The Beacon: Brianna Elliott's blog

Ocean News: Sharks Seized from Poachers in the Gulf of Mexico, Elusive Jellyfish Makes Rare Appearance, and More

Sharks were seized from poaching vessels in the Gulf of Mexico

A shark caught on a long line. (Photo: NOAA Photo Library / Flickr Creative Commons)

- It turns out that sharks may be confusing surfers for birds, according to a study that examined a previous deadly shark attack. That study found that the motions made by kite surfers puts them at particular risk. Discovery News


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Ocean News: Mercury Levels Rising in Surface Waters, Penguin Species Threatened by Habitat Degradation, and More

King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) in the Falkland Islands

King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) in the Falkland Islands are a species threatened by habitat degradation. (Photo: Graham Canny / Flickr Creative Commons)

- According to a new study, mercury levels in many of the world oceans’ surface waters have tripled due to human activity. Because mercury drains into the ocean from mines, coal-fired plants, and sewage, mercury levels are higher in surface waters compared to the deep ocean. The Guardian


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Ocean News: Gray Whales Showing Signs of Recovery, Gulf of Mexico Fish Lesions Linked to BP Oil Spill, and More

Gray whales are showing signs of recovery in California

A gray whale. (Photo: WhaleRiot / Flickr Creative Commons)

- A team of researchers that’s been monitoring gray whale populations off California for several years say that their numbers are increasing. Marine observers have spotted 431 gray whale mothers and calves so far this year as they make their annual migration to the Arctic. UT San Diego


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Ocean News: Great Barrier Reef Health at Greater Risk than Ever Before, Rare Deep Sea Amphipod Caught on Tape, and More

Great Barrier Reef health is compromised

The Eddy Reef in the Great Barrier Reef. (Photo: Paul Toogood / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Scientists caught the largest species of amphipod, Alicella gigantean, on camera for the first time. The nearly 1-foot-long creature was spotted four miles below the ocean’s surface. New Scientist  


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Offshore Wind Farms Are Foraging Grounds for Seals

offshore wind farms found to host foraging seals

Elsams Offshore Wind Farm in the North Sea. (Photo: MEDVIND / Bent Sørensen / DONG Energy A/S / Oceana)

It appears that some marine mammals are certainly welcoming the presence of offshore wind farms.

Satellite tags on grey and harbor seals reveal that these apex predators are frequenting two offshore wind farms in the North Sea to forage for prey. According to a study recently published in Current Biology, 11 seals showed evidence of foraging at the Alpha Ventus wind farm off Germany and the Sheringham Shoal wind farm off the United Kingdom, moving in a grid-like pattern as they swam from turbine to turbine.


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Spain Moves to Protect Four New Areas Outlined in the LIFE+ INDEMARES Project

Pilot whales will be protected in the Natura 2000 Network

Long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) in Seco de los Olivos, Almería, Spain, an area identified in the LIFE+ INDEMARES project. (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

Earlier this month, Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Environment (MAGRAMA) approved a proposal to add four marine areas as Sites of Community Importance to the Natura 2000 Network—the backbone of marine protection in the European Union. These four areas—the western system of submarine canyons in the Gulf of Lions, the Channel of Menorca, the mud volcanoes of the Gulf of Cádiz, and the Bank of Galicia—stemmed from LIFE+ INDEMARES, a project Oceana is a partner on.


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Ocean News: African Penguin Language Decoded, Tiny Hydrozoans Bombarding the West Coast, and More

African penguin language has been decoded

A pair of African penguins in South Africa. (Photo: Paul Mannix / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Researchers recently found that the bumphead parrotfish can benefit but also harm coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific. Bumpheads help coral reefs reproduce and reduce-fast growing algae that compete with corals, but since bumpheads do eat coral, they can reduce its abundance and diversity. Red Orbit


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Photos: Meet the Ocean Animals with the Wildest Teeth

Fangtooth moray eel has wild, glass-like teeth

The fangtooth moray eel, an eel species with multiple glass-like teeth. (Photo: Philippe Guillaume / Flickr Creative Commons)

When you’re out swimming or surfing at the beach, have you ever wondered which ocean animals surrounding you have teeth? It turns out that sharks aren’t the only marine animals with teeth—a tool in some marine animals may be more widespread than you thought.

From hundreds of sharp, razor-blade-like teeth in great white sharks to the singular long, spiraled tooth on narwhales, teeth come in all shapes in sizes in marine ecosystems. This diversity is for good reason—some use their teeth to shred and slice prey, while others use their teeth more as a harpoon.


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Video: Watch Dozens of Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtles Scurry to the Ocean

This sea turtle cam caught a nest hatch in Florida

Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the ocean in Florida. (Photo: FloridaKeysTV / Florida Keys Turtle Cam) 

It’s that wonderful time of year again on the East Coast: sea turtle hatching season! Turtle nests—from green sea turtles to loggerheads, Kemp’s ridleys, and even more species—are starting to hatch from Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re a sea turtle lover and haven’t made it to the beach to catch a nest hatch, don’t worry—the Florida Keys Turtle Cam has got you covered.


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Ocean News: Brazil Bans Catfish Fishery to Protect Pink River Dolphins, Arctic Ice Melt Leading to Large Arctic Waves, and More

Brazil bans catfish industry to protect pink river dolphins

A pink river dolphin, a species that’s declined from Brazil’s catfish fishery. (Photo: Colombia Travel / Flickr Creative Commons)

- In its biggest fisheries ban since 1967, Brazil banned its commercial catfish fishery that uses pink river dolphins as bait. Dolphin populations have severely declined over the past decade, and one population saw a 50 percent drop in numbers since 2004. New Scientist


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