Boyan Slat has been dreaming of cleaning up the world's oceans ever since he was a teenager. On October 2, 2019, the now 25-year-old announced that System 001/B, an autonomous retrieval system developed by his non-profit Ocean Cleanup, had successfully trapped plastic debris floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Located between Hawaii and California, the approximately 617,763 square-mile mass of waste is the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world.
The Masai Mara Reserve is one of Kenya's most popular tourist attractions. Every year, thousands of people flock to the national park to glimpse of a variety of wild animals, such as lions and cheetahs, or to witness the majestic annual migration of over 1.5 million wildebeests to and from neighboring Tanzania. However, this September's human "stampede" is due to an unexpected animal — a zebra foal with polka dots!
Shipworms, which munch through wood and help release essential nutrient stored within it, are incredibly beneficial for other marine animals. However, the saltwater bivalve mollusks have been known to sink boats and cause extensive damage to docks, piers, and other wooden structures. Now, researchers have uncovered a shipworm species of a different kind — one that has the potential to change the course of a river by gnawing through its limestone bedrock!
Princess Louisa Inlet, a fjord located 60 miles from Vancouver, Canada, is a spectacular stretch of remote wilderness. Accessible only by boat or plane, the 3.7-mile-long (6-kilometers) area is popular with outdoor enthusiasts who flock to admire the 120-foot-high Chatterbox Falls or to hike the numerous trails to other scenic features. Its dense forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, mountain goats, and eagles. Now, thanks to an unprecedented crowdfunding campaign, the pristine land will be preserved forever for future generations to enjoy.
Bees are essential for the pollination of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Sadly, over the past 15 years, the global population of the industrious insects has been declining at alarming rates. Bee Informed Partnership, a collaboration of American insect experts, estimates that between April 1, 2018, and April 1, 2019, the country's managed bee population decreased by 40.7 percent. The numbers are as dire worldwide. Now, some cities in the Netherlands are coming up with innovative ideas to help stem the population decline of these all-important insects.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, home to over 1,500 fish species and countless other marine animals, is in trouble. Rising ocean temperatures, attributed to climate change, have destroyed about half of its coral since 1998. On August 30, 2019, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority downgraded the ecosystem's condition from "poor" to "very poor" and warned that the window of opportunity to save it was rapidly closing. Now, some scientists are hoping that a gigantic piece of pumice stone currently floating towards Australia will aid in the recovery of the world's largest coral reef system.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which spans from June 1 to November 30, had been relatively calm this year, with just one major storm in July. That changed at the end of August, when Dorian, a Category 5 hurricane, came screaming through, leaving a trail of destruction all the way from the US Virgin Islands to the Bahamas and the US and Canadian east coasts.
When Leigh Love stumbled upon a bird's leg bone at the Waipara Greensand fossil site in New Zealand's South Island in 2018, he suspected that they might be those of an ancient penguin. With four other species discovered there, the area has been a hotbed for penguin remains from the Paleocene Epoch, which spanned between 66 million and 55 million years ago. What the amateur paleontologist did not realize was that the fossil belonged to the largest, hitherto unknown, penguin species ever found.