It’s Official, Australia Has Had Its First Recorded Marine Animal Extinction


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We barely knew you.

We see the surface of the sea: the rock pools, the waves, the horizon. But there is so much more going on underneath, hidden from view.

The sea’s surface conceals human impact as well.

Today, I am writing a eulogy to the Derwent River Seastar (or starfish), that formerly inhabited the shores near the Tasman Bridge in Hobart, Tasmania.

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(Christy Hipsley, Museums Victoria/University of Melbourne)

It is Australia’s first documented marine animal extinction and one of the few recorded anywhere in the world.

Scientists only knew the Derwent River Seastar for about 25 years. It was first described in 1969 by Alan Dartnall, a former curator of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

It was found on and off until the early 1990s but scientists noted a decline in numbers. Targeted surveys in 1993 and 2010 failed to find a single individual.

file 20180918 158240 1ix0smp(Blair Patulo, Museums Victoria)

It was listed as critically endangered by the Tasmanian and Australian governments. But now, like a long-lost missing person, it is time to call it: the Derwent River Seastar appears extinct.

It is actually quite hard to document the extinction of marine animals.

There is always hope that it will turn up in some unusual spot, somewhere in that hidden world. Australia has an ambitious plan to create high-resolution maps of 50 percent of our marine environment by 2025.

This is a formidable task. But it is a reflection of our lack of knowledge about the oceans that, 20 years after the launch of Google Maps and despite an enormous effort in the interim, much of Australia’s seafloor in 2025 will be still largely known from the occasional 19th-century depth sounding, or imprecise gravity measurements from satellites.

We do notice when big animals go. There used to be a gigantic dugong-like creature called Steller’s Sea Cow, which lived in the North Pacific Ocean until it was hunted to oblivion by 1768. There is no mistaking that loss.

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But the vast majority of the estimated 1 million to 2 million marine animals are invertebrates, animals without backbones such as shells, crabs, corals and seastars. We just don’t monitor those enough to observe their decline.

We noticed the Derwent River Seastar because it was only found at a few sites near a major city. Its story is intertwined with the usual developments that happen near many large ports.

The Derwent River became silty and was at times heavily polluted by industrial and residential waste. The construction of the Tasman Bridge in the early 1960s cannot have helped.

From the 1920s a series of marine pests were accidentally introduced by live oysters imported from New Zealand, or by hitching a ride on ships. Some of these pests are now abundant in southeast Tasmanian waters and eat or compete with local species.

The Derwent River Seastar has been a bit of an enigma. From the start, it was mistakenly classified as belonging to group of seastars (poranids) otherwise known from deep or polar habitats.

Some people wondered whether it was an introduced species as well, one that couldn’t cope with the Derwent environment.

However, we used a CT scanner at the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, to look at the internal skeleton of one of the few museum specimens.

Sure enough, it has internal struts to strengthen the body, which are characteristic of a different group of seastars (asterinids) that have adapted to coastal environments and are sometimes restricted to very small areas.

Below is a CT scan showing the internal structure of the seastar.

https://giphy.com/embed/3ksOMV7xcoVKhOXVE2

(Christy Hipsley, Museums Victoria/University of Melbourne)

Is this seastar like a canary in a coal mine, a warning of a wave of marine extinctions? Sea levels are rising with global warming, and that is going to be a big problem for life adapted to living along the shoreline.

Mangroves, salt marsh, seagrass beds, mud flats, beaches and rock platforms only form at specific water depths. They are going to need to follow rising sea levels and reform higher up the shoreline.

Coastal life can take hundreds to thousands of years to adjust to these sorts of changes. But in many places we don’t have a natural environment anymore.

Humans will increasingly protect coastal property by building seawalls and other infrastructure, especially around towns and bays. This will mean far less space for marine animals and plants.

We need to start planning new places for our shore life to go – areas they can migrate to with rising sea levels. Otherwise, the Derwent River Seastar won’t be the last human-induced extinction from these environments.

Wind turbines making people sick with mysterious illnesses.


When Edward and Sue Hobart first built their dream home on six beautiful acres of land in Falmouth, a small town on Massachusetts‘ southern coast, they had no idea that one day they would be forced to abandon it due to local “green” energy initiatives. But the constant migraine headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness and insomnia brought about by the incessant spinning of several local wind turbines proved to be intolerable, producing ghastly symptoms that many others in the area have also since reported.

wind turbines

A recent investigation by ABC News into so-called “wind turbine syndrome,” or the collection of illness symptoms commonly reported by people who live near wind turbines, has uncovered a string of related ailments associated with the use of this technology, especially near residential areas. For the Hobarts and many others, the recent erection of two large wind turbines and one smaller one in their otherwise quiet community has brought about these and other health problems, with no end in sight.

“Sometimes at night, especially in the winter, I wake up with a fluttering in the chest and think, ‘What the hell is that,’ and the only place it happens is at my house,” explained Sue to ABC News, noting that initially she had no idea that her mysterious illness symptoms could be the result of the wind turbines. “That’s how you know. When you go away, it doesn’t happen.”

Wind turbines create low frequencies that can cause health problems, admit experts

Like many others, the Hobarts experience no health problems when they are away from the turbines. But every time they return home, the symptoms come back, the likely result of certain low-frequency rattles and shakes emitted by the turbines, say experts. Dr. Nina Pierpont, for instance, a Johns Hopkins University-trained pediatrician, says wind turbine syndrome is very real, and that it is the green energy industry’s “dirty little secret.”

For years, Dr. Pierpont and her husband have been advocating against the continued use of wind turbines, especially near residential areas, because of continued reports of widespread illness symptoms. Dr. Pierpont even published her own case study back in 2009 entitled “Wind Turbine Syndrome” that documents howpeople living up to 1.25 miles away from wind turbines experience major health problems, which makes it impossible for many of them to live normal and productive lives.

‘Green’ energy industry falsely accuses wind turbine sufferers of imagining their conditions

Wind energy advocates have repeatedly denied such claims, even going so far as to accuse wind turbine syndrome sufferers of fabricating or imagining their symptoms. But this has not stopped the Hobarts and others from fighting to have these metal monstrosities removed. According to ABC News, the Hobarts filed a nuisance claim this past February against Notus Clean Energy, owner of the smaller turbine. And several other local residents have also filed lawsuits against the town, which owns the two larger turbines.

“The heart of the issue is that they have been pushed off their land,” stated Representative Brian Mannal, who is also the Hobarts’ lawyer, to the media. “They have erected these enormous, industrial-scale turbines — larger than a 747 — in close proximity to residences. [The Hobarts] have had to leave their house because they couldn’t live there anymore.”

While the Hobarts’ lawsuit is still pending, their town continues to be bombarded with additional lawsuits seeking remedy with regards to the turbines. At one point, the town’s selectmen voted unanimously to take the wind turbines down, but an official measure put before the town several months later was voted down.

Sources :

http://abcnews.go.com

http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com

http://rt.com