Staghorn corals killed by bleaching on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Greg Torda / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
A new map released by the Australian Research Council shows unprecedented coral bleaching in the last nine months in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, resulting in the largest coral die-off ever recorded.
About two-thirds of reefs have died in the most-impacted northern region stretching 435 miles and researchers estimate the damage could take up to 15 years to recover. Global warming, combined with a strong El Niño, caused disastrous coral bleaching across the world this year.
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
“Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef,” said Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University, who undertook extensive aerial surveys at the height of the bleaching. “This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected.”
Researcher Grace Frank completes bleaching surveys. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
The oceans contain great mysteries within their depths. While many of these mysteries have been explained by scientists and analysts, there are still quite a few unexplained oceanic enigmas that intrigue us. A variety of mysterious ocean phenomena have been seen and experienced by sailors around the world.
During the 300 years spanning the 16th to the 19th century – the heyday of discovering new worlds and brutally colonising them – popular belief had it that the ocean harboured enormous sea monsters. From dragon-like sea creatures to colossal squids, like the mythical Kraken.
The Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni is the largest know squid species, and probably the scariest
Well, for all I know the Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni could be a cousin of the mythical Kraken. This colossal squid is the largest known squid species and it can reach a length of 12 to 14 meters. The species was discovered in 1925, when they found two tentacles inside the stomach of a sperm whale. Sperm whales have been observed to dive to depths of over 2,000 meters to hunt colossal squid.
First it will strangle you to death with its hooked tentacles, before ripping you into pieces
But the answer to the most important question remains, what would happen if this giant sea monster decided to eat you? Well, you can be sure that it would probably a painful experience. Because the brains of this creature are wrapped around its throat like a donut, the size of what it can eat at any one time is pretty constrained. But that’s no matter! First, it rips you down into little pieces with his razor-sharp beak before getting down to the business of eating you whole. Thankfully at this point, you’re probably too dead to witness the full horror of your fate. Did we mention this giant squid has tentacles with hooks instead of suckers?
All of that being said, though, there’s not actually been any (reliable) reports of a giant squid eating humans. But be honest. If you were a colossal squid straight from the dread pages of myth – wouldn’t you?
In short, I would advise you to steer away from any holiday plans involving diving to depths of 2,000 meters. Because you never know what you will encounter in the ocean depths. To watch this gigantic squid in live action, be sure to watch the video below.
California’s six years of drought has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest in its wake, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced following an aerial survey. If that is not horrendous enough, 62 million trees died in the year 2016 alone—an increase of more than 100 percent compared to 2015.
In the photo below, all the dead trees are grey or orange.
“The scale of die-off in California is unprecedented in our modern history,” Randy Moore, a forester for the U.S. Forest Service, told the Los Angeles Times, adding that trees are dying “at a rate much quicker than we thought.”
“You look across the hillside on a side of the road, and you see a vast landscape of dead trees,” added Adrian Das, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist whose office is located in Sequoia National Park. “It’s pretty startling.”
Most of the dead trees are located in 10 counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region.
“Five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to these historic levels of tree die-off,” the USFS said.
Some have raised concerns that the staggering number of dead trees can fuel even bigger and more destructive wildfires in the Golden State.
Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack lamented that not enough resources are being invested into forest health and restoration.
“These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California,” Vilsack said in a statement.
Not only that, researchers from the University of Washington found that large forest die-offs—from drought, heat, beetle infestations or deforestation—can significantly impact global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world. The study was published this month in PLOS ONE.
“When trees die in one place, it can be good or bad for plants elsewhere, because it causes changes in one place that can ricochet to shift climate in another place,” said lead author Elizabeth Garcia. “The atmosphere provides the connection.”
In October 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state’s unprecedented tree die-off a state of emergency. He formed a Tree Mortality Task Force to help mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of dead and dying trees.
However, some experts have suggested leaving the dead trees in the forests. Douglas Bevington, the forest program director for Environment Now, wrote that dead trees are vital to forest ecosystems.
“Dead trees can remain standing for decades or more and a standing dead tree—known as a ‘snag’—provides great habitat for wildlife. Birds and mammals make their homes in openings carved within snags, while wood-boring insects that feed on snags provide the foundation of the food chain for a larger web of forest life, akin to plankton in the ocean,” he wrote.
“From the perspective of the timber industry, a snag in the forest is a waste, so timber companies and the Forest Service have spent decades cutting down snags as quickly as possible,” Bevington continued. “As a result, there is now a significant lack of snags in our forests and this shortage is harming woodpeckers, owls and other forest wildlife. For them, the recent pulse of snag creation is good news.”
Forest Service experts believe that more trees will die in the coming months and years due to root diseases, bark beetle activity or other stress agents. The agency warned that tree deaths are on the rise in northern regions, especially in Siskiyou, Modoc, Plumas and Lassen counties.
The lack of rain and unseasonably high temperatures has added stress to the trees. These factors have made trees increasingly vulnerable to bark beetles infestations and disease.