Positive Eco News From February 2022: Chivalrous Pumas And Deep-Sea Ghosts

Can you believe we’re already two months into 2022? Plenty of us are ready for winter to be over and for the grey skies to lift, but we don’t want to sell the shortest month short. Though it has had its eco ups and eco downs, we’re here to focus on the ups – and you know what? There have been plenty.

From saving wild salmon from sunburn to waving the magic wand on oil spills and watching them go poof, we’ve gathered the highlights from the month of love.

Wellies and waterproofs at the ready – it’s going to be a wet one …

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Sunscreen for salmons

Scientists in Scotland have discovered that, due to climate change and steeply rising temperatures, highland rivers and streams are becoming too warm for wild Atlantic salmon to survive.

Atlantic salmon are cold-water fish, and warmer temperatures cause their metabolism to speed up, which means they end up using valuable energy reserves that are vital to their survival. Without energy the fish will be unable to spawn or migrate effectively.

With temperatures rising, and only 35% of Scottish rivers adequately sheltered by trees, a solution needed to be found. So, in an effort to subdue the sun’s heats, fisheries scientists have planted 250,000 trees along the banks of the River Dee, one of the UK’s largest salmon fishing rivers. And by 2023, they aim to have planted a million more native trees around similar hotspots.

Alice to take to the skies

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably caught in this conundrum pretty regularly: You want to save the world, but you also want to travel the world.

The good news is, eco air travel really may not be that far away!

Alice, the world’s first ever all-electric passenger jet, is preparing to fly.

With battery technology similar to that of a ’leccy car or a phone, this eco conscious cruiser was developed by Israeli company Eviation. It recently had engine testing at Arlington Municipal Airport in the USA and is said to be only weeks away from flying. Whilst not quite ready to ferry people across the Atlantic, Alice will be able to take 9 passengers for around an hour in the air (or 440 nautical miles).

It’s only up from here!

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New Zealand’s very own friendly ghost

Ghost sharks are an extremely old and especially rare relative to the shark family, who dwell at depths of between 400 and 2,000 metres: a tricky environment to conduct any real studies in – meaning in all our years on earth, we still know very little about them.

However, off the coast of New Zealand, scientists have stumbled across a new-born. For ghost sharks (also known as chimaera) and indeed most marine life, overfishing poses a huge threat to survival. Many are caught and subsequently die in trawler nets accidentally, and for a species that is already rare, their numbers cannot afford to dwindle any lower. Thankfully this baby is in safe hands.

Researchers are still unsure which of the 52 chimaera species this little one belongs to, but its discovery has made way for valuable genetic research and a chance to get to know these ancient creatures a little better.

Who knew oil could be water soluble?

Back in 2021, there were a total of six oil spills worldwide. This year, we have already seen one, though the global average has certainly decreased in the last fifty years.

No matter where the oil spills, the negative impact on the environment cannot be overstated – especially those that occur in water.

5% of all oil spills happen in our ocean, and though the number is low, have you ever wondered what happens to the oil once it meets the water? Well, a study carried out by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) has shed some light on the subject and unearthed some hopeful results.

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The scientists focussed their attention on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. In their research they discovered that almost 10% of the whopping 134 million gallons of oil that bled into the gulf was dissolved by sunlight.

The process that makes this possible is called photo-dissolution, and it is not a new discovery to scientists, however their understanding of its relation to actual oil spills has been murky at best – until now.

The findings are still new, and it has not yet been decided if the compounds created by this process are affecting the coastal ecosystems positively or negatively. Plus, the results have varied greatly depending on sunlight wavelength and the thickness of the oil spilt. But the overall outlook is hopeful. Afterall, the less oil that reaches marine life the better.

We hope you enjoyed this month’s Positive Eco News! Did anything else put a smile on your face this month? Join the Wearth London community and conversation on Instagram at @wearthlondon.