Ocean Cleanup steams out to sea in plastic pollution quest

The hope is that the vessel, the first of a planned fleet or 60 or more, can strain out the millions of pounds of plastic trash that collects in slow-moving ocean whirlpools called gyres, which can be hundreds of miles across. 

…Currents and waves push trash into the machine’s center to collect it. Floating particles are captured by the net while the push of water against the net propels fish and other marine life under and beyond. 

…The system is fitted with solar-powered lights and anti-collision systems to keep any stray ships from running into it, along with cameras, sensors and satellites that allow it to communicate with its creators.

…If all goes well, it will be towed out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch nearly 1,400 miles off the West Coast, about halfway between California and Hawaii. A support vessel will fish out the collected plastic every few weeks, according to the Associated Press. The waste will then be transported to dry land for recycling.

Ocean Cleanup steams out to sea in plastic pollution quest

Yes, we need to reduce the plastic we use but unless that mythical day, this seems like a logical step in the right direction.


Australian governments concede Great Barrier Reef headed for ‘collapse’

The world’s climate change path means the Great Barrier Reef is headed for “collapse” according to a plan endorsed by state and federal governments that critics say turns a blind eye to Australia’s inadequate effort to cut carbon emissions.

…The comments depart starkly from previous official efforts to downplay damage wrought on the reef for fear of denting the tourism industry.

…It concedes that consecutive coral bleaching events and other stressors “have fundamentally changed the character of the reef”, which is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.

“Coral bleaching is projected to increase in frequency … those coral reefs that survive are expected to be less biodiverse than in the past,” the plan says.

Australian governments concede Great Barrier Reef headed for ‘collapse’


Cockatoo identified in 13th Century European book

“The fact that a cockatoo reached Sicily during the 13th Century shows that merchants plying their trade to the north of Australia were part of a flourishing network that reached west to the Middle East and beyond,” said co-author Dr Heather Dalton, from the University of Melbourne.

…Dr Dalton said she believed that the cockatoo was taken from its original habitat to Sicily via Cairo in a journey lasting several years.

Cockatoo identified in 13th Century European book – BBC News




How 700,000-Year-Old Rhino Bones Could Change the Story of Human Migration

A 700,000-year-old butchered rhino carcass in the Philippines is rewriting the history of early human migration around the globe, and telling us more about a tool-using human relative that lived long before Homo sapiens ever existed.

Researchers recently unearthed a rhino skeleton on Kalinga, a province within the Philippine island of Luzon. The skeleton showed signs of deliberate butchering by stone tools. But when these cuts were made more than 700,000 years ago, there shouldn’t have been any tool-users around to butcher the animal—at least according to our old understanding.

…The most likely candidate to have made these rhino cuts is Homo erectus, an ancient Asian species of human that went extinct around 140,000 years ago. The tools used on the carcass seem to corroborate this theory.

But the study authors concede there is a problem with this hypothesis. The Philippines are a fairly isolated chain of islands in the Pacific that, at the time, would have been accessible only by boat. According to the paper, “it still seems too farfetched to suggest” that any early human relative could have made the journey. And yet, the butchered rhino is there.

…It also seems to predate all known watercraft, and Pobiner says, “the evidence from Kalinga also adds to the growing indication that whether intentionally or not, at least one pre-modern human species of hominin was able to cross sea barriers in the Middle Pleistocene.”

…Mysteries surround these early tool-using primates, ancestors to the species of human that still exists today. We don’t know exactly who they were, and we don’t know exactly how they got there. However, the early human hunters of the Philippines apparently enjoyed the taste of rhino.

How 700,000-Year-Old Rhino Bones Could Change the Story of Human Migration