The Beacon: Brianna Elliott's blog

Recent Marine Fossil Discoveries Provide Insight on Ancient Ocean Inhabitants

Ancient marine fossil discoveries provide insight on early oceans

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus skull, the first semi-aquatic dinosaur known to exist. (Photo: Didier Descouens / Wikimedia Commons)

It’s no surprise that the oceans are home to some of the most fascinating animals, from the massive blue whale, the world’s largest animal, to creatures like octopus and squid that can change their coloration instantly. But it’s not just modern-day ocean inhabitants that are awe-inspiring and sometimes frightening: Many of the oldest, extinct ocean creatures are just as impressive.


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Celebrate National Seafood Month with This Sustainable Recipe: Mussel Chowder

Mussel chowder is a sustainable seafood recipe

(Photo: Pete / Flickr Creative Commons)

October 1 kicks off National Seafood Month, a time to raise awareness for sustainable fisheries and celebrate the benefits of seafood in one’s diet. Oceana focuses on sustainable seafood all year long through various campaigns, from the Save the Oceans, Feed the World campaign—which advocates for rebuilding healthy fisheries for a growing global population to enjoy seafood meals—to Oceana’s Seafood Fraud campaign, which advocates for traceability and accurate labeling in the supply chain.


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Ocean Roundup: Oceans Get a “D’ for Ocean Health, Beluga Whale Population Faces “Catastrophe,” and More

Beluga whales are declining in the St. Lawrence River

A beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). Beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River are declining. (Photo: Ansgar Walk / Wikimedia Commons) 

- The Ocean Health Index’s third annual ocean evaluation gave ocean health a “D,” or 67 out of 100. The researchers cite overfishing, pollution, climate change, and poor ocean protections as factors leading to the score, though they say many people expected the score to be worse. 


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Arctic Sea Ice Found to Play Bigger Role in Global Carbon Cycle Than Assumed, Study Says

Arctic sea ice may help absorb CO2

Arctic Ice. (Photo: Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard / U.S. Geological Survey / Flickr Creative Commons)

It comes as no surprise that Arctic sea ice melt has a range of ecological and economic consequences, from hastening sea level rise to disrupting food chains. Polar bears, for instance, are having to change their diets from seals, their preferred prey source, to other options like snow geese, while ice melt is unlocking trillions of frozen microplastics into the marine environment.


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Video: Rare Blue Whale Footage Captured Off California

Blue whale footage captured off Laguna Beach

Underwater footage of the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) off Laguna Beach. (Photo: Rich German / YouTube)

While paddling off Laguna Beach recently, one lucky paddle boarder was in the right place at the right time to spot an elusive blue whale—an endangered marine mammal that’s rarely spotted. With a GoPro in hand, he was able to catch underwater and surface footage of the elusive marine mammal for the rest of us to see (check out segments at 2:00, 3:36 and 5:04 minutes in to see the underwater footage). 


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Ocean Roundup: UN Sounds Alarm on Mangrove Disappearance, Brazil to Triple Marine Protected Areas, and More

A new UN report warns that mangroves are disappearing

Mangroves in Elbow Reef, Key Largo, Florida. The U.N. has issued a report warning about mangrove disappearance. (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

- Brazil is planning to triple its Marine Protected Areas from 5.5 million hectares to over 17.5 million—a project that’s worth more than $18 million. The projected is intended to benefit the 43 million people who live along Brazil’s coast by securing a local food supply, maintaining water quality, and increasing coastal resilience. MercoPress


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Creature Feature: Leatherback Sea Turtle

This creature feature is on leatherback sea turtles

A leatherback sea turtle hatchling (Dermochelys coriacea) in the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Photo: Tim Calver / www.timcalver.com)

If you’re an ocean lover, you’ve probably heard of the mighty leatherback sea turtle—the largest of the seven sea turtle species. Leatherback sea turtles can grow over six feet in length, and weigh more than 2,000 pounds.  Besides their massive size, their unique appearance makes them easily distinguishable from the other sea turtle species. They lack a solid carapace, and instead have a dense layer of black, leather-like tissue, for which they’re aptly named.


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Ocean Roundup: Sand Tiger Shark Embryos Found to Eat Each Other, Wind Turbines Could Weaken Hurricane Intensity, and More

Sand tiger shark embryos engage in cannibalism

A sand tiger shark. Sand tiger shark embryos engage in cannibalism. (Photo: Mark Turner / Flickr Creative Commons)

- New research shows that young sea stars (Asterias rubens) in the Baltic Sea are more vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification than adults. The scientists found that young sea stars grew slower and ate less under more acidic conditions. Science World Report


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Meet a Tiny Crab Species That’s Not into Long-Term Relationships

Tiny crabs found to not be faithful to their mates

Planes minutus crab living on a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). New research shows that another small crab species (Planes major) that also hitches rides on loggerheads may engage in “risky behavior.” (Photo: BMC Ecology / Flickr Creative Commons)

A tiny crab species, commonly known as flotsam crabs, have quite the luxurious lifestyle. They spend most of their lives hitching free rides on loggerhead sea turtles, catching views of the open ocean as they travel safely nestled between their carapaces and tails. Here, they’re offered safety from predators, and typically ride along with a mate to reproduce and have a friend.


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Video: Leonardo DiCaprio Speaks up for the Planet at UN Climate Summit

Leonardo DiCaprio Spoke at the UN Climate Summit

Leonardo DiCaprio speaking at the UN Climate Summit at the UN Headquarters in New York City. (Photo: The Daily Conversation / YouTube)

Earlier this week, actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio addressed world leaders at the opening of the UN Climate Summit about climate change. His moving speech noted that clear evidence of climate change is in effect, ranging from shifting weather patterns to acidifying oceans, and urged these leaders to step up and take action before it’s too late.


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