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Monday, July 12, 2010

Surprising Life Under Northern Ice

CNN carries a brief video report on underwater photographer Gavin Newman's astonishment at the abundance, appearance and variety of life in the frigid waters of the Arctic.

The "CNN report" looks like a fig leaf for Greenpeace activism, but that's OK by me. (It's a product of Greenpeace's "Arctic Under Pressure" expedition.) After all, polar areas like this risk being devastated by the Klondike mentality as ice recedes at a breakneck pace and mankind races to exploit what's left behind. (Remember when "glacial pace" used to mean slow? No more, as ice caps and glaciers vanish before our eyes.)

The receding polar ice is also tempting fishing trawlers into the Arctic's international waters, Greenpeace says.

"There are some Norwegian and Russian trawlers out here. We asked to go on board one of the Norwegian trawlers to talk to them about where they were fishing, but they declined our offer," Newman said.

Greenpeace also claims these fishing trawlers are causing damage to ecosystems on the seabed.

"We've found trawlers are ripping up huge amounts of coral and other important habitat on the seabed. It's like someone's ploughed a field," Newman said.

Greenpeace found the trawl marks on the seabed at varying depths of between 200 and 400 meters.

The environmental group has called for an international moratorium on all industrial activities, including bottom trawling in the Arctic Ocean.

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