The Beacon

Ocean News: Largest Manta Ray Sanctuary Declared, Hammerheads Won’t Get Federal Protection, and More

School of manta rays (Mobula thurstoni) in Coiba Island, Panama. (Photo: Oceana / Houssine Kaddachi)

- Australia’s Queensland Government says they have fulfilled all of UNESCO's requests to improve Great Barrier Reef health—including cutting pesticide run-off by 28 percent since 2008—and therefore, the reef doesn’t need to be added to the World Heritage Site in Danger list. They also claim that the proposed port development and dredge-spoil dumping is not a threat to the reef. Australian Broadcasting Corporation

- Last week, Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) declared the largest manta ray sanctuary in the world, which will now protect all manta rays within a 6 million square kilometer exclusive economic zone. The announcement comes after a recent study found that a single manta ray is worth far more revenue in tourism than if caught and killed.

- The northwest Atlantic population of the great hammerhead shark will not receive federal protection as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act, despite petitioning by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). While NRDC says that the largest species of the hammerheads is declining, the National Marine Fisheries Service says that not enough information is available to warrant protection. Switchboard

- Despite an International Court of Justice ban on whale hunts, Japan killed 30 minke whales during the April to June whaling season. The March ruling by the ICJ found that the Japanese whaling program was not actually for scientific research, but instead for commercial purposes. The Associated Press  

Long Reads:

- More scientists than ever are studying the relatively new issue of marine debris, but even with so many eyes on ocean plastics, what can be done to stop it? National Geographic

- Speaking of debris, The New York Times Editorial Board points out several recent discoveries on ocean plastics—like the plastic-infused rocks that now exists, and recent beach clean-ups that have collected unfathomable amounts of plastics—and asks if world leaders are paying attention to the global epidemic of marine debris. The New York Times

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