Seychelles president makes underwater speech calling for protection for oceans

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The President of Seychelles joined an expedition exploring the Indian Ocean

The President of Seychelles joined an expedition exploring the Indian Ocean

The Seychelles president has gone below the surface of the Indian Ocean to call for better protection for the world's seas.

Danny Faure said that a healthy ocean was "crucial for the survival of humanity" in a broadcast made 124m (406ft) below sea level.

He had joined a British-led expedition exploring the ocean's depths.

Last year, the Seychelles created protected areas of the ocean that were "the size of Great Britain".

During the live broadcast Mr Faure could be seen in the submersible wearing a Seychelles T-shirt.

He told viewers that the ocean was "the beating blue heart of our planet" and said that it was "under threat like never before."

"We have managed to seriously impact this environment through climate change. I can see the incredible wildlife that needs protection. Over the years we have created these problems, we must solve them and we must solve them together."

The broadcast was part of an expedition by Nekton Mission. The mission will explore deep sections of the waters surrounding the Seychelles.

The goal is to gain public support for the country to protect 30% of its national waters by 2020.

The island nation plans to protect 30% of its seas by 2020

The island nation plans to protect 30% of its seas by 2020

The reserves limit tourism and fishing activities in the country to halt further damage to aquatic life. It was the first debt swap designed to protect ocean areas in the world.

According to the UN, only 16% of marine waters under national jurisdiction are covered by protected areas.

The Seychelles aims to protect 30% of its ocean space by next year.

Oceans are one of the seven main themes of this year's UN climate summit in Chile in December.

Small island nations like the Seychelles are among the most vulnerable to the rise in sea levels caused by climate change.

Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel peace prize

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by Damian Carrington, Environment editor

Greta Thunberg, 15, holds a placard reading ‘School strike for the climate’, during a protest outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm last November. Photograph: Hanna Franzen/EPA

Greta Thunberg, 15, holds a placard reading ‘School strike for the climate’, during a protest outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm last November. Photograph: Hanna Franzen/EPA

Greta Thunberg, the founder of the Youth Strike for Climate movement, has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize, just before the biggest day yet of global action.

Thunberg began a solo protest in Sweden in August but has since inspired students around the globe. Strikes are expected in 1,659 towns and cities in 105 countries on Friday, involving hundreds of thousands of young people.

“We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees,” said Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård. “Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace.”

“[I am] honoured and very grateful for this nomination,” said Thunberg on Twitter. Tomorrow we #schoolstrike for our future. And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.” She has already challenged leaders in person at the UN climate summit in late 2018 and at Davos in January. “Change is coming whether they like it or not,” she said.

National politicians and some university professors can nominate candidates for the Nobel peace prize, which will be awarded in December. There are 301 candidates for the 2019 prize: 223 individuals and 78 organisations.

In 2014, the peace prize was awarded to 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai, “for the struggle ... for the right of all children to education”. She survived a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012.

While some politicians have opposed the school strikes, many have supported them, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Ireland’s Leo Varadkar. The mayors of Paris, Milan, Sydney, Austin, Philadelphia, Portland, Oslo, Barcelona and Montreal added their backing on Thursday.

“It is truly inspiring to see young people, led by brilliant young women, making their voices heard and demanding urgent climate action. They are absolutely correct that our actions today will determine their futures,” said Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris and chair of the C40 group of cities. “My message to young citizens is clear: it is our responsibility as adults and political leaders to learn from you and deliver the future you want.”

The strikes have also been supported by the former head of the Anglican church Rowan Williams and the head of Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo. “Children are often told they are ‘tomorrow’s leaders’. But if they wait until ‘tomorrow’ there may not be a future in which to lead,” said Naidoo. “Young people are putting their leaders to shame with the passion and determination they are showing to fight this crucial battle now.

New Year Message from The PODS TEAM

 
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It’s been another incredibly busy year at PODS and although much of what we have achieved has been going on behind the scenes, the PODS Team has not wasted a single day (or night!) in getting PODS firmly off the ground!

