The English government has announced it will create 27 new marine conservation zones (MCZs) to protect wildlife in the seas around the English coast.
The MCZs will help seahorses, coral reefs and oyster beds to remain safe from dredging and bottom-trawling.
The Marine Conservation Society welcomed the "significant milestone".
But it warned there were still fewer than a quarter of the number of MCZs recommended by scientists to complete an "ecologically coherent" network.
Last December a two-year £8m consultation involving the government's own science advisers recommended the creation of 127 MCZs to halt the rapid decline of fish, lobsters, oysters and seahorses.
But earlier this year, ministers announced plans to construct just 31 zones aimed at protecting life on the ocean floor.
At the time, campaigners described the plan as "pitiful" and a "bitter disappointment" - but the then environment minister Richard Benyon insisted that the scientific evidence for a large proportion of the zones was "just not up to scratch".
He said another £3.5m was being spent on gathering more evidence that could support more zones being designated in future.
Announcing the 27 new zones, marine environment minister George Eustice said the department was doing "more than ever" to protect England's marine environment and almost a quarter of English inshore waters and 9% of UK waters would be "better protected".
He said that the new MCZs - which would join over 500 marine protected areas that already exist - would cover an area roughly three times the size of Wiltshire and would span the waters around the English coast.
The scheme would ensure areas such as Chesil Beach and the Skerries Banks are safeguarded.
The minister said that the number of new sites had been reduced from 31 to 27 because two of the sites - at Stour and Orwell and Hilbre Island - were too costly,
A final decision on the two remaining sites - at Hythe Bay and North of Celtic Deep - will be made in the next phase of the project.
Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries, Essex;
Aln Estuary, Northumberland;
Beachy Head West, East Sussex;
Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges, Dorset;
Folkestone Pomerania, Kent;
Isles of Scilly;
The Manacles, Cornwall;
Medway Estuary, Kent;
Padstow Bay and Surrounds, Cornwall;
Pagham Harbour, Sussex;
Poole Rocks, Dorset;
Skerries Bank and Surrounds, Devon;
Tamar Estuary, Devon/Cornwall;
Thanet Coast, Kent;
Upper Fowey and Pont Pill, Cornwall;
Whitsand and Looe Bay, Cornwall
The Canyons, Cornwall;
East of Haig Fras, Cornwall;
North East of Farnes Deep, Northumberland;
South-West Deeps (West), Cornwall;
Swallow Sand, Northumberland
Mr Eustice also announced plans to designate two more phases of MCZs over the next three years, with a consultation on the next phase expected to be launched in early 2015.
"This is just the beginning," he said.
'Threatened sea bed'
Melissa Moore, senior policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said that the organisation broadly welcomed the new proposals.
"This announcement is a significant milestone for marine conservation", she said.
But she added: "We urge government to bring forward designation of future tranches to prevent many threatened seabed habitats being further damaged - these 27 sites represent less than a quarter of the number recommended by scientists to complete an 'ecologically coherent' network."
She also pointed to the need to "police" potentially damaging activities.
"The MCZs will be multi-use, so low-impact fishing such as potting will be permitted in most sites," she said.
"It is vital that within these sites there is a clear notion of what can and can't happen, and who is responsible for policing those activities, otherwise we're just creating paper parks."
Defra said it had received around 40,000 responses to their consultation to 31 March 2013, which asked for feedback on the proposals via their website.
The Guardian : England names 27 new marine conservation zones
Fish fight : a new network o MCZ around the UK can safeguard our seas
German and Australian scientists launched a set of groundbreaking, high resolution, shallow water topography maps for the entire Great Barrier Reef.
These world-first digital maps of the coral reefs, using satellite derived depth (bathymetry) techniques, are a critical step towards identifying, managing and essentially preserving and protecting what lies within the waters of this global icon.
Project partner, Dr Robin Beaman of James Cook University, says the product is different to anything else available, as until this product, nearly half of the shallow water reef area on the Great Barrier Reef had not been mapped using modern digital surveys.
Dr Robin Beaman says the data provides a complete picture of the world's largest coral reef ecosystem.
"It's like a terrain map," he said.
"Google Earth is a good example, but in the ocean it's much harder to do.
"We use satellite images to look into the sea floor to about a 30-metre depth.
"Digital data is what's really critical in this day and age."
Dr Beaman says the data could provide policy makers and researchers with vital information needed to combat threats to the reef.
This includes measuring the impact of rising sea levels and helping to measure water quality and ocean currents.
