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Emergency Rules Protect Sperm Whales in California Fishery

Sperm whaleEndangered sperm whales are finally catching a break in California's deadly driftnet fishery. On Wednesday the National Marine Fisheries Service imposed emergency protections in the state's swordfish-thresher shark fishery: The fishery will be shut down if a single sperm whale is caught dead or injured.

The rules -- requiring independent observers on boats in whale areas -- were prompted by legal action from the Center for Biological Diversity and allies following a sperm whale death and a serious entanglement injury in 2010. The emergency protections come 20 days after the start of this year's season; fisheries regulators say they'll consider more permanent rules later this year.

"These mile-long driftnets are a deadly trap for endangered sperm whales and other marine mammals, so we're glad they're getting these emergency protections," said the Center's Catherine Kilduff. "But this problem needs a long-term fix. Permanent rules, if not a complete ban on these destructive nets, are long overdue."

Learn more in our press release.

Enviro Groups to Hillary Clinton: Join Us in the Keystone XL Fight

Hillary ClintonOn Wednesday 30 environmental groups, representing millions of Americans, called on Hillary Clinton to speak out against the Keystone XL pipeline. The effort was led by the Center and included groups like, CREDO Mobile and Friends of the Earth.

Secretary Clinton has long been an environmental advocate, but she has yet to take a public position on Keystone XL. The controversial pipeline would transport tar sands oil from Canada to Texas, where it would be refined and much of it shipped overseas. If the pipeline's built, climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has said, it will be "game over" for avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

"If we're going to have a livable planet for future generations -- one that's not fraught with floods, droughts, deadly heat waves and other catastrophic effects -- it's vital that we reject the polluting fossil fuels of the past and move to cleaner, safer energy sources," the letter to Clinton said. "Secretary Clinton, will you stand with us against Keystone XL?"

Read more in The Wall Street Journal.

Oceans Acidifying 50 Times Faster Than Historical Rate

Coral reefAmong other life-or-death subjects, the groundbreaking new National Climate Assessment includes an analysis of our acidifying oceans -- an inclusion the Center pushed for back in 2011. Over the past 250 years, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by 30 percent as the seas absorb the carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere -- and the current observed rate of change is about 50 times faster than the known historical rate.

By the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could be as much as 150 percent more acidic, resulting in levels "that the oceans have not experienced for more than 20 million years and effectively transforming marine life as we know it." In fact, the study concedes, such huge changes in ocean acidity probably haven't been experienced on the planet for the past 100 million years; it's unclear whether or how ocean life could adapt to such rapid acidification.

Acidification puts shelled marine species -- including pteropods, oysters, clams, sea urchins, corals and calcareous plankton -- at risk, and that means the entire ocean food web may also be at risk. Right now more than 1 billion people depend on the ocean for their food.

Read more, and check out some good graphics, in the Assessment itself.

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Bluefin Brigade Back in Action -- Help Us Now

Pacific bluefin tunaPacific bluefin tuna are awe-inspiring fish -- half-ton, lightning-fast ocean giants -- but they can't escape the world's most ravenous predators: us. To protect these shimmering swimmers from people's appetites for high-end sushi, the Center launched a Bluefin Boycott campaign four years ago. We've gotten more than 83,000 pledges from bluefin advocates not to eat at venues offering this fish; restaurants across the country have also pledged not to serve it.

A study last year showed a 96 percent decline in this fish's historic numbers, and scientists have warned of a complete collapse looming for Pacific bluefin tuna. Still, overconsumption of the species is rampant.

So our public campaign is gaining new momentum as we rally supporters to demand that the Pacific Fishery Management Council shut down its bluefin tuna fisheries so these magnificent fish can recover before it's too late.

Take action with us now -- and if you haven't already, make sure to sign our pledge. Then get more from FIS World News.

Fracking Fight Expands in Nevada

Desert near Tonopah, NVThis week the Center opened another front in the battle against fracking, taking on an upcoming oil and gas lease sale in Nevada that could allow this dangerous, destructive practice on more than 174,000 acres of public land. The sale, set for July, offers up 100-plus areas near the towns of Tonopah and Austin in central Nevada; we filed a formal protest on Friday.