The architects and the numerous consultants that we have engaged in order to meet the requirements of the permitting process and make sure we have done all our due diligence, have been hard at work all year - resulting in twenty-one (yes 21!) detailed reports about the viability and practicality of the PODS project.  As a result, I am very pleased to announce that on 13th December the first reading of our rezoning application was passed unanimously and unopposed at the SCRD Planning Committee Meeting.  So, first of all, I would like to thank all those wonderful consultants for doing such a great job on such a tight timeline – your excitement and commitment to PODS is inspiring and extremely reassuring.  I would particularly like to thank Jeremiah Deustcher, our incredible architect and the brains behind the PODS design, who has done so much to help coordinate all these consultants and generally gone way, way beyond the call of duty in every respect!  Thank you Jeremiah!

All through this last year the Board of Directors of the Lagoon Society and the PODS Team have been working diligently on strategic planning and developing the PODS Business Plan as well as creating what we call the PODS Operational Model (POM).  There would be no point in going to all the trouble of building PODS if it wasn’t going to be able to pay for itself and be sustainable in the long-term. We built POM to make absolutely sure we could deliver on that.  POM consists of a gigantic spreadsheet that holds data about all the potential revenue sources, with assumptions that have been widely researched and validated as realistic sources of income, as well as every conceivable cost associated with these activities in very fine detail. Together with a complex combination of algorithms and calculations, POM produces a one-page predicted three-year financial statement and the bottom-line for whatever scenario of different revenue streams you choose.  This amazing tool enables us to calculate not only if PODS is viable, but also if it is sustainable in the long term.  THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT PODS IS BOTH VIABLE AND SUSTAINABLE!!

The draft PODS Business Plan and all the assumptions behind it will be presented at two public meetings coming up in the New Year, one in Madeira Park and one at Irvines Landing. The detailed results of all this hard work will be on display and various consultants will be there to answer questions.  We will be asking everyone for their comments and suggestions. We are here to work with the community to come up with a plan that works for us all.  Announcements about the meetings will be made very soon and we very much look forward to seeing you all there.

We thank you all again for your continued support and encouragement and particularly to all the staff and hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who have brought us this far!!  We could not have done this without you, and the PODS Team salutes this incredible community which we are all so fortunate to be a part of.

Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year and are looking forward to getting down to the nitty gritty on PODS in 2019!!

Warm wishes everyone,

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Michael and The PODS Team

 
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Diver's BioBlitz

Ocean Quest Divers were in town last weekend, completing their Master Diver Program, and helping us with our Citizen Science Project Bioblitz. Staying at local resorts, and contributing to the local winter economy, these divers absolutely love diving Pender Harbour, and enjoyed a  Saturday dive at Martin's Cove, Francis Peninsula, and a Sunday dive at Crosstree lane, Irvine's Landing. Each diver was interviewed after their dive, and a 6 page species list was compiled. Special thanks to our local divers Sam and Vince who shared local knowledge and support.

Highlights include Opalescent squid egg pouches! Copper Rockfish, Lingcod, Decorated warbonnets, Giant nudibranchs, Giant chitons, Swimming scallops, and Crimson anemones. Divers commented on the amazing amount of biodiversity around Pender Harbour and the clarity of the water being excellent.

Merry Christmas everyone!

UPDATE ON PODS MONITORING PROGRAMS

Our monitoring programs have been in full swing throughout the fall, with salmon escapement enumeration, forage fish surveys, pinniped monitoring, invasive species monitoring, and intertidal surveys occurring. Seagrass surveys will start up again in the summer of 2019.

SALMON ESCAPEMENT
We completed weekly salmon escapement counts in Anderson Creek and Meyers Creek between September 19 and November 22 this year. We also enumerated two smaller tributaries; Coho Creek that drains to Anderson Creek, and Meadow Creek that drains to Meyers. All of our results are reported to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and compiled in to Escapement Bulletins. Based on these bulletins and data collected from previous years, Chum were expected to be above target for Southeast Vancouver Island and below target for mid-Vancouver Island and Jervis Inlet. Coho were expected to remain in low productivity throughout Southern BC. We noted that both species were present in higher numbers this year when compared to last year.

