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Fish are shrinking in response to global warming

CHICAGO — Fish have lost half their average body mass and smaller species are making up a larger proportion of European fish stocks as a result of global warming, a study published Monday has found.
"It's huge," said study author Martin Daufresne of the Cemagref Public Agricultural and Environmental Research Institute in Lyon, France.
"Size is a fundamental characteristic that is linked to a number of biological functions, such as fecundity - the capacity to reproduce."
Smaller fish tend to produce fewer eggs. They also provide less sustenance for predators - including humans - which could have significant implications for the food chain and ecosystem.

Help call for vanishing honeybees

Britain's honeybees are disappearing at an "alarming" rate, yet the government is taking "little interest" in the problem. Bee numbers have fallen by up to 15% in the last two years, in part because agricultural changes have reduced the availability of the wildflowers they depend on for food. Disease, climate change and pesticide use have also been blamed for the decline.

Jumbo Squid Wash Ashore After Earthquake

Jumbo squid wash ashore after earthquake. Dozens of large creatures called Jumbo Humboldt Squid washed up on La Jolla Shores beach in Southern California Saturday, 7/11, after a 4.0 earthquake centered offshore shook homes in the area. Residents tried to toss them back into the water before seagulls pecked away. There has been no connection made between the quake and the beaching of squid, which were up to 4 feet long, so for now the whole thing's a mystery.

New York crops hit by Irish Famine disease

Tomato crops wiped out as Famine blight hits Northeast. The destructive fungal blight is wiping out tomato and potato plants across the state and much of the Northeast. The technical terms is "late blight," but it's the same disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s. This is the FIRST TIME THAT LATE BLIGHT HAS BEEN SEEN SO EARLY in the growing season. And food and plant experts say it's THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE INFECTION THEY'VE SEEN. "All of our tomatoes have been lost: totally, completely gone. They die in a week - it's just horrible. Once the leaves turn yellow, they're goners." The blight, which is being blamed on the unseasonal cool damp weather, spreads like wildfire and there are fears that it could spread to ten thousands of farm crops on Long Island. The big box stores Wal-Mart, Home Depot KMart and Lowes have issued a $1 million recall of possibly infected tomato plants and experts believe the current outbtreak could have originated there. 

Meanwhile, New York shoppers and gardeners are being warned to destroy any affected plants because they could impact commercial farms. The fungus, Phytophthora infestans, is extremely dangerous because the spores are dispersed by the wind, potentially destroying nearby commercial crops. Once the spores arrive, there is no way to prevent the spread of the disease. Farmers are now praying for two weeks of dry weather as the disease spreads rapidly in damp cool weather. New York is the latest of several states to report late blight which is in nearly every East Coast state along with Ohio and Virginia. Late blight caused the deaths of more than 1 million people in Ireland in the 19th century because it totally destroyed the potato crop. More than 1.5 million Irish emigrated in the worst case of famine seen in Europe. "Ever since IrishCentral broke the story about the Famine blight appearing in the States, we have seen intense audience interest from survivalist sites and even from religious groups that are watching for signs of the Apocalypse. It's a story that has really touched a 'what if' nerve."

Loss of coastal seagrass habitat accelerating globally

An international team of scientists warns that accelerating losses of seagrasses across the globe threaten the immediate health and long-term sustainability of coastal ecosystems. The team has compiled and analyzed the first comprehensive global assessment of seagrass observations and found that 58 percent of world's seagrass meadows are currently declining.

Heatwave prompts surge in massive basking sharks off British shores

RECORD NUMBERS of basking sharks have been spotted off the coast of Britain and Ireland after the recent hot weather boosted levels of their favourite food: zooplankton. Last year there were only 26 sightings of the 11-metre sharks in two and a half months off the most southerly headland of Cornwall. This year more than 900 sightings have been recorded since the beginning of June. Volunteers have also recorded sharks breaching the surface of the water five or six times. "That is VERY RARE." Off the coast of Ireland, a RECORD NUMBER of sightings was also recorded in June, with 248 basking sharks counted last month. Conservationists believe one of the reasons for the high numbers could be unseasonably warm weather increasing the amount of zooplankton. Around the coast of the Isle of Man, another basking shark hotspot, 400 sightings have been recorded since the beginning of May. They have also been turning up in unexpected places this year.

The moon jellyfish has appeared in larger than usual numbers around the British and Irish coasts in the past few weeks, sometimes in blooms over 500 strong. The bigger barrel jellyfish, which can reach a metre in diameter and weigh up to 40kg, has also been seen in UNUSUALLY high numbers. A "superpod" of about 1,500 dolphins was seen last week off Pembrokeshire.

Climate change is shrinking sheep

Climate change is causing a breed of wild sheep in Scotland to shrink, according to research. Scientists say milder winters help smaller sheep to survive, resulting in this "paradoxical decrease in size". Classic evolutionary theory would predict that wild sheep gradually get bigger, as the stronger, larger animals survive into adulthood and reproduce. Since 1985, the sheep have decreased in size by 5% - their legs getting steadily shorter and their body weight decreasing. 

This strange phenomenon was first reported in 2007, but the reason for it remained under debate. "In the past, only the big, healthy sheep and large lambs that had piled on weight in their first summer could survive the harsh winters on Hirta." Because of climate change, grass for food is now available for more months of the year on the island. "Survival conditions are not so challenging - even the slower growing sheep have a chance of making it, and this means smaller individuals are becoming increasingly prevalent in the population." As for the future of the sheep, the team believes that they are still shrinking. "But it's too early to say if, in 100 years, we will have chihuahuas herding pocket-sized sheep."

Rainforests More Fragile Than Estimated

The Amazon rainforest, one of the planet's most precious and besieged natural resources, is even more fragile than realized. If the planet warms even a moderate amount, a new study predicts that as much as 40 percent of it could be condemned to vanish by the end of the century.
A crippled Amazon could hasten global warming. If a significant portion of its trees die off, their vast stores of carbon would be emitted back into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases, pushing the climate further into dangerous levels of warming.

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