Earthwatch volunteers and scientists, who are conducting the first-ever comprehensive survey of the area, recently discovered a long oil slick coming from the sunken oil tanker Hoyo Maru and a smaller surface slick originating from the Rio de Janeiro Maru, a former passenger vessel that was converted to a submarine tender (support ship for submarines) by the Japanese navy during World War II.
There are 52 documented World War II shipwrecks and three oil tankers found in Chuuk Lagoon, with an estimated 32,000,000 litres of oil still secured inside. Dynamite fishing practices, storms and human activities (such as irresponsible anchoring) are destabilizing some of the wrecks, increasing the chances of an oil spill.
“This could have a devastating effect on the marine environment and negatively impact Chuuk’s tourist industry,” said Dr. Bill Jeffery from James Cook University, who leads the Earthwatch research project. “Some areas of mangroves that provide breeding grounds for many fish species could be completely decimated.”
“There is reason to believe that Hoyo Maru is leaking from her bunker, which means there could be a lot more oil left to spill. We’re hoping that Japanese historians can help us to determine if she went down with a full tank so we can estimate the full scale of the threat,” Jeffery said.
The coral encrusted wrecks attract a diverse array of marine life, including manta-rays, turtles, sharks and corals. In 2007, 266 species of reef fish were recorded by the Earthwatch teams and in 2006 the rare coral Acropora pichoni was identified. (It had never been found at this depth (18 metres) or on an artificial reef before.)
A report from Dr. Jeffery has been submitted to the Chuuk State Department of Marine Resources and the Chuuk Historic Preservation Office who will liaise with the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) to investigate how the oil pollution can be addressed. Earthwatch dive teams will return in November to continue their assessment into the ecological values of the site. Read the report here:
*Chuuk, an island area formerly known as ‘Truk’, is part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), found in the central Caroline Islands of the Western Pacific. During World War II, Chuuk Lagoon was bombed for over 18 months by the Allied forces and was considered a potential target for an atomic attack. The waters became a graveyard for the Japanese sailors and pilots killed in ships and aircraft.
Earthwatch is the world's largest environmental volunteer nonprofit organization. Its mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. Earthwatch was founded in Boston in 1971 and affiliate offices are based in the UK, Australia, and Japan. With approximately 120 projects fielding in more than 55 countries worldwide, Earthwatch focuses its research efforts on climate change, endangered species and resources, marine biology and ocean conservation, and threatened traditional cultures.
Kristen Kusek | Newswise Science News
Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung
Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences