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Prince Phillip's posthumous naval honour

<p>Prince Philip has been honoured posthumously, with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution naming their newest boat after the recently passed royal.</p> <p>The announcement came on the 71st anniversary of Prince Phillip assuming command of the<span> </span><em>HMS Magpie<span> </span></em>in 1950 – a huge moment in the decorated royal's naval career.</p> <p>The Royal National Lifeboat Institution charity organisation tweeted “we’re excited to reveal that Wells-next-the-Sea’s new Shannon class lifeboat will be named Duke of Edinburgh, in honour of his maritime service”.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">On this day in 1950, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh assumed command of HMS Magpie and we’re excited to reveal that Wells-next-the-Sea’s new Shannon class lifeboat will be named Duke of Edinburgh, in honour of his maritime service <a href="https://twitter.com/RoyalFamily?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RoyalFamily</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/RoyalNavy?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RoyalNavy</a> <a href="https://t.co/Yp9uey8JYI">pic.twitter.com/Yp9uey8JYI</a></p> — RNLI (@RNLI) <a href="https://twitter.com/RNLI/status/1433331529023905794?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 2, 2021</a></blockquote> <p>The Royal family welcomed the honour, tweeting about it alongside a range of lovely images.</p> <p>Earlier on in June, Prince Charles visited the charity’s Lifeboat centre in Poole where, as a nod to his father’s naval career, he installed a silver magpie on the new lifeboat.</p>

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First COVID cruise death since restart of cruising scene

<p>Carnival cruises has marked their first death since the cruise scene kicked back up, after a 77-year-old woman died from contracting COVID-19.</p> <p>The woman departed on the Carnival Vista with her family on July 31, to sail to Belize, and soon tested positive for the novel virus after experiencing respiratory complications.</p> <p>27 people tested positive over two weeks in late July and early August – the highest number of cases since cruises begun sailing again.</p> <p>The New York Times reported she was a great-grandmother from Oklahoma.</p> <p>The woman was admitted to a hospital in Belize and was put on a ventilator before being evacuated to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and undergoing treatment.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7843412/g.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3be7c24f240b449da71e788aa5c08365" /></p> <p><em>Images: Getty Images</em></p> <p>The outbreak aboard the ship was discovered on the fourth day of an eight-day cruise.</p> <p>Twenty-six of those who tested positive were all crew members except for one passenger.</p> <p>The Texas Governor, Greg Abbott previously signed a law banning businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, however more than 96 per cent of passengers and all but one crew member on the Carnival Vista were fully vaccinated.</p> <p>Authorities are unsure if the woman who has since passed was fully vaccinated or not.</p> <p>“We are very sorry to hear about the death of a guest who sailed on Carnival Vista,” Carnival said in a statement.</p> <p>“Regrettably, there is a fair amount of disinformation about the circumstances of this matter.</p> <p>“The guest almost certainly did not contract COVID on our ship, and she was assisted with expert medical care on board and was ultimately evacuated from Belize after we provided a resource to her family. We have continued to provide support to her family and are not going to add to their sadness by commenting further.”</p> <p>Carnival has updated its vaccination policy that states a majority of guests will be required to be vaccinated.</p> <p>They must also present negative results of a COVID-19 test taken within three days before boarding a ship.</p> <p>Carnival has also states all passengers are required to wear a mask while indoors from August 7.</p> <p>“We have always required vaccinations. From our restart in July, 95+% guests have been vaccinated. We meet the definition of a vaccinated cruise,” a Carnival spokesperson said.</p> <p>“And we added the testing requirement on July 28. (August) 28 is when new guidelines for the Bahamas go into effect.”</p>

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Cruising company launches its first literature-themed voyage

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A literature-themed cruise is being offered by Marella Cruises for book lovers to enjoy 16 days at sea. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The all-inclusive cruise across the Atlantic leaves from </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Montego Bay, Jamaica in April 2022, and sails over 16 days to the port of Dubrovnik in Croatia. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This tailor-made experience will allow guests to attend guest talks and interactive workshops with authors and entertainers to satisfy any book lover. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Guests will also be treated to the usual Marella Cruises experience, with all-inclusive food and drink spots, evening entertainment including game shows and quizzes and daytime activities like dance classes and yoga.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Managing Director of Marella Cruises, Chris Hackney, says he hopes the new themed cruise will be as successful as ones run in the past. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“It offers something different for guests onboard on a cruise where there are not as many days ashore as some of our other itineraries,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Authors and entertainers joining the cruise include Sarah Cruddas, famous for her knowledge of Space exploration, Tony Strange, known for his comic entertainment and impressions, and crime novelist Barbara Nadel.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The panelists will all share stories and run a series of workshops to guests onboard at no extra cost. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After a difficult year from the pandemic, Marella Cruises will begin its Spanish sailings from September, before heading into Montego Bay where it will port for the winter before commencing the literary cruise. </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credit: Shutterstock</span></em></p>

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REVEALED: The most annoying accents in the world

<p>The results you didn’t know you needed are in, with a global survey revealing which accents are considered the most appealing and most annoying to men and women.</p> <p>300 men and women were asked by The Knowledge Academy to listen to five minutes of the same script recorded by English-speakers.</p> <p>The researchers were able to determine which accents were preferred or disliked based off how long each participant were able to listen to the audio before they turned it off.</p> <p>Whether it comes as a surprise to you or not, American accents were deemed the most annoying by men <em>and </em>women with men turning the recording off after just one minute and 26 seconds and women choosing to switch off after one minute and 17 seconds.</p> <p>Irish accents were interestingly enough voted the most appealing among women, with the female participants choosing to listen for four minutes and 30 seconds.</p> <p>Men however preferred a Scottish accent by choosing to listen for around four minutes and 35 seconds.</p> <p>Women ruled South African accents as the second most annoying, with an average of one minute and 44 seconds listening time.</p> <p>Canadian accents among men came second with a listening time of one minute and 42 seconds.</p> <p>Women seemed to find Kiwi accents annoying as well, landing third with a listening time of two minutes and seven seconds.</p> <p>Wales come in at second place on the most annoying.</p> <p>Unfortunately, it seems the world does not deem Australian accents as appealing as we may have though, coming fourth on the women's list.</p> <p>The results are as follows:</p> <p>Most Annoying Women's English Accents</p> <ol> <li>USA – one minute and 26 seconds</li> <li>South Africa –one minute and 44 seconds</li> <li>New Zealand – two minutes and seven seconds</li> <li>Australia – two minutes and 29 seconds</li> <li>Wales – two minutes and 44 seconds</li> <li>England – two minutes and 56 seconds</li> <li>Canada – three minutes and 12 seconds</li> <li>Scotland – three minutes and 38 seconds</li> <li>Northern Ireland – four minutes and two seconds</li> <li>Ireland – four minutes, 32 seconds</li> </ol> <p>Most Annoying Men's English Accents</p> <ol> <li>USA – one minute and 17 seconds</li> <li>Canada – one minute and 42 seconds</li> <li>Wales – two minutes and 11 seconds</li> <li>South Africa – two minutes and 27 seconds</li> <li>Northern Ireland – two minutes and 43 seconds</li> <li>England – two minutes and 51 seconds</li> <li>New Zealand – three minutes and 15 seconds</li> <li>Australia – three minutes and 34 seconds</li> <li>Ireland – four minutes and 27 seconds</li> <li>Scotland – 4 minutes, 35 seconds</li> </ol>

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Cruise inaugural cancelled after 8 crew test positive for COVID

