The Beacon

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

Ocean Roundup: Mechanisms behind Pufferfish Inflation Discovered, Critical Habitat Proposed for Ringed Seals, and More

New research shows how pufferfish inflate

The black saddled pufferfish (Canthigaster valentini). (Photo: Cliff / WikiMedia Commons)

- New research shows that healthy coral reef systems are actually quite noisy, but are quieting down after damage from acidification, harmful fishing practices, pollution, and more. Researchers looked at coral reefs in the Philippines and found that noise stemming from unprotected reefs was about a third of that in healthy reef communities. Grist


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CEO Note: Simon Sidamon-Eristoff Becomes Chairman of Oceana’s Board

Oceana welcomes new leadership to the Board of Directors in 2015

The new chairman of Oceana’s board of directors, Simon Sidamon-Eristoff, and new vice chair, Valarie Van Cleave, are pictured at an Oceana event in 2012. (Photo: Carla Rhea)

I am writing to you to introduce our new chairman for Oceana’s board of directors, Simon Sidamon-Eristoff, and other new board leaders. 

Our board of directors develops all strategy, budgets, and direction for Oceana’s campaigns around the world. Comprised of 19 leaders in business, academia, philanthropy, and the arts, the board has overseen the organization’s international expansion from the Unites States to Central and South America, Europe, and Asia — including Oceana’s latest openings in Brazil and the Philippines earlier this year.


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Humpback Whales’ Scars Help Explain their Migratory Patterns, Study Finds

Scars on humpback whales help reveal migration routes

Scars on humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) flukes. (Photo: Jeff Li / Flickr Creative Commons)

In the Southern Hemisphere, humpback whales migrate between feeding grounds around Antarctica to breeding grounds in tropical waters, but an understanding of these stocks—divided into “Breeding Stocks A-G” for management purposes—has long been hazy because of a lack of data. But recently, researchers analyzed an unsuspecting feature of humpback whales to better understand their migration patterns: scars on their flukes.


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Ocean Roundup: Male Galápagos Sea Lions Take More Time to Raise, Cosmetic Contaminants Found in Antarctica, and More

Male Galapagos sea lions take more time to raise

A Galápagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) pup. (Photo: Scott Ableman / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Scientists say that chemicals in soaps, lotions, sunscreen, and other fragrances have made it to Antarctic waters. The scientists also found traces of chemicals in clams, fish, and sea urchins, and say that some predators like seals could now possibly become exposed to the chemicals. The Guardian


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Shell’s Lawsuit against Environmental Groups Declared Unconstitutional by Appeals Court

Shell's lawsuit was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. Appeals Court

Royal Dutch Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig is towed from Kiliuda Bay after running aground in December 2012. (Photo: U.S. Pacific Command / Flickr Creative Commons)

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court rejected a lawsuit filed by Royal Dutch Shell roughly two years ago against 13 environmental and Alaska Native entities, including Oceana. Shell sued the groups in a “preemptive” move to keep them from being able to sue Shell over its plans to drill in the Arctic. The court ruled that this was a “novel” move by Shell—and one that wasn’t permitted under the United States Constitution.


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Ocean Roundup: More Orcas Converging near Puget Sound, Hawaii’s Coral Reef Ecosystems Found in Poor Condition, and More

Orcas are moving closer to the Puget Sound

Offshore orcas have been moving towards the Puget Sound. (Photo: Miles Ritter / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Recently, “exotic orcas”—orcas that are typically found off California’s continental shelf—have been converging in unusually high numbers in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Scientists suspect ocean temperatures and food availability are drawing the orcas closer to the coast, but they’re still investigating the cause. UPI


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Exploring Spectacular Sea Urchins: A Look at the Diversity of These Marine Invertebrates (Photos)

Hundreds of species of sea urchins exist

Stony sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus), pictured Spain during an Oceana Ranger Atlantic Cantabric Expedition in 2008. (Photo: Oceana / Sergio Gosálvez)

Sea urchins—related to sea stars, sea cucumbers, and more—may appear as alien-like creatures with their numberous spines and vibrant colors. But, don’t let their seemingly strange appearances fool you: These marine invertebrates are excellent at self-defense and play important roles in balancing ecosystems. 


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Ocean Roundup: Nearly 1,000 Sea Turtles Strand off Cape Cod, Suez Canal Expansion Poses Environmental Risks, and More

A nesting Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Nearly 1,000 sea turtles, most of them Kemp’s ridleys, stranded off Cape Cod over the past month. (Photo: National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

- Scientists are sounding the alarm on the Suez Canal expansion, saying it will invite invasive species from the Red Sea that could wreak economic and environmental damage in the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt is both widening the existing channel and adding an extra lane.  The Guardian


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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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