Seascape - beach

Positive ocean news: March '24 edition

5 minute read

Dive into our latest round-up of good news stories for our seas.

135,000 seagrass seeds planted in Firth of Forth

Seagrass Isle Of Wight

Sunlight shining on a seagrass meadow

Credit: Laura McConnell

With the help of 95 community volunteers, 135,000 common eelgrass seeds were planted on three beaches in the Firth of Forth to help restore its seagrass beds.

The planting was carried out as part of the Restoration Forth project, which aims to restore four hectares of seagrass meadows and native oyster beds in the Firth of Forth. Partners of the project include the Marine Conservation Society, WWF Scotland, Project Seagrass and Herriot-Watt University, with Aviva, Scottish Power and the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund facilitated by SMEEF funding the initiative.

This latest milestone adds to the seagrass seeds previously planted at Kinghorn, home to the oldest known seagrass bed in the estuary, and Belhaven Bay and Dalmeny’s Drum Sands in East Lothian.

Read more on the Fife Today website

Indonesia developing satellite network to improve marine monitoring

Boats on water - Indonesia

Small boats in the sea of Indonesia

Credit: Tandya Rachmat

To better monitor its fishing and marine resources, Indonesia is planning to launch a network of 20 nanosatellites in July 2024. The satellites will work alongside sea drones to monitor and surveil Indonesia’s 2.2 million square mile marine area, which has the highest diversity of coral reef fish in the world.

The latest development will help the country to actively manage conservation efforts and protect areas from destructive fishing through tracking ships and monitoring the country’s fish stocks.

Indonesia’s fisheries ministry is also developing two tools that will inform policymaking and zoning for the country’s fisheries, conservation areas, and marine ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and coral reefs.

Read more on the Mongabay website

Grey whale spotted in Atlantic, where it became extinct 200 years ago

Grey whale - Atlantic

The grey whale seen swimming of the New England coast

Credit: New England Aquarium

Although the species disappeared from the Atlantic over two centuries ago, a grey whale was seen off the New England coast, where it appeared to be feeding.

It was spotted by the New England Aquarium research team who were conducing aerial surveys at the time.

Grey whales are commonly found in the North Pacific Ocean and despite becoming extinct from the Atlantic Ocean by the 18th century, there have been five sightings of the species in Atlantic and Mediterranean waters in the past 15 years. The Aquarium scientists believe the grey whale spotted off New England was also seen near Florida in December 2023.

Scientists believe the increased sightings of grey whales in the Atlantic may be due to climate change, as the Arctic Ocean of the Northwest Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific, has been ice-free in recent summers due to rising temperatures. The lack of ice means that whales can travel through the Passage, which wouldn’t have been possible in previous centuries.

Read more on the Good News Network website

Proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary declared ‘Hope Spot’

Sea otter among seaweed in sea

A sea otter swimming on its back amongst seaweed

Credit: Kieran Wood

A 7,500 square mile marine area off California’s central coast has been recognised as a Mission Blue ‘Hope Spot’.

The area, which is home to an array of marine life and acts as a feeding ground for several threatened or endangered species such as blue whales, southern sea otters, and leatherback turtles.

It also contains several submerged villages of Chumash tribal ancestors, and is currently pending designation from the government as a marine sanctuary. If granted, the area’s marine habitats, and ancestral sites, would be protected from destructive activities such as seabed mining and oil drilling.

Mission Blue has recognised the site as a ‘Hope Spot’, which are areas that have been “scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean” and often need protection, in support of the federal designation.

Read more on the Native News Online website

Artificially restored coral reefs found to fully recover after four years

Scientists in Indonesia have discovered that coral reefs restored artificially, through the use of ‘reef stars’, can regrow at the same speed as naturally occurring reefs in just four years.

Coral Reef - Ralf Schlegel

Credit: Ralf Schlegel

As part of the Mars Coral Reef Restoration Program, one of the largest restoration projects in the world, an international team has been working to restore damaged coral reefs by using small, hexagonal steel structures called ‘reef stars’ to cover barren areas and gaps in coral reefs. The ‘stars’, which are coated with sand and have coral fragments attached, act as a foundation for coral larvae to attach and build on, helping to rebuild the damaged areas.

After four years, the scientists found that the coral transplanted onto the metal ‘reef stars’ recovered with remarkable speed, with calcium carbonate levels (which corals contribute) three times higher than previously and at similar levels to healthy coral sites.

The discovery offers hope for coral restoration efforts, and the ability of damaged reefs to recover with human intervention.

Read more on the Good News Network website

Eight-year-old runs half marathon to raise money for ocean conservation

Orkney, from the Isles of Scilly, ran a half marathon (21km) around the island of St Mary’s, raising vital funds for marine conservation.

Orkney, an ocean and wildlife enthusiast has previously completed running challenges to raise funds for conservation charities, but said he wanted to do one more before his ninth birthday – he opted for a half marathon.

Orkney running on Isles of Scilly

Credit: Samaya Reid

Although he runs often, Orkney admits that he found the challenge difficult, particularly in the sunny weather: “When I got to 15km I thought I couldn’t run anymore and felt stressed. But, I relaxed on a hammock in the shade with some chocolate and then I felt fine!”

As well as completing the full half marathon, Orkney smashed his fundraising of £1000, raising a total of £1,700 for the Marine Conservation Society, which he supports. To celebrate, Orkney had a party on the beach after completing his run. “It was so much fun”, he says, “I’m now trying to think about what running challenge I can do next.”

If you'd like to join Orkney in raising money for us through a running event or challenge, take a look at our fundraising opportunities.

Canada’s only known live coral reef discovered

Pink coral underwater

Credit: Sandy Ravaloniaina

Scientists began looking for the Lophelia reef in 2021, finally locating it off Canada’s British Columbia coast, on the final dive of the expedition.

The reef, which is the most northern reef in the Pacific Ocean, was bursting with life, with octopuses, rock fish, eels and schools of fish swimming among it. It’s both globally unique and a vital habitat for local biodiversity, providing food and refuge for an array of species.

For this reason, Canda’s Fisheries Department closed off the area to all commercial and recreational bottom-contact fisheries, including midwater trawl, to prevent fishing gear damaging the reef.

Read more on the National Post website

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