A major study released in October 2012 found coral cover had been halved since the mid-1980s due to cyclones, bleaching and the crown of thorns starfish.
While these coral reefs are the most ecologically significant, they are also the most difficult to map due to being either too remote or because of their shallow nature, which makes them navigationally dangerous.
Instead of relying on traditional surveying vessels or aircraft to map the many 'un-mappable' areas of the reef, Germany-based aquatic remote-sensing company EOMAP used space-borne satellites to overcome these hurdles.
The result is the largest project of its kind ever conducted in Australia, and possibly the entire world. The 3D water depth maps have a 30m horizontal resolution over approximately 350,000 km2 of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and Torres Strait, providing not only more detailed individual reef data, but also a complete picture of Earth's largest coral reef ecosystem.
"This information is regarded as essential for any government or company involved with managing the reef environment," states Professor Stuart Phinn, University of Queensland, another partner on the project.
The EOMAP product will aid the 'big picture' assessments of the Great Barrier Reef including water quality modeling, measuring responses to both man-made and natural impacts, such as sediment transportation and tropical cyclones, and helping to predict the likely impacts of climate change effects, such as sea level rise and increased tropical cyclone frequency.
It will also help target priority areas for more detailed data collection, for example with the vast improvements this promises to ocean current modeling, scientists can model crown of thorn starfish larval trajectories to where they are next likely to inhabit the Great Barrier Reef.
"There is often a disconnect between research and industry, where researchers generally look at changes on individual reefs and habitats," comments Dr Nathan Quadros from the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information, also a partner on the project.
"But industry want the overall picture of the reef -- this product brings the two together."
All of the mapped areas, no matter how small, are available for purchase by anyone via the EOMAP website.
A coarser product (500m spatial resolution) is also available, free of charge, together with sample data of the high resolution products.
Looking ahead, EOMAP has already demonstrated the viability of the next generation product: a 2m resolution version using DigitalGlobe's Worldview-2 satellite.
"Based on our trials, this promises to be an even more astounding product," says Dr Magnus Wettle, Senior Scientist at EOMAP.
"To be honest, I'd like to see the Australian Government partner with us on this, our next endeavor, so that it would belong to Australia as a national resource," he said.
"Having said that, our priority is to make it happen, so we have to be prepared to be pragmatic."
EOMAP last week received an award from Copernicus (the European Commission remote sensing peak body) for its work on making affordable aquatic remote sensing products for industry and the public sector.
GBR - Project 3DGBR: High-resolution Bathymetry for the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea (JCU)
The maintenance period is used to migrate the basic features of the Marine GeoGarage to the v3 API.
We are sorry for this inconvenience, please check back later.
Maintenance only affects the User Interface of our route planning and viewing web app, but not the nautical charts stored in our Cloud Computing solution, so :
- universal iPhone & iPad mobile apps (which are not using Google Maps API) continue to work for viewing charts.
- no problem for our B2B customers who use our different chart layers in their own web applications.
Polar Pod from Sylvain Bergeon (for francophones) The polar Pod is a project of vertical buoying scientific exploration
station that will allow a team of 7 people, scientist and crew, to
navigate around the Antarctic pole during one year. This project, lead
by the famous explorer Jean-Louis Etienne, is currently in its study
But upon further inspection, I became intrigued.
Modeled after Scripp’s R/P FLIP,
the Polar Pod is a floating stick with a giant weight at the bottom to
keep it ballasted and upright so the living quarters that are stuck on
top don’t tilt into the ocean (this FLIP don’t FLOP).
When FLIP is
upright, it is a super stable platform is almost completely unaffected
The Polar Pod is a little different, as it has an open frame,
making it more susceptible to wave action. Even so, the designers think
it will still be pretty stable, only swaying as much as 5 degrees making
it nearly seasickness proof.
The Antarctic Circumpolar Current :
24000 kms / 15000 mi long and 1000 kms / 620 mi wide, it is the most powerful current on the planet.
Driven by legendary winds - the famous "furious fifties" - nothing stops its great swell around Antarctica.
The biological activity there is intense; it is a vast sanctuary for seabirds and marine mammals.
Its cold waters absorb a significant portion of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities.
Just like a drive belt, it connects the waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, to the cold waters of the cold waters of the Antarctic ocean.
It helps insulate the cold of Antarctica from the mid latitudes heat fluxes.
It is the main source of the World Ocean deep water formation.
The freeze and thaw periods around Antarctica feed the formation of deep water.
As I said before, I’ve been somewhat fascinated by this entire
concept since I first learned about it. Mostly because it really made me
think of the feasibility of such an experiment.
