The Beacon: Brianna Elliott's blog

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. (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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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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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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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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Victory for Loggerhead Sea Turtles: Vast Area of Habitat Gains Protection

A loggerhead sea turtle hatchling (Caretta caretta)

A loggerhead sea turtle hatchling (Caretta caretta). (Photo: Oceana / Cory Wilson)

Today, the federal government designated thousands of miles of beaches and open ocean around the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States as critical habitat for loggerhead sea turtles. The area, which covers 685 miles of nesting beach from North Carolina to Mississippi and more than 300,000 square miles of ocean habitat from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, is the largest designation to-date of critical habitat—making this ruling a victory and a historic step for loggerhead sea turtle recovery.


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Ocean News: Loggerheads Receive Miles of Protected Shoreline, Philippine Airline Bans Shark Fin Shipments, and More

A Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

A Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Suárez)

- This week, scientists officially named the largest flying creature ever discovered. Pelagornis sandersi, a type of early bird, relied on the oceans to keep it airborne when it lived 25 million years ago. To be able to fly with its massive 20- to 24-foot wingspan, scientists say this bird relied on air currents from the oceans to boost it into the area, where it scooped up prey from waves with a toothed beak.


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Ocean News: Japan Confirms Plans for 2015 Whale Hunt, Judge Says Seismic Research off New Jersey Can Continue, and More

A minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

A minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), one of the species caught during Japan’s whale hunt. (Photo: Tom Benson / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Despite a ruling by the UN’s International Court of Justice to halt whaling practices, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed this week that its annual whale hunt will continue in 2015. Japan continues to claim that the Southern Ocean annual whale hunt is for research purposes. The Dodo


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Number of Slain Environmental Activists Grew Over Past Decade, Report Finds

Protesters rally to protect the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Protestors rally to protect the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. (Photo: Stephen Hass / Flickr Creative Commons)

More people are standing up for their land, water, and other natural resources as they become increasingly exploited, but not without consequences. A recent report found that murders of environmental activists have surged over the past decade—totaling 908 documented deaths in 35 countries.  


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Ocean News: Nicaragua Approves Massive Shipping Canal, Walking Fish Make Annual Appearance, and More

A female grunion depositing eggs during their annual spring run.

A female grunion depositing eggs during their annual spring run. (Photo: Sahadeva Hammari / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Yesterday, Nicaragua approved a proposed route for a $40 billion shipping channel across the country that will compete with the Panama Canal. The channel, which will traverse Central America’s largest lake, will undergo environmental and social impact studies this year. Reuters


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Ocean News: Scientists Sound Alarm Over Shark Cull Program, Fabien Cousteau Returns from Underwater Mission, and More

A tiger shark (Galeocardo cuvier)

A tiger shark (Galeocardo cuvier). (Photo: Willy Volk / Flickr Creative Commons)

- An international group of 301 scientists submitted a letter to Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority expressing concern over the controversial shark cull program, saying it could effect the ecology of the oceans. The program caught 172 sharks during its trial period this past spring. The Guardian


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