The Beacon

Free Halloween Ecards!

Check out these freaky fish. Perfect for Halloween...


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New Video! Fisheries on the Brink

Dr. Daniel Pauly, Director of the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia and Oceana board member, provides insight into the damage that has been done to our oceans and answers the question "is it too late to save them?"

>> Watch the video

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Read this blog, then read this book

If you've spent the last few months reading trashy novels and even trashier magazines on the beach - you're forgiven. After all, that's what summer is all about. But summer is coming to an end (don't blame the messenger!) and it's time to start reading literature that will actually stimulate your brain cells. A good place to start is with Killing Our Oceans: Dealing with the Mass Extinction of Marine Life by Professor John Kunich.

When John isn't teaching at the Appalachian School of Law, he's researching the current crisis in ocean biodiversity. His new book not only outlines what is happening to our oceans, but also why it's happening.

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AACK! Invasion of the sea squirt

A blob-like creature is invading Long Island Sound and posing a threat to its lobsters and other shellfish. No, it's not the blob made famous by the cult-classic film, but rather "sea squirts" - an even stranger species. Read all about it here.

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The best dive sites of the Mediterranean

May 19, 2006

The exploration of the best dive sites of the Mediterranean, with a focus on ecology and marine protection, what would be a better job description? This is our daily routine on board the Oceana Ranger as divers, and I must say, very fortunate divers.....It took us a couple of days to get to know each other on land and then underwater, but even if we are coming from different environments, the underwater spirit is here...

Corsica, our first stop, gave us some good surprises and offered the first impressions of what to expect in this expedition, lots of clear blue water (a little chilly...) and life-rich (plein de vie) reefs.

Portofino has a lot to offer: First, we received a lot of support from the local authorities and divers who took on their own time to guide us on the local reefs and show us the best of the protected area.

It was the first motivating sign from Portofino : The rest just happened underwater. Blue gorgonians walls, exuberant fanworms, dense Neptunegrass prairies which seems to be dancing with the motion of the sea, curious octopus, scorpionfishes in search of the perfect colouring to camouflage...The Flabellina affinis which is a splendid nudibranch, shows off the most impressive display of colours and elegance in such a small creature (4 cm)...Just like the Italian ladies, lots of elegance and grace.

With more salty stories to come,

Thanks to the great Oceana team !

Thierry Lannoy--dive coordinator and assistant underwater photographer

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One Frame at a Time: Documenting the 2006 Ranger Expedition

May 17, 2006

I found myself aboard the Oceana Ranger after a flight from Brussels and a train from Milan to Santa Margherita, Italy. I´m here, not as a scientist or a campaigner, but as a photographer and documentarian complimenting our crew of underwater photographers and videographers, whilst remaining dry on the deck.

In Washington, DC, where I live and work, I typically capture a different side of Oceana. I spend my time filming our staff as they push Oceana´s international movement to protect the oceans through policy, direct action, and other media.

I feel very privileged to have been invited to join the crew for part of this year's expedition. The Ranger is a unique place. Its crew is international, multilingual, and encompasses everything from a cook and a captain, to an underwater videographer to a campaign director. I capture on camera and through video, events as they unfold: while the rest of the crew is preparing for a dive or a meal or as they dive beneath the Mediterranean.

I am not a diver. I am not a scientist. I am an artist. I am a documentarian. What I know about our oceans is a product of my experiences working with Oceana so far. I am an example of what it's like for someone to see the corals and other sea life we are capturing, look with open eyes, digest them, understand them, and begin to realize what is happening beneath my reflection.

Not being able to see and experience sea life first hand makes it hard for everyone, not just myself, to understand the consequences of humanity´s impact on the oceans - a global impact unlike no other. But to see the beautiful underwater pictures taken by the Ranger crew is an experience by itself. To contrast this with images of the ocean floor after a bottom trawler has passed over the area, indiscriminately destroying fragile corals leaves me gasping for air in disbelief at the unnecessary destruction. Seeing and understanding these two starkly contrasting experiences gives me the perspective, understanding and motivation I have to take action. I now see, even more than before, the importance of showing, visually, what is happening to our oceans because of destructive fishing, pollution, and other human impacts.