<p>Royal Caribbean has been forced to cancel the inaugural cruise of its newest ship after eight crew members tested positive for coronavirus.</p> <p>The cruise line had planned to sail their latest addition to the fleet next month, Odyssey of the Seas.</p> <p>Among 1400 total staff, eight crew members were diagnosed with the virus.</p> <p>Cruise bosses said that why the entirety of their staff have been vaccinated, the full effect of the vaccines would take time to work.</p> <p>Michael Bayley, President &amp; CEO of Royal Caribbean took to Facebook to speak about the cancellation of the sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.</p> <p>"Two steps forward and one step back!" he said.</p> <p>“Out of an abundance of caution, we are postponing Odyssey's inaugural sailing from July 3 to July 31, 2021.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841853/cruise-ship-cancelled-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/d9a1c13338d94606902f15229a035e6c" /></p> <p>"During routine testing, eight crew members received a positive test result for COVID-19.</p> <p>"All 1,400 crew onboard Odyssey of the Seas were vaccinated on June 4th and will be considered fully vaccinated on June 18.</p> <p>"The positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given and before they were fully effective.</p> <p>"The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team.</p> <p>"To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing.</p> <p>"Guests and travel partners will be notified and given several options to consider.</p> <p>"While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests."</p> <p>The new ship has more than 2000 staterooms and can host about 5500 guests.</p> <p>Royal Caribbean had announced its cruises would set sail again in July.</p> <p>Cruising is starting to pick up in the US and around Europe, although COVId-19 testing is mandatory.</p>

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Man sentenced to 30 years after murder of wife on cruise ship

<p>A Utah man was sentenced to 30 year in prison for the violent death of his wife on an Alaskan cruise in 2017.</p> <p>The federal judge who presided over the court case of Kenneth Manzanares has labelled the murder of his wife as violent and brutal.</p> <p>The man plead guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Kristy Manzanares last year, but prosecutors sought for life in prison.</p> <p>Manzanares' attorneys, who wanted just seven years for Kenneth, claimed he had brain abnormalities which was backed by a defence expert.</p> <p>The man, who had injuries caused by playing contact sports, along with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder and “a problematic combination of prescribed medication and alcohol resulted in an aberrant episode of violence,”.</p> <p>But Burgess said there was competing evidence offered about Manzanares' culpability and that experts had failed to show what factors led to the crime.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841848/utah-man-murders-wife-3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/445b0ca5b56e489b83a5d2518af1212e" /></p> <p>Prosecutors had disputed the defence’s medical claims and in court documents described Manzanares’ actions as intentional, “triggered by his wife telling him she wanted him to leave the cruise ship and that she wanted a divorce.”</p> <p>The same night of her death, Kristy told her husband that she wanted a divorce, which led to an argument about his behaviour.</p> <p>Kenneth reportedly had issues with anger and that he had acknowledged restraining his wife in the past and punching holes in walls, prosecutors said.</p> <p>Defence lawyers said the couple had a “long and happy marriage.”</p> <p>Jamie McGrady, who is a federal public defender representing Manzanares, accused prosecutors of selectively parsing details from statements Manzanares made to try and paint him as someone who was abusive.</p> <p>Kristy Manzanares’ life was “viciously ended” by her husband.</p> <p>The attack was partly witnessed by two of the couple’s children.</p> <p>Kristy Manzanares’ brothers and father were also on the cruise and responded to and witnessed the scene afterward.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841850/utah-man-murders-wife.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c0fa9fd3672e41079dfe17e7bdb07094" /></p> <p>McGrady told The Associated Press that an appeal would be filed after he received 30 years in prison.</p> <p>She called the sentence a tragedy and said the judge ignored scientific evidence.</p> <p>Manzanares children said in an emotional speech that their father should be held responsible but also asked the judge to “understand that his impairments played a major factor in the events that occurred, and they have already lost one parent.”</p> <p>A statement released by Kristy Manzanares' family said the ruling “brings us neither joy nor anger. Rather, simply a sense of resolution".</p> <p>"We believe that the court made a fair and just determination. However, the legal system does not and is not intended to fill the emotional void of our loss," the statement said.</p> <p>“While this marks the end of another chapter of this unimaginable ordeal, the fact is that Kristy’s three girls are still without both of their parents, and our focus now is to support them as best we can."</p>

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Humpback whales have been spotted ‘bubble-net feeding’ for the first time in Australia

<p>If you gaze at the ocean this winter, you might just be lucky enough to spot a whale migrating along Australia’s coastline. This is the start of whale season, when the gentle giants breed in the warm northern waters off Australia after feeding in Antarctica.</p> <p>This north-south migration happens every year, but the whales can still surprise us. Thanks to a <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-citizen-science-16487">citizen scientist</a> and his drone, humpback whales were seen feeding in a mass super group and “bubble-net feeding” off the New South Wales coast last year.</p> <p>As my new <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aqc.3621">research paper</a> confirms, this a big deal for two reasons: it’s only the second time a super group of humpbacks has been observed in the southern hemisphere (a first for Australia) and the first time bubble-net feeding has been seen in Australia.</p> <p>So what is bubble-net feeding, and why are these observations so important?</p> <p><strong>Blowing bubbles, catching krill</strong></p> <p>Bubble-net feeding is when whales deliberately blow bubbles from their noses to encircle their food — <a href="https://www.antarctica.gov.au/about-antarctica/animals/krill/">krill</a> and fish — like a net, concentrating their prey into a tight ball. Then, the whale or group of whales swim together from beneath, rise to the surface opening their mouths, and gulp up their prey.</p> <p>It remains a mystery as to why the whales feed in this way and how they learned to do it.</p> <p>2020 was a year full of unprecedented events, and the humpback whales certainly didn’t disappoint.</p> <p>Humpback whales in this eastern Australian population are usually observed lunge feeding on their side, or feeding below the surface. Bubble-net feeding, on the other hand, is mostly documented in some <a href="https://youtu.be/Q8iDcLTD9wQ">Northern Hemisphere populations</a>.</p> <p>But we know there are individual whales in the eastern Australian humpback population who bubble-net feed in Antarctic waters. This means the unique behaviour in Australian waters may have evolved independently, or through <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/114/30/7775">cultural transmission</a> (learning new behaviours from different whales).</p> <p>The drone footage and observations made in September from whale-watching boats was the first to document bubble-net feeding. To add to the excitement, citizen scientists also documented bubble-net feeding behaviour further south of <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-04/unprecedented-humpback-whale-sightings-tasmania-migration-season/12844702">Tasmania</a> a month later.</p> <p>Using stills from the September drone footage, an estimated 33 humpback whales can be seen feeding at the same time. Unfortunately, it’s not known exactly what the whales were feeding on.</p> <p>Until then, humpback whale congregations this large had never been observed in Australian waters.</p> <p>In fact, the only other time a mass humpback feeding event has been seen in the Southern Hemisphere was off <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0172002">South Africa</a> in 2011 (this now occurs regularly there). This was the first time the term “super group” was used to describe a group of 20 or more whales feeding this way.</p> <p><strong>But why were they feeding in ‘breeding waters’ anyway?</strong></p> <p>The majority of the east Australian humpback whale population spends the summer months feeding in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-30748-4">Antarctic waters</a>. They then head north to warm breeding waters in the Great Barrier Reef during winter (June-August) to mate and give birth.</p> <p>They forego feeding for love — humpbacks can go for months without eating, relying instead on energy reserves in order to reproduce. Animals that do this are called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19739368/">capital breeders</a>.</p> <p>From August to November, humpbacks migrate southward back to Antarctica. Along the way, they sometimes take a “pit-stop” on parts of Australia’s east coast <a href="http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v541/p231-244/">to feed</a>.</p> <p>It was originally thought this population never fed along the migratory route. However, we know they do now to possibly supplement their energy intake as they migrate.</p> <p><strong>So why are these observations important?</strong></p> <p>Whales play important an important role in the <a href="https://youtu.be/2PXgFoTtwi0">ecosystem</a> of the ocean because they feed in one area and poo in another.</p> <p>This action — known as the “<a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0013255">whale pump</a>” — moves nutrients around the ocean. Their poo feeds tiny organisms, such as <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/plankton/">plankton</a>, which are eaten by krill, and then eaten by whales.</p> <p>Seeing these super group feedings highlights changes in our marine environment we might not have otherwise been aware of.</p> <p>One possible explanation for this behaviour could be favourable environmental conditions. A combination of ideal water temperatures and nutrients may have resulted in an abundance of food, which saw large numbers of humpback whales feeding in the same area.</p> <p>Or perhaps it has something to do with the recovery of the east coast humpback whale population, which has been increasing in numbers since whaling ended in the 1960s.</p> <p>Regardless, it’s important to understand how changes in the marine environment influence the extent humpback whales depend on feeding opportunities along their migratory route.</p> <p>This will help to predict how whale populations respond to future changes in the ocean. This includes climate change, which will warm ocean temperatures and alter when and where the prey of humpback whales are found. As a result, humpback whales will also move to different locations.</p> <p>One thing, at least, is abundantly clear: more eyes on land and sea through <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mms.12651">citizen science</a> will provide a valuable opportunity to document such exciting future events. So keep your eyes peeled for whales this season, and be sure to tell a scientist if you see something unexpected.</p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/vanessa-pirotta-873986">Vanessa Pirotta</a>, Macquarie University. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/humpback-whales-have-been-spotted-bubble-net-feeding-for-the-first-time-in-australia-and-we-have-it-on-camera-157355">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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The Ocean Decade: how the next ten years can chart a new course for the blue planet