FORAGE FISH
Forage fish are a small pelagic fish that links plankton and larger fish in the food chain. These fish are usually referred to as bait fish. We sample for 2 species, Pacific sandlance and surf smelt – these species are considered beach spawners, laying their eggs in the sediments on the beach at high tide. We sample for forage fish continuously throughout the year, and we have so far completed surveys at Baker Beach and Thormanby Island. Last January we were fortunate to have sampled during a winter spawn at Baker Beach, during which we identified the presence of Pacific sandlance. This was an extremely exciting find, as Pacific sandlance are the preferred food for Chinook salmon, which are in turn the main food source for the Salish Sea orcas (~90% of their diet). With the Salish Sea orcas considered at risk, it is important to understand their food source and ensure protection of these resources.

We are expanding our research into this area with new sampling beaches proposed for the spring. We have partnered with DFO to start collecting environmental DNA (eDNA) samples for forage fish. We hope that we can take sediment samples from the beach and determine if it is a spawning beach using eDNA. This would reduce the time and amount of sample required at each beach. We will keep you posted with our progress!

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PINNIPED MONITORING
We completed a second survey for pinnipeds (carnivorous aquatic mammals such as seals and sealions) this year. We identified haul-out locations throughout the harbour from Halfmoon Bay through to Powell River, using GPS to identify 11 locations in July and 10 locations in November.  We also observed a colony of Steller sea lions comprised of 75 individuals in July and 191 in November.

INVASIVE SPECIES MONITORING
New this year, we have started looking at monitoring invasive species along the coast and near high traffic locations such as government docks. We have been completing literature reviews for habitat types required for European green crab and have completed underwater photographs of some of the public docks within the harbour including Madeira Park, Irvine’s Landing, Whiskey Slough and Garden Bay. We plan to take underwater photographs twice a year to see if there are any changes in the composition of the flora and fauna, to complete biodiversity indices and to monitor for potential invasive species presence. Our first round of photographs was completed in October 2018.

INTERTIDAL SURVEYS
Our intertidal surveys are comprised of rocky and soft sediment surveys. Rocky surveys involve a visual inspection along the rocky shoreline in a given area, wherein abundance of mobile organisms is recorded, and a snapshot of sessile invertebrates and marine plants is completed. Soft sediment sampling involves looking at organisms under the surface at different depth intervals.  We survey the intertidal at four locations in total; rocky intertidal is completed at Baker Beach, Irvines Landing, and Thormanby Island, while soft sediment is completed at Baker Beach, Thormanby Island, and Malcolm Bay.

We complete intertidal surveys twice a year, in the summer and in the winter. This year we performed summer surveys for both site types and all locations between June and early September. While summer sampling occurs during daylight hours, winter sampling occurs at night to correspond with the low tides - this proves challenging, as the weather can be unpredictable and good low tides are few and far between! As a result, we have yet to perform winter surveys at all sites. Two soft sediment surveys were completed this November at Malcolm Bay and Baker Beach, and a rocky intertidal survey was also completed in November at Baker Beach. One rocky intertidal survey (Thormanby Island) was completed in February earlier this year, but we have not been able to access this site more recently due to the timing of the tides. Both rocky and soft sediment surveys will be performed on Thormanby in early 2019, and a rocky intertidal survey is scheduled at Irvines Landing for early this December.

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Local Citizen Scientist Collect Data

Our citizen scientist crew are local fishermen, educators, retired professionals, international and local students who have ventured out on the Malaspina Strait for daylong sampling surveys over the last four years.

This dedicated crew have helped collect 24,000+ zooplankton, pyhtoplankton samples and other physical water quality parametres as part of a long-term project to assess and monitor the Salish sea ecosystem with respect to salmon survival.

We hope you will join us for the THE SALISH SEA MARINE SURVIVALPROJECT: FINDINGS & NEXT STEP.

Speaker: DR. BRIAN RIDDELL CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation
Place: Pender Harbour School of Music
Date: Thursday, December 6th


Come find out what PSF has been learning about the causes of Chinook and Coho salmon mortality in the Strait of Georgia, and our proposed next steps to assist with salmon recovery.

