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Warming and acidifying oceans are destroying the world's coral reefs and the diverse ecosystems they sustain. Reef habitats have already shrunk an estimated 30% to 50% since the 1980s, and experts say they could vanish almost completely in the next 20 years.
A recent study points to another threat to the survival of coral reefs: sudden drops in oxygen levels.
The study, published in Nature Communications, confirms the observations of scientists working to save coral ecosystems that are home to a large proportion of the world's marine life.
In September 2017, the study's lead author, coral reef ecologist Maggie Johnson, was preparing to free-dive in the Caribbean waters off the coast of Bocas del Toro in Panama for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's long-term monitoring program of coastal ecosystems. While sitting on the anchored boat and putting on fins, Johnson saw calm, clear water. But after diving underneath the surface, she and a colleague noticed something very different.
First, they saw fish clumped together above a well-delineated line of murky water. Then, they spotted languishing creatures on the seafloor: urchins with drooping spines, deflated anemones that were lying flat, sea stars piled on top of each other trying to escape the murky water. After resurfacing, they detected a noxious, foul smell exuding from the water.
"This was unlike anything I'd ever experienced," Johnson, now a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, recalled.
Consequences of ocean deoxygenation
Oxygen is an essential component for supporting life. When water temperatures rise, they hold less gas, which explains declining oxygen levels in warming oceans.
On the Panamanian coast, a sudden, localized drop in oxygen in the water had killed a large portion of the reef ecosystem, essentially by suffocating its inhabitants. According to the study, a mix of low wind activity may have caused low oxygenated water to stagnate while nutrient runoffs from agriculture and sewage may have promoted excess growth of algae that further depleted oxygen when they decomposed.
Some marine creatures, such as fish, were able to swim away. Most of them couldn't escape the dead zone, however. In just days, the sudden deoxygenation event had been catastrophic, according to Johnson.
"There were massive corals that were alive, that were really old. They've been there for potentially hundreds of years, and after the event, they were gone," she said.
Over the next six days of the deoxygenation event, the researchers monitored the reef and collected samples. They found that compared to before the event, the reef had lost half of its coral cover.
The study also reported that a year after the event, species of the community that included corals, sponges and algae didn't fully recover. The shallower reef, which seemed to fare better than the deeper reef — perhaps due to having more stress-tolerant coral species — showed slow signs of recovery.
"It's been years since the event, and the ecosystem — particularly down a little bit deeper — hasn't really recovered. It's not like this happened, everything died, and then it all came back. It doesn't come back," Johnson told VOA.
Microbes, they observed, did seem to regrow in a month after the event and demonstrated a speedier recovery.
Coral bleaching in reefs
Mass coral bleaching events, which can emerge over weeks or months, have been a huge concern for conservationists and ecologists as a leading cause of dying reefs. Warm water can drive coral to expel the colorful algae residing in their hard tissue, turning vibrant habitats a skeletal white.
Bleached coral can still recover, but if too much time passes without their algae residents to feed them nutrients, they'll starve and die. Or if events become too frequent, the coral will have no time to recover in between.
Stresses from deoxygenation events, as seen in Bocas del Toro's reef, can also cause coral bleaching. And while deoxygenation events may happen on a smaller scale than warming events, such as within a bay or a lagoon, the speed at which they occur can leave behind a devastated reef within days before response teams can even mobilize or detect them.
"When we think about hypoxic stress, coral reefs are not the first place I think of … but clearly, it happened there," said Francis Chan, a marine ecologist studying low oxygenation, or hypoxia, in the Pacific Ocean at Oregon State University. "It points a light to (asking) where else in the tropics is this a problem … and are we measuring low oxygen in the right places to see if we can catch these phenomena?"
Strategies for combating low oxygen stress in coral reefs include continuous monitoring, policy changes to address nutrient runoffs, and studying stress-tolerant corals.
"It's clearer and clearer, based on the science that we have today, that climate change is going to reduce the amount of oxygen that we have in a lot of marine ecosystems," added Chan. "Do we have climate-ready ecosystems? Do we have climate-ready research and a monitoring enterprise? That's where we have opportunities to do something."(VOA/HP)
Signal's encrypted messaging app continues to be down on Monday after facing global outage on Sunday. The firm said it is working to fix it. "Hold tight, folks! Signal is currently down, due to a hosting outage affecting parts of our service. We're working on bringing it back up," the firm said in a tweet on Sunday.
