The Beacon

Ocean Roundup: More Orcas Converging near Puget Sound, Hawaii’s Coral Reef Ecosystems Found in Poor Condition, and More

Orcas are moving closer to the Puget Sound

Offshore orcas have been moving towards the Puget Sound. (Photo: Miles Ritter / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Recently, “exotic orcas”—orcas that are typically found off California’s continental shelf—have been converging in unusually high numbers in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Scientists suspect ocean temperatures and food availability are drawing the orcas closer to the coast, but they’re still investigating the cause. UPI


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Exploring Spectacular Sea Urchins: A Look at the Diversity of These Marine Invertebrates (Photos)

Hundreds of species of sea urchins exist

Stony sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus), pictured Spain during an Oceana Ranger Atlantic Cantabric Expedition in 2008. (Photo: Oceana / Sergio Gosálvez)

Sea urchins—related to sea stars, sea cucumbers, and more—may appear as alien-like creatures with their numberous spines and vibrant colors. But, don’t let their seemingly strange appearances fool you: These marine invertebrates are excellent at self-defense and play important roles in balancing ecosystems. 


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Ocean Roundup: Nearly 1,000 Sea Turtles Strand off Cape Cod, Suez Canal Expansion Poses Environmental Risks, and More

A nesting Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Nearly 1,000 sea turtles, most of them Kemp’s ridleys, stranded off Cape Cod over the past month. (Photo: National Park Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

- Scientists are sounding the alarm on the Suez Canal expansion, saying it will invite invasive species from the Red Sea that could wreak economic and environmental damage in the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt is both widening the existing channel and adding an extra lane.  The Guardian


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ICCAT Moves to Properly Manage Bluefin Tuna, but Doesn’t Take Action for Sharks and Swordfish

ICCAT protected bluefin tuna

Bluefin tuna (Thynnus thynnus), pictured an Oceana Marviva Med Mediterranean Expedition in 2008. (Photo: Oceana / Keith Ellenbogen)

Earlier this month, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) concluded its meeting in Genoa, Italy to discuss protections for various marine species, including bluefin tuna, sharks, and swordfish. At the same time, the IUCN World Parks Congress concluded its once-a-decade meeting with new protections for marine habitat and other developments for the ocean.


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Sea Turtles Can Get the Bends after Capture in Fishing Gear, Says New Study

A new study found sea turtles can get decompression sickness

A loggerhead sea turtle caught on a longline in the Mediterranean. New research shows sea turtles can get “the bends” after being caught in fishing gear. (Photo: Oceana / Mar Mas)

If you’re an avid scuba diver, you’re probably all too familiar with decompression sickness (DCS)—more commonly known as the bends—a disease that can strike astronauts, divers, and others, and arises after inadequately recompressing after changes in pressure gradients. In the marine environment, scientists long thought that many diving vertebrates—like sea turtles and marine mammals—were immune to DCS through various adaptations.


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Ocean Roundup: Fiddler Crabs Found Far North of Their Range, 500 Dead Sea Lions Discovered in Peru, and More

Fiddler crabs may be expanding their range northward

A fiddler crab (Uca pugnax). Fiddler crabs may be expanding their range northward from climate change. (Photo: b-cline / Flickr Creative Commons)

Editor’s Note: This is the last ocean roundup blog to be published before the Thanksgiving holiday, but be sure to check back on Monday, December 1 for more updates. Happy Thanksgiving!

- New 3D mapping around Antarctica found that sea ice surrounding Antarctica is thicker than thought. The scientists say it’s an important breakthrough to understanding how sea ice thickness and extent is changing. The Guardian


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Video: Watch the Incredible Migration of Thousands of Giant Spider Crabs in Australia

A new video catches the spider crab migration

Spider crabs migrate across Port Phillip Bay in Australia. (Photo: Museum Victoria / YouTube)

Australia is famous for its teeming, colorful biodiversity like sea turtles, giant clams, and coral, but it’s the Great Barrier Reef that often receives the most attention for its wildlife. Of course, other areas around Australia boast an incredible amount of unique wildlife, like the Ningaloo Marine Park along Australia’s West Coast, for example, that hosts whale sharks each March and April as they come to feed.


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