The Beacon: Brianna Elliott's blog

Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events Get the Spotlight on Capitol Hill

Stranded sea lion pup

Stranded sea lion pup. (Photo: Kellan / Flickr Creative Commons)

Earlier this week, marine mammals like California sea lions, common dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins were the focus of one Congressional Briefing. Hosted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Congressman Bill Keating of Massachusetts and Congressman Jared Huffman of California, the discussion centered on scientists from The Marine Mammal Center and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center speaking about unusual levels of marine mammal stranding in 2013, and how funding cuts are deeply affecting their ability to respond.


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Ocean News: U.S. to Auction Off New Jersey Area for Offshore Wind, Baby Sea Turtles Found to Make Noises, and More

Offshore wind farm

An offshore wind farm. (Photo: Kim Hansen / Flickr Creative Commons)

- A New York-based seafood company and its executives pleaded guilty in federal court for fish fraud. The executives underreported the amount of summer flounder they caught between June 2009 and December 2011 by 56,000 pounds and used false documents to ship fish to customers. The Wall Street Journal


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Ocean News: Whale Sharks Visiting Azore Islands More Frequently, Volunteers Help Disabled Sea Turtle Nest, and More

A whale shark (Rhincodon typus)

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

- After two attempts at nesting this summer, volunteers helped a loggerhead sea turtle missing her right rear flipper successfully lay a nest on Masonboro Island, North Carolina. The sea turtle tried to nest 15 times this summer before the volunteers were able to help her. Star News Online


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Ocean News: New Maps Reveal Extent of Ocean Plastic, Florida Keys Launches Turtle Cam, and More

A loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtle hatchling

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

- New maps of ocean plastics—the first of their kind—show plastic accumulation levels across the world’s oceans. The maps highlight data from a study released this month that found plastics floating in five subtropical gyres across the world. National Geographic


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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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