I can only work as hard as possible and hope that the role I play in saving our oceans from ourselves is making a positive impact in the future health of our greatest resource. I hope everyone out there will be inspired to become an Oceana Wavemaker and join us in helping to save the world´s oceans.

Cory Wilson--Oceana's Video Specialist

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Back aboard in 2006

May 16, 2006

Many tourists come here to enjoy the beautiful coastline and the sunshine, but just offshore, below the surface of the water lies another world of corals, sponges, posedonia beds and many other types of habitat. This year the Ranger is again exploring and documenting some of the fantastic underwater habitats in the Mediterranean. The eleven members of the crew include marine biologists, underwater camera operators, photographers and support divers. All this week we will set out everyday to explore different parts of the Marine Park.

My day to day life for Oceana consists of trying to influence fisheries and marine policy to ensure adequate environmental protection from the many threats facing our seas. I am based in Brussels where most policy is initiated and decided. How, you may ask, does the work of the Ranger link to what I do in Brussels? In fact the work of the Ranger expedition is a vital tool for me. Images are often far more powerful than any words I can write when communicating the need to protect our marine environment. Moreover, our work on the Ranger provides the hard evidence to support the need for adequate marine conservation.

For me personally, my time on the Ranger is the opportunity to take off my city suit, leave behind the Brussels world of legal texts and political meetings and get back onto the ocean and experience at first hand what we are working to protect.

Julie Cator--Policy Director, Oceana Europe

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L'Ille Rousse at 46 knots ahead

May 9, 2006

We are anchored opposite the port of L'Ille Rousse on the northern coast of Corsica. You can't go above deck without having your toupée carried away by the wind. Since early morning, having extricated myself from the middle bunk for a change, we have been accompanied by winds of up to 80 km per hour. Luckily, they are coming from the SW which means that our anchor position is affording us an excellent protection against the swell. Today, we have had to suspend the dives we had scheduled as a result of being unable to ensure diver safety with the dinghy. A wind like this makes it unmanageable, not to mention a sure-fire accident risk. It is also not a very good idea to go ashore for the time being. We'll wait until it calms down a little.

Sunday the 7th and we continue on our way here after the marvellous experience with the basking sharks. The sea was calm and the only thing worthy of note was a couple of ocean sun fish swimming close to the surface, as is their want. They tarried just long enough for us to have fitted ourselves out and prepared the film equipment to get some shots of them before deciding to return to the sea's depths. All part of the job! Our divers have the patience of Job. They take it all in their stride, have a laugh, and then proceed to divest themselves of the diving suits and to pack up the equipment and to..."wait for the next chance, mon ami!"

Carlos Pérez--Anchored opposite the port of L'Ille Rousse in Corsica

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Navigating among basking sharks

May 6, 2006

Today they have spoilt an hour's shut-eye. Thank goodness! If they had not done so I would have torn their hearts out. My watch runs from eight to twelve, but at seven in the morning I jumped out of bed with the sleep still sitting heavy on my eyelids. What in the name of all that is holy did they want? Well, what had they spotted but a group of somewhere between three and five basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) peacefully feeding, without a worry in the world, right up against the Ranger. In a mere ten minutes the whole crew had been mobilised and the divers were preparing their equipment to try and get a few photo's and do some shooting. We had filmed them from the deck at our will. Then came the attempt to come up close to one of the sharks in the water, a seven-metre-long specimen. A thrilling moment!

Jorge and Houssine (Huss) have gone down together. Huss has the photo camera and Jorge is manning the video. The shark is minding its own business, eating thousands and thousands of plankton with its open-mouth filtering system, as if it were a metro station, while its gill slits act as a kind of organic sieve. Skill rather than brute force have determined the course of the battle, given that in terms of the latter we have completely lost before even starting. We have brought the Ranger up to about 50 m from the nearest shark. Huss and Jorge have smoothly and calmly swum up to the target. The powerful animal kept at a distance which precluded getting a clear shot of him. I think he must hate the paparazzi, but what he doesn't understand is that we are on his side, and like him, our men are cold-blooded creatures (as can be easily attested to by the fact that they went right up to the shark's mouth, which when open measures some one metre in height!).

Carlos Pérez--Onboard the Ranger, heading for the north of Corsica.

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