Fracking takes enormous amounts of water -- about 2 million to 5.6 million gallons per well. The extraction of that water can lower water tables, reducing water available to communities, hurting wildlife and industrializing wildlands. Nevada is the driest state in the union, and water is often in short supply.

"Fracking in other parts of this country has repeatedly shown the practice to be dangerous both for human health and the environment," said Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist with the Center. "It poses an imminent threat to one of Nevada's scarcest resources -- water -- as well as clean air and wildlife habitats. And of course it exacerbates climate change."

Read more in the Elko Daily Free Press.

Tonight: Special TV Screening of Extinction Crisis Documentary

Call of Life posterThe Center is partnering in a special TV screening tonight of a documentary about the wildlife extinction crisis called "Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction." The film, from Species Alliance, will air on Free Speech Television at 6 p.m. Pacific, 9 p.m. Eastern, followed by a discussion with key scientists, including Duke University's Stuart Pimm.

The film is a fascinating examination of the wildlife extinction crisis and features interviews with scientists, psychologists, anthropologists and even religious leaders analyzing the cause of the crisis, its scope and important solutions.

Check out a trailer of the film, find viewing times, and learn more about the extinction crisis.

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Tell Gov. Brown to See Fracking Harms for Himself -- Take Action

Fracking rig near playground in Kern County, CACalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown consistently denies the dangers of fracking, but isn't it time he sees it for himself? Residents of Kern County, the most fracked county in the state, have invited him there for a tour; we think he ought to accept.

Fracking is spreading in Kern County, often right next to schools, churches, homes and farms. Communities there have the worst air quality in the nation, elevated cancer rates and asthma levels that are off the charts -- to say nothing of oil-field traffic, methane flares, pipelines, and wastewater pits filled with chemical cocktails that companies keep secret.

We need your help to tell Gov. Brown to come see the real face of California fracking. If you live in the state, please take a moment now to urge the governor to accept the invitation to Kern County.

UN to Eaters: Cut Your Meat and Dairy by Half for a Healthier Planet

CowFlexitarians and vegetarians are creating room at the table for the latest form of conscientious eating that's making international waves: demitarianism. A recent UN report calculated that if all Europeans adopted a demitarian diet -- i.e., cutting meat and dairy consumption in half -- it would reduce the continent's total greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent.

Demitarians can also consider themselves conservationists, since reducing meat consumption not only fights climate change but also saves water, land and wildlife. With meat consumption on the rise around the world, it's vital that places like Europe and the United States take the lead in curbing our appetite for environmentally damaging, meat-heavy diets. Professor Mark Sutton, one of the report authors who came up with the new term, said, "If we were to change our culture, that would have a ripple, it would be an incredible sea change."

Learn more in The Guardian; then take the Center's Earth-friendly Diet pledge to reduce your meat consumption.

Wild & Weird: An Adorable Deep-sea Dumbo -- Watch Video

Dumbo octopusDuring a dive in the Gulf of Mexico last month, team members from NOAA's research vessel Okeanos Explorer captured rare footage of an adorable little deep-sea octopus named after a pachyderm. The Dumbo (Grimpoteuthis) octopus shares its moniker with the Disney elephant, not for its size -- the length of the sea creature rarely exceeds a foot -- but because it uses two prominent, ear-like fins to swim about in underwater flight. The new footage shows the species coiling its tentacles into tight spirals, a behavior that scientists had never observed before.

Deep-sea creatures are often stereotyped as the world's more frightening species. One look at the Dumbo octopus's surprisingly sweet face, however, shows there are charmers in the dark depths, too.

Check out this amazing footage of the Dumbo octopus; then read more about NOAA's expedition at The Huffington Post.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Sperm whale courtesy Flickr/Szecska; sperm whale courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Tim Cole, NOAA; Hillary Clinton courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Mark Nozell; coral reef courtesy Flickr/The Open University; wolves by John Pitcher; Pacific bluefin tuna courtesy NOAA Fisheries Southwest Regional Office; Nevada desert courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Brynn; "Call of Life" poster courtesy Species Alliance; elephant courtesy Flickr/Matt Rudge; pumpjack near playground courtesy Brooke Anderson, Center for Race, Poverty & the Environment; cow courtesy; Dumbo octopus courtesy NOAA.

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Center for Biological Diversity

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Tucson, AZ 85702