The Beacon

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

Video: Ocean Acidification Masking Sharks’ Sense of Smell

Ocean acidication hurts sharks' ability to smell food

Smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis). Acidic seawater has been found to impact their sense of smell. (Photo: EricksonSmith / Flickr Creative Commons)

Ocean acidification is already making it harder for fish to find friends, for corals to grow, and for mussels to remain attached to hard surfaces, just to name a few effects.


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Ocean Roundup: Polar Bears Turning to Snow Geese for Food, Arctic Sea Ice Found to Absorb CO2, and More

Polar bears diets are shifting from climate change

Polar bears are shifting diets to deal with climate change. (Photo: Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Researchers say that sea otter populations, who have been slowly rebounding after recovering from near-extinction, did not increase from 2013. This is worrisome to scientists, who say that a lack of food, increased shark attacks, disease, and other factors are keeping them from recovery. SFGate


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Photos: Oceana Captures First-Ever Images of Seamounts North of Canary Islands

Oceana captured images of Dacia and Tritón seamounts

Mediterranean moray (Muraena helena) in black coral (Stichopathes sp.) field, pictured north of the Canary Islands, Spain during the 2014 Oceana Ranger expedition to the Canary Islands. (Photo:EUO © OCEANA / Flickr)

The Dacia and Tritón seamounts, located just north of the Canary Islands, have gone previously undocumented—until now. During Oceana in Europe’s current expedition to the Canary Islands, Oceana took the first pictures of these mountains and revealed extensive forests of black corals on the summit of Dacia, and a great diversity of sponges on the slopes of Tritón, including spectacular glass sponges and carnivorous sponges, gorgonians, corals, deep-sea fish, deep-sea sharks, and more.


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Photos: A Look at Amazing Fall Migrations Underway in the Oceans Right Now

Marine animals travel on vast fall migrations

Cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) migrate each year in huge schools. (Photo: Doc Lucio / Flickr Creative Commons)

As temperatures start to drop and days shorten in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s that time of year again when many animals embark on migrations for the winter season. Animals migrate for a variety of reasons, but most commonly in search of productive feeding and breeding grounds.


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Ocean Roundup: Australia Releases Great Barrier Reef Management Plan, West Coast Starfish See Hope for Recovery, and More

Australia released a 35 year management plan for the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef. The Australian government released a 35-year management plan for the Reef. (Photo: Bruce Tuten / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Following a recent scare to conservationists worldwide that the Great Barrier Reef would become a dredge dumping site, the Australian government released a 35-year management plan last week for this World Heritage site. Many scientists are conservationists, however, are saying that the report isn’t comprehensive enough to restore the Reef and that it has “no measurable, deliverable action.”  The New York Times


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CEO Note: Sperm Whales Left Unprotected from Drift Gillnets

drift gillnets threaten sperm whales off California

“Mother and baby sperm whale." (Photo: Gabriel Barathieu, Wikimedia Commons) 

Off the coast of California, deadly drift gillnets threaten some of our most iconic and amazing marine species, like the endangered sperm whale. These nets can entangle and drown open-ocean animals that swim into them. Last year, Oceana successfully pressured the government to put in place emergency rules to protect sperm whales from these deadly nets. Unfortunately, the government recently let these protections expire, violating two federal laws.


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High Level of Seafood Fraud Found in Denmark

High level of seafood fraud uncovered in Denmark

Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in Gilleleje North, Denmark. (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

A new study conducted by Oceana, the Danish newspaper Søndagsavisen, and the TV program “Go’Aften Denmark” found that there is a high level of sea fraud in Danish markets. The study revealed that 18 percent of cod sold in fishmongers is not cod, but actually haddock or saithe. In total, 120 samples from fishmongers, supermarkets, and restaurants in the wider Copenhagen region underwent DNA analysis.


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Congress Advances Legislation to Fight Pirate Fishing, Keep Illegally-Caught Seafood Out of U.S. Market

Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act passed

Illegal driftnets in the port of Tangiers, Morocco.  (Photo: Oceana)

The House Natural Resources Committee took a significant step forward yesterday in the fight against illegal fishing and seafood fraud, passing the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act (H.R. 69) by unanimous consent. It’s now headed to the House floor.


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Ocean Roundup: Gulf of Mexico Sharks are Shrinking, Caribbean Reefs Capable of Being Saved, and More

Shark sizes are decreasing in the Gulf of Mexico

A tiger shark. Researchers say some shark species are decreasing in size in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo: Willy Volk / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Researchers say that some sharks in the Gulf of Mexico are decreasing in size, and in some cases are down by as much as 70 percent. The researchers analyzed data from annual shark rodeos over the last half century to come to the results, and say that finning and commercial fishing are significant factors in this decline. Houston Chronicle


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Photos: On International Coastal Cleanup Day, Five Ways to Help the Oceans

International Coastal Cleanup day is on September 20

Oceana in Belize picking up trash on World Oceans Day this past summer. (Photo: Alexander Ellis / Oceana in Belize)

Marine debris has become a major issue facing the oceans today. It’s estimated that 10 to 20 million tons of plastic trash make their way to the ocean each year through a number of pathways, like litter, runoff, and direct dumping. In a recent study, scientists found plastic debris in 88 percent of ocean surface water samples.


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