<p>When birdsong was filling the muted days of the first lockdown, marine scientists were noticing something similar in the world’s oceans. Container vessels, cruise ships and drilling platforms had fallen silent, and so the oceans grew quieter than at any other time in recent memory. Researchers are trying to understand how the lull affected ocean life, but there are already stories of whales seizing the chance to sing and dolphins venturing into coastal areas they’d avoided for decades.</p> <p>The year of the quiet ocean is over, and noise pollution is roaring back to pre-pandemic levels, drowning out the sounds that marine species depend on to communicate and make sense of their surroundings. Sadly, that’s just one problem among many.</p> <p>The UN has declared that the next ten years will be<span> </span><a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/">the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development</a>, recognising the enormous challenges facing our blue planet. The Conversation has been keeping an eye on some of these as part of our<span> </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/uk/topics/oceans-21-96784">Oceans 21 series</a>. Already, we’ve heard from experts about how chemical pollution in the ocean<span> </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/why-ocean-pollution-is-a-clear-danger-to-human-health-152641">threatens human health</a>, how the ocean economy is dominated by<span> </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/blue-economy-how-a-handful-of-companies-reap-most-of-the-benefits-in-multi-billion-ocean-industries-153165">a handful of mega-rich corporations</a><span> </span>and why global warming is<span> </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-ocean-is-becoming-more-stable-heres-why-that-might-not-be-a-good-thing-157911">making the ocean more stable</a><span> </span>– with surprisingly worrying results.</p> <p>But we’ve also heard informed reasons for hope. From the geographer studying<span> </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/the-hopeful-return-of-polar-whales-151487">the recovery of polar whale populations</a><span> </span>and the team of physicists learning how to track the journey of<span> </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/where-does-plastic-pollution-go-when-it-enters-the-ocean-155182">each plastic particle</a><span> </span>when it reaches the shoreline, to the anthropologist documenting the role that<span> </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/how-scottish-gaelic-is-helping-protect-scotlands-seas-155660">Scottish Gaelic plays in conservation</a><span> </span>in Outer Hebridean fisheries.</p>

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Sobbing girl floats 800m to sea

<p>A young girl had the scare of her life after she was blown out 800m to sea.</p> <p>The eight-year-old child had to be tearfully rescued by a speedboat after she had floated away, due to offshore wind on a beach in Rhyl, Wales.</p> <p>The dramatic moment she was rescued was caught on camera, with the sobbing girl seen clinging to safety once they approached her.</p> <p>She had been having a day under the sun with family, with her dinghy connected by a rope to a family member before it was accidentally released.</p> <p> </p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841588/ocean-girl-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/aa81c5820b8845e7af41f4c9de68e477" /></p> <p>The UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), a lifeboat search and rescue charity were thankfully up to the mission to grab the youngster.</p> <p>Video of the child’s rescue was made public.</p> <p>“It was very lucky that the crew was in the area, attending another call, we they were very quickly on the scene,” Rhyl Lifeboat Station press officer Paul Frost said.</p> <p>One of the crew could be heard yelling to the girl, “Are you OK, are you alright?”</p> <p>The eight-year-old’s heartbreaking screams could be heard through the footage, along with pleas to “get out” of the dinghy.</p> <p>Mr Frost said that although the sea wasn’t rough, there was an offshore breeze “so the dinghy was quickly being blown out to sea.</p> <p>“The crew was only about two minutes away at the time (of the emergency call),” he said.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841587/ocean-girl-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/e0b771dad9c14144bc801f23c9e5f56a" /></p> <p>“She had drifted about half a mile off shore.</p> <p>“But she did the right thing by staying in the dinghy, and not trying to swim to shore.</p> <p>“She was crying when the crew found her, and they took her back to shore to her family. No medical help was needed – she was just a little bit shaken.</p> <p>“Her family explained that the dinghy was attached to a line, but they let it go and within seconds it had drifted away.”</p>

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These secrets will help you book a dirt-cheap cruise

<p>Everyone wants to get a good deal on their next cruise, but whether they will or not is entirely up to them.</p> <p>Between suites, fancy ships, drink packages and plenty of enticing offers once you’re already aboard the grand vessel, it is no wonder cruise debts can rack up to unbelievable amounts.</p> <p>While there are easier ways to get a cheaper cruise that anyone can find out, not everyone is privy to these tricks to make sure your cruise is the best, and the most affordable it can be.</p> <p><strong>Be flexible with your cruise schedule </strong></p> <p>You get the most out of your cruise price when you are not set on a date to sail, when you are booking.</p> <p>Mass-market cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and P&amp;O take on millions upon millions of passengers every year – but demand is most high when school is out.</p> <p>Choosing to travel in the off seasons can help you save a massive amount when booking your cruise.</p> <p>Keep in mind, summer, school holidays and Christmas time is when cruises will see their highest traffic.</p> <p><strong>Let the cruise line pick your cabin</strong></p> <p>If you want to sale on a budget, it is important to let your cruise pick your cabin.</p> <p>During the booking process, it is often offered to the customer to let the line pick the room for you in order to save a huge chunk of money.</p> <p>While it can be nice to be closer to an elevator, or away from loud traffic areas, cruise lines can give you money off when you leave the choice up to them.</p> <p><strong>Be open to any cruise line </strong></p> <p>While many people are attached to certain cruise lines, they don’t realise they could save a chunk of money looking somewhere else.</p> <p>Remember, it never hurts your chances of finding a cheaper cruise if you look around for a little while – more options usually means more money in the cruiser’s pockets in the long run.</p>

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Royal Caribbean: All cruise guests should be vaccinated

