The Beacon: Oceana's blog

Ocean News: New Whale Shark Aggregation Discovered, Scientists Name New Dolphin Species, and More

New whale shark aggregation discovered in the Red Sea

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

- Researchers recently discovered a massive juvenile whale shark aggregation in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia. This discovery has allowed researchers to learn much more about the species, from their diving patterns to their diets. Phys.org


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Chilean Devil Ray Found to be One of Oceans' Deepest Divers

A devil ray from the Mobula genus, which include Chilean devil rays.

A devil ray from the Mobula genus, which include Chilean devil rays. (Photo: Matthew Paulson / Flickr Creative Commons)

Last week, a new study revealed Chilean devil rays to be some of the oceans' deepest-divers, often taking dives deeper than a mile under the water's surface. The rays' physiology hinted at this discovery, since they do have a retia mirabiliaan organ found in other deep-divers like great white sharks. Following the study's findings, Oceana in Europe's Angela Pauly took a close look at the Chilean devil ray. This blog first appeared on Oceana in Europe's blog.


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Oceana Video Captures the Treasure of Juan Fernández

Juan Fernández rock lobster

A Juan Fernández rock lobster (Jasus frontalis). (Photo: Oceana / Eduardo Sorensen)  

Nearly four hundred miles off Chile’s rugged coastline lies a hidden treasure, rivaling the Galápagos for its sheer beauty and incredible biodiversity. The Juan Fernández Islands, an archipelago of three volcanic islands among a series of seamounts, is home to scores of endemic species found nowhere else in the world, like the Juan Fernández spiny lobster and the critically endangered Firecrown hummingbird.


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How BP Can Clear its Name: Invest 30% in Clean Energy

Jackie Savitz is Oceana's Senior Campaign Director for Pollution Programs. This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

In the 7,000-word State of the Union, President Obama seemed to leave out two letters that loomed large in 2010. "B" and "P" -- the initials of the company that destroyed the lives and livelihoods of Gulf of Mexico residents and did immeasurable destruction to Gulf ecosystems.

But BP was there in spirit. Its campaign contributions helped get many members of Congress and Senators elected, it was implicated in the oil industry effort to paper Washington, D.C. metro stations with ads, and just the day before, the halls of Congress were filled with lobbyists and others clamoring for seats at the Oil Spill Commission hearings.

And while the President didn't say those two letters, BP was implicated in his statement that we need to get 80% of our energy from clean sources by 2035. Because who would be better than BP, a company tarred and feathered and now in need of a clean break, to help us build our clean energy portfolio so it can provide 80% of our electricity by 2035?


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Victory! Shell Drops 2011 Arctic Drilling Plans

The Beaufort Sea. [Image credit: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons.]

In a huge triumph for the U.S. Arctic today, Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Peter Voser announced that Shell's 2011 plans to drill exploratory wells offshore in Alaska are canceled due to continued uncertainty over whether it would receive federal permits.

Shell had hoped to drill exploratory wells in 2010 in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, but its plans were put on hold by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Susan Murray, Oceana’s Pacific Director, said of the announcement, “We hope this decision by Shell will also bring a commitment from them and others in the oil industry to fully review the mistakes that led to the Deepwater Horizon blowout with local communities, the public and the government.  We need a truly open discussion about how to determine if we should move forward with oil and gas activities in the Arctic, and if so, when, where and how.”

Oceana has been instrumental in monitoring the permitting process and holding policymakers accountable for upholding the law. The slew of faulty environmental analyses and permit applications make it clear that we are not ready to move forward with oil and gas activities in the Arctic, especially in light of last summer’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.


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Ted Danson: A Return to Common Sense for Our Coasts

The eastern Gulf of Mexico, near St. Petersburg, FL. [Image via Wikimedia Commons]

Ted Danson is a member of Oceana's board of directors, and has been active in the fight against offshore drilling for decades. This guest post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

I haven't heard news this good in a long time. The Obama administration's announcement to protect the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and both U.S. coasts from offshore drilling as part of the next five-year plan is a massive win for our oceans and every living thing that relies on them.

What's more, the administration said it would reconsider Shell's proposal to drill in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea, a sign that the president's commitment to science and preparedness were not just lip service.

The decision is a reversal of the plans President Obama announced in March -- before the largest environmental disaster in our nation's history began staining the Gulf of Mexico black.


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Daniel Pauly Talks Fish on 'Fresh Air'

On the heels of his piece in The New Republic, Aquacalypse Now, fisheries guru and Oceana board member Dr. Daniel Pauly has a two-part interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" yesterday and today.

Here he is talking with host Terry Gross about orange roughy:

GROSS: But I have to say the fish that you mentioned, orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, monkfish, they're very tasty.

Prof. PAULY: Oh, no problem with that. In fact, the flesh of very old animal in the water is strangely - is firm and it's white, beautiful fillet. And it's richly fat. Yeah, this is good fish. The problem is that this fish are long-lived. If you take orange roughy, they reach up to 150 years. And they...

GROSS: Wow, really?

Prof. PAULY: ...yeah. The oldest has been aged that old. And they mature at 30 years.

GROSS: Wait, wait. I just want to make sure I understand you correctly. You mean, each fish lives 150 years?

Prof. PAULY: The one that survive can live up to 150 years. And they become mature, they become adult at 30 years, older than us, twice older than us. So you are eating something that is older than your grandmother when you're eating one.


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The Scanner

Happy fall Friday, everyone! Here’s your weekly ocean news roundup…

...The House of Representatives’ vote of 29-14 moved the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act out of committee and brings the U.S. closer to reducing mercury pollution. We’ve been working tirelessly, lobbying on the Hill and asking our Wavemakers to contact their Representatives. There is more work ahead but this is a solid step forward.

...Climate change remains a hot topic, but a lot of Americans are cooling off. According to a recent study, only 57 percent believe there is solid evidence that the Earth is getting hotter. This is a drop from 77 percent in 2006. And only a third believe global warming is tied to human activities. Perhaps a milder summer has people thinking we aren’t warming up, but don’t mix up weather with climate – snow falls on a warming planet.

...As the lowest lying nation, the Maldives have vested interest in rising sea levels due to climate change. Maldivian government officials figured they should get used to a watery world and held a meeting underwater, asking all countries to reduce their carbon emissions.


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