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Bill Battle peers through the window of a pickup truck at his catfish farm, Pride of the Pond, near Tunica, Miss. The land is pancake-flat, broken up by massive ponds, some holding up to 100,000 pounds of catfish.

Cormorants fly low over the ponds, keeping an eye out for whiskered, smooth-skinned fish. Battle keeps a shotgun in the front seat; business is hard enough without the birds cutting into his profit.

We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury.

An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences is calling for an early warning system to alert us to abrupt and potentially catastrophic events triggered by climate change.

The committee says science can anticipate some major changes to the Earth that could affect everything from agriculture to sea level. But we aren't doing enough to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts.

Over the past week, two floating structures on opposite sides of the country have provoked a lot of speculation. Early on, the Internet settled on Google as a likely culprit. Could the barges off of San Francisco and Maine, the masses divined, be giant data structures built to circumvent NSA spying? Could they be huge, floating stores?

One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, devastating shoreline communities from Florida to Maine.

Many of these areas have been rebuilt, including the Long Beach boardwalk, about 30 miles outside New York City. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new boardwalk Friday.

Ninety percent of the funding for the restoration came from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid $44 million to repair the devastation.

Less than 1 percent of the world's oceans are set aside as protected areas, but diplomats meeting now in Australia could substantially increase that figure.

Delegates from 24 nations and the European Union have convened to consider proposals to create vast new marine protected areas around Antarctica.

This same group met over the summer and didn't reach consensus, so it's now considering a scaled-back proposal.

The U.S. Navy's first "supercarrier" is being sold for just 1 cent to a ship breaker.

The USS Forrestal, launched in 1954 and decommissioned in 1993, is the first of three conventional (non-nuclear) carriers due to be scrapped in the coming years. The Forrestal is best known for a devastating fire in 1967 that engulfed the ship's flight deck, killing 134 sailors and wounding 161 others.

Greenpeace

The main investigative agency in Russia says it has dropped piracy charges against jailed Greenpeace activists. Captain Peter Willcox of Norwalk and 27 other activists have been charged with "hooliganism" instead.

Peter Willcox of Norwalk spoke with his wife, Maggy Willcox, for the first time Monday since his arrest by Russian authorities on a piracy charge. This improves on her previous communication with him, which was an email saying the Russians were taking over his ship.

Greenpeace

With Tom Hanks getting good reviews for his portrayal of a ship captain taken over by Somali pirates, it might be a good time to note that there could be a future Hollywood script being written right now in the Russian port city of Murmansk. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Photographer Christopher Capozziello has been photographing his twin brother Nick for years. Despite being twins, there was a major difference between these two: Nick was born with cerebral palsy. Chris was not.

The photography of both brothers’ is featured in the book The Distance Between Us. It tells the story about how both Capozziellos are living and coping with Nick’s condition.

Picador/Chion Wolf

This week marks the 12 year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. But war in this country pre-dates the U.S.’s involvement. In his memoir A Fort of Nine Towers, Qais Akbar Omar recounts his life in Kabul, pre-9/11 when Afghanistan was engulfed in civil war and Taliban rule.  Qais recently stopped by our studios to talk about life in war-torn Afghanistan and some of the happier moments.

Changes at Electric Boat in Groton

Sep 19, 2013
Electric Boat

The president of Electric Boat, Kevin Poitras, has announced his retirement, just over a year after taking the reins at the Groton submarine yard. He'll be succeeded in the top job by Jeffrey Geiger, who's currently president of the Bath Iron Works in Maine. The two yards are both owned by General Dynamics.

Poitras garnered praise for his tenure at Electric Boat, where he's worked since the early 1970s. Second district Congressman Joe Courtney noted particularly his relationships with local colleges to develop training and mentoring opportunities.

Mud slides, flash floods and rising waters are proving to be a deadly combination in the mountains near Acapulco, Mexico, where dozens of people have died in recent days as a tropical storm-turned hurricane pummels the area.

There's news this week that shipbuilder STX Finland will close what it describes as "the world's leading ferry builder," a yard where the company also built small cruise ships, icebreakers and naval craft.

The company blamed economic conditions for the closure of the Rauma Shipyard. Work from there will be shifted to the company's facility in Turku. About 700 people will lose their jobs.

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