<p>One of the world’s biggest cruise lines has announced that all travellers will have to get the COVID vaccination before they board their ships.</p> <p>Royal Caribbean’s chief executive Richard Fain told the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57202890">BBC</a> that they “expect all of our guests who are eligible for a vaccine to have it.”</p> <p>The act of cruising was once worth $150 billion before the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the entire industry, along with the 1.2 million jobs it provided.</p> <p>Mr Fain is hopeful that customers will be enticed to return to cruising after hearing about new safety measures including social distancing, enhanced cleaning processes and reduced capacity.</p> <p>"The combination of the vaccines and testing and contact tracing, all these kinds of protocols really help us reach our objective, which is to make cruising safer than in your home community,” he said.</p> <p>"We want you to be more comfortable walking on board a ship than walking down Main Street."</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841511/royal-caribbean-3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/40fc2841e2dd4950b735a62cd0331324" /></p> <p><em>Image: Richard Fain</em></p> <p>Cruisers may be asked to provide proof of vaccine documents, but Mr Fain says the industry will force a vaccine passport as the airline industry is asking for.</p> <p>"I don't think we're talking about a vaccine passport. I think we are talking about people who are vaccinated, and there are lots of different ways to show that,” he said.</p> <p>He went on to add that he did not think forgeries of paper vaccine documents will cause much of an issue for cruisers.</p> <p>"We don't think many people would even bother to do so,” he said when asked about fake vaccine paperwork.</p> <p>"We've actually surveyed our guests and the vast bulk of the people that have booked our cruises have already been vaccinated, and they're volunteering it, they want it.</p> <p>“And people want a place where they can go where they know they're safe."</p> <p><em>image: Shutterstock / Screengrab from Shutterstock</em></p>

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Surprise ruling over cruise ship toddler death

<p>A grandfather has been spared jail after dropping hi 18-month-old granddaughter from a cruise ship window.</p> <p>Salvatore Anello was sentenced to just three years’ probation by a court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after he plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in October 2020.</p> <p>Mr Anello will serve his probation in his home state of Indiana after the loss of little Chloe Wiegand, his lawyer Michael Winkleman has said.</p> <p>Chloe plunged 45 metres to her death after Mr Anello placed her onto an 11th floor ledge aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Freedom of the Seas ship in July 2019.</p> <p>She died instantly after she fell from the window ledge.</p> <p>Mr Anello believed the window was secured by a piece of glass and maintains he was completely unaware that the window was open.</p> <p>He told investigators at the time that he placed her there so she could knock on the glass like she enjoyed doing at her brother’s hockey games.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839843/chloe-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/73aaa4d710e34179a40685756cae028f" /></p> <p>Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand have launched a legal claim against Royal Caribbean for negligence, arguing that an open window should not have been so close to a children’s area.</p> <p>A judge ruled on February 3 that the company can be sued for unlimited damages.</p> <p>A filing by the family read: “Royal Caribbean has demonstrably lied to this court and, in so doing, Royal Caribbean has created a false narrative to accompany Royal Caribbean’s carefully selected CCTV video upon which Royal Caribbean bases its motion to dismiss.”</p> <p>Royal Caribbean have said there was “no hidden danger” and that Mr Anello “knew the window was open”.</p> <p>They went on to say he should have used hiss “basic senses” to realise this.</p> <p>They also went on to say that camera footage showed the grandfather leaning through the open window just moments before he lifted Chloe onto the ledge.</p> <p>Chloe’s parents say that it was “physically impossible” for Mr Anello to lean out of the 11th floor window, despite what the cruise line alleges.</p> <p>They have remained supportive of Mr Anello during the legal proceedings.</p> <p>Royal Caribbean also claimed that the tinted handles on the windows would have indicated that it was open.</p> <p>Mr Anello says however that he is colourblind and therefore did not see that the window was open.</p>

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315 nuclear bombs and ongoing suffering: The shameful history of nuclear testing in Australia and the Pacific

<p><em>Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware this article contains the name of a deceased person.</em></p> <p>The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons received its <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/10/1076082">50th ratification on October 24</a>, and will therefore come into force in January 2021. A historic development, this new international law will ban the possession, development, testing, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.</p> <p>Unfortunately the nuclear powers — the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea — haven’t signed on to the treaty. As such, they are not immediately obliged to <a href="http://hrp.law.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Victim-assistance-short-4-8-18-final.pdf">help victims and remediate contaminated environments</a>, but others party to the treaty do have these obligations. The shifting norms around this will hopefully put ongoing pressure on nuclear testing countries to open records and to cooperate with accountability measures.</p> <p>For the people of the Pacific region, particularly those who bore the brunt of nuclear weapons testing during the 20th century, it will bring a new opportunity for their voices to be heard on the long-term costs of nuclear violence. The treaty is the first to enshrine enduring commitments to addressing their needs.</p> <p>From 1946, around <a href="https://icanw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Pacific-Report-2017.pdf">315 nuclear tests</a> were carried out in the Pacific by the US, Britain and France. These nations’ largest ever nuclear tests took place on colonised lands and oceans, from Australia to the Marshall Islands, Kiribati to French Polynesia.</p> <p>The impacts of these tests are still being felt today.</p> <p><strong>All nuclear tests cause harm</strong></p> <p>Studies of nuclear test workers and exposed nearby communities <a href="https://www.ctbto.org/nuclear-testing/">around the world</a> <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-review-of-the-red-cross/article/humanitarian-impact-and-implications-of-nuclear-test-explosions-in-the-pacific-region/1FDB0D26842BEA5621F33A0B53FCD7F9">consistently show</a> adverse health effects, especially increased risks of <a href="https://www.ctbto.org/nuclear-testing/">cancer</a>.</p> <p>The total number of global cancer deaths as a result of atmospheric nuclear test explosions has been estimated at between <a href="https://scope.dge.carnegiescience.edu/SCOPE_59/SCOPE_59.html">2 million</a> and <a href="https://ieer.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/1991/06/RadioactiveHeavenEarth1991.pdf">2.4 million</a>, even though these studies used radiation risk estimates that are now dated and likely underestimated the <a href="http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/n3873/pdf/ch08.pdf">risk</a>.</p> <p>The number of additional non-fatal cancer cases caused by test explosions is similar. As confirmed in a <a href="http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1667/RR14608.1">large recent study</a> of nuclear industry workers in France, the UK and US, the numbers of radiation-related deaths due to other diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, is also likely to be similar.</p> <p><strong>‘We all got crook’</strong></p> <p>Britain conducted 12 nuclear test explosions in Australia between 1952 and 1957, and hundreds of minor trials of radioactive and toxic materials for bomb development up to 1963. These caused untold health problems for local Aboriginal people who were at the highest risk of radiation. Many of them were not properly evacuated, and some were not informed at all.</p> <p>We may never know the full impact of these explosions because in many cases, as the Royal Commission report on British Nuclear Tests in Australia <a href="https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:%22publications/tabledpapers/HPP032016010928%22;src1=sm1">found in 1985</a>: “the resources allocated for Aboriginal welfare and safety were ludicrous, amounting to nothing more than a token gesture”. But we can listen to the survivors.</p> <p>The late Yami Lester directly experienced the impacts of nuclear weapons. A Yankunytjatjara elder from South Australia, Yami was a child when the British tested at Emu Field in October 1953. He <a href="https://icanw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/BlackMist-FINAL-Web.pdf">recalled</a> the “Black Mist” after the bomb blast:</p> <p><em>It wasn’t long after that a black smoke came through. A strange black smoke, it was shiny and oily. A few hours later we all got crook, every one of us. We were all vomiting; we had diarrhoea, skin rashes and sore eyes. I had really sore eyes. They were so sore I couldn’t open them for two or three weeks. Some of the older people, they died. They were too weak to survive all the sickness. The closest clinic was 400 miles away.</em></p> <p>His daughter, Karina Lester, is an ambassador for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in Australia, and continues to be driven by her family’s experience. She <a href="https://icanw.org.au/choosinghumanity/">writes</a>:</p> <p><em>For decades now my family have campaigned and spoken up against the harms of nuclear weapons because of their firsthand experience of the British nuclear tests […] Many Aboriginal people suffered from the British nuclear tests that took place in the 1950s and 1960s and many are still suffering from the impacts today.</em></p> <p>More than 16,000 Australian workers were also exposed. A key <a href="https://www.dva.gov.au/documents-and-publications/british-nuclear-testing-australia-studies">government-funded study</a> belatedly followed these veterans over an 18-year period from 1982. Despite the difficulties of conducting a study decades later with incomplete data, it <a href="https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/blogs.pace.edu/dist/0/195/files/2018/10/Australia-PosObs-Country-Report-7-1zbngsb.pdf">found</a> they had 23% higher rates of cancer and 18% more deaths from cancers than the general population.</p> <p>An additional health impact in Pacific island countries is the toxic disease “ciguatera”, caused by certain microscopic plankton at the base of the marine food chain, which thrive on damaged coral. Their toxins concentrate up the food chain, especially in fish, and cause illness and occasional deaths in people who eat them. In the Marshall Islands, Kiritimati and French Polynesia, outbreaks of the disease among locals have been associated with coral damage caused by <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(89)91212-9/fulltext">nuclear test explosions</a> and the extensive military and shipping infrastructure supporting them.</p> <p>Pacific survivors of nuclear testing haven’t been focused solely on addressing their own considerable needs for justice and care; they’ve been powerful advocates that no one should suffer as they have ever again, and have worked tirelessly for the eradication of nuclear weapons. It’s no surprise independent Pacific island nations are strong supporters of the new treaty, accounting for ten of the first 50 ratifications.</p> <p><strong>Negligence and little accountability</strong></p> <p>Some nations that have undertaken nuclear tests have provided some care and compensation for their nuclear test workers; only the US has made some <a href="https://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca">provisions</a> for people exposed, though only for mainland US residents downwind of the Nevada Test Site. No testing nation has extended any such arrangement beyond its own shores to the colonised and minority peoples it put in harm’s way. Nor has any testing nation made fully publicly available its records of the history, conduct and effects of its nuclear tests on exposed populations and the environment.</p> <p>These nations have also been negligent by quickly abandoning former test sites. There has been inadequate clean-up and little or none of the long-term environmental monitoring needed to detect radioactive leakage from underground test sites into groundwater, soil and air. One example among many is the Runit concrete dome in the Marshall Islands, which holds nuclear waste from US testing in the 1940s and 50s. It’s increasingly <a href="https://www.latimes.com/projects/marshall-islands-nuclear-testing-sea-level-rise/">inundated by rising sea levels</a>, and is leaking radioactive material.</p> <p>The treaty provides a light in a dark time. It contains the only internationally agreed framework for all nations to verifiably eliminate nuclear weapons.</p> <p>It’s our fervent hope the treaty will mark the increasingly urgent beginning of the end of nuclear weapons. It is our determined expectation that our country will step up. Australia has not yet ratified the treaty, but the bitter legacy of nuclear testing across our country and region should spur us to join this new global effort.</p> <p><em>Written <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tilman-ruff-89">Tilman Ruff</a>, University of Melbourne and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dimity-hawkins-292972">Dimity Hawkins</a>, Swinburne University of Technology. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/315-nuclear-bombs-and-ongoing-suffering-the-shameful-history-of-nuclear-testing-in-australia-and-the-pacific-148909">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Traditional skills help people on the tourism-deprived Pacific Islands survive the pandemic

