Best of our wild blogs: 13 Aug 13

bad birding practice @ pasir ris - 11Aug2013
from sgbeachbum

Aug 18: Hill 1 & 2 Ramble
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Holesome things
from The annotated budak

Butterflies Galore! : Common Bluebottle
from Butterflies of Singapore

It’s pouring pangolin photos!
from sundapangolin

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Coral bleaching reported at Saipan

DEQ raises concerns on coral bleaching
Saipan Tribune 12 Aug 13;

The Division of Environmental Quality and its Marine Monitoring Program would like to inform the general public that there have been documented and confirmed incidents of coral bleaching at some of the near shore reefs around Saipan. The Division of Environmental Quality and its Marine Monitoring Program would like to inform the general public that there have been documented and confirmed incidents of coral bleaching at some of the near shore reefs around Saipan.

Coral bleaching is a physiological response to a number of stressors including sea water temperature anomalies (hot and cold), irradiance (UV light exposure), desiccation, and pollution. Currently, 14 species are being affected and six of the species are moving into fatal levels of bleaching due to an increase in water temperature.

Corals are animals that live symbiotically with algae called zooxanthellae that provide them with much of their food and energy needs. When the ocean temperature becomes too warm for too long, corals release the zooxanthellae, leaving corals with a brilliant white color, a stark contrast to the typical bright colors of a healthy coral reef. The bleached coral can recover if ocean temperatures return to normal and the algae return, but without the zooxanthellae, the coral often starves to death. Bleached corals are in a fragile state and extra care should be taken when recreating near them. Fishers, divers and snorkelers in particular should pay close attention not to touch or kick the corals.

The best thing the community can do is keep an eye on our reef and practice environmentally-friendly land and marine practices such as carpooling, removing trash correctly, minimizing chemical and fertilizer use, not burning, and boating and fishing responsibly. The community is urged to report any similar events to the natural resource management agencies of the CNMI:

- CNMI Division of Environmental Quality – Marine Monitoring Program: 664-8524

- CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife: 664-6000

- NMI Coastal Resources Management Office: 664-8300

- NOAA Field Office: 234-0004

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India: Beach tourism, development killing turtles - WWF

Times of India 12 Aug 13;

KOLKATA: Unregulated tourism and development activity along beaches like Mandarmani and Digha in West Bengal is killing turtles including the vulnerable Olive Ridleys, say researchers.

"In Digha intense tourism pressure has resulted in the decline of turtles and based on information revealed by local people, no nesting population of Olive Ridley turtles was observed in the area in the last five to six years," says a latest study by WWF on the status of marine turtles.

East Midnapore's 60-km-long coastline, which has popular tourist beaches like Mandarmani, Digha and Shankarpur, is less than 200 km away from Kolkata.

The coastline extends to Odisha where in Gahirmatha beach and elsewhere lakhs of Olive Ridleys congregate annually for mass nesting.

The study, conducted by a team led by Punyasloke Bhadury of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata, observed that cars and other four-wheelers were being driven along the Mandarmani beach.

Such activity may have resulted in rapid decline of nesting Olive Ridleys which nest on sand, observes the ecologist in the report.

He said that rampant tourism continued to pose a serious threat to turtles which might be nesting along the coastal areas of East Midnapore.

Developmental activity associated with tourism, he pointed out, could also be affecting the nesting population, if any, in Dadanpatrabar.

Beach erosion is another serious threat to occasional nesting populations of Olive Ridleys reported by local inhabitants.

To counter beach erosion, several unplanned steps have To counter beach erosion, several unplanned steps have been taken including casuarina plantations along the coastlines that has affected turtle nesting, the report says. To prevent coastal erosion, sea walls were erected in Junput, Shankarpur and Digha coastlines.

"The construction of dykes and embankments, as evident in the Junput coastal area, could adversely affect turtle migrations and nesting in the region," says the report.

The researchers found olive ridley turtle carcasses in the beaches of Junput, Dadanpatrabar, and Shankarpur during the study in close vicinity to fishing villages.

"Interviews with the fishermen (10-15 fishermen from each village) revealed that a majority of these dead turtles were noticed during gill net trawling activities in the coastal and offshore waters in the Bay of Bengal," they said.

Fisher folk and local villagers told the researchers that olive ridley turtles caught in the fishing nets were extracted for their meat, which was subsequently sold to aquaculture farm owners for use as fish feed.

Marine turtle eggs were also collected for consumption by the fisher folks.

The prevalence of an age-old practice, where local inhabitants consumed blood of marine turtles for medicinal reasons, including that of reducing blood pressure, was revealed by fishermen.

The WWF report suggests that tourists visiting the region should be sensitised more about the marine turtles and a possibility of introducing wildlife tourism, in particular turtle tourism, can be explored.

Such an initiative could generate revenue for turtle conservation and at the same time create job opportunities for the local communities.

The researchers concluded that the future of marine turtles visiting the East Midnapore coastal belt for nesting is bleak unless conservation steps are taken.

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China to spend more to tackle dire pollution

Sui-Lee Wee PlanetArk 12 Aug 13;

China plans to accelerate investment in technology to save energy and tackle the dire pollution blamed for a series of health crises that have generated widespread public anger.

The government has been increasingly alarmed by social unrest caused by environmental disasters and threats to public health, often the result of the country's breakneck industrial expansion and mass migration to new cities.

Smog over northern cities in January generated a public outcry, as did the discovery in March of thousands of rotting pig carcasses in a river that supplies Shanghai's water.

The country's cabinet, the State Council, said on Sunday that environmental protection would be elevated to a "pillar industry" that would receive government support in the form of tax breaks and subsidies.

China is already investing 2.3 trillion yuan ($375 billion) in energy savings and emissions reduction in the five years through 2015, state media have said.

The State Council said the new plan would ensure the environmental protection industry grows by 15 percent annually, generating turnover of 4.5 trillion yuan ($735 billion) by 2015.

Past efforts to build such "pillar industries" have sometimes led to vast overcapacity and trade conflicts, with China's government accused of giving an unfair advantage to local companies.

The State Council said eligible foreign-funded firms would enjoy the same benefits from the environmental protection plan as their Chinese counterparts.

It said it would accelerate research into environmentally friendly vehicles and develop technology and equipment for the control of air, water and soil pollution.

The plan suggests China is accelerating efforts to become a world leader in clean technology. It has already announced a series of steps to curb pollution and reduce carbon emissions.

The central government will direct more of its budget to fund environmental protection industries and encourage eligible companies to issue bonds, it said.

($1 = 6.1230 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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