The Beacon: Andy Sharpless's blog

The Oceana Scanner

...scientists found that up to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers annually, and that the sunscreen contains chemicals that lead to bleaching corals. They estimated that up to 10 percent of corals were threatened by sunscreen-related bleaching...

..the Central Valley, California chinook salmon run, which had historically been one of the West Coast's strongest, fell to record lows this year, prompting concerns about collapse...

...researchers in North Carolina studied how to raise fish for consumption in tanks....

...a seafood consumer center in Oregon prepped for a program that would attach bar codes to salmon, allowing consumers to learn who caught the fish, where it was caught, and how it traveled to market...

...a wetlands restoration project near San Diego passed a milestone when its newly dredged basin was opened to the Pacific. It is hoped the area will become habitat for halibut, grunion, and bass, among other species...

...a study commissioned by the New York Times found mercury levels in city sushi far about recommended limits. A report released by Oceana found similar results in tuna sampled around the country...

...Ecuadorian authorities investigated the clubbing deaths of more than 50 sea lions on the Galapagos Islands...

...several cosmetics companies, including Unilever and L'Oreal, agreed to end the use of an emollient, squalene, that is obtained from the livers of deep sea sharks...

...and fifteen years after a Japanese six-year-old girl released a letter inside a balloon, a fisherman discovered it among his flatfish catch.


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This week in ocean news

....new protections that required longline tuna fishing fleets to use bird-scaring lines, or tori lines, went into effect.


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Mercury-laden Sushi Not Limited to New York

In case you needed another reason not to consume the dangerously-overfished bluefin tuna: Yesterday, on the front page, the New York Times had a story about a study of mercury contamination conducted by the newspaper of leading sushi restaurants in New York. Guess which species showed the highest level of mercury?

Read on for more.


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This week in ocean news

...the National Marine Fisheries Service said that the Atlantic white marlin did not meet requiremen


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More on Africa and subsidies

Yesterday's front page New York Times story, "Europe Takes Africa's Fish, and Boatloads of Migrants Follow," chronic


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This week in ocean news

...a Hong Kong sushi restaurant owner paid a record $55,700 for a bluefin tuna at a Tokyo market, a rate of $92 per pound....

...a judge ordered the U.S. Navy to cease use of sonar within 12 nautical miles of the California coastline and whenever a marine mammal was sighted within 2,200 yards....

...fish from a Canadian salmon farm tested positive for malachite green, a carcinogenic substance. "We have no explanation as to what has happened," said the company manager...

...a study of Caribbean coral reefs found a correlation between high human population and coral loss. "It's like a cascade," said one of the researchers...

...scientists hypothesized that warming oceans would cause Australian coral reefs to migrate southward...

...manatee deaths in Florida dropped by 24 percent in 2007. The deadliest year on record was 2006, with 417 deaths. "It's not definitive that this is a trend," said a government spokesperson...

...for the first time, scientists surveyed marine mammals found in Pakistani waters. They discovered 12 species of dolphins, porpoises, and whales...

...in Denver, a Chinese man pleaded guilty to smuggling sea turtles...

...and a rare albino penguin was sighted in Antarctica. New Zealand cricket fans petitioned to sponsor its attempts to mate.


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The Sea Turtle Hurdle

Loggerhead sea turtle nesting subpopulations in the North Atlantic are on the decline, according to a new study released by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The study, a five-year status review for loggerhead sea turtles required by the Endangered Species Act, confirms what Oceana has been telling the federal government all along.

If there is to be any real chance for restoring sea turtle populations, the federal government is going to have to take major steps to protect sea turtles from commercial fishing gear that includes increased time and area closures and increased monitoring on commercial fishing fleets.


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It's Not Hot in Here, It's Just Global Warming

Reports are all over the headlines recently of creatures, particularly Arctic and Antarctic marine creatures, being threatened by extinction because the Earth is warming too fast for them or their icy environments to be able to sustain themselves.

A colony of Antarctic penguins, for one, could be extinct in as little as eight years, according to one researcher who's been documenting their population since the mid-1970s. Upward of two-thirds of the Arctic polar bears could be wiped out by 2050 because their habitat is melting, according to one study.

Sounds a little like the Science report released last fall that said commercial fisheries will effectively collapse by mid-century at the rate we fish our oceans. There's definitely a pattern here - is anyone else noticing this dismal trend?


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This Week in Ocean News ...

........the European Union closed the bluefin tuna fishing season in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, calling the stocks "exhausted"...



..........a developer proposed dredging up 2.6 million cubic yards of sand from the ocean floor in order to build an artificial beach in Nantucket. The developer will replace the 105 acres of seabed habitat with 28,000 concrete railroad ties over 60 acres....



....A New York coastal manager told the state government that its 3,200 miles of coastline were in danger from pollution and overfishing. "New York was born on the waterfront, and its future depends on managing those resources," he said......



....Australian authorities detained 61 crew members of six illegal fishing boats. A catch of trepang, a sea slug, was found on board one of the ships. It was thrown back into the water......



...federal officials proposed dumping "cleaner materials" on top of the Mud Dump Site, a spot off the coast of New Jersey, where toxic mud was dumped throughout the 20th century. The idea is to create a muffin-shaped protective cover over what is now essentially a pollution pancake.....



.....researchers working in an undersea lab in Florida's coral reefs put up a series of webcams, allowing viewers to watch the interior of the lab or get a diver's-eye view with a camera mounted to scuba gear...



...the Pacific nation of Tuvalu appealed to the world to combat global warming. The island nation rests two meters above sea level and could disappear in the next 50 years as water levels rise...



...experts were puzzled by the second stranding of a thresher shark on a New York beach in as many weeks...



...for the first time since last year, striped bass migrated from the ocean to San Pablo Bay in California. Historically, the bass come every spring. No one knows why they are late this year....



......a 78-foot-long, 100,000 lb. blue whale carcass washed up on a beach near Ventura, California. The cause of death is unknown. The carcass will be towed to a nearby RV camping ground for inspection. "There will be some unhappy campers, as they say," a county official said.....



.....and Sen. Barbara Boxer cooed over Ted Danson's decades-long dedication to oceans advocacy. The exchange took place in a new episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."


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A Problem of Florida-sized Proportions

A chunk of Arctic sea ice roughly the size of Florida melted in just six days, according to scientists who warn that ice in the region continues to melt at an alarming rate.

Reports are already surfacing of the detrimental effects such rapid habitat loss is having on marine mammals, such as polar bears, which use the ice to hunt and migrate. Most recently scientists have said polar bear populations could drop by 66 percent by mid-century.

Virtually every day there is news about the impacts of climate change on the oceans, from whale deaths due to lack of food, to potential coral destruction from rising temperatures and increased ocean acidity, to the disappearance of cold water species because of warming ocean temperatures.

The oceans are suffering from climate change. More than ever before we all need to do our part to step up and protect them.


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