NC Offshore Wind-Lease Auction Begins Today

first_imgIt’s the first step towards seeing wind turbines off the coast of North Carolina. Today, one of three available offshore wind energy leases will be offered at auction.The Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area lies east of Currituck Sound about 24 nautical miles from the shore at its closest point. Chris Carnevale, coastal climate and energy manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said it’s just the beginning.“North Carolina has the biggest offshore wind resource in the nation, and so this is one step toward harnessing that potential,” Carnevale said.The lease is offered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The company with the winning bid for the lease will then explore the area to assess the suitability for an offshore wind farm. After the viability studies are completed, the leaseholder will have to apply for permits and go through public and environmental reviews.Opponents of offshore wind have said it will obstruct coastal views.The Department of Energy estimates offshore wind manufacturing could create between 10,000 and 20,000 new jobs and meet 20 percent of the state’s energy needs. Carnevale said the potential contributions don’t stop there.“There’s also a lot of environmental benefits. It’s clean, emissions-free, it does not use any water to generate power with wind, like traditional power plants do,” he said. “So there’s economic benefits and large environmental benefits.”The country’s first offshore wind farm is online off the coast of Block Island, R.I. The offshore wind leases are being offered after the Obama administration cleared the way for the auctions just prior to the end of his term in January.Wind power already plays a large role in the European Union, with officials estimating it will provide as much as 17 percent of electricity by 2020.More information on the development of an offshore wind farm in North Carolina is available here.last_img read more

Saving albatross, on sea and land

first_imgA black-browed albatross caring for itschick. Albatrosses are attentive parents, with breeding behaviour adapted to empty and safe islands. They therefore have no evolutionary defence against insidious new threats, introduced by people, such as predatory mice. While mice eat their chicks alive, the albatross parents sit by with no sense of their chicks’ plight. (Image: Save the Albatross Campaign) A northern royal albatross in flight near its colony in Taiaroa Head, New Zealand. Albatrosses range over huge areas of ocean, spending over half their lives in flight and regularly circling the globe. (Image: Wikimedia) An infant albatross with deep wounds inflicted by mice. Gough Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean has a population of some 1-million mice, with devastating effects for the large ocean birds that breed there. (Image strictly copyright Ross Wanless. This image may not be republished or redistributed in any way.) A mouse on Gough Island with the remains of its much larger prey, a petrel chick. (Image strictly copyright Ross Wanless. This image may not be republished or redistributed in any way.)Jennifer SternWith a wingspan greater than the height of the tallest man and over half their lives spent in flight over the seas, albatrosses have a special place in the human imagination. But these great birds, evolved to fill a unique evolutionary niche, are under threat from both huge fishing fleets and the smallest of predators.Albatrosses wander the southern seas skimming the ocean rollers for years at a time. They occasionally land on the water to sleep but, it is thought, can actually catch a few winks while flying. No-one knows for sure, but scientists think that on long flights they may, like dolphins, transport themselves using one hemisphere of their brain, while sleeping with the other.On their long flights albatrosses feed on marine carrion, as well as krill and other sea-surface creatures. Their eyesight is good, but not much use for finding food over the featureless ocean – at least not until they’re almost on top of their lunch. They also dip their feet into the sea to test the temperature and somehow use the information to find out whether there’s a meal in the vicinity.Their most effective sense is smell, as most of their food is dead and floating on the surface. Albatrosses fly enormous distances to find small patches of food scattered over a vast area. This may be the remains of a dead whale, a patch of krill associated with upwelling, a plankton bloom, or even a spawning event.Animals such as squid all spawn together over a short period and then, conveniently for the albatrosses, die en masse, floating to the surface. The albatrosses’ food-finding instincts have served the bird