The Beacon: Brianna Elliott's blog

Ocean News: Croatia Wins the World Cup for the Oceans, Vietnamese Illegal Fishing is on the Rise, and More

A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in Belize.

A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in Belize. (Photo: Oceana / Tim Calver)

- Fishermen have killed a record number of whale sharks over the past 13 months in India’s  Godavari region. It’s estimated that 15 whale sharks have been killed, but many fishermen are not aware that the government has sanctions in place to reward fishermen with cash prizes if they accidentally catch and then release the animals. The Hindu


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PBS Features Oceana’s Campaign to End Drift Gillnet Use off California

Gray whale (Photo: Marcia Moreno-Baez / Marine Photobank)

Last weekend, PBS NewsHour Weekend Edition aired a feature story on Oceana’s campaign to end drift gillnet use off California. This commercial fishery sets out mile-long nets at dusk to catch swordfish and thresher sharks, but these nets also capture an abundance of other marine wildlife—including whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, and other ecologically and economically important fish. In fact, the fishery throws overboard 61 percent of everything it catches.*


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Austin Nichols Goes Shark Tagging Off the Coast of Florida

Austin Nichols goes shark tagging off Florida

Austin Nichols goes shark tagging with the University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program and Oceana. (Photo: Oceana / Melissa Forsyth)

It’s not every day that celebrities help with scientific research, but earlier this month, Austin Nichols (“One Tree Hill,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Wimbledon,” and “John from Cincinnati”) shared his passion about sharks with researchers at the University of Miami. He spent two days off the coast of Florida tagging sharks with Oceana and the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami, and tagged a total of seven sharks while he was on the water.


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Ocean News: Whale Strandings Linked to Malnutrition, Another Town Joins the Fight Against Seismic, and More

A breaching humpback whale off Alaska (Megaptera novaeangliae)

A breaching humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) off Alaska. (Photo: Gregory "Greg" Smith / Flickr Creative Commons)

- The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Species designated the Japanese eel as "endangered” this week, citing that this delicacy is at high risk of extinction. Japanese eel are catadromous, meaning they spawn in salt water but spend part of their lives in freshwater. The Associated Press


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Photos: Oceana Uncovers Illegal Driftnet Fishing in Morocco

Juvenile swordfish (Xiphias gladius) in the Port of Tangiers, Morocco.

Juvenile swordfish (Xiphias gladius) in the Port of Tangiers, Morocco. (Photo: Oceana in Europe / Flickr)

Earlier this week, Oceana in Europe found that Morocco is once again using illegal driftnets in the swordfish fishery, despite an official phase-out in 2010. Photographs gathered by Oceana over the past few days show small and large vessels coordinating to capture swordfish in the Strait of Gibraltar, which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean.


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Ocean News: "Our Ocean" Conference Closes with Major Victories for the Oceans

Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, an area in the Pacific Remote Islands Ma

Pink coral gardens of Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, an area in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument that Obama committed to expanding yesterday.  (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / Flickr Creative Commons)

- On Monday, the president of the Pacific island nation Kiribati announced that he’ll ban all commercial fishing in the country's Phoenix Islands Protected Area by 2015. Though these islands are small, they're home to some of the most abundant coral reef archipelagos in the Pacific.


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Ocean News: Obama Makes Big Moves for Tackling Seafood Fraud and Protecting Marine Habitat, and More

President Obama vowed to combat seafood fraud and illegal fishing

A fish market in Jessup, Maryland. (Photo: Oceana / Jenn Hueting)

- In a video announcement released at the Our Ocean conference today, President Obama announced that he will expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. This Monument contains some of the most pristine tropical ecosystems in the world, but is vulnerable to ocean acidification and climate change. The Associated Press


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Hammerhead Shark Management Should Reflect Unique Evolutionary Traits, Scientists Say

A school of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini)

A school of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini). (Photo: Oceana / Rob Stewart)

Known for their mallet-shaped heads, hammerhead sharks are one of the most easily recognized—and favored—shark species. Their “hammers” give them a widened-view to scan for food, and they have enhanced sensory organs that can detect electrical fields from their prey. If that doesn’t make hammerheads cool enough, they can grow to incredible sizes—reaching 20 feet in length and weighing up to 1,000 pounds.


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Ocean News: Largest Manta Ray Sanctuary Declared, Hammerheads Won’t Get Federal Protection, and More

Manta ray in Coiba Island, Panama

School of manta rays (Mobula thurstoni) in Coiba Island, Panama. (Photo: Oceana / Houssine Kaddachi)

- Australia’s Queensland Government says they have fulfilled all of UNESCO's requests to improve Great Barrier Reef health—including cutting pesticide run-off by 28 percent since 2008—and therefore, the reef doesn’t need to be added to the World Heritage Site in Danger list. They also claim that the proposed port development and dredge-spoil dumping is not a threat to the reef. Australian Broadcasting Corporation


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World Sea Turtle Day Spotlight: Five Ways to Help Sea Turtles This Summer (Photos)

Leatherback sea turtle hatchlings on the U.S. Virgin Islands

Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtle hatchlings emerge from their nest on the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Photo: Oceana / Tim Calver)

Of the seven sea turtle species in the world, six nest in the United States, and all of them are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act — harmed by bycatch, marine debris, boat strikes, pollution, and many more threats.


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