The status website says the encrypted messaging app is "experiencing technical difficulties" and many people are also getting an in-app error message that says the same thing. Signal allows for secure and encrypted video, voice and text communication, but users are unable to send any messages.
According to Downdetector.com, users started reporting outages around 11:05 PM Eastern Standard Time and it appears to be affecting people around the world. Comments shared on Downdetector.com indicates that Signal was down for users from India, US, Germany, New Zealand, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil and many other countries.
"Down in Midwest USA. Signal was started by people connected to which secret 3-letter organization? (Look it up) Yep, that's right! An app disguised a privacy app to trick you into sharing more private information than you would with another messaging app," a user said. "I think Signal is having a rough day. Good luck, Team Signal. I'm sure you'll have it sorted out in a snap," said another. The encrypted messaging service has climbed to the top spot in the free apps category of the App Store in multiple countries, including India. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Signal, app, encrypted, messages, outage, down
Apple has acknowledged an issue where the "unlock with Apple Watch" feature might not work with its new iPhone 13 devices and promised to fix this issue with an upcoming software update. "You might see 'Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch' if you try to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask, or you might not be able to set up Unlock with Apple Watch," the iPhone maker said in the support document.
This issue will be fixed in an upcoming software update. Until the update is available, you can turn off Unlock with Apple Watch and use your passcode to unlock your iPhone 13. To turn off Unlock with Apple Watch, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode.
Earlier, multiple users found that they cannot unlock their iPhone 13 with the Apple Watch and instead received an error. User Monzilla88 on Reddit first reported the issue to the subreddit r/AppleWatch. They stated that both their iPhone 13 Pro and Apple Watch SE are up to date with the newest iOS and watchOS updates.
"Whenever I try to enable unlock with Apple Watch on my phone I get an error saying "Unable to communicate with Apple Watch," they posted. Monzilla88 claimed that they had tried unpairing and repairing, hard resetting both devices, turning on and off passcodes, but not no avail, the report said. More than 20 other users self-reported the same problem, with others noting that the feature works fine on iOS 15 on older models of iPhone, including the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the iPhone X. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: iPhone 13, apple, watch, issue, update, face lock
The nursery rhyme Goosey Goosey Gander is filled with multiple meanings. It is another one of those rhymes believed to have emerged from the time of great persecution in England during the Reformation. It also holds a contemporary, colloquial meaning.
The original verse goes something like this:
Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stair (allnurseryrhymes.com)
There are other versions that deal with more specific ideas from which separate meanings have been interpreted.
Catholic priests being killed for continuing to keep the faith Image source: wikimedia commons
The primary interpretation is believed to be regarding the Catholic priests getting persecuted by King Henry VIII and his Protestant successors. Catholicism in England was frowned upon when King Henry established the Church of England. Anyone practicing Catholicism was put to death for treason. Many of the courtiers were hanged on this charge, and are noted in history as being martyrs for their faith.
Those who managed to practice their religion without being discovered did so in what was called a 'priest hole'. These were small rooms in the walls of a house that was covered by tapestry or a bookshelf. The required prayer instruments would be placed here, and the person would retire to this chamber at night, or at a time when they were not required elsewhere. The goose that wanders her mistress's house in the nursery rhyme discovers such a person, presumably a priest, and exposes him, or 'throws him down the stair'.
An alternative meaning to this rhyme originates from the lower class of England's population, a colloquial term used widely among the non-rich. The word 'goose' was used commonly to address a prostitute, and here, could possibly refer to a woman who has acquired an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). "Whither shall I wander?/ Upstairs and downstairs/ And in my lady's chamber," could be a reference to the spread of an infection that a man acquires from such a woman, which causes him to be ostracised from his community. It was quite common in England for an upper-classman to bed a lower-class woman in the society of those days.
It is rather interesting that such a practice would turn into folklore, and in turn, become a rhyme sung by little children all over the world. It has certain amusing images no doubt, but not without raising questions. England of the times of Reformation was certainly a dark place, with a terribly dark heritage.
Keywords: Heritage, Rhymes, Folklore, England, Reformation