There is really only one ocean. But over time, it’s been cordoned off into various regions, with the most fluid of boundaries. Today, geographers recognize more than 50 seaswithin five major oceans. There are also more than 150 Exclusive Economic Zones where individual coastal nations exercise sovereignty up to 200 nautical miles from their shores.
Now, thanks to the rise of marine protected areas (MPAs), the global ocean is becoming increasingly partitioned. The term is a catchall for sites like ocean sanctuaries, marine parks, and no-fishing zones—scattered havens where marine life is supposed to thrive, free of human interference (or, at least, subject to limited human interference). The world’s 5,000-plus MPAs include national treasures like the Galápagos and the Great Barrier Reef, but they also include small “fishery-management zones” that are undistinguished except for fine-print prohibitions on certain types of fishing gear. Even the Great Barrier Reef is open to extractive activities like trawl fishing and deep-sea dredging.
Only 2 percent of the ocean is currently covered by some sort of MPA. (In contrast, 12 percent of the world’s land is protected in national-park systems and wildlife preserves.) And only half of that 2 percent—a mere 1 percent of the ocean—is classified as “no-take,” or completely closed to fishing and other extractive activity.
The international conservation community has long heralded the role of MPAs in protecting ocean resources.
Stereotypes of gun-toting brutes and tree-hugging hippies miss the basic facts about who is protecting nature—and why.
Read more. [Image: kkirugi/Flickr]
The barbed wire, electric fences, watchtowers, and heavily armed guards that once lined the Iron Curtain are long gone, but red deer wouldn’t dare jump the border. Behavior learned at the height of the Cold War lives on among the herds that roam land that used to straddle the former Czechoslovakia and West Germany. The once heavily fortified borders separating East from West today traverse national parks and remote landscapes that serve as popular summertime migratory destinations for the imposing beast.
In the spirit of post-Cold War fellowship, Germany’s Bavarian Forest National Park and the Czech Republic’s Sumava National Park established a transboundary wilderness area where animals like the red deer could find refuge. But as it turns out, the deer populations on either side of the former Iron Curtain roam along the border and remain reluctant to cross.
Read more. [Image: Luke MacGregor/Reuters]
Nature is one of the world most prestigious science journals.
One of Reddit’s busiest subsections is r/science. The subreddit has more than 4,000,000 subscribers. At this very moment, some 2,000 are active on the site. They congregate there, every day, and link to and chat about science news from all over the world. Often, that news comes from Nature.
Editors at Nature took notice of these conversations, and sometimes participated. They’d help to explain a story they had written, answer questions that readers had, and direct people toward additional materials. Now, a new collaboration between Nature and r/science, adds a bit of formality to that routine, giving Nature editors and reporters little status markers (known as flair) next to their names that will identify their role at Nature, which, the journal’s chief online editor Ananyo Bhattacharya explained to me over email, “gives our reporters and editors some prominence while clearly signaling that we have chips in the game.”
Read more. [Image: Nature/Reddit/Rebecca J. Rosen]
Weather conditions in Arizona’s Grand Canyon last week gave rise to a rare phenomenon called total cloud inversion. Last Friday, and again on Sunday, the ground apparently released some of its heat rapidly enough at dawn to create a layer of cool, damp air inside the canyon, trapping it beneath the unusually warmer sky above the canyon walls and filling the space with a sea of fog. Park officials said the phenomenon is a once-in-a-decade occurrence and ran to capture these fantastic photos.
Far off the coast of Yemen lies isolated Socotra island, where hundreds of plants and animals have developed into species unique to the island. The best-known of these might be the Dragon Blood trees, with their densely-packed crowns and blood-red sap. Socotra, sometimes referred to as “the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean,” is slowly emerging from its long isolation — in 1999, the first airport opened, and tourism began to pick up. In an effort to counter any negative impacts, UNESCO recognized the island as a World Natural Heritage Site in 2008, promoting conservation of the unique environment and some of its endangered species.
At more than 80 Boston public schools, teachers are moving the classroom outdoors.
Read more. [Image: Christian Phillips Photography]
Google Maps’ Street View team recently traveled to several locations in the Galapagos Islands, snapping panoramic views as they went. Using backpack-mounted cameras and underwater gear, they documented the unique diversity of the archipelago that helped inspire Darwin’s theory of evolution. The government of Ecuador established the Galapagos National Park in 1959, setting aside 97% of the islands’ land area for preservation. Collected here are images from Google’s team as well as from other photographers, taking you on a virtual visit to these amazing islands.
Top: A Black rhino and two plains zebra under an overcast sky on the plains of Laikipia, Kenya.
Center-left: A couple paddle out for a sunset surf in the coastal surfing town of Byron Bay, Australia.
Center-right: Old Mursi woman by the huts of her village, Marenke, Omo valley, Ethiopia.
Bottom: “This was taken with my girlfriend while on a trip to see the wild ponies on Roger Mountain in Virginia.”
(Credit: © Robin Moore, Ming Nomchong, Jorge Fernandez, John Brasher/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
Moonwalk by Bryan Smith is part of a National Geographic Channel series called The Man Who Can Fly. This particular scene features Dean Potter, a record-breaking climber who lives in Yosemite, walking on a highline between two enormous granite rocks.