HUGS Ukulele will perform 'songs for salmon' at 6:30pm, Lecture at 7:00 pm, Refreshments served.

EVERYONE WELCOME!

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Climate change: Oceans 'soaking up more heat than estimated'

By Matt McGrath
Environment Correspondent
View original article here

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The world has seriously underestimated the amount of heat soaked up by our oceans over the past 25 years, researchers say.

Their study suggests that the seas have absorbed 60% more than previously thought.

They say it means the Earth is more sensitive to fossil fuel emissions than estimated.

This could make it much more difficult to keep global warming within safe levels this century.

What have the researchers found?

According to the last major assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's oceans have taken up over 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases.

But this new study says that every year, for the past 25 years, we have put about 150 times the amount of energy used to generate electricity globally into the seas - 60% more than previous estimates.

That's a big problem.

Scientists base their predictions about how much the Earth is warming by adding up all the excess heat that is produced by the known amount of greenhouse gases that have been emitted by human activities.

This new calculation shows that far more heat than we thought has been going into oceans. But it also means that far more heat than we thought has been generated by the warming gases we have emitted.

Therefore more heat from the same amount of gas means the Earth is more sensitive to CO2.

What are the implications of the finding?

The researchers involved in the study believe the new finding will make it much harder to keep within the temperature rise targets set by governments in the Paris agreement. Recently the IPCC spelled out clearly the benefits to the world of keeping below the lower goal of 1.5C relative to pre-industrial levels.

This new study says that will be very difficult indeed.

"It is a big concern," said lead author Dr Laure Resplandy from Princeton University in New Jersey.

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"If you look at the IPCC 1.5C, there are big challenges ahead to keep those targets, and our study suggests it's even harder because we close the window for those lower pathways."

The report suggests that to prevent temperatures rising above 2C, carbon emissions from human activities must be reduced by 25% more than previously estimated.

What does it mean for the oceans?

As well as potentially making it more difficult to keep warming below 1.5 or even 2C this century, all that extra heat going into the oceans will prompt some significant changes in the waters.

"A warmer ocean will hold less oxygen, and that has implications for marine ecosystems," said Dr Resplandy.

"There is also sea level, if you warm the ocean more you will have more thermal expansion and therefore more sea level rise."

What have these scientists done differently?

Since 2007, scientists have been able to rely on a system of almost 4,000 Argo floats that record temperature and salinity in the oceans around the world.

But prior to this, the methods used to measure the heat in the ocean had many flaws and uncertainties.

Now, researchers have developed what they say is a highly precise method of detecting the temperature of the ocean by measuring the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the air. This allows them to accurately measure ocean temperatures globally, dating back to 1991, when accurate data from a global network of stations became available.

The key element is the fact that as waters get warmer they release more carbon dioxide and oxygen into the air.

"When the ocean warms, the amount of these gases that the ocean is able to hold goes down," said Dr Resplandy.

"So what we measured was the amount lost by the oceans, and then we can calculate how much warming we need to explain that change in gases."

Will the heat ever come back out?

Yes, say the authors, but over a very long time.

"The heat stored in the ocean will eventually come back out if we start cooling the atmosphere by reducing the greenhouse effect," said Dr Resplandy.

"The fact that the ocean holds so much heat that can be transferred back to the atmosphere makes it harder for us to keep the Earth surface temperature below a certain target in the future.

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"The ocean circulation that controls the ocean heat uptake/release operates on time scales of centuries, meaning that ocean heat would be released for the centuries to come."

How have other scientists responded to the findings?

With some concern.

"The authors have a very strong track record and very solid reputation... which lends the story credibility," said Prof Sybren Drijfhout at the UK's National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.

"The updated estimate is indeed worrying in terms of how likely it is that society can meet 1.5 and 2 degree targets as it shifts the lower bound of climate sensitivity upward."

Others say that further work is required.

"The uncertainty in the ocean heat content change estimate is still large, even when using this new independent method, which also has uncertainties," said Thomas Froelicher from the University of Bern, Switzerland.

"The conclusion about a potential higher climate sensitivity and potentially less allowable carbon emission to stay below 2C should stimulate further investigation."

The study has been published in the journal Nature.