So let’s start on a
positive note, the cons of this project:
1. The Southern Ocean can be nuts.
waves and not to mention icebergs make it a sane mariners nightmare
(bah, who am I kidding. No dedicated mariner is completely sane).
they can manage to stay afloat for an entire year, then kudos to them.
2. They plan to use the platform to observe the Southern Ocean.
Getting oceanographic data in the Southern Ocean is hard.
The window of
‘good’ weather is small so ships don’t go there to take data during
certain times of the year. But the Polar Pod will be there!
what they observe will help to fill the gaps in our scientific
When scientists themselves aren’t
exploring the Southern Ocean in ships, they are sending all sorts of
autonomous oceanographic robots down there to explore it.
things are run on batteries, and batteries don’t have a lot of power.
Whatever instruments are mounted on these autonomous samplers need to
And the number of instruments that do this are limited.
hopefully for all of those onboard, the Polar Pod will have a bigger
This means MOAR POWER and MOAR INSTRUMENTS!
fancier, you could even power satellite internet.
Send all that data
back to us scientists on shore and simultaneously Skype with all your
friends back home.
The underwater spar can be
rigged up with all sorts of instruments.
Get profiles of water velocity
with high-powered ADCP current meters, sure.
String of CTD’s down the
side, yes please!
Drop turbulence profiler off the side, OUI!
good measure, slap a meteorological station on the top.
Jean-Louis Etienne, France's most famous living explorer, sat with the French Embassy press team to discuss his life of adventure. Dr. Etienne has led or been a part of expeditions to the farthest-flung corners of the earth — including Mount Everest, worldwide sailing journeys, and both poles — since 1975.
Now for the cons:
1. The Southern Ocean can be nuts.
Who is going to
rescue them if they run into trouble?
And how is a freely drifting ship
going to avoid ice bergs?
What if hits one of those pesky ice bergs?
Both food and fuel will have to
resupplied via boat, which is a sort of nutty idea.
From talking to
people that have been on FLIP, moving anything from a small boat that is
going up and down with the waves to a platform that is not moving at
all is a potentially stupid dangerous situation. I can’t even imagine
what it would be like in the Southern Ocean swell.
But from what I can
gather, is seems as though everything will be done by winch from the
ends of it’s wings, which may make it a lot easier.
3. A proposed oceanographic research platform with no science plan (that I can find).
Is this guy for real?
You can’t tout your new multimillion euro vessel
as a oceanographic research platform and have no science plan *pulls
hair out in frustration*.
But then again, his plan could be that this is
a ship of opportunity for scientists who will then dictate what can and
can’t be done.
Anyway, I am curious to see what will happen with this project.
may never materialize.
But at least it got me thinking of all the
expensive shit I could drop into the Southern Ocean.
All the aerial stitched pictures were made in the quest of optimum viewing
with the specific conditions:
no swell, no rain for 48 hours, large tide (foreshore) and lower low water (water depth less than 1m), ...
Arcachon (OrthoLittorale v2 view)
Note : this layer can be accessible as any GeoGarage georeferenced layer for external webmapping applications via the GeoGarage API.
So don't hesitate to contact us if your are interested.
Wandering albatross fly using a technique known as 'dynamic soaring'
Involves gaining height by angling their wings while flying into the wind
The mighty birds can then turn and swoop along for up to 100 metres
By repeatedly using this method, the birds can travel thousands of miles without flapping their wings
The mighty albatross can use its huge 3.5 metre wings to circumnavigate the globe in just 46 days.
But its ability to travel 10,000 miles in a single journey, without expending almost any energy, has long confounded scientists.
Now a team of researchers believe they have worked out how these majestic creatures are able to stay aloft in the skies without flapping their enormous wings.
The mighty albatross can use its huge 3.5 metre wings to circumnavigate
the globe in just 46 days. But its ability to travel 10,000 miles in a
single journey, without expending almost any energy, has long confounded
Researchers, led by Gottfried Sachs of the University of Technology, Munich, used advanced GPS tracking on a group of 16 wandering albatross.
This allowed them to measure each bird’s position 10 times a second and to within a few centimetres, providing a detailed record of their flight path.
They found that once in the air, the birds performed a flying trick that seemed to involve characteristic repetitive up and down manoeuvres – a technique known as ‘dynamic soaring’.