well for millennia, but in the last hundred years or so things have changed.Deadly baitThe last century has seen a revolution in commercial fishing. Refrigeration now allows huge fleets to travel far across the sea, catching and processing enormous numbers of fish. The once-empty southern oceans are now densely populated with trawlers and long-line fishing boats. Unfortunately, these almost exactly replicate the feeding conditions of albatrosses, and other sea feeders such as petrels.Long-line boats lay enormously long fishing lines with baited hooks out the back of the vessel. The lines and bait, which is not exactly at its freshest, float on the surface, sending out deliciously attractive olfactory signals to passing albatrosses.The birds fly down and, as they have done for thousands of years, snatch the morsel from the sea surface. But that morsel is attached to a hook, so the bird is snared, dragged behind the boat, and drowned.It’s estimated that long-line fishing kills more than 100 000 albatrosses a year. That’s one every five minutes. Two albatrosses will have been dragged to a cold and lonely death by the time you have finished reading this article.Fishing trawlers are also deadly to the birds. Trawling nets are enormous – about 50m in length and filled with up to 20 tons of fish on a successful drag. As the net surfaces it is pulled to the boat, and the catch comes within reach of albatrosses and other birds – a veritable feast. The birds may survive a nibble or two, but eventually they get tangled in the net, dragged underwater, and drowned.The upshot is that the great bird’s numbers are declining at an alarming rate, with 19 of the 22 species of albatross listed in the Red Data Book, a global compendium of threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.Safe on land?But it’s not only at sea that albatrosses are threatened. They breed almost exclusively on empty oceanic islands, so they have evolved in an unthreatening environment. They are totally safe in the air and, before commercial fishing, were virtually unthreatened in the water – although they could get nabbed by an opportunistic seal or shark.In 2001 a group of ornithologists spent a year on Gough Island, a cold volcanic island rising from the South Atlantic Ocean at a midpoint between the southern tips of Africa and South America and the northern coast of Antarctica. They made it a priority to find out how well the albatrosses were breeding, given the birds’ severe mortality at sea.The scientists counted the pairs of incubating adults in January and, after hatching, in September counted the surviving chicks. The figures were frightening.Expecting a 60% to 70% breeding success, they were horrified to find it was closer to 30%. More than half the chicks had died. And they had no idea why – although they had a few suspicions.Ross Wanless, a PhD candidate from South Africa’s University of Cape Town, spent a year on Gough from October 2003 to September 2004 to find out what was happening to the chicks. The potential suspects included some kind of disease, poor feeding conditions, the high mortality of adults at sea – causing abandonment of the chicks – or, perhaps, predation by mice.Mice are not indigenous to Gough. Albatrosses evolved to breed on land entirely free of terrestrial predators so, with no natural land enemies, they have no natural land defences. The odd skua may drop in to steal eggs or chicks but the albatrosses could deal with that. They’d see them flying in and, with a good deal of squawking and wing flapping, see them off in a typically avian fashion.For thousands of years there were no mammals – and certainly no humans – on the birds’ breeding islands. But everything changed with the arrival of people.People came with passengers, small companions that had a huge impact on the delicate ecosystems of the southern islands. In 1949 five domestic cats were brought to Marion Island to deal with a mouse problem at the meteorological station. But the cats found burrowing petrels tastier than mice, and their numbers exploded. By 1977 there were 3 400 cats on the island, threatening to drive the birds to extinction. The resulting eradication programme, started in 1982, only managed to remove all cats from Marion by the early 1990s.Gough Island is home to an estimated 1-million mice. Cute, harmless little creatures, one would think.Wanless found otherwise. Like his predecessors, he counted the incubating adult pairs as a basis from which to measure breeding success. But about a month after the chicks had hatched, he began to find bloodied, dead and dying little albatross fluffballs.The mice were, literally, eating the chicks alive, sometimes taking up to a week to finish one off. And all the while the parents would sit there, unaware that their chicks