<p>Tourism in the South Pacific has been <a href="https://theconversation.com/sun-sand-and-uncertainty-the-promise-and-peril-of-a-pacific-tourism-bubble-139661">hit hard by COVID-19</a> border closures with thousands of people out of work.</p> <p>Tourism normally provides one in four jobs in Vanuatu and one in three jobs in Cook Islands. It contributes <a href="https://pic.or.jp/ja/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2018-Annual-Visitor-Arrivals-ReportF.pdf">between 20% and 70% of the GDP</a> of countries spanning from Samoa and Vanuatu to Fiji and Cook Islands.</p> <p>But our <a href="https://mro.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/15742">research</a> shows how people are surviving – and in some cases, thriving – in the face of significant loss of income.</p> <p>This is due in part to their reliance on customary knowledge, systems and practices.</p> <p><strong>Islands impacted by border closures</strong></p> <p>The research involved an online survey completed by 106 people, along with interviews in six tourism-dependent locations across five countries.</p> <p>Research associates based in these countries did interviews in places such as villages next to resorts, or communities that regularly provided cultural tours for cruise ship passengers.</p> <p>They spoke with former and current tourism workers, community members and business owners who reflected on how they had adapted and what they hoped the future would hold.</p> <p>Almost 90% of survey respondents lived in households facing significant reductions in income. Owners of tourism-related businesses faced particular financial strain, with 85% of them saying they lost three-quarters or more of their usual income.</p> <p>But people showed considerable adaptive capacities and resilience in devising a range of strategies to meet their needs in the face of this dramatic loss of earnings.</p> <p>More than half the respondents were growing food for their families. Many were also fishing. People talked about using the natural abundance of the land and sea to provide food.</p> <p>One person from Rarotonga, part of the Cook Islands, said “no one is going hungry” and this was due to a number of factors:</p> <ol> <li>people had access to customary land on which to grow food</li> <li>traditional systems meant neighbours, clan members and church communities helped to provide for those who were more vulnerable</li> <li>there was still sufficient knowledge within communities to teach younger members who had lost jobs how to grow food and fish.</li> </ol> <p>One young man from Samoa, who had lost his job in a hotel, said:</p> <p><em>Like our family, everyone else has gone back to the land … I’ve had to relearn skills that have been not been used for years, skills in planting and especially in fishing … I am very happy with the plantation of mixed crops I have now and feeling confident we will be OK moving forward in these times of uncertainty.</em></p> <p><strong>Alternative livelihood options</strong></p> <p>People also engaged in a wide range of initiatives to earn cash, from selling products from their farms (fruit, root crops, other vegetables, cocoa, pigs and chickens) and the sea (a wide range of fish and shellfish) to starting small businesses.</p> <p>Examples included planting flowers to sell in bunches along the roadside, making doughnuts to take to the market, or offering sewing, yard maintenance or hair-cutting services.</p> <p>Goods and services were also <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/08/two-piglets-for-a-kayak-fiji-returns-to-barter-system-as-covid-19-hits-economy">bartered</a>, rather than exchanged for cash.</p> <p>Sometimes social groups banded together to encourage one another in activities that earned an income. For example, a youth group near the resort island of Denarau, in Fiji, gained a contract to provide weekly catering for a rugby club.</p> <p><strong>When times are hard, it’s not all bad</strong></p> <p>Our study also examined four aspects of well-being: mental, financial, social and physical. Understandably, there was a clear decline in financial well-being. This was sometimes associated with greater stress and conflict within households.</p> <p>As one Cook Islands man said:</p> <p><em>There’s so many people in the house that we’re fighting over who’s going to pay for this, who’s going to pay for that.</em></p> <p>But the impacts on social, mental and physical well-being were mixed, with quite a number of people showing improvements.</p> <p><strong>How has COVID-19 impacted on the wellbeing of your family, household or community?</strong></p> <p>Many people were effusive in their responses when talking about how they now had more time with family, especially children. This was particularly the case for women who had previously worked long hours in the tourism sector. As one said:</p> <p><em>I feel staying (at home) during this pandemic has really helped a lot, especially with my kids. Now everything is in order. The spending of quality time with my family has been excellent and awesome.</em></p> <p>Others expressed satisfaction they had more time for meeting religious and cultural obligations. As one said, “everyone is more connected now”, and people had more time to look after others in the community:</p> <p><em>Extended family harmony has improved, particularly with checking welfare of others who may need help during this time.</em></p> <p>Business owners appreciated the chance to “rest and recharge”. As one Fijian business owner said:</p> <p><em>This break has given us a new breath of life. We have since analysed and pondered on what are the most important things in life apart from money. We have strengthened our relationships with friends and family, worked together, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.</em></p> <p>These early research findings suggest customary systems are effectively supporting people’s resilience and well-being in the Pacific. A Pacific ethos of caring, respect, social and ecological custodianship and togetherness has softened the harsh blow of the COVID-19-induced economic slowdown.</p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/regina-scheyvens-650907">Regina Scheyvens</a>, Massey University and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/apisalome-movono-1108178">Apisalome Movono</a>, Massey University. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/traditional-skills-help-people-on-the-tourism-deprived-pacific-islands-survive-the-pandemic-148987">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Marine protected area is long overdue: Humans threaten the Antarctic Peninsula’s fragile ecosystem

