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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.

How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their earwax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of earwax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans.

The study used the earwax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it. The column of wax was almost a foot long.

For several weeks now, two unmanned spy planes have been flying over the Atlantic on an unusual mission: gathering intelligence about tropical storms and hurricanes.

The two Global Hawk drones are a central part of NASA's five-year HS3 (Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel) Mission investigating why certain weather patterns become hurricanes, and why some hurricanes grow into monster storms.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut is celebrating its maritime heritage this weekend with the Schooner Festival in New London. The brand-new event hopes to attract thousands of people from around the region, and provide a showcase for local companies.

The Fishers Island Ferry prepares to sail from its terminal in New London. She'll have some company today, as 20 schooners, sturdy, sleek and fast sailing vessels with a long history in Connecticut, arrive in the Thames River.

pinay06 (Wikimedia Commons)

We’ve talked about warming waters before on Where We Live. Now warm waters are in the news again. There are new climate change studies that provide more proof of the human causes of warming temperatures. The next big UN report on climate change contains some scary predictions...that sea levels could rise more than three feet by the end of the century.

Ed G (Flickr Creative Commons)

State officials are expressing concern about a series of recent blunders by the Schooner Amistad, including the decision to sail to the Caribbean during hurricane season. 

The ship will be featured in a NBC miniseries on the pirate Blackbeard, starring John Malkovich. Amistad America will be paid $250,000 but will have to film in Puerto Rico during Hurricane season:

"I complained about it because we're talking about a tall, wooden ship. There essentially is no real safe harbor for that in a hurricane," said North Stonington State Representative Diane Urban.

U.S. Army photo/Pamela Spaugy

It's been a rough summer for Connecticut's shellfish industry.

A recent Connecticut law states that Connecticut oysters must be at least three inches long when harvested. The state's shellfish industry supported the bill, despite neighboring states allowing smaller sized oysters to be harvested in their waters.

Now a recent inspection by the State Department of Agriculture revealed that 20 of 24 randomly chosen samples by 11 harvesters had oysters smaller than three inches. Steven Reviczky is the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.

Scientists have known for years that dolphins recognize each other by the sound of each animal's signature whistle. But it wasn't known for just how long dolphins could remember these whistle calls.

The individually specific whistle that each dolphin generates before its first birthday "for them functions like a name," says Jason Bruck, who studies animal behavior at the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago.

J Holt

Yesterday, Mystic Seaport celebrated another major milestone in its effort to restore the only wooden whaling ship left in the world. 

On Sunday, the crowd overflowed from Mystic Seaport's shipyard, to boats spread across the river, and any piece of shoreline with a view. 

White- "Ladies and gentlemen," 

That's Seaport President Steve White.

White- "Welcome to the launching of the Charles W. Morgan on her 172nd anniversary. Welcome!"

Todd Binger/flickr creative commons

The Wave. Water waves. Not lazy surf lapping at your toes along the beach. Colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves; scientists scrambling to understand the phenomenon; and extreme surfers seeking the ultimate challenge. Susan Casey’s account follows the exploits of boarders conquering suicidally large, 70- and 80-foot waves and the physicists trying to grapple with the destructive powers of 1,740-foot waves off the coast of Alaska and tsunamis in the Pacific. Casey is our guest.

Connecticut Beaches No. 17 in Water Quality

Jul 3, 2013
Hakaider - Flickr Creative Commons

Connecticut's beach water quality ranks 17 out of 30 states, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

State environmental officials say those findings, like many states, are heavily dependent on weather conditions. 

"The issue in Connecticut is more of a storm runoff issue," said Dennis Schain, spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Seaweed And The Sound

May 21, 2013
Jan Ellen Spiegel

For the last decade or so, Connecticut’s fishermen and shellfishermen have weathered a nearly non-stop storm of difficulties;  some related to climate change; some from pollution.

One fisherman who has had enough is embarking on a new enterprise that many hope will help to save or create jobs on Long Island Sound, and clean it up.

Brendan Smith is looking at a long rope covered with slimy, green, wet seaweed. He’s hoisted it high against a deep blue sky above Long Island Sound in the Thimble Islands.

Seaweed and the Sound

May 21, 2013
Jan Ellen Spiegel

For the last decade or so, Connecticut’s fishermen and shell fishermen have weathered a nearly non-stop storm of difficulties;  some related to climate change; some from pollution.

One fisherman who has had enough is embarking on a new enterprise that many hope will help to save or create jobs on Long Island Sound, and clean it up.

Brendan Smith: Isn’t it beautiful?  Look at that. 

J Holt

A significant milestone was reached in the restoration of the Charles W. Morgan- Mystic Seaport's 172 year old wooden whaling ship. 

Mystic Seaport president Steve White addressed over 200 people gathered beside the giant wooden hull of the Charles W. Morgan.

White- "...the last surviving whaling ship on the face of the of the earth, and the oldest commercial ship afloat in the western hemisphere..."

Flickr Creative Commons

Sujata Srinivasan

Almost six months after Superstorm Sandy, some businesses are still fighting to get back on their feet. Pop’s Grocery, a 52-year-old corner store in Bridgeport, was inundated by floodwater during the storm. As part of her series on recovery after Sandy, WNPR’s Sujata Srinivasan went back to visit.

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