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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Ocean expedition seeks to map CA biodiversity

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024   

Marine researchers just wrapped up the first of three ocean expeditions off the coast of Southern California to map the biodiversity and support efforts to safeguard ocean animals from harmful fishing practices.

The nonprofit Oceana recently teamed up with a company called Blancpain to map and photograph undersea life around the Channel Islands.

Geoff Shester, California campaign director and senior scientist for Oceana, said the area is threatened by fishing gear from huge set gillnets.

"This type of fishing is a series of nets that can be over 20 football fields long," Shester pointed out. "It catches everything from gray whales and humpback whales to sea lions, and a whole variety of sensitive fish and shark species."

The California Fish and Game Commission is considering rules which would reduce bycatch in the set gillnet fishery. Set gillnets are banned in state waters off the mainland but still allowed around the Channel Islands and in federal waters starting three miles offshore.

Today conservation groups celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity. Shester asserted the Channel Islands' biodiversity makes the area the Galapagos of North America.

"We've got these amazing kelp forests teeming with life; deep-sea coral and sponge gardens that are just as colorful as anything you might see in a tropical coral reef," Shester pointed out. "Once people realize what's at stake here, I hope that results in more of a drive to conserve these special areas."

He added the mission also collected water samples for DNA analysis, did scuba diving surveys of habitat and fish diversity, piloted a new underwater vehicle and collected samples to detect potential microplastics in the water column.

Disclosure: Oceana contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Environment, and Oceans. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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