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Oceana Magazine Spring 2008: Making Waves

Victories for sharks worldwide

Oceana's international campaign to safeguard sharks continued to make progress around the world in early 2008.

In the United States, Oceana scored a victory when it convinced the Vermont Country Store to stop selling a skin enhancer containing squalane, a substance obtained from the livers of deep sea sharks. Ironically, the product name was "Oceana." Success in this effort was largely thanks to the help of thousands of online Wavemakers.

"Deep sea sharks grow slowly, and they are extremely vulnerable to overfishing," said Elizabeth Griffin, a marine biologist with Oceana. "It's simply wrong to let sharks disappear for the sake of personal beauty, especially when squalane can be made from alternatives such aslike olives." 

Oceana will continue to pressure companies to stop carrying products containing squalane as a part of its overall campaign to protect sharks. In January, Oceana's European office got the news that Unilever intended to switch to plant-based squalane for its cosmetics. A multinational company, Unilever produces many brands including Dove and Pond's. The company joins Beiersdorf, LVMH, Henkel, Boots, Clarins, Sisley and La Mer (an Estée Lauder brand), which have disclosed that they either made the decision to stop using shark-based squalane or had a policy to never use it in the first place, according to information the European headquarters of these companies provided to Oceana.

In Chile, Oceana successfully promoted a national shark protection plan that calls for better regulation of shark fishing and finning. In addition, the United Nations General Assembly called for stronger shark protections and management this year. This included, for the first time, a call for sharks to be landed whole with their fins still naturally attached.

"The geographical scope covered by the General Assembly member states, and the new calls for shark management in the resolution on sustainable fisheries, gives an incredible chance for global shark conservation," said Ricardo Aguilar, research director for Oceana Europe. Read more at


Oceana petitions for loggerhead protection

Together with the Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana petitioned recently to change the status of loggerhead sea turtles along the U.S. Atlantic coast from threatened to endangered under the Environmental Protection Act, and to have their key habitat area restored.

The southeastern United States is home to the most important loggerhead nesting beaches in the western hemisphere, but nesting in this region is in decline. In Florida, loggerhead nesting has declined 50 percent during the past decade.

"Loggerhead numbers have been in decline for too long," said Dave Allison, director of Oceana's campaign to save sea turtles. "They clearly need more protection than they're receiving at this time."

The greatest threats facing loggerheads are capture in commercial fishing gear, beachfront development, pollution, motor vehicles crushing nests, collisions with boats, the hunting of turtles and their eggs, and climate change.


A season of firsts for Oceana's Ranger

With the help of its unmanned remove operating vehicle., Oceana's research vessel Ranger documented previously unseen species on the sea floor near the coast of Spain this year.
"This discovery strengthens Oceana's campaign for protection of ocean habitats. One pass of the trawler could wipe this out," said Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana Europe.
One species, a carnivorous sponge, had never been spotted in Spanish waters. Unlike other sponges, which trap food by filtering water, carnivorous sponges use stingers to capture small crustaceans. The Ranger also spotted rare glass sponges, perhaps the first time this species had been filmed in Mediterranean waters. Shaped like an upside-down hat, the glass sponge can grow to 20 inches tall.
The Ranger was also the first to film a seamount known as Seco de Palos. Because of its location at the top of a deep ridge, the seamount has been relatively untouched by trawling and still supports diverse sea life, from sharpnose sevengill sharks to deep-sea corals.