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Desforges J.P.W.,University of Victoria | Galbraith M.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans | Dangerfield N.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans | Ross P.S.,Vancouver Aquarium
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2014

We document the abundance, composition and distribution of microplastics in sub-surface seawaters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean and coastal British Columbia. Samples were acid-digested and plastics were characterized using light microscopy by type (fibres or fragments) and size (<100, 100-500, 500-100 and >1000μm). Microplastics concentrations ranged from 8 to 9200particles/m3; lowest concentrations were in offshore Pacific waters, and increased 6, 12 and 27-fold in west coast Vancouver Island, Strait of Georgia, and Queen Charlotte Sound, respectively. Fibres accounted for ~75% of particles on average, although nearshore samples had more fibre content than offshore (p<0.05). While elevated microplastic concentrations near urban areas are consistent with land-based sources, the high levels in Queen Charlotte Sound appeared to be the result of oceanographic conditions that trap and concentrate debris. This assessment of microplastics in the NE Pacific is of interest in light of the on-coming debris from the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source


News Article | April 20, 2016
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/earth.xml

An endangered green sea turtle found in Canada's frigid seas in January is now heading back to California's warmer waters after receiving initial rehabilitation from hypothermia. Comber, a green sea turtle discovered on a far-flung beach in Vancouver Island's west coast, had suffered from a hypothermia so terrible that it had been hard for officials to say if the turtle was still alive. Sea turtles such as Comber are cold-blooded, which means they depend on external environments to regulate body temperature. As such, sea turtles do not usually live in Canada because of the country's climate. On Jan. 23, the sea turtle, who is about 12 to 20 years old, was admitted to Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Center with an 11.2 degree Celsius (52.16 degree Fahrenheit) body temperature. Dr. Martin Haulena, the rescue center's head veterinarian, said Comber's state in January was so bad that he had difficulty breathing. The aquarium staff then treated Comber with gastrointestinal protectants, antibiotics, and a measured boost in temperature. They kept track of the turtle's heartbeats through ultrasound. Hauder said there is nowhere in the country with waters warm enough to help the 35-kilogram (77-pound) Comber survive. To make sure that Comber gets to find a suitable home, Vancouver Aquarium had coordinated with other agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (UFWS), U.S. Coast Guard, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and several U.S. aquariums. Fortunately, Comber will be taken by the UFWS and returned to California. After staying at the Seattle aquarium for one night, Comber will be taken to San Diego SeaWorld where they will finish the turtle's rehabilitation. Once waters are temperate enough, Comber and other sea turtles under rehabilitation, including an olive ridley sea turtle named Tucker, will be freed. Of these animals, Comber is the single sea turtle that managed to reach Canada. Tucker was found off a Washington coast. Although Comber is the first green sea turtle rescued and released by the aquarium, he is not the first to be rehabilitated. In 2005, the team found a green sea turtle named Schoona in the waters off British Columbia. She was considered non-releasable and now stays in the aquarium's gallery of Tropical Waters. In California, when green sea turtles are rescued, only 30 percent of the saved animals make it to release, said Haulena. Comber, however, had beaten the odds. Haulena said getting Comber healthy enough so he could be released into the wild was their number goal. "He can contribute to the growth of the endangered sea turtle population," added Haulena. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 7, 2016
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/science.xml

A California sea lion in critical condition was rescued off the coast of Salt Spring Island on Monday. The animal is now under the care of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. Locals say that it was in distress, lethargic, and just stayed in one place the whole time. "We had several reports of a male sea lion in distress on Salt Spring through the weekend," said Martin Haulena, head veterinarian of Vancouver Aquarium. Looking at the pictures they received, Haulena describes that the animal is in a very poor condition. It is so thin that the ribs and spine can be seen. It also suffered "massive weight loss." Together with the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Haulena helped bring the animal from the coast to Vancouver Aquarium's rescue center to receive medical treatments. They then confirmed that the sea lion is a male, believed to be five to seven years old. Aquarium's staff are currently working to stabilize the animal. He is now being treated with gastric protectants, subcutaneous fluids, and antibiotics. However, it is still uncertain why the sea lion is in trouble. He will stay under observation and will have to undergo further examination. "The animal is in such poor condition that now is not the time to perform potentially stressful medical procedures," said Haulena. He added that it will be hard to target the treatment without diagnostic information. California sea lion, known for its playfulness, intelligence, social behavior and noisy barking, is a common animal found from British Columbia down to the southern part of Baja California. It has a steady growing population of approximately 238,000. Aside from Baja California and British Columbia, California sea lions can also be seen in Monterey, San Francisco, and Galapagos Islands. Sea lions are the most common patients of The Marine Mammal Center, a nonprofit veterinary research hospital and educational center devoted to rehabilitate and rescue ill and injured marine mammals. The common reasons why the sea lions are rescued are: toxicity, leptospirosis, pneumonia, cancer, entanglement on fishing gears, gunshots and malnutrition. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article
Site: https://www.sciencenews.org/

