The Beacon

Ocean News: Mercury Levels Rising in Surface Waters, Penguin Species Threatened by Habitat Degradation, and More

King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) in the Falkland Islands are a species threatened by habitat degradation. (Photo: Graham Canny / Flickr Creative Commons)

- According to a new study, mercury levels in many of the world oceans’ surface waters have tripled due to human activity. Because mercury drains into the ocean from mines, coal-fired plants, and sewage, mercury levels are higher in surface waters compared to the deep ocean. The Guardian

- In a win-win for whales and pollution, federal wildlife officials have launched a voluntary initiative off California this summer that encourages shipping vessels to slow down through the Santa Barbara Channel to protect blue whales and reduce emissions. Officials will pay shippers $2,500 for each trip completed at 12 knots or slower through a 130-mile stretch. Los Angeles Times

- Scientists recently finished mapping the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone this summer and found it spans for 5,052 square miles, or roughly the size of Connecticut. While it is large, this year’s dead zone is considered an average size for a dead zone — oxygen-depleted areas caused by runoff. CNN

- A recent study found that all penguin species are threatened by habitat degradation. The scientists found that food scarcity, bycatch, oil pollution, and climate change were the biggest threats to penguins, and that management plans reflect these issues.


- U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici states that the House of Representatives is failing to address one of the biggest issues right now: climate change. Ocean acidification is one of the main consequences of climate change, she says, and calls for the 2015 fiscal budget to support proper research and management on this issue. The Huffington Post

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