The Beacon

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

Setback for Shark Conservation: Hammerhead Sharks Denied Protection under Endangered Species Act

A great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)

A great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran). (Photo: Wendell Reed / Flickr Creative Commons)

Last month, scientists, conservationists, and the ecotourism industry alike were all disappointed when the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined that the great hammerhead shark will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NMFS also decided against listing scalloped hammerhead sharks in the U.S. last year, a motion that was finalized this month.


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Ocean News: Humpbacks Delight Onlookers with Rare Double Breach, Scotland’s Puffins See a Successful Season, and More

Puffins on the Farne Islands in the UK

Puffins on the Farne Islands in the UK. (Photo: John Sargent / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Two leading scientists on microplastics have called for urgent action to reduce and eliminate them from the marine environment. The scientists stressed that little is known about these particulates, such as what effect they have on the seafloor and where they’re most commonly found. EurekAlert


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Video: National Geographic Features Ocean Hero Jean Beasley’s Sea Turtle Hospital

A sea turtle being rehabilitated at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue Center

A sea turtle being rehabilitated at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. (Photo: Oceana / Cory Wilson)

From the time they hatch and bravely crawl towards the ocean, sea turtles face many obstacles like falling prey to crabs, gulls, and sharks—and only one in 1,000 to 10,000 are estimated to survive to adulthood. Even those sea turtles that beat the odds can find themselves wounded and threatened by fishing gear, plastics, and boat strikes.


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Kure Beach Mayor’s Support for Seismic Airgun Blasting Spurs Public Outcry

Kure Beach citizens protest against seismic airgun blasting

Kure Beach citizens show their opposition to Kure Beach Mayor Dean Lambeth’s support for seismic airgun blasting. (Photo: Oceana / Randy Sturgill)

In January, Kure Beach, North Carolina Mayor Dean Lambeth voiced his support for the American Energy Forum’s push to approve seismic airgun blasting off the Atlantic coast. Within days, his actions caused an outpouring of opposition—more than 300 residents protested his position towards seismic airguns at the next Town Hall meeting.


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Ocean News: New Arctic Shipping Route Proposed, East Coast Sees Surge in Coastal Flooding Events, and More

Arctic sea ice

Arctic Ocean sea ice. (Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr Creative Commons)

- A new analysis focusing on sea level rise found that coastal flooding has dramatically increased in frequency along the Eastern Seaboard in recent years. The analysis found that flood levels met or exceeded NOAA’s flood thresholds more than 20 days a year in six coastal cities. Reuters


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CEO Note: “Wasted Cash” Report Reveals Staggering Cost of Bycatch

Bycatch

(Photo: Oceana / María José Cornax)

Discarding fish is akin to throwing money into the ocean, yet the U.S. fishing industry wastes millions of pounds of seafood each year. Bycatch is not only wasteful, but kills countless numbers of marine creatures like dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks in the process.


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Video: Exploring Vampire Squid, Corals, and Siphonophores in the Gulf of Mexico

A portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis)

A portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis), a relative of the the siphonophore spotted by the Nautilus Expedition team. (Photo: 4Neus / Flickr Creative Commons)

When you hear about marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, your first thoughts probably turn to sea turtles, shellfish, and brown pelicans. The Gulf is, of course, much richer in biodiversity than that short list, and home to other species like whale sharks and manatees. But, one research program is looking beyond these charismatic species of the Gulf, and recently captured unprecedented footage of marine life near some of the Gulf’s less-well-known habitat like caves and deep sea corals.


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Photos: OSPAR Protects 16 Species and Habitat in the Northeast Atlantic

European cod (Gadus morhua)

European cod (Gadus morhua). (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

Late last month, the OSPAR Commission, a group of 15 European governorning bodies and the European Union that works to protect marine life, adopted a landmark Regional Action Plan to combat litter and protect 16 vulnerable species and habitat. This article, which originally appeared on Oceana in Europe's blog, takes a close look at some of the species protected by the decision. 


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Ocean News: Diseased Fish Linked with BP Oil Spill, Rock Oysters Could Withstand Ocean Acidification, and More

Fish at a seafood market

Fish at a seafood market. (Photo: Oceana / Jenn Hueting)

- Prince Charles and his International Sustainability Unit want to turn fisheries into an investment opportunity, according to a new report. The report said that approaching fisheries management sustainably could help achieve social, environmental, and economic goals. The Guardian


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Whales Found to be Crucial for Healthy Ocean Ecosystems

Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus)

Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus). (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons  / Scott Portelli)

In June, researchers found that whale poo is highly beneficial to marine ecosystems in the Southern Ocean since it is rich in iron. Now, new findings show that whales’ contribution to the sea goes far beyond just their excrements.


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