Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

Following Portland's recently passed plastics ordinance, the town of Kennebunk may be the next to impose a fee on the ubiquitous plastic shopping bags provided by retailers.   But Kennebunk would be taking a slightly different approach.  On advice from the Board of Selectman, the town's Energy Efficiency Committee will draft language for a non-binding resolution that could go to voters in the fall, if approved by the board.

PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, environmentalists and fishermen will gather on Portland's waterfront to discuss the impact of ocean acidification on the Gulf of Maine.

Pingree and others will hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Friday behind the Pierce Atwood building off of Commercial Street. Pingree backs a bill in Congress she says would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to identify communities that have a "high economic dependency" on ocean resources and how ocean acidification would affect them.

Federal fisheries regulators have announced measures intended to reduce the number of large whales getting entangled in fishing gear along the Atlantic seaboard.

In the Northeast, the measures include increasing the number of lobster traps hooked to each trawl line that fishing vessels release into the water. The aim is to reduce the number of vertical lines in places where whales are most abundant, and fishing activity is highest.

Other areas, including the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast, face different whale-protecting requirements.

BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) _ A group of Bar Harbor, Maine whale watchers took the Save The Whales slogan to heart.
    The group of 200 whale watchers helped release a humpback whale that was entangled in fishing gear near the entrance to the Bay of Fundy on June 10. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports the whale watchers and on-board naturalists alerted the Canadian Coast Guard about the distressed animal. NOAA says the whale watchers were also able to provide whale biologists with information about what they could do to help the whale.

Martin LaBar

Bee-lovers who ply nurseries for welcoming plants may be bringing home more than just beautiful blossoms: A new study finds that as many as half of garden plants sold at top retailers contain neonicotinoid pesticides. "Neonics," as they're referred to, have been linked to recent declines in the honey bee population. 

South Portland Considers New Tar Sands Ordinance

Jun 25, 2014
Susan Sharon

The issue of tar sands oil, and the possibility of it one day being pumped from Canada into Maine for export is likely to be hotly debated at a meeting South Portland tonight. In a little over an hour's time, a special workshop will be held by the City Council to discuss a new draft ordinance that would prevent the bulk loading of crude oil onto ships for export.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Maine wildlife officials are defending their decision not to intervene before an eaglet featured on a wildlife webcam died.
    Viewers across the country expressed alarm when it seemed that the parents had abandoned a pair of baby eagles in a coastal Maine nest. One of the eaglets died over the weekend, but the other is still alive.

Quisnovus / Creative Commons

A new study suggests that major garden and home improvement stores may be contributing to the decline of bees through the plants thet sell.

"It is important to note that most gardeners have no idea that their gardens may be a source to harm bees," said Chad Churchill, a greenhouse nursery manager.

Speaking at a gathering in Portland today, Churchull said that a Friend of the Earth study showed that plants sold as "bee friendly" at major chain stores are routinely pre-treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, which can kill bees.

OAKLAND, Maine (AP) _ State officials say 18 geese whose droppings plagued an Oakland, Maine, beach have been euthanized.
    The Portland Press Herald reports Tuesday that town leaders rounded up the Canada geese and sent them to the state in the hope of relocating them. State officials say an overabundance of geese in the state meant they had to be killed.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Wildlife advocates want a federal judge to force the government to move more quickly on a recovery plan for imperiled Canada lynx.
    The U.S. government declared the snow-loving big cats a threatened species across the Lower 48 states in 2000. But officials haven't come up with a mandated recovery plan.
    After a federal judge criticized the delay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed completing the plan by early 2018.

Jellyfish on the Rise in Casco Bay

Jun 23, 2014
Carrie McCusker

Earlier this month there was a notable increase in jellyfish sightings in southern Maine waters. The reason for this phenomenon is not entirely clear, say scientists, but it's prompting some of the state's hardiest swimmers to think twice before jumping in the water.

  Carrie McCusker, an endurance athlete and coach from Cape Elizabeth, says she saw unusual looking jellies last week, just a short boat ride from the South Portland marina toward Peaks Island.

'Cosmos' and Space

Jun 23, 2014

Few things are more fun, fascinating and educational than gazing into the night sky to see and learn about all that's happening away from the pale blue dot we call home. The success of the re-imagined TV show "Cosmos," starring Neil DeGrasse Tyson, has renewed interest in space, exploration and the science of astronomy.

The Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences will be among 160 sites around the globe that will sample ocean water on the summer solstice to identify naturally occuring microbes.  

Bigelow scientists plan to take the samples during high tide tomorrow morning.  Bigelow research scientist Nicole Poulton says this will provide a global snapshot in time of what the microorganisms are and what they are doing.

Terry Goss

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Great white shark numbers are surging in the western North Atlantic after decades of decline.
    A new study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists says great white abundance in the area has climbed since about 2000. The scientists report the shark's growing numbers are due to conservation efforts and greater availability of prey.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ The New England Fishery Management Council will not allow Atlantic herring fishermen to exceed their limit for haddock bycatch this year.
    The council denied the request at a meeting Friday. Federal regulators say Atlantic herring fishermen who fish from mid-water trawl boats are on track this year to exceed their limit for incidental catch of haddock in Georges Bank. That would trigger rules that would effectively shut down the herring fishery.