<p>Antarctica, the world’s <a href="https://media.nature.com/original/magazine-assets/d41586-018-07183-6/d41586-018-07183-6.pdf">last true wilderness</a>, has been protected by an <a href="https://www.ats.aq/e/antarctictreaty.html">international treaty</a> for the last 60 years. But the same isn’t true for most of the ocean surrounding it.</p> <p><a href="https://www.asoc.org/advocacy/marine-protected-areas">Just 5%</a> of the Southern Ocean is protected, leaving biodiversity hotspots exposed to threats from human activity.</p> <p>The Western Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the continent and one of its <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0011683">most biodiverse regions</a>, is particularly vulnerable. It faces the cumulative threats of commercial krill fishing, tourism, research infrastructure expansion and climate change.</p> <p>In an <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02939-5">article</a> published in Nature today, we join more than <a href="https://homewardboundprojects.com.au/about/">280 women in STEMM</a> (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) from the global leadership initiative Homeward Bound to call for the immediate protection of the peninsula’s marine environment, through the designation of a <a href="https://www.antarcticanow.org/">marine protected area</a>.</p> <p>Our call comes ahead of a meeting, due in the next fortnight, of the <a href="https://www.ccamlr.org/en">international group</a> responsible for establishing marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean. We urge the group to protect the region, because delays could be disastrous.</p> <p><strong>Threats on the peninsula</strong></p> <p>The Southern Ocean <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-how-the-antarctic-circumpolar-current-helps-keep-antarctica-frozen-106164">plays a vital role</a> in global food availability and security, regulates the planet’s climate and drives global ocean currents. Ice covering the continent stores 70% of the earth’s freshwater.</p> <p>Climate change threatens to unravel the Southern Ocean ecosystem as species superbly adapted to the cold struggle to adapt to warmer temperatures. The impacts of climate change are especially insidious on the Western Antarctic Peninsula, one of the fastest-warming places on Earth. In February, temperatures reached a record high: <a href="https://theconversation.com/anatomy-of-a-heatwave-how-antarctica-recorded-a-20-75-c-day-last-month-134550">a balmy 20.75℃</a>.</p> <p>The peninsula is also the <a href="https://theconversation.com/humans-are-encroaching-on-antarcticas-last-wild-places-threatening-its-fragile-biodiversity-142648">most-visited part of Antarctica</a>, thanks to its easy access, dramatic beauty, awe-inspiring wildlife and rich marine ecosystems.</p> <p>Tourist numbers have doubled in the past decade, increasing the risk of introducing invasive species that hitch a ride on the toursts’ gear. More than <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/470576496/Polar-Perspectives-No-1-Is-it-time-for-a-paradigm-shift-in-how-Antarctic-tourism-is-controlled#download&amp;from_embed">74,000 cruise ship passengers</a> visited last year, up from 33,000 in the 2009-10 season.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-wants-to-build-a-huge-concrete-runway-in-antarctica-heres-why-thats-a-bad-idea-139596">The expansion of infrastructure</a> to accommodate scientists and research, such as buildings, roads, fuel storage and runways, can also pose a threat, as it displaces local Antarctic biodiversity.</p> <p>Eighteen nations have science facilities on the Antarctic Peninsula, the highest concentration of research stations anywhere on the continent. There are 19 permanent and 30 seasonal research bases there.</p> <p>Another big threat to biodiversity in the peninsula is the commercial fishing of Antarctic krill, a small, shrimp-like crustacean which is the <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2017.2015">cornerstone of life</a> in this region.</p> <p><strong>A cornerstone of life</strong></p> <p>Krill is a foundation of the food chain in Antarctica, with whales, fish, squid, seals and Adélie and gentoo penguins all feeding on it.</p> <p>But as sea ice cover diminishes, more industrial fishing vessels can encroach on penguin, seal and whale foraging grounds, effectively acting as a competing super-predator for krill.</p> <p>In the past 30 years, colonies of Adélie and Chinstrap penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula have <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/41242231?seq=1">declined by more than 50%</a> due to reduced sea ice and krill harvesting.</p> <p>Commercial Antarctic krill fishing is largely for omega-3 dietary supplements and fish-meal. The fishery in the waters of the Western Antarctic Peninsula is the largest in the <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-2979.2011.00406.x">Southern Ocean</a>.</p> <p>The krill catch here has <a href="https://www.ccamlr.org/en/fisheries/krill">more than tripled</a> from 88,800 tonnes in 2000 to almost 400,000 tonnes in 2019 — the third-largest krill catch in history and a volume not seen since the 1980s.</p> <p><strong>How do we save it?</strong></p> <p>To save the Antarctic Peninsula, one of critical steps is to protect its waters and its source of life: those tiny, but crucially important, Antarctic krill.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838471/antarctica-3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b40e7f32cd174fa39cb137d91ce94e0f" /></p> <p><span><em>Image caption: </em></span><em><u>A map of the current and proposed marine protected areas under consideration. Cassandra Brooks, Author provided</u></em></p> <p>This can be done by establishing a marine protected area (MPA) in the region, which would limit or prohibit human activities such as commercial fishing.</p> <p>An MPA around the peninsula was first proposed <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336888437_Protecting_Antarctica_through_Co-production_of_actionable_science_Lessons_from_the_CCAMLR_marine_protected_area_process">in 2018</a>, <a href="https://www.ccamlr.org/en/science/mpa-planning-domains">covering</a> 670,000 square kilometres. But the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (the organisation responsible for establishing MPAs in the Southern Ocean) has yet to reach agreement on it.</p> <p>The proposed MPA is an excellent example of balancing environmental protection with <a href="https://theconversation.com/no-take-marine-areas-help-fishers-and-fish-far-more-than-we-thought-119659">commercial interests</a>.</p> <p>The area would be split into two zones. The first is a general protection zone covering 60% of the MPA, designed to protect different habitats and key wildlife and mitigate specific ecosystem threats from fishing.</p> <p>The second is a krill fishery zone, allowing for a precautionary management approach to commercial fishing and keeping some fishing areas open for access.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7838472/antarctica-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/be0da721223d49479b289f835fa16b2b" /></p> <p><span><em>Image caption: </em></span><em><u>A map of the current and proposed marine protected areas under consideration. Cassandra Brooks, Author provided</u></em></p> <p>The proposed MPA would stand for 70 years, with a review every decade so zones can be adjusted to preserve ecosystems.</p> <p><strong>No more disastrous delays</strong></p> <p>The commission is made up of 25 countries and the European Union. In its upcoming meeting, the proposed MPA will once again be considered. Two other important MPA proposals are also on the table in the East Antarctic and Weddell Sea.</p> <p>In fact, for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/02/antarctic-marine-park-conservationists-frustrated-after-protection-bid-fails-for-eight-time">eight consecutive years</a>, the proposal for a marine park in Eastern Antarctica has failed. Delays like this are potentially disastrous for the fragile ecosystem.</p> <p>Protecting the peninsula is the most pressing priority due to rising threats, but the commission should adopt all three to fulfil their <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269874896_Competing_values_on_the_Antarctic_high_seas_CCAMLR_and_the_challenge_of_marine-protected_areas">2002 commitment</a> to establishing an MPA network in Antarctica.</p> <p>If all three were established, then more than 3.2 million square kilometres of the Southern Ocean would be protected, giving biodiversity a fighting chance against the compounding threats of human activity in the region.</p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/marissa-parrott-561432">Marissa Parrott</a>, University of Melbourne; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carolyn-hogg-1166504">Carolyn Hogg</a>, University of Sydney; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cassandra-brooks-419939">Cassandra Brooks</a>, University of Colorado Boulder; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justine-shaw-299755">Justine Shaw</a>, The University of Queensland, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-cristina-marquez-1166518">Melissa Cristina Márquez</a>, Curtin University. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/humans-threaten-the-antarctic-peninsulas-fragile-ecosystem-a-marine-protected-area-is-long-overdue-147671">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Water on the Moon: research unveils its type and abundance

<p>The Moon was for a long time considered to be bone dry, with analyses of returned lunar samples from the Apollo missions showing only trace amounts of water. These traces were in fact believed to be due to contamination on Earth. But over the past two decades, re-analyses of lunar samples, observations by spacecraft missions, and theoretical modelling <a href="https://theconversation.com/digging-deep-in-search-of-water-on-the-moon-26775">have proved</a> this initial assessment to be wrong.</p> <p>“Water” has since been detected <a href="https://www.space.com/40481-moon-meteorite-mineral-hidden-lunar-water.html#:%7E:text=A%20mineral%20that%20requires%20the,moon%2C%20study%20team%20members%20said.">inside the minerals</a> in lunar rocks. Water ice has also been discovered to be mixed in with <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/115/36/8907">lunar dust grains</a> in cold, permanently shadowed regions near the lunar poles.</p> <p>But scientists haven’t been sure how much of this water is present as “molecular water” – made up of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen (H<sub>2</sub>O). Now two new studies published in Nature Astronomy <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-01222-x">provide an answer</a>, while also giving an idea of how and where <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9">to extract it</a>.</p> <p><strong>Water and more water</strong></p> <p>The term water isn’t just used for molecular water, but also also for detections of hydrogen (H) and <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/hydroxyl-group">hydroxyl</a> (OH). Although H and OH could be combined by astronauts to form molecular water at the lunar surface, it is important to know in what form these compounds are present initially. That’s because this will have an impact on their stability and location under lunar surface conditions, and the effort required to extract them. Molecular water, if present as water ice, would be easier to extract than hydroxyl locked in rocks.</p> <p>The presence of water on the Moon is scientifically interesting; its distribution and form can help address some profound questions. For example, how did water and other volatile substances arrive at the inner Solar System in the first place? Was it produced there or <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms11684#:%7E:text=We%20determine%20that%20a%20combination,the%20water%20in%20the%20Moon.">brought there by asteroids or meteorites</a>? Knowing more about the specific compound could help us find out.</p> <p>Understanding how much water is present, and its location, is also incredibly useful for planning human missions to the Moon and beyond. Water represents a key resource that can be used for life-support purposes – but it can also be split apart into its constituent elements and put to other uses. Oxygen could replenish air supplies, or be used in simple chemical reactions at the lunar surface to extract other useful resources from the regolith (soil composed of small grains). Water could also be used as rocket fuel in the form of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.</p> <p>This means that the Moon has great potential to become a refuelling base for space missions further into the Solar System or beyond. Its lower gravity and lack of atmosphere means it would require less fuel to launch from there than from Earth. So when space agencies talk of <em>in-situ</em> <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-build-a-moon-base-120259">resource utilisation at the Moon</a>, water is front and centre of their plans, making the new papers extremely exciting.</p> <p><strong>New research</strong></p> <p>Instruments on board various spacecraft have previously measured “reflectance spectra” (light broken down by wavelength) from the Moon. These detect light coming from a surface to measure how much energy it reflects at a specific wavelength. This will differ based on what the surface consists of. Because it has water, the Moon’s surface <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6130389/">absorbs light at 3𝜇m wavelengths</a> (0.000003 metres). However, absorptions at this wavelength cannot distinguish between molecular water and hydroxyl compounds.</p> <p>Using the <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/SOFIA/overview/index.html">NASA/DLR Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)</a> telescope, flown at 43,000 feet, the team behind one of the new papers observed sunlit sections of the Moon’s surface in wavelengths of 5-8𝜇m. H<sub>2</sub>O results in a characteristic peak in the spectrum at 6𝜇m, and by comparing a near-equatorial area as a baseline (thought to have almost no water) with an area near the south pole, this study reports the first unequivocal observations of molecular water under ambient conditions at the lunar surface at an abundance of 100-400 parts per million.</p> <p>This is several orders of magnitude too large for most of the water to be adsorbed onto regolith grain surfaces. Instead, the authors suggest that the water they have observed must be locked up inside glass formed by tiny meteorites impacting and melting already hydrated regolith grains. Alternatively, it could be present in voids between grain boundaries, which would make it easier to extract. Where exactly this water is sited would be of extreme interest for future explorers as it would dictate the processes and energy required to extract it.</p> <p>Luckily, the other paper used new theoretical models, based on temperature data and higher resolution images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, to refine predictions of where conditions are right for molecular water to be trapped as ice.</p> <p>Previous research has shown already that there are such kilometres-wide “cold traps” in permanently shadowed areas <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/281/5382/1496.full">near the poles</a>, where water ice may be present. Evidence from orbiting spacecraft, however, was inconclusive about this being molecular water or hydroxyl. The new study finds that there are also abundant small cold traps where conditions permit water ice to accumulate – on the scale of centimetres or decimetres. In fact, such traps should be hundreds to thousands of times more numerous than larger cold traps.</p> <p>The team calculates that 0.1% of the total lunar surface is cold enough to trap water as ice, and that the majority of these icy cold traps are at high latitudes (&gt; 80°). This is particularly near to the lunar south pole, narrowing down the choice of future landing sites with the highest chance of finding trapped water ice. However, it is important to realise that the two studies investigated areas at different latitudes (55°-75°S vs &gt;80°S) and therefore cannot be compared directly.</p> <p>Nevertheless, these latest discoveries further enhance our understanding of the history of water on our nearest neighbour. They will undoubtedly strengthen plans for a return to the Moon. Instruments such as the European Space Agency’s (<a href="https://exploration.esa.int/web/moon/-/59102-about-prospect">PROSPECT payload on Luna 27</a>) will be able to make measurements on the Moon to “ground-truth” these tantalising glimpses of the wealth of information yet to be discovered.</p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-mortimer-125966">James Mortimer</a>, The Open University and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mahesh-anand-125967">Mahesh Anand</a>, The Open University. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/water-on-the-moon-research-unveils-its-type-and-abundance-boosting-exploration-plans-148669">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Australia expresses ‘serious concerns’ about invasive searches of women at Doha airport

