The Beacon: Brianna Elliott's blog

Ocean Roundup: UN Urges Mangrove Protection, Warming Pacific Waters Could Unlock Layer of Methane, and More

The UN has emphasized the importance of protecting mangroves

Mangroves in Florida. Protecting mangroves has been an emphasis at UN climate talks this week. (Photo: Phil's 1stPix / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Authorities are concerned that oil from a two-mile long oil slick in New Jersey’s Sandy Hook Bay could threaten an endangered population of seals that migrate through the area each winter. Officials are still investigating the cause of the spill. NBC


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Coral Reefs Turning Silent from Overfishing, Other Human Impacts

Coral reefs are becoming silent from human activity

A coral community off of Chile. (Photo: Oceana / Eduardo Sorensen)

Did you know that coral reefs are home to about one fourth of all marine life? As the most diverse of the marine ecosystems, they’re aptly nicknamed “rainforests of the sea,” says the Smithsonian. With all of the spawning, feeding, and other activity occurring on coral reefs, it’s no surprise that coral reefs are actually pretty noisy environments.


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Ocean Roundup: Humpback Whales Frequenting New York City Waters, Oceans House Over 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces, and More

There are 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans

Marine litter on a beach. (Photo: Bo Eide / Flickr Creative Commons)

- A new study has but a number on the amount of plastic floating in the oceans: at least 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing nearly 269,000 tons, are floating around the oceans. The team found that tiny plastic pieces made up the majority of the plastic in the oceans. Smithsonian


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Creature Feature: Magellanic Penguin

Magellanic penguins live around South America and the Falkland islands

A Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus). (Photo: Ronald Woan / Flickr Creative Commons)

You’re probably familiar with at least a few penguin species—like the emperor penguin, which got its claim to fame in the movie Happy Feet, or the Galapagos penguin, which is the only species naturally found north of the Equator. In this Creature Feature, we’re shedding light on a penguin that’s less well known but equally adorable: the Magellanic penguin.


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Ocean Roundup: Rufa Red Knot Receives Federal Protection, New Ancient Mollusk Discovered in the Arctic, and More

Rufa red knots gained protection as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

Red knot (Calidris canutus rufa) at Mispillion Harbor, Delaware. Red knots received protection under the Endangered Species Act yesterday as threatened. (Photo: Greg Breese / USFWS / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the rufa subspecies of the red knot as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The new rule prohibits killing, hunting, or harming these shorebirds in any form. The Associated Press


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Video: Incredible Sperm Whale Birth Caught on Film

A sperm whale was caught giving birth on film

A pod of sperm whales and the new calf off the Azores. (Photo: Caters TV / YouTube)

Spotting elusive, deep-diving marine animals in the wild is certainly a treat for anyone, but catching them engaging in particularly rare behavior like giving birth or bubble-netting is especially rewarding. Recently, wildlife photographer Kurt Amsler was in the right place at the right time for capturing one of those very moments with sperm whales.


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Exploring Marine Snow: A Nutritious and Vital Type of Snowfall for the Deep Sea

Marine snow is detritus and organic matter falling to the seafloor

A jellyfish drifting in marine snow off the Barkley Canyon. (Photo: Neptune Canada / Flickr Creative Commons)

Snow: Aside from it being beautiful and peaceful, it’s widely celebrated by children and adults alike for building snowmen, sledding, and perhaps receiving a few “snow days.” As we move further into winter and many regions begin to see increased snowfall, did you know that the oceans have their own type of snow—one that falls all year?


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Ocean Roundup: Seafood Fraud Cases Declining with Staff Cuts, Settlement Reached for Arctic Drilling Violations, and More

A settlement has been reached over safety violations during 2012 Arctic drilling

Tug boats pulling the Kulluk drilling rig after it ran aground near Kodiak Island. The company operating the Kulluk and another oil rig in 2012 has been fined for safety violations. (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Noble Drilling (U.S.) LLC—the company that operated oil rigs in Royal Dutch Shell’s 2012 controversial Arctic drilling season—agreed to pay $12.2 in fines for safety violations. The settlement also includes issues with the Kulluk drilling rig, which ran aground in December 2012 off of Kodiak Island. Alaska Dispatch News


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Ocean Roundup: Some Baby Coral Can Adapt to Ocean Acidification, Electric Eels Stun Prey with Electric Discharge, and More

Baby staghorn corals could stand ocean acidification

Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis). New research shows baby staghorn coral may be able to adapt to acidic conditions. (Photo: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute / Flickr Creative Commons)

- New research on baby corals shows hope for coral reefs in the face of climate change, finding that some baby corals are able to adapt to more acidic conditions. The research primarily focused on staghorn corals, which is a key reef-building species in the Indian and Pacific. The Guardian


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During Corals Week, a Look at the Value of Coral Reef Ecosystems (Photos)

Corals week is celebrated to raise awareness for corals

Coral in the Gulf of Mexico, pictured during a 2010 Gulf of Mexico expedition. (Photo: Oceana / Eduardo Sorensen)

You’ve probably encountered coral reefs in some form—whether that’s diving with them in tropical waters or seeing them depicted in movies, like Finding Nemo. As you know, coral reefs are absolutely breathtaking with their many vibrant colors and unique shapes. Not only are they beautiful, but coral reefs are said to be the most diverse marine ecosystem—home to about one-fourth of marine wildlife!


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