How East Island vanished

First, the island was there. Then, it was mostly gone. Before Hurricane Walaka swept through the central Pacific this month, East Island was an 11-acre sliver of sand in the northwestern part of the Hawaiian archipelago. After the storm, officials confirmed that the island had been largely submerged, the second island to disappear in the French Frigate Shoals in recent months, said Athline Clark of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Microplastics in your gut

Trillions of shards of plastic known as microplastics have been found in the oceans, fish, tap water and, now, the human gut. In a small pilot study, researchers led by Philipp Schwabl, a gastroenterologist at the Medical University of Vienna, detected the presence of microplastics in all eight study participants from Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Austria.

New crocodile discovered

For nearly 85 years, crocodile experts knew of just three species in Africa — the dwarf, Nile and slender-snouted. Now, Matthew Shirley of Florida International University’s Tropical Conservation Institute and his team discovered a new species, naming it the Central African slender-snouted crocodile. The freshwater species, found from Cameroon to Tanzania, has been officially named Mecistops leptorhynchus, “the first species since 1935 to go through the full formal descriptive and naming process,” National Geographic said. Until this discovery, the croc was considered to be the same species as its slender-snouted West African counterpart, and, as such, reduces the total population of the West African species to about 500. The finding is vital for conservation efforts and to protect the crocs from poaching and habitat loss, Shirley said. “These are genuinely critically endangered,” he said. The crocs could “blink out at any moment.”

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