The Beacon

Oceana’s blog about the latest ocean news, policy and science.

ICCAT Moves to Properly Manage Bluefin Tuna, but Doesn’t Take Action for Sharks and Swordfish

ICCAT protected bluefin tuna

Bluefin tuna (Thynnus thynnus), pictured an Oceana Marviva Med Mediterranean Expedition in 2008. (Photo: Oceana / Keith Ellenbogen)

Earlier this month, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) concluded its meeting in Genoa, Italy to discuss protections for various marine species, including bluefin tuna, sharks, and swordfish. At the same time, the IUCN World Parks Congress concluded its once-a-decade meeting with new protections for marine habitat and other developments for the ocean.


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Sea Turtles Can Get the Bends after Capture in Fishing Gear, Says New Study

A new study found sea turtles can get decompression sickness

A loggerhead sea turtle caught on a longline in the Mediterranean. New research shows sea turtles can get “the bends” after being caught in fishing gear. (Photo: Oceana / Mar Mas)

If you’re an avid scuba diver, you’re probably all too familiar with decompression sickness (DCS)—more commonly known as the bends—a disease that can strike astronauts, divers, and others, and arises after inadequately recompressing after changes in pressure gradients. In the marine environment, scientists long thought that many diving vertebrates—like sea turtles and marine mammals—were immune to DCS through various adaptations.


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Ocean Roundup: Fiddler Crabs Found Far North of Their Range, 500 Dead Sea Lions Discovered in Peru, and More

Fiddler crabs may be expanding their range northward

A fiddler crab (Uca pugnax). Fiddler crabs may be expanding their range northward from climate change. (Photo: b-cline / Flickr Creative Commons)

Editor’s Note: This is the last ocean roundup blog to be published before the Thanksgiving holiday, but be sure to check back on Monday, December 1 for more updates. Happy Thanksgiving!

- New 3D mapping around Antarctica found that sea ice surrounding Antarctica is thicker than thought. The scientists say it’s an important breakthrough to understanding how sea ice thickness and extent is changing. The Guardian


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Video: Watch the Incredible Migration of Thousands of Giant Spider Crabs in Australia

A new video catches the spider crab migration

Spider crabs migrate across Port Phillip Bay in Australia. (Photo: Museum Victoria / YouTube)

Australia is famous for its teeming, colorful biodiversity like sea turtles, giant clams, and coral, but it’s the Great Barrier Reef that often receives the most attention for its wildlife. Of course, other areas around Australia boast an incredible amount of unique wildlife, like the Ningaloo Marine Park along Australia’s West Coast, for example, that hosts whale sharks each March and April as they come to feed.


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Oceana in Chile Submits Recommendations for Lowering Common Hake Catch Quotas

Oceana provided recommendations for common hake

Hakes (Merluccius sp.) in a crate. (Photo: Oceana / LX)

Last week, Oceana in Chile recommended that the Chilean government lower the total annual catch quota for common hake—a severely overexploited species— in 2015 by about 1,000 tons because of declines. According to Chile’s Fisheries Development Institute, common hake biomass declined by over six percent this year.


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Ocean Roundup: Dolphins Use Whistles as Names, Conservationists Call for Removal of Queensland Shark Nets, and More

Bottlenose dolphins use whistles as names

The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) is found to use whistles as names for individual dolphins. (Photo: Alexandre Roux / Flickr Creative Commons)

- A new study has unlocked a key to dolphin communication: The Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin and the common bottlenose dolphin use whistle sounds as names for each other, even in the wild. The researchers say this is an important step to understanding how human activity may be affecting these species. Phys.org


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CEO Note: Proposed Puerto Azul Project Puts Belize’s Lighthouse Reef Atoll and Great Blue Hole at Risk

Puerto Azul threatens Belize's coral reefs

Belize’s Great Blue Hole, a nationally protected area and World Heritage Site. Foreign developers are planning to build a luxury resort around the Great Blue Hole and surrounding Lighthouse Reef Atoll. (Photo: Eric Pheterson / Flickr Creative Commons)

Belize’s Mesoamerican reef is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Central America. Crystal blue waters, white sand beaches, and vibrant coral reefs are home to dolphins, sea turtles, and hundreds of species of fish. But a part of this beautiful protected area is under immediate threat from developers, who want to build a luxury resort, Formula One racetrack, and airport right on the reef itself.


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On World Fisheries Day, A Look at Oceana’s Work to Create Sustainable Fisheries (Photos)

November 21 is World Fisheries Day

Splendid Perch (Callanthias platei) with Pampanito (Scorpis chilensis), pictured off the Desventuradas Islands off Chile. (Photo: Oceana)

Every day, commercial and artisanal fishermen set out across the world’s oceans in search of their daily catch. Using harpoons, line-and-hooks, trawl nets, gill nets, and many, many more types of fishing gear, they set out to comb the oceans from the coast to the high seas in search of crab, tuna, swordfish, shrimp, and many more species. Of course, such high fishing pressure takes a toll on the oceans—leaving many fish stocks overfished, and critical habitat like coral reefs and seagrass beds in poor condition.


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Ocean Roundup: Seals Can Pick up Pings from Acoustic Tags on Fish, Climate Change Making Crabs “Sluggish,” and More

Grey seals may be able to detect pings from fishing gear

Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) in Santander bay, Cantabria, Spain. New research shows grey seals may be able to pick up pings from acoustic tags on fish. (Photo: Oceana / Enrique Talledo)

- New research shows that seals are picking up on the pings from acoustic tags on fish. Through experiments, the researchers found that seals located fish with acoustic tags on them more easily than untagged fish. BBC News


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Creature Feature: Ocean Sunfish

Ocean sunfish can weigh up to 5,000 pounds.

An ocean sunfish (Mola mola). (Photo: © Mark Harris)

Ocean sunfish, also called the common mola, are arguably one of the ocean’s funniest looking fish. Their back fin that they are born with never actually grows, and instead just folds into itself and forms a blunt, flattened structure called the clavus, says National Geographic. This means that sunfish must swim by flapping their dorsal and anal fins side to side, making them sometimes appear to be awkward swimmers.


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