1. OVER 50,000 GREEN SEA TURTLES FILMED IN INCREDIBLE DRONE FOOTAGE

Australian researchers from the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science (DES) have captured breathtaking drone footage of approximately 64,000 green sea turtles migrating for nesting season near the Great Barrier Reef. 

Scientists were stunned by the number of turtles captured in aerial footage at the world’s largest turtle rookery at Raine Island at the start of June, 2020, with new drone technology allowing for a more reliable way of gaging population numbers.

“When we compared drone counts to observer counts we found that we had under-estimated the numbers in the past by a factor 1.73,” said Richard Fitzpatrick from the Biopixel Oceans Foundation in a statement published by the DES.

“By using drones we have adjusted historical data. What previously took a number of researchers a long time can now be by one drone operator in under an hour.”

Population research methods usually consist of scientists counting the turtles once they had reached the beach to lay eggs and marking the turtles using non-toxic paint to keep track.

“Trying to accurately count thousands of painted and unpainted turtles from a small boat in rough weather was difficult. Using a drone is easier, safer, much more accurate, and the data can be immediately and permanently stored,” said Dr Andrew Dunstan from the Department of Environment and Science (DES) in a statement.

 

2. LEADING AUTHORITIES LINK ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICES TO GLOBAL PANDEMIC

An op-ed article written by three of the most prevalent authorities on environmental justice has been published by The Guardian, addressing the links between pandemics like the COVID-19 crisis and the human-lead destruction of nature 

The article, published on 17 June, 2020, was a collaborative effort written by the director of WWF International, Marco Kambertini, the executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, and the director of The World Health Organisation Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, Maria Neira.

The piece outlines how environmental issues such as wildlife trade, deforestation and habitat destruction are key factors which lead to the transfer of animal diseases to human hosts.

“We have seen many diseases emerge over the years — such as Zika, AIDS, SARS and Ebola — and although they are quite different at first glance, they all originated from animal populations under conditions of severe environmental pressures. And they all illustrate that our destructive behaviour towards nature is endangering our own health,” reads the article.

The NGO leaders call for action on “the underlying issues that are driving the destruction of nature”, referencing the ways of which humans produce and consume food, deforestation, agricultural and livestock intensification, and call for a “transformation towards a model that values nature as the foundation for a healthy society”.

“Rebalancing our relationship with nature will require concerted effort and determination. But it will also create a healthier and more prosperous future for people and planet, and put us in a better position to prevent the next pandemic. Surely, it is an effort we should all be willing to make,” reads the article.

 

3. MICROPLASTICS CARRIED IN ATMOSPHERE TO REMOTE US LOCATIONS 

A new study published in the journal Science explored the concentrations of microplastics in remote U.S. conservation areas and found that “deposition rates averaged 132 plastics per square metre, per day”.

Samples were collected across 11 US national parks and wilderness areas and brought back staggering results: of the 339 samples collected, 98% of them contained plastics.

“There’s no nook or cranny on the surface of the earth that won’t have microplastics,” said lead author of the study, Janice Brahney, to The New York Times.

“It’s really unnerving to think about it.”

Researchers sought to determine the amount of microplastics that are carried within the atmosphere. Plastic concentration rates within atmospheric deposition were compared under both wet and dry conditions and it was found that larger microplastic particles were found within rain and snow, while smaller particles are carried in drier conditions. Researchers believe that the plastics found within the dry samples had travelled from far distances, carried by wind to remote locations. 

The microfibres found within the samples were reportedly the same types of plastics used to make clothing, tents and industrial coatings, suggesting that the pollution may be contributed from park users and derived from tourist hot-spots.

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