- Western Australian Fisheries Minister Seeks Sustainable Certification for Shark Finning
- Scientists Discover New Cave-Dwelling Corals In the Indo-Pacific
- Ukraine Re-Enlists Dolphins For Military Duty
Following a visit to China by an Australian trade delegation, Western Australia’s Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has announced that he will be seeking a sustainable certification for shark finning in local waters, asking the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to analyze the data to see if it’s possible. The idea has met with tremendous controversy as the world over enacts legislation that bans not only the practice, but the trade and transportation of them as well, as was most recently enacted by Costa Rica. Doubt also surrounds the so-called “green” certification given to many businesses by the MSC, who only need to show initiative to enact changes, but often continue using destructive fishing methods while the public believes what they are consuming is, in fact, produced through sustainable methods that are not harmful to the fishery or the environment.
Marine zoologists studying marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific were shocked to discover a new species of coral thriving on the ceilings of caves in the area, part of which overlaps the Coral Sea. The corals discovered were devoid of zooxanthellae (alga that depend on sunlight to exist) that common reef corals coexist with to survive. This factor led scientists to make a connection instead with the species Leptoseris, a deep-dwelling coral that is found in the “twilight zone”, a depth of the ocean where very little sunlight penetrates. With typical reef corals, if ocean temperatures rise by just a few degrees, the zooxanthellae will vacate coral polyps, leading to coral death in what is widely known as bleaching. However, the absence of these alga is not a detriment to these cave-dwelling species; the corals, though small, have adapted to survive without them, and are flourishing within these caves. The new species has been named Leptoseris troglodyta, the latter half of which is derived from ancient Greek, meaning “one who dwells in holes.”
Reviving a program that was put to rest with the dissolution of the USSR, the Ukranian Navy has started the training of 10 dolphins in the Ukranian state oceanarium, who will be tasked with attacking enemy combat swimmers with special knives or pistols affixed to their heads, and detecting the presence of mines on the seabed. The trained dolphins will be an important factor in defending Ukranian ships in port, as well as against enemy raids. Successful exercises have already been carried out this year in which the dolphins search out underwater weapons and attach a tracking device affixed to their heads to the weapons, at which point a buoy is sent to the surface to mark the task’s completion. Although the Ukranian dolphin base is one of just two in the world (the other is in San Diego, CA), military training of dolphins was practiced in the past with the Soviet Navy as early as 1973.