Birthing the Blob
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
3d ago
In 2013, a huge marine heatwave known as the Blob hit the northeast Pacific Ocean. Temperatures soared to dangerous new highs, killing millions of marine animals and disrupting the broader ocean ecosystem in ways that have yet to—and may never—return to normal. Although the Blob officially ended in 2016, similar heatwaves have flared several times since. Scientists are still trying to unpack what exactly caused the Blob and its ilk, but a recent study highlights just how connected the global climate really is. This research, led by Hai Wang, an atmospheric scientist at the Ocean University of ..read more
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Seagrass and Plastic Are Not Friends
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
6d ago
In 2021, what sounded like a good news story hit the media: in the Mediterranean, seagrasses were trapping plastic waste, capturing fragments in their leaves and locking microplastics in seafloor sediments. The news cycle was spurred by a study of Neptune grass, which showed that when this seagrass species sheds its leaves each autumn some of that plastic debris is jettisoned back to shore, slightly cleaning the marine environment. At the time, scientists and reporters billed the Mediterranean seagrass as a potent ally in the fight against marine plastic pollution. But that hopeful narrative i ..read more
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The Social Cost of Carbon Credits
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
6d ago
At low tide, Hélène Sonko wades through the muddy mangrove forest surrounding the town of Joal-Fadiout, in the Saloum river delta of western Senegal. A salty breeze whistles from the Atlantic Ocean as Sonko, wearing white overalls and reinforced work gloves, pauses in thick clay and brackish water that’s up to her knees. One by one, she pries oysters from the mangroves’ dense roots and drops them in a pink plastic basket floating alongside her. It’s hot, arduous work, but collecting and selling shellfish allows Sonko, a 42-year-old single mother, to support her family and send her five childre ..read more
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In Graphic Detail: Europe’s Tourism Destinations Feel the Heat
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
1w ago
In July 2023, tourists scrambled for safety as wildfires raged across Greece. In some instances, rescuers plucked trapped visitors off beaches by boat. On the island of Rhodes alone, fire forced some 19,000 people to flee—the largest evacuation in the country ever. The disaster struck locals equally as hard, though the fires dealt them a double blow: with fleeing tourists went part of the economy. As the world’s fastest-warming continent, Europe is facing multiple climate threats, from devastating floods to extreme heatwaves and wildfires. The changing climate threatens to upend tourism across ..read more
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Horseshoe Crabs Have Been Hiding Out in the Marsh
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
2w ago
Every spring, since before dinosaurs roamed the Earth, American horseshoe crabs have been crawling out of the ocean under a full or new moon to lay their eggs on the shoreline. And for all that time, scientists have been overlooking a key hotspot for horseshoe crab reproduction. American horseshoe crabs—roughly 60-centimeter-long arthropods with hard domed shells—are hardy generalists with an impressive ability to survive in a wide range of conditions. Even so, scientists have long thought that beaches are the only suitable spot for these crabs to lay their eggs. But new research from across t ..read more
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Blood in the Water, Food on the Table, Protesters on the Shore
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
2w ago
In a cafe close to the misty harbor in Tórshavn, in the Faroe Islands, Andrew Marshfield and Espen Østrem stick out as obvious foreigners. It’s not their English, which is spoken widely across this self-governing archipelago within Denmark, located halfway between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic. It’s the two men’s opinions that turn heads our way. They’re talking about whales—specifically, how to stop local residents from killing them. “This year, they slaughtered whales in front of a cruise ship,” Østrem says, incredulously. The cruise line issued an apology to its passengers, notin ..read more
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Meet the Narwhal Dentist
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
2w ago
This story was originally published in Knowable Magazine, a nonprofit publication exploring the significance of scholarly work through a journalistic lens. Martin Nweeia is a modern Renaissance man. He has a degree in English and biology, a working dental practice, and a side interest in zoology and anthropology; he has composed music for documentary films and has become an expert on narwhals—the mysterious, one-toothed unicorns of the sea. The male narwhal typically hosts a roughly 2.4-meter-long, single exterior tusk, whose function has been a mystery for centuries. Nweeia has obtained man ..read more
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One Great Shot: A Tiny Turtle Takes to the Sea
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
2w ago
Pollution, overfishing, and a local custom of eating turtle eggs have led to a decline in Papua New Guinea’s sea turtle populations. Since 2013, conservationists based out of Lissenung Island Resort, on a private island in the country’s northeast, have worked to give the reptiles a fighting chance. During nesting season, the crew visits neighboring islands every morning to collect new eggs and gently transport them back to the resort. There, the workers transplant the eggs into protected outdoor nest boxes—large wooden structures filled with sand. The crew places each clutch in the same orien ..read more
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More Whale Falls Found off Los Angeles than in the Rest of the World Combined
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
3w ago
A pair of scientific surveys recently turned up a few surprises on the seafloor off the coast of Los Angeles, California. First, there were the tens of thousands of naval weapons. And then, researchers found the remains of whales—seven confirmed and almost certainly more than 60 total skeletons in the dark depths, a phenomenon known as “whale fall.” Eric Terrill and Sophia Merrifield, oceanographers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego who led the surveys in 2021 and 2023, had set out to assess waste scattered across 350 square kilometers of seaflo ..read more
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The Owls Who Came From Away
Hakai Magazine
by Hakai Magazine
3w ago
At Home with Owls They seize suburbs. They seize cities. They seize habitat a continent away. They arrive uninvited. They stay indefinitely. They are indomitable. Who? Barred owls. Strix varia. They have taken a fancy to the Pacific Northwest. From an Airbnb next to the I-5 highway plowing through Seattle, Washington, my friend sends me photos of a barred owl perched in a spruce tree outside the kitchen window. In a newspaper, I read about a barred owl in Vancouver, British Columbia, startling people at a bus stop as it swooped past with talons full of pigeon. And in my hometown of Victoria, B ..read more
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