Decades after Europe banned toxic PCBs, the region’s killer whales and three smaller dolphin species still carry high levels of the pollutants. “They’re still at concentrations we really need to worry about,” said veterinary specialist Paul D. Jepson of the Zoological Society of London at a news conference January 12. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were once industrial wonder chemicals but were banned by many developed nations by the end of the 1980s because of human health and environmental concerns. Despite the long gap since then, mean concentration of the chemicals in the blubber of some populations of Europe’s killer whales exceeds — often by a lot — a high threshold for health damage. So do PCB concentrations in bottlenose as well as in striped dolphins, Jepson and his colleagues report online January 14 in Scientific Reports. PCB concentrations in harbor porpoises were lower but still exceeded a lower threshold above which physiological changes may occur. A team of researchers from across Europe — from Spain to Slovenia— compiled and analyzed PCB animal contamination information spanning from the early 1990s to 2009 or 2012. The data come from more than 1,000 animals, from either necropsies or blubber samples nipped from living animals. The concentrations represent a sum of the PCB variants detected. Adults of four species of cetaceans carry concentrations of long-lasting, toxic PCBs (measured in milligrams/kilogram of lipid) near or substantially greater than thresholds of observed effects from PCB contamination. The black line marks a level at which some lab tests start observing physiological changes in marine mammals. The red line represents a higher threshold, linked to reproductive effects in ringed seals. After a modest postban drop in body concentrations of the PCBs, levels appear to have remained stable and high in around much of Europe, Jepson says. PCBs are probably leaking out of landfills or otherwise working their way to the waters. “There’s a lot more PCBs to come,” Jepson warns. What had once seemed a great asset for better living through chemistry has turned out to be a long nightmare for environmental contamination. PCBs resist heat and general degradation. And the chemicals don’t just linger; they concentrate themselves in animals. PCBs dissolve in fat and grow more concentrated as contaminated predators get eaten by even bigger predators. Top predators that eat fat-rich prey and live long lives, such as mammal-hunting killer whales, are thus especially at risk for high concentrations. Males keep building up their body burden of PCBs, but females typically discharge most of theirs while lactating. The bad news: The PCBs freed from the females go into the milk their babies drink for months. The researchers looked at two thresholds at which PCBs cause physiological effects. A lower threshold of 9 milligrams of PCBs per kilogram of body fat comes from experimental studies, and a higher one (41 mg/kg) is described for reproductive troubles in ringed seals in the Baltic Sea. In comparison, killer whales sampled in the United Kingdom had mean PCB concentrations of almost 108 mg/kg. The survey can’t say for certain what population miseries come from the high PCB concentrations. Previous research suggests that PCBs impair reproduction, and Jepson notes that that Scotland’s killer whale population looks as if it’s going extinct. Only eight known survivors remain and no calves have been reported in almost two decades. The high concentrations of PCBs in the survey don’t surprise marine mammal toxicologist Peter Ross of the Vancouver Aquarium. He has followed PCB contamination in aquatic life and hasn’t seen much improvement in decades. And in the case of some Pacific killer whales, he doesn’t expect PCBs to fall to safe levels in that population until the end of the 21st century. In terms of spotting a menace to the environment before it spreads, “we learned a very hard lesson with PCBs,” he says.


