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Oceans/Marine Life

Tribute: Viji, the Turtle Girl

This day thirty years ago, the bodily remains of J. Vijaya, India’s first female herpetologist and turtle field biologist, was found in a forest. She was only 28. The cause of her death remains unknown to this day. A moving tribute to one of the most memorable personalities in Indian wildlife conservation, by Janaki Lenin.

‘If we go on like this, the entire mass of small fishers will be wiped out.’

The Indian coastline no longer belongs to its traditional custodians— the small fisher people. A jamboree of development —cities, SEZs, power plants, ports, sand mining— is eating up the coastline and eroding it beyond repair. Debasis Shyamal of the National Fishworkers’ Forum speaks to Sayantan Bera on the present and future of India’s traditional fishers.

Fishers turn climate scientists to save beaches

India Climate Dialogue reports: A community-managed shoreline monitoring project in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry is tracking changes to beaches to safeguard an ecosystem that is vital for the livelihoods of fishing communities. “A Tide Turns” is a community science initiative that has helped turn more than 120 people from local fishing communities into climate scientists.

Which species are we sure we can survive without?

Kurt Cobb wrtites: According to scientists, we are amidst the Sixth Great Extinction, caused by human activity. If you consider that the broader world with which we interact has millions of species of which we’re not aware of, we could easily cause an organism essential to our survival to go extinct without even realizing it.

Study: 47 of 68 fish species in India under threat

More fish species on the east coast, especially in the waters off Odisha and West Bengal, are highly vulnerable to climate change, according to a first of its kind assessment by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). That vulnerability stems not only from changes in climate but also from fishing pressure and lower productivity.

Obituary: The Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC-2016)

“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.” So begins Rowan Jacobsen’s moving obituary for the world’s largest living structure. With 2,900 individual reefs and 1,050 islands, it’s larger than the United Kingdom, and it contained more biodiversity than all of Europe combined.

Landmark NGT judgments hold private firms, not god or government, responsible

Nehmat Kaur writes: The National Green Tribunal covered new ground for the ‘polluter pays’ principle by invoking it in two landmark judgments recently. Activists are hopeful that this will help deter corporations from functioning with impunity, under the cover of governmental apathy. The judgments in both cases acknowledged governmental inaction in dealing with environmental damage.

Report: Soaring ocean temperature is ‘greatest hidden challenge of our generation’

The Guardian reports: The oceans have already sucked up an enormous amount of heat due to escalating greenhouse gas emissions, affecting marine species from microbes to whales, according to a report involving the work of 80 scientists from a dozen countries. The profound changes underway in the oceans are starting to impact people, it states.

How ‘development’ is set to create 2000 jobs, but destroy 50,000 livelihoods in Kerala

Job creation for Keralites from the controversial Adani-run Vizhinjam Port project is estimated at around 2,000. Compare that to 50,000 fisherfolk who’ll lose their livelihoods. Anjana Radhakrishnan takes a closer look at a project that already seems a social, ecological and economic disaster in the making, but has so far escaped the national media’s attention.

Revealed: first mammal species wiped out by human-induced climate change

The Guardian reports: Human-caused climate change appears to have wiped-out the Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic mammal species, the small rodent Bramble Cay melomys, into the history books, from its only known location. It’s also the first recorded extinction of a mammal anywhere in the world thought to be primarily due to human-caused climate change.

NEWS UPDATE #85

Sukumar Muralidharan reports on Catch News: This year’s economic survey is a catalogue of crises. For one thing, it records that the situation in agriculture has been dismal on account of two successive years of poor monsoons. This is only the fourth time in 115 years that such a misfortune has hit the Indian economy.

Marine parks in India – a case for maritime environmentalism

Aarti Sridhar writes: It is in the ordinary everyday life of fishers and in the political strategies of their leaders that one finds the outlines of a new kind of environmentalism which’s fluid and defies water-tight categorisations. This ethic suggests that it is futile to remain wholly preservationist or utilitarian, or entirely biocentric or anthropocentric.

NEWS UPDATE #83

Common Dreams reports: A new analysis, published in Science Advances journal, reveals that global water scarcity is a far greater problem than previously thought, affecting 4 billion people—two-thirds of the world’s population. Previous analyses looked at water scarcity at an annual scale, and had found that water scarcity affected between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people.

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