needed help. They had no evolutionary reference for that kind of threat.Save the Albatross CampaignIts lifetime of lonely voyaging makes the albatross resonate in human culture. It’s an agent of karma in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and, even, material for Monty Python. The opened wings of the great albatrosses are the widest of any bird, extending over 3.4 metres (11 feet) – a span far larger than the height of the tallest man. They are magnificent birds, and something had to be done.The Save the Albatross Campaign (STAC) is an international organisation set up to find ways to end the breeding and feeding threats to the great bird. One of its priorities is vermin control, with the mice of Gough Island soon to go the way of the cats of Marion Island.The campaign also works with the fishing industry to find an answer to the problem of “by-catch” – a euphemism for animals inadvertently killed in the efficient process of commercial fishing.The solutions are win-win because fishing boats actually do want to only catch fish, not albatrosses, which have no commercial value. Stopping albatrosses from taking bait will reduce fishing companies’ wastage, and improve their bottom line. STAC works at the levels of both the big fishing commissions, or Regional Fishing Management Organisations (RFMOs), and individual crews and fishing companies.On the big scale, the campaign’s objective is to get RFMOs to acknowledge the problem, and take action. There has been good progress. The next step is the mandatory inclusion of mitigation measures in long-line and trawling fleets. These would include setting lines at night when albatrosses don’t feed, making the long-line bait sink quickly so the birds can’t get to it, and bird-scaring lines. The last are, in effect, marine scarecrows – long lines with scary, noisy, fluttering streamers set out before the lines or nets are laid. The birds find them terrifying, and keep away.Scaring lines are another win-win part of the campaign. With STAC’s help, previously unemployed people in Ocean View in Cape Town have started small businesses to make the bird-scaring lines. STAC then buys the lines, and gives them to the fishing boats for free.Unlike dolphin-friendly labelling on tuna tins, there is currently no labelling system for albatross-friendly seafood. But if you want to help save the albatross, look out for the logo of the Marine Stewardship Council on any seafood you buy. This organisation certifies responsible fisheries, with bird-friendliness one of its criteria.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at [email protected] articlesBoulders penguins’ promised landLooking out for South Africa’s sea life Saving our vulnerable sharksUseful linksSave the Albatross Campaign Birdlife South AfricaInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Southern African Sustainable Seafood initiativeMarine Stewardship Councillast_img read more

7DAYS EuroCup Top 5 games to watch

first_img4. Tofas Bursa vs. Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, Round 10Tofas is a team loaded with experienced veterans like Sammy Mejia, Matt Lojeski and Baris Ermis. It also has a true backcourt spark in Tarik Phillip, who hit a game-winning buzzer-beating three pointer when these two clashed in Round 5 in Krasnodar. Tofas is a side that might not light up the scoreboard, averaging 78.6 points, but it plays team basketball that begets a league-leading 21.5 assists per game. Tofas will have a chance to secure its playoff spot in Round 9, but if it does not, will be playing for its life in a do-or-die Round 10 rematch with the former EuroCup champions from Russia. For Lokomotiv, a perennial EuroCup contender, Round 10 will definitely be a must-win game. Lokomotiv is loaded with talent and has survived a four-game losing streak to remain alive and hold destiny in its own hands. But to make it through to the Top 16, it will need to win in Bursa in this must-see game.. @TofasSporKulubu steals a road victory as @PhillipTarik nails the game-winning long three-pointer at the buzzer! #7DAYSMagicMoment— 7DAYS EuroCup (@EuroCup) October 30, 2019 Print Dec 05, 2019 7DAYS EuroCup Top 5 games to watch Dec 06, 2019 1. UNICS Kazan vs. Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul, Round 10Heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, no team has qualified out of Group C. However, two teams sharing the gorup with 5-3 records – UNICS and Darussafaka – have such tiebreaker advantages that they have all but mathematically secured their Top 16 berths. As such, this head-to-head clash between former EuroCup champs will likely have very high stakes, with first place in the group very possibly on the line. Errick McCollum won their Round 5 matchup at the buzzer for UNICS, so there is also the revenge factor that Darussafaka will surely have on its while traveling to Kazan. Do not expect a high-scoring affair, as Darussafaka allows the competition’s fewest points on the road, 65.5 per game, while UNICS holds opponents to the third-fewest points, 70.8, at home.. @unicsbasket tops @dackabasket as Erick McCollum pulls up for a lane jumper that just beats the buzzer for a road win #7DAYSMagicMoment— 7DAYS EuroCup (@EuroCup) October 30, 2019 Dec 03, 2019 Dec 02, 2019 7DAYS EuroCup Top 5 surprising teams Among the many reasons the 7DAYS EuroCup is such an exciting competition to follow every season are the surprising results. Behold, the top five surprising teams so far from… 2. Unicaja Malaga vs. EWE Baskets Oldenburg, Round 9Unicaja has had a pretty dominant regular season. It has been looking down at Group C from the top of the standings from the start, and still leads it with a 6-2 record. However, one of those two losses came at the hands of its next opponent, Oldenburd, who during a 91-78 Round 3 victory over the Spaniards led by as many as 24 points. It turned to be just a bump in a mostly smooth regular season ride for Unicaja, but for Oldenburg it started a five-game winning run that has lifted the team into the Top 16. That winning streak that is still alive. Oldenburg is one of the two hottest teams in the EuroCup, with three of its five wins having come by 12 points or more, and it ranks third in offensive production with 83.8 points per game. Oldenburg knows that if it wins the last two games, it will win Group D. Rickey Paulding, Rashid Mahalbasic and company got a huge boost with the backcourt addition of scorer Tyler Larson, and the visit to Malaga, where the hosts rarely lose, will be a great test for Oldenburg. It is a clash of two already-qualified teams with plenty to play for. 7DAYS EuroCup Top 5 difference-makers The best teams in the 7DAYS EuroCup always have on-court leaders who know how to make the difference. Behold the top five difference-makers from teams with winning records… Read more With two rounds to go in the 7DAYS EuroCup Regular Season, there are still seven Top 16 places open and no team has clinched first place yet in any of the four groups. Round 9 and Round 10 will naturally settle all those question marks, but with the caveat that no single game will directly decide any outcomes in any group. With so much at stake in so many games, here is selection of five games to watch in the final two regular-season rounds.5. Nanterre 92 vs. Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, Round 9Everything is on the line in this clash between two teams that share last place in Group C, but nonetheless have momentum and possibilities to make the Top 16. Nanterre looked to be on the verge of elimination before Round 8, but then went on the road to beat none other than UNICS Kazan and complicate things in the entire group. Cedevita Olimpija, on the other hand, opened the season with five losses, but never thought about throwing in the towel. It has since then has gone on a three-game winning which includes a road win at Darussafaka and a home win over UNICS. When they met in Round 4, Nanterre stole an 87-93 win behind Isaia Cordinier and Dallas Moore, but Cedevita’s then-leaky defense has allowed just 70.0 points per game during its winning streak. The winner of this game will not be far from the Top 16, but defeat ends the loser’s season. 3. Segafredo Virtus Bolgona vs Promitheas Patras, Round 9There are five teams with 6-2 records in the regular season, and two of them square off in this Group A nugget. Virtus has had a great return to the competition so far, and its offense has met high expectations. Led by veteran playmakers Milos Teodosic and Stefan Markovic, Virtus ranks second in points (84.6 per game) and assists (20.4). On the other hand, few people knew what to expect from a newcomer like Promitheas, but a team with experienced players like Chris Babb and Langston Hall has produced a stellar campaign that has them leading the group and already qualified since Round 7. In this game, however, both teams will have a chance to clinch the first place. To do so, Virtus needs to win by 10 points in regulation time in order to overcome its 78-69 loss to Promitheas in Round 4. With its own victory, Promitheas would sweep Virtus, but also needs some help in the other two games in the group to secure the top spot. Throw in the atmosphere for Virtus home games in Bologna and this one has all the ingredients to be a great one. Read more Back,Related News by Read more 7DAYS EuroCup Top 5 toughest home courts Home-court advantage has always been a major factor for 7DAYS EuroCup and some teams have it more than others. Let’s rank the best courts to visit in the EuroCup this season.last_img read more