This map reveals the distance that a wandering albatross from the island of Kerguelen can travel without flapping its wings
The 4850 km path (projected to the sea surface) of a long-distance
flight of a wandering albatross is shown. GPS tracking stopped after the
first 6 days of this 30-day-long foraging trip
Dynamic soaring involves the birds gaining height by angling their wings while flying into the wind.
They can then turn and swoop along for up to 100 metres at speeds of up to 67 miles per hour.
By repeatedly using this method, the scientists believe the wandering albatross can travel thousands of miles without flapping its wings.
Aerospace engineer Gottfried Sachs said dynamic soaring has been observed before, but its mechanics have remained a mystery since as early as the 1880s.
‘Students of the albatross’s flight understood early on that the bottommost layer of wind blowing above any surface, including that of water, will incur friction and thus slow down,’ explained Professor Sachs, writing in IEEE Spectrum.
Illustration: Emily Cooper
Flying Free as a Breeze: Unflapping flight, called dynamic soaring, allows the wandering albatross to extract energy from the shear wind field, in which the wind’s strength increases with each additional meter above the water’s surface.
Beginning near the surface, the bird climbs into the wind , turns to leeward , descends , and again turns into the wind .
‘This layer itself then becomes an obstacle that slows the layer just above it’.
This result is a 10 to 20-metre high region known as a ‘boundary layer’ through which the wind speed increases smoothly the higher you go in the field.
‘Dynamic soaring manoeuvres extract energy from that field, enabling the albatross to fly in any direction, even against the wind, with hardly any effort,’ said Professor Sachs.
Exactly how the bird extracts energy from a horizontally blowing wind, however, was a puzzle.
By combining computer modelling with GPS tracking, the team were able to accuratley simulate the flight of the bird in different wind speeds.
Wandering albatross have the record for the bird with the largest wingspan at 3.5 metres. Distances are hard to measure, but one banded bird was recorded travelling 6000 km in twelve days. They spend most of their life on the wing, returning to land only to court a mate and to breed. The female Albatross lays just one egg that can weigh 1.2lb (0.5kg), in a basic nest on the ground. The parents take it in turns to incubate the egg for 2-3 months depending on the size of the Albatross species. Chicks can take anywhere from 5 to 10 months to fledge, depending on the size of the Albatross species. Albatross are very long living Birds with an average age of between 40 and 50 years old.
Each dynamic soaring cycle consists of (1) a windward climb, (2) a curve
from wind at the upper altitude, (3) a descent and (4) a curve from the
wind at a low altitude, close to the sea surface
Dynamic soaring involves the birds gaining height by angling their wings while flying into the wind. The technique involves flying from the relatively windless layer close to the ocean waves into a region of much faster winds above it. This gives the birds a boost in airspeed that allows them to soar 30 to 50 feet into the air. Then they turn, gliding with the wind to get an additional speed boost while swooping downward close to the sea waves. By repeatedly using this method, the wandering albatross can travel thousands of miles without flapping its wings.
They found that albatross could soar dynamically as long as the wind speed is a bit more than 30 kilometers per hour (16 knots).
Their results also indicated that the shear wind field alone could enable the flight of the birds.
While the albatross had existed for about 50 million years, today it is estimated that fishing vessels kill one albatross every five minutes.
Longlining poses the greatest single threat to seabirds worldwide.
Boats cast lines up to 80 miles long carrying thousands of baited hooks, which trap the birds and drag them under - drowning them.
All 22 species are in trouble with eight currently critically endangered.
Spectrum : The Nearly Effortless Flight of the Albatross
The best science writers can command words, imagery and cadence to match
any award-winning novelist.
That is not, however, why we read science
We read them for what they have to tell us: the best science
books are triumphs of substance over style, and Ocean of Life is one of
Callum Roberts starts with something that could hardly be more
substantial: the 70% of the planet that most of us know almost nothing
about, even though it is the planet's defining feature, and the
birthplace and nursery for all known life.
Roberts is a marine biologist
and an occasional columnist for the Guardian.
His command of research is prodigious, and his generosity with example
He is good on the big picture, but he understands even
better how to burnish an argument with gleaming detail.
Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Are there plenty more fish in the sea?
For every hour spent fishing
today, in boats bristling with the latest electronics, fishers land
just 6% of what they did 120 years ago; landings per unit of fishing
power are down 16 times for plaice, over 100 times for haddock, 500
times for halibut.
In 1870 a Massachusetts newspaper reported that
predator bluefish drove the local menhaden ashore and upriver so thickly
"that one could take a common fork and pitch them into the boat".
1785, a Loch Fyne fisherman told a visiting MP that it was not unusual
to catch 350 turbot, sole and "large, fine flounders" on just one long
line of 400 hooks.
