AltaSea: Trending – July 12, 2019

A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.


6 Unexpected Products You Should Probably Avoid if You Love Animals (Global Citizen)

All around the world, countless products are harming countless animals.

Some products are cultivated in ways that cause deforestation, others use ingredients that pollute ecosystems, and others kill animals directly.

All told, these products embody the destructive practices that are all too common in international commerce.

Many of these goods are hard to go without — but environmentally sustainable alternatives exist, and they’re easy to find.

Here are six common products hurting the animals you love, and some better, friendlier options you should try instead.

These corals choose to eat plastic over food (National Geographic)

Scientists have for the first time shown that some wild corals are feeding on tiny shreds of plastic trash. Worse, the animals seem to prefer those ‘microplastics’ over their natural food—even when the plastic is carrying bacteria that can kill them.

The new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, focused on a temperate species of coral collected off Rhode Island, one that builds small clusters no larger than a human fist. But researchers say the findings suggest that more familiar tropical, reef-building corals may also be consuming—and being harmed by—microplastics, which are defined as bits of plastic waste smaller than a fifth of an inch across.

Hope you like to eat jellyfish, because they’re taking over the oceans (Fast Company)

Salmon farmers in Northern Ireland could only stand aghast one autumn morning as they watched their entire stock—100,000 plump Atlantic salmon—wipe out within hours.

The Irish Sea water glowed red that day in 2007 with what the farmers described as “billions” of jellyfish, engulfing a space of 10 square meters, 35 feet deep. The farm’s boats practically jammed as they tried to trudge through the throng of unwelcome intruders. Over the following hours, the entire inventory of Northern Ireland’s then-only salmon farm, $2 million worth of fish, was obliterated. Some died of stress, many suffocated under the pressure of the battling boats, and the rest were stung to death.

The “mauve stingers,” a species native to the warm Mediterranean Sea, weren’t supposed to exist at all in the colder British waters, but they followed a now-recurrent pattern—slippery, alien-like blobs without brains, hearts, or blood suddenly mushrooming in population and overrunning the Earth’s waters.

One of Antarctica’s biggest glaciers will soon reach a point of irreversible melting. That would cause sea levels to rise at least 1.6 feet. (Business Insider)

In western Antarctica, a glacier the size of Florida is losing ice faster than ever before.

Sections of the Thwaites Glacier are retreating by up to 2,625 feet per year, contributing to 4% of sea-level rise worldwide. That ice loss is part of a broader trend: The entire Antarctic ice sheet is melting nearly six times as fast as it did 40 years ago. In the 1980s, Antarctica lost 40 billion tons of ice annually. In the last decade, that number jumped to an average of 252 billion tons per year.

Now, authors of a new study report that over the last six years, the rate at which five Antarctic glaciers slough off ice has doubled. That makes the Thwaites Glacier a melting time bomb.


Device That Creates Drinking Water From Thin Air Just Won $1.5 Million Award (

David Hertz and Rich Groden, two California designers have built a shipping container that can harvest water from thin air. For this amazing creation, they were awarded $1.5 million in prizes! To be precise, they were both named the winners of the Water Abundance XPrize for their innovative creation, which has the ability to produce enough water for 100 people.

Back in 2016, the competition was founded. It’s purpose for to get designers to build a device that could extract a minimum of 2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere while only using clean energy and costing no more than 2 cents a liter. While this may sound like a tall ask, a lot of people did manage it but only the lucky few created something special.

Solar Powered Floating Islands Could Extract CO2 From Seawater To Produce Fuel (Intelligent Living)

A team of researchers from Norway and Switzerland has put forward a proposal for ‘Solar Methanol Islands’ that convert atmospheric carbon dioxide to fuel. The islands would have to be clustered together to create large-scale facilities. If enough of these facilities were built, they could eventually offset the total global emissions from fossil fuels and thus help protect our climate from global warming. The researchers’ proposal has been published in PNAS.

The researchers argue that although a massive reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning is required to limit the extent of global warming, the reality is that carbon-based liquid fuels will continue to be important energy storage media in the foreseeable future. Therefore, they propose a combination of mostly existing technologies to use solar energy to recycle atmospheric carbon dioxide into liquid fuel.

Research: Actually, Consumers Do Buy Sustainable Products (Harvard Business Review)

For years, brand managers have groused that while consumers say they intend to buy sustainable products, in store they don’t actually purchase them. This conventional wisdom has been used by many brands as justification for not making their products more sustainable.

NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business just completed extensive research into U.S. consumers’ actual purchasing of consumer packaged goods (CPG), using data contributed by IRI, and found that 50% of CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products.


A Ship Tour of a Different Kind (NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research)

NOAA teamed up with the Octonauts to provide a behind-the-scenes look at NOAA’s ocean exploration vessel in the “Octonauts and NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer” video, giving aspiring explorers the opportunity to learn more about our ocean. The ship tour explains how we use special robots to explore the deep sea; how scientists work with our live video footage; what we do with the samples the robots collect from the deep; how we map the seafloor; how telepresence works; and takes you to the ship’s bridge to meet the Captain. The ship tour brings together all the different aspects of ocean exploration in the underwater world of the Octonauts, and the real-life version at NOAA to help audiences of all ages learn more about ocean exploration.

All-Women’s Scientific Voyage Aimed at Surveying Plastic Pollution in World’s Oceans to Kick Off in October (The Weather Channel)

Starting October 2019, an all-female, multidisciplinary team will sail the world’s oceans for two years to explore the extent of plastic and toxic materials and to conduct scientific research into the mounting environmental challenges these pollutants pose.

The voyage-cum-scientific mission, conducted by an organization called ‘eXXpedition’, will cover over 38,000 nautical miles and 30 voyage legs, and will start and end in the United Kingdom. It will be headed by Emily Penn, eXXpedition Director and Sky Ocean Rescue Ambassador.

The global voyage will comprise 300 women, including scientists, teachers, filmmakers, product designers, photographers and athletes of different ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds. eXXpedition aims to enable the women to experience firsthand, the challenges the world faces from single-use plastics, “while contributing to cutting-edge scientific research and solutions based thinking”.


Transpac Race 2019 (Transpac)

The first of three waves of 90 entries starts on Wednesday, July 10th in the 50th edition of the Transpacific YC’s biennial 2,225-mile race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. This record turnout will feature 33 mono-hulls between 33 and 67 feet in length scored in 5 divisions starting their journey on Wednesday at 1:00 PM PDT on a starting line set one mile south of Point Fermin in San Pedro. Two multihulls of 40 and 42 feet scored in one division will be also be starting on this day 30 minutes earlier at 12:30 PDT.

The next wave of racers will be setting off on Friday, July 12th also at 1:00 PM PDT from Point Fermin, and will include 27 mono-hull yachts between 35 to 73 feet in length. This group is divided and scored in three divisions.

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