Reduced predator populations lead to algal blooms

Algal blooms are a phenomenon in which algal populations in a marine area proliferate rapidly, creating a water-column shield that blocks sunlight and oxygen. These blooms are usually attributed to rises in nitrogen levels from human agriculture and industrial runoff, which fertilize the algae. But a study in the current issue of Ecological Applications shows that overfishing of top fish predators can also lead to algal blooms....

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Leatherbacks turn up by the tens of thousands

The largest population of leatherback sea turtles in the world has been identified off the coast of Gabon, Africa, and is estimated at somewhere between 15,700 and 41,400 female turtles. This seems to be a big bounceback for the endangered turtles, which are the largest living members of the sea turtle superfamily. This rough estimate was compiled during three nesting seasons between 2002 and 2007, using video to capture footage along...

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Blue whales picking up where they left off?

New movement patterns may be a sign of good news for blue whales. Blue whales have begun moving around the ocean in ways that strongly resemble their historical patterns before the advent of the whaling trade. A century ago, about 300,000 blue whales existed. But in the early 1900s, humans hunted and killed 99.9 percent of them. The population decimation made them disappear from northern waters. A new paper published online in the...

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Born at the right time

It’s nice to have some good conservation news every once in awhile, even with caveats. North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered species on Earth. These mammals were dubbed by 18th-century whalers to be the “right” whales to catch because they’re huge (up to 70 tons and 55 feet long), stay close to shore, move slowly and have large amounts of baleen and blubber, the latter of which yielded much...

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