Of course, the catastrophe of overfishing is compounded by climate change, sea level
rise and ocean acidification.
On the Antarctic Peninsula, Adélie
penguins that once nested in snow now huddle ankle deep in mud, downy
feathers adapted for snow are soaked in sleet and drizzle, and chicks
Adélie populations on the Peninsula are down 90% in 30 years.
the last 25 years, the North Sea has warmed 1.25C. Of 36 species
surveyed in the North Sea, 15 have moved northwards by an average of
The alternative, since water cools with depth, is to dive a
At the present rate of warming, fish would have to submerge 3.5
metres every year.
But light falters with depth, so herbivores can only
survive in the zone of photosynthesis.
Sea levels are rising: in
the first seven years after its opening in 1984 the Thames Barrier was
shut four times; now it closes between five and 10 times a year.
Mississippi delta loses 50 square kilometres of land a year through a
combination of subsidence and sea level rise.
"champagne seas" off Ischia are home to molluscs with paper-thin shells
"so weak they can be crushed between thumb and finger".
But humans are
altering the chemistry of the oceans
on a global scale.
When in 1998 Joanie Kleypas, a US expert in coral
reefs, first realised that by the 21st century corals would be bathed in
water corrosive enough to destroy them, she found the discovery so
overwhelming that she excused herself and ran to the bathroom to be
Roberts is alive to the small things.
Pteropods grow in
polar seas to densities of 10,000 per cubic metre "within shell castles
sculpted from transparent crystal whose cold beauty seems perfectly
fitted to icy seas".
They are a keystone species in the food web: within
50 years they could be off the menu because of acidification.
viruses in the ocean – four billion to a litre of clear seawater – if
stretched end to end in a thread a 200th of the thickness of the finest
spider gossamer, would stretch for 200 million light years "so far
across the universe it would pass by 60 galaxies".
La Jolla - Red tide
Roberts has a
way of bringing marine disaster closer to home.
The long summer vacation
of British parliamentarians is not a reward for their legislative
labours but a consequence of the Great Stink of 1858, in which a Thames
choked with sewage and refuse became so vile that parliament's windows
were hung with sheets soaked with bleach.
Summer sittings were
Cycles of nutrient overload and plankton bloom
are now exported downriver to the sea, where oxygen levels plummet and
everything that cannot move simply dies and rots.
Off the Mississippi
delta, the dead zone at its peak now extends across 20,000 square
kilometres of sea.
There are winners – there are always winners –
and one beneficiary of the combination of nutrient enrichment, low
oxygen and overfishing are the jellyfish; polyps that are 95% water,
"blobs of seawater wrapped in a transparent glaze", some of them toxic
to the touch.
In 2004, in Monaco alone "an estimated 45,000 swimmers
were treated for stings".
He is good on the horrors of oil spills but he points out that the Gulf of Mexico's fishing fleets kill more marine life
in a day than BP's notorious Deepwater Horizon disaster did in months.
Oil companies are easy to demonise but the biggest source of oil pollution
is either run off from land or directly injected by the two stroke
engine of the recreational boat: the floating fuel and oils concentrate
on the surface, poisoning the eggs and hungry larvae of hundreds of
There the oils join the polychlorinated biphenyls from
plasticisers and fire retardants and other persistent organic pollutants
that concentrate in the ocean's meniscus.
This is a surface layer "not
much thicker than a piece of kitchen clingfilm" that is rich in fats,
fatty acids, proteins, floating eggs and millions of microorganisms, a
region critical to life in the sea.
So the pollutants find their way
into the fat and breast milk of the ocean's top predators.
weight, a third of all human waste is plastic: an enduring polymer that
also ends up in the ocean gyres, on beaches and shores and reefs even in
the remotest regions, and of course in the stomachs of albatrosses,
turtles, sharks and even whales.
"A dead pygmy sperm whale stranded in
Texas had a plastic rubbish bin liner, a bread wrapper, a crisp packet
and two other pieces of plastic sheeting choking off its stomach."
dead albatross chick in the Pacific contained a piece of plastic with a
serial number – "it was traced to a US bomber that had crashed into the
sea in 1944".
And don't even get him started on the so-called
silent world, a world in fact blasted by the roar of supertanker
engines, of military sonar and seismic explosions, a world in which any
noise travels at five times its speed in air.
In Ocean of Life, Roberts
tells a wonder-filled story of humankind and the sea: all of it
illuminating, not all of it hopeless, and some of it unexpectedly