmed marine mammals, it would be found in violation of federal environmental law and have to stop its training and testing.

Most of the deaths would come from explosives, though some might come from testing sonar or animals being hit by ships.

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A Dozen Offshore Oil Rigs in California Fracking Without Legally Mandated Review

27 Aug

by The Environmental Defense Center / The Santa Barbara Independent

Oil rigs off the Santa Barbara coast in CA (photo: LA Times)

Oil rigs off the Santa Barbara coast in CA (photo: LA Times)

[EF!N Editor’s Note: While it appears that EDC is on the right track here, we encourage folks to remember not long ago, in 2010, when their greenwashing collaboration with drilling interests made them targets of EF! protests.]

At least a dozen offshore oil wells in California state waters have been fracked in the past three years, apparently without legally mandated review under the California Environmental Quality Act, according to new research. This new revelation doubles the number of known offshore frack jobs, putting additional pressure on the California Coastal Commission to take strong action to control offshore fracking when it meets Thursday in Santa Cruz.

In a joint letter to the Coastal Commission, the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and Surfrider Foundation urge commissioners to launch an investigation into the use of the controversial process in California waters. The letter also cites records showing that offshore fracking in California employs dangerous substances, including 2-Butoxyethanol, methanol and other cancer-causing chemicals.

“Offshore fracking poses a deadly threat to California’s fragile marine environment,” said Miyoko Sakashita, the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program director. “This dangerous practice is being used in our oceans with very little government knowledge or oversight. The best way for the Coastal Commission to protect our water and wildlife is to call an immediate time-out on offshore fracking.”

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Activist Group Black Fish Using Drones to Defend the Ocean from Driftnets

26 Aug

by Alex Chitty / Vice

The Black Fish’s founder Wietse van der Werf. Photo by Chris Grodotzki.

The Black Fish’s founder Wietse van der Werf. Photo by Chris Grodotzki.

On a warm night in July 2012, off the island of Ugljan in the Croatian Adriatic, two activists slipped into the water near a line of huge fish farms. Security boats patrolled the perimeter of the vast circular nets, as guards stationed on a nearby hill kept watch through the night. And for good reason: the thousands of bluefin tuna in the farms, destined for the tables of Japanese sushi restaurants, are worth millions. Individual fish routinely sell for more than $1,500 at wholesale markets in Tokyo and closer to home. The Croatian tuna had been caught as juveniles under a loophole in international law, and were being “fattened up” before heading to market.

Wearing tactical diving gear, the divers arrived at the first net, slicing three-quarters of its length and sending bluefin streaming out. The divers swam to another net, repeating the process, and then headed home. The security teams circling above were none the wiser until the following day. The activists, from a group known as the Black Fish, were long gone. The raid was similar to a previous attack in September 2010, when Black Fish divers freed dolphins from holding pens near Taiji, Japan.

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Pilot Whale and Dolphin Slaughter in the Faroe Islands

25 Aug

by Erwin Vermeulen / Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

On August 13th, 135 long-finned pilot whales were brutally slaughtered in Húsavík.

On August 13th, 135 long-finned pilot whales were brutally slaughtered in Húsavík.

It’s been an extremely bloody few weeks in the Ferocious Isles, even by Faroese standards. On August 8, 107 Long-finned Pilot whales were slaughtered in Sandavágur. On August 11, 21 were butchered in Leynar and on the 13th, 135 lost their lives in Húsavík.

The grind(adrap), as the Pilot whale drive is called, has a recorded history since 1584. There are 23 whaling bays assigned to six districts in which the meat and blubber are divided among the population. A drive is initiated when fishermen or ferries offshore sight dolphins. The dolphins are driven into a bay with boats and even jet skis and pulled up onto the beach with a hook in the blowhole. Then the spinal cord is cut with a knife.

The Húsavík massacre on the 13th was not the only one that took place that day. In Hvalba, the incredibly high number of 430 Atlantic White-sided dolphins were driven into ‘whale bay’ and brutally murdered. Some people might be surprised to hear that these islanders are targeting species other than Pilot whales, but they have always hunted smaller dolphins, especially in Hvalba. They last killed Atlantic White-sided dolphins in Hvalba in August 2010 and Risso’s dolphins earlier that year in April. Oravik took 100 Atlantic White-sided dolphins in August 2009. That same month, Hvalba killed two Northern Bottlenose whales that were reported as stranded, and a month later Klaksvik took three Risso’s. In June 1978 that town even butchered 31 Orcas.

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Flesh-eating Bacteria Thrive in Tarballs

1 Aug

by Paige Brown / SciLogs

 Tarballs on the sand near Opel Beach, FL. Image by Brian Hart, Flickr.com.


Tarballs on the sand near Opel Beach, FL. Image by Brian Hart, Flickr.com.

Dr. Cova Arias, professor of Aquatic Microbiology at Auburn University, and two of her lab members had rather disturbing results published in the journal EcoHealth last December, 2011, on their discovery of high concentrations of Vibrio vulnificus, also known as a type of flesh-eating bacteria, in tarballs.

What is surprising is that Arias’ findings haven’t received more attention from public health officials, given the implications of the research. Findings involving V. vulnificus should be a concern for public health authorities in coastal areas, given that in addition to causing severe wound infections, this bacteria is the leading cause of seafood-borne fatalities nationwide.

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Halliburton Destroys Gulf Spill Evidence, Gets Slap on Wrist

26 Jul
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Tim Probert (r.) of Halliburton is sworn in along with officials from BP and Transocean before May 11 Senate hearings on the Gulf oil spill. Tim Sloan/AFP/Newscom

by Rabb!t / Earth First! Newswire

The 2010 BP Oil Spill is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. It spilled approximately 210,000,000 US gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and the initial explosion, caused by faulty cementing around the injection well, killed 11 workers.

During an internal probe into this cementing after the blowout, Halliburton ordered workers to destroy computer simulations relating to safety measures. The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to the destruction of this evidence.

This charge—knowingly destroying evidence during a government investigation in an attempt to cover up the cause of 11 human deaths and one of the largest disasters in the country’s history—is considered a “misdemeanor” charge. Halliburton is required to pay a $200,000 fine.

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David Hasselhoff Crabs Face Extinction

25 Jun

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! News

crabsYou may think this is a joke but it isn’t. The hairy-chested Yeti crab, nicknamed the “Hoff” by deep-sea scientists for its resemblance to the luscious body hair of David Hasselhoff, could very well fall into the oblivion of extinction due to warming oceans caused by climate change.

The Hoff was first discovered in 2009 hanging out around hydrothermal vents deep beneath the Indian and Arctic oceans where water temperatures can reach 716 degrees Fahrenheit. The vents spew noxious and acidic chemicals, heavy metals and hydrogen sulfide.

One might think the Hoff could then survival a dozen degrees of temperature change but, according to a recent report published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, as the ocean warms, the ability of oxygen-rich surface water to mix with deep ocean waters is diminished, reducing the oxygen levels in the deep sea, which will likely result in mass extinctions for many of the creatures that live within the precarious ecology of deep sea vents.

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