<p>The Australian government has registered “serious concerns” with Qatar about an incident in which female passengers, including Australians, were taken off a flight bound for Australia and subjected to an invasive search.</p> <p>The incident happened at Hamad international airport in Doha earlier this month after a fetus was discovered in an airport bathroom.</p> <p>The story was broken by the Seven Network, which reported that “women at the airport, including thirteen Australians, were removed from flights, detained and forced to undergo an inspection in an ambulance on the tarmac.”</p> <p>According to the report, Qatari authorities forced the women to remove their underwear.</p> <p>A foreign affairs spokesperson said on Sunday: “The Australian government is aware of concerning reports regarding the treatment of female passengers, including Australian citizens, at Doha (Hamad) airport in Qatar.</p> <p>"We have formally registered our serious concerns regarding the incident with Qatari authorities and have been assured that detailed and transparent information on the event will be provided soon.”</p> <p>The matter is being handled by Foreign Minister Marise Payne.</p> <p><em>Written by <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-grattan-20316">Michelle Grattan</a>, University of Canberra. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/search/result?sg=efb3c23d-f61a-4045-8f10-bd77510f30c4&amp;sp=1&amp;sr=1&amp;url=%2Faustralia-expresses-serious-concerns-about-invasive-searches-of-women-at-doha-airport-148784">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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The first step to conserving the Great Barrier Reef is understanding what lives there

<p>Look at this photo of two coral skeletons below. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’re the same species, or at least closely related, but looks can be deceiving. These two species diverged tens of millions of years ago, probably earlier than our human lineage split from baboons and macaques.</p> <p>Scientists have traditionally used morphology (size, shape and colour) to identify species and infer their evolutionary history. But most species were first described in the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/027073a0">19th century</a>, and based solely on features of the coral skeleton visible under a microscope.</p> <p>Morphology remains important for species recognition. The problem is we don’t know whether a particular morphological feature reflects species ancestry, or evolved independently.</p> <p>Our new study <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1055790320302165">examined</a> the traditional ideas of coral species and their evolutionary relationships using “<a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1755-0998.12736">phylogenomics</a>” – comparing thousands of DNA sequences across coral species.</p> <p>Our results revealed the diversity and distributions of corals are vastly different to what we previously thought. It shows we still don’t know many fundamental aspects about the corals on Great Barrier Reef.</p> <p>And after three mass bleaching events in five years, not having a handle on the basics could mean <a href="http://elibrary.gbrmpa.gov.au/jspui/bitstream/11017/3569/4/Draft-restoration-adaptation-policy.pdf">our attempts to intervene</a> and help coral survive climate change may have unexpected consequences.</p> <p><strong>How do we know which species is which?</strong></p> <p>Despite being one of the <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00146.x">best-studied</a> marine ecosystems on Earth, there are fundamental knowledge gaps around the Great Barrier Reef, including:</p> <ol> <li>how many coral species live there?</li> <li>how do we identify them?</li> <li>where are they found across the vast Great Barrier Reef ecosystem?</li> </ol> <p>Finding the answers to these questions starts with accurate “taxonomy” – the science of naming and classifying living things.</p> <p>Identifying species based on how similar they look may seem straightforward. As Darwin famously said, closely related species often share morphological features because they inherited them from a common ancestor.</p> <p>However, this can be misleading if two unrelated species independently acquire similar features. This process, called convergent evolution, often occurs when different species are faced with similar ecological challenges.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2015/02/06/why-an-ichthyosaur-looks-like-a-dolphin/">classic example</a> of convergent evolution is dolphins and the prehistoric ichthyosaurs. These animals are unrelated, but share many similarities since they both occupy a similar ecological niche.</p> <p>At the other end of the spectrum, morphology can vary considerably within a single species. An alien taxonomist visiting Earth could be forgiven for describing the Chihuahua and the Irish Wolfhound as two distinct species.</p> <p><strong>Bringing coral taxonomy into the 21st century</strong></p> <p>We used molecular phylogenetics, a field of research that uses variations in DNA sequences to reconstruct genealogies. From corals to humans, molecular phylogenetics has revolutionised our understanding of the origins and evolution of life on Earth.</p> <p>Molecular approaches have <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-31305-4_4">revolutionised</a> our understanding of the diversity and evolution of corals, shedding light on <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature02339">deeper branches</a> in the coral “tree of life”. But within hyper-diverse, ecologically-important coral groups, such as the staghorn corals from the genus <em>Acropora</em>, we are still in the dark.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1055790320302165">Our new technique</a> addresses this by comparing thousands of key regions across coral genomes (the entire genetic code of an organism) to help identify species in this ecologically important group for the first time. This method will also allow us to identify morphological features that do reflect shared ancestry and help us recognise species when diving in the reef.</p> <p>About a quarter of all coral species on the Great Barrier Reef are staghorn corals, and they provide much of the three-dimensional structure fishes and many other coral reef animals rely on, just like trees in a forest.</p> <p>Unfortunately, staghorn corals are also highly susceptible to threats such as thermal bleaching and crown-of-thorns seastar predation. The future of reefs will be heavily influenced by the fate of staghorn corals.</p> <p><strong>The risk of ‘silent extinctions’</strong></p> <p>While we don’t yet know how many coral species occur on the Great Barrier Reef or how widespread they are, many species appear to have far smaller ranges than we previously thought.</p> <p>For example, we now know some of the corals on Lord Howe Island are endemic to only a few reefs in subtropical eastern Australia and <a href="https://www.mapress.com/j/zt/article/view/zootaxa.3626.4.11">occur nowhere else</a>, not even on the Great Barrier Reef. They evolved in isolation and bleach at <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gcb.14772">much lower temperatures</a> than corals on tropical reefs.</p> <p>This means Lord Howe Island’s corals are of far greater conservation concern than currently recognised, because <a href="https://theconversation.com/bleaching-has-struck-the-southernmost-coral-reef-in-the-world-114433">one severe bleaching event</a> could cause the extinction of these species.</p> <p>The risk of “silent extinctions”, where species go extinct without even being noticed, is one of the reasons behind the Australian Academy of Science’s <a href="https://www.science.org.au/support/analysis/decadal-plans-science/discovering-biodiversity-decadal-plan-taxonomy">Decadal Plan for Taxonomy</a>, which has led to the ambitious goal to document all Australian species in the next 25 years.</p> <p><strong>Intervening now may have unexpected consequences</strong></p> <p>In April, the <a href="https://www.gbrrestoration.org/reports#technical-reports">Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program</a> concept feasibility study found 160 possible interventions to help save the Great Barrier Reef. <a href="https://www.gbrrestoration.org/">Proposed interventions</a> include moving corals from warm to cooler waters, introducing genetically-engineered heat-tolerant corals into wild populations, and the harvest and release of coral larvae.</p> <p>What could go wrong? Well-intentioned interventions may inadvertently threaten coral communities, for example, through introduction or movement of diseases within the Great Barrier Reef. <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/amphibians/c/cane-toad/">Cane toads</a> are a famous example of unintended consequences: introduced in the 1930s to control an insect pest, they are now wreaking havoc on Australian ecosystems.</p> <p>Any intervention affecting the ecology of a system as complex as the Great Barrier Reef requires a precautionary approach to minimise the chance of unintended and potentially negative consequences.</p> <p>What we need, at this time, is far greater investment in fundamental biodiversity research. Without this information, we are not in a position to judge whether particular actions will threaten the resilience of the reef, rather than enhance it.</p> <p><em>Written by Tom Bridge, Andrea Quattrini, Andrew Baird and Peter Cowman. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-first-step-to-conserving-the-great-barrier-reef-is-understanding-what-lives-there-146097">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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