News Article | August 1, 2012
Site: techcrunch.com

This is a guest post by Eze Vidra, Head of Campus London, Google’s dedicated startup space in East London housing accelerators and co-working spaces. He tweets at @ediggs and blogs at VCCafe.com. An experienced VC would have heard thousands of pitches in his day. The good ones would tell you that they have developed a “pattern recognition”. After a while, they are able to determine (at least in their own minds) what startups would succeed or fail in a matter of minutes. There’s obviously lots going on in a pitch – verbal and non-verbal communication, chemistry etc. In this post, I will outline both platforms and tools startups should consider to improve their pitching success, before they get into the VC’s office. 1) Put your startup on AngelList – if you’re on to something solid, you should have no problem getting noticed by the top guys. Best way to get noticed is to be referred by a member – let me know if you need help with that (angel.co) 2) Spend $19 and treat yourself to this course on raising capital for startups and what to include in your pitch slides. This online course consists of 8 lectures and over 6.5 hours of content (including a sample pitch deck) . Speakers include Naval Ravinikant (co-founder of AngelList), Dave McClure (500 startups) and Adeo Ressi (founder Institute) providing different angles to the pitch. It’s cheap coaching to nail the structure you need in any fundraising presentation. 3) In his class CS183, on startup conception, launch, scaling, and growing of a successful tech company, valley investor Peter Thiel referred to two different decks for the same company. A good deck and a bad/traditional deck, explaining the relevant differences. Access the “good deck” on Blake Masters’ class notes posts (converted to PDF thanks to Andreas Klinger) 4) Look at other pitching examples – recently launched PitchEnvy has over 20 recent pitch decks that raised money! 5) Create an intro video as a teaser – while it’s risky, creating a video can be cheaper than you think, and it can help establish the concept of your startup in a clear/clever/fun way for users and investors alike. I found Startup-Videos to be an excellent resource for seeing what’s out there. There are some platforms out there like PowTown If you’re going to do it yourself, you better get some training. Crowdsourced education platform Udemy comes to the rescue with How to Create an Awesome video demo for your startup. Animation platform PowToon, an Israeli startup, is another free tool to help. 6) Equity Crowdfunding – I’ve covered the different types of Crowdfunding on the post Startup Equity Crowdfunding grows in Europe. In a nutshell, equity-based platforms like FundersClub (US), Seedrs (UK), and CrowdCube (UK, mostly non-tech) and others, enable anyone (not just accredited angel investors), put small sums as little as $1000 towards an equity investment in a startup. The sector is yet to be regulated and there are concerns about alignment of investors, but nevertheless it is a viable way to get the first bucks to build a product. 7) Donation Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Rally and IndieGogo are essentially early-sales platforms, which works especially well for physical products. For example, Pebble was able to raise $3.4 million in 3 days for its smart watch, which grew to over $10 million in one month from 68,000 backers, without losing a single percentage of equity in the process. People who pledged money towards the project got in return units of the product, or the ability to choose a color for their Pebble watch depending on how much they paid. Another example is Ze Frank, who raised $146,000 from 3,900 people since March. He included several ‘awards’ for different levels of fundraising including “I will whisper words of encouragement into a small jar, label it, and send it to you + One black on black fuzzy duck t-shirt” for people who pledge $250. It doesn’t work for everyone, but is certainly a channel worth considering, for the right product. 8) Get on accredited lists – this is a bit of a chicken and egg. You need funding, VCs like traction. If you can show you have traction, it will be easier to get funding. One way of doing that is getting ranked by industry accredited lists. Associates at VC funds will regularly go through lists like Deloitte Fast 50, Telegraph 100 to look for hidden gems. If your startup was ever on one of these lists you probably received unsolicited phone calls asking for meetings. Another way of accomplishing the same effect is to sign up for visible pitch competitions like the Startup Bootcamp’s Tech Allstars (a competition for startups in EU who were part of accelerators), or LeWeb’s pitching competition. 9) Get media/blog coverage before you launch – staying on the traction point, any prospecting investor will do its due diligence on the company, product or team. Since there aren’t too many data points in the early stages of a startup, getting featured by a reputable media outlet (ideally national, but niche works too) will create another entry point for people to find out about your product or service. A friend of mine got featured by Wired, GQ and BBC before he went live with the product because he was focused on a ‘sexy’ area. The result: oversubscribed angel rounds and a long waiting list of beta testers for when the company is ready to flip the switch. Of course if you aren’t ready for publicity it’s better to wait before you attract all that attention. A ‘soft’ way of getting noticed is answering questions on UGC sites like Quora or LinkedIn, submitting a guest post on your area of focus without being too salesy and starting your own blog, to establish your voice within the community. 10) Get on stage – practice your pitch as much as you can. If you live near a vibrant startup community, there should be plenty of opportunities to do pitch practice. From community meetups to university clubs, getting on stage will not only improve your confidence, but can also produce valuable feedback before you get on to the real thing. *** Any of these techniques is most likely to work best for kick ass teams with experience and products that tap big and growing markets in a scalable way. No harm in trying, but don’t put the cart ahead of the horse! You are of course also welcome to visit the VC Cafe Startup Resources page for additional tools, reading lists and recommendations

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