The Beacon

Blog Tags: Atlantic

Sheryl Crow Editorial Calls for an Airgun-free Atlantic

The government estimates that seismic airguns will injure at least 138,500 dolphins and whales. (Photo: Mike Legend) 

Oceana’s efforts to fight seismic airgun use in the Atlantic are off to a strong start. Right now our activists are conducting forums in nine different states to educate residents about the dangers of airguns.


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Measles-Like Virus Likely Responsible for Atlantic Dolphin Strandings

Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are suffering from a viral epidemic. (Photo: Oceana)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that a measles-like virus is responsible for hundreds of bottlenose dolphin strandings along the mid-Atlantic coast this summer.

Since early July, unusually high numbers of dead or dying bottlenose dolphins have washed ashore from New York to North Carolina. About 155 dolphins strand in the mid-Atlantic from January to late August during a normal year, but this year almost 500 dolphins washed ashore in the same time period. The sudden increase prompted NOAA to declare an Unusual Mortality Event for bottlenose dolphins.


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Creature Feature: Lionfish

Up close and personal with a lionfish

Up close and personal with a lionfish. (Photo: Kjeld Friis)

It’s venomous, voracious, and taking over reefs across the western Atlantic.

This strange-looking predator is a lionfish, a.k.a. Pterois volitans. Native to Indo-Pacific reefs, lionfish are anything but subtle. The large, striped spines protruding from their bodies are their main defense, filled with neurotoxic venom to deter predators. While the venom isn’t deadly to humans, running afoul of a lionfish isn’t fun—side effects include excruciating pain, headaches, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. Lesson learned: don’t mess with a lionfish. 


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Creature Feature: Great White Shark

greatwhite

Great whites have earned a bad reputation, but they don't deserve it ©Discovery Channel

They’re the stars of Shark Week, one of the most iconic creatures in the ocean. But how well do you really know the great white shark?

White sharks are known by many names—great white, white pointer, Carcharodon carcharias, even white death. They’re the largest existing predatory fish in the ocean, and they’ve been around for about 16 million years. They’re found in coastal waters in all of the world’s major oceans.

The average great white measures in around 14 feet long (the females are generally a few feet longer than the males). An average individual weighs between 1,500 and 2,400 pounds. The largest white sharks ever measured came in around 20 feet long and weighed nearly 5,000 pounds.

All that size makes these sharks powerful predators. Their bite force is an estimated 1.8 tons—that’s 20 times the bite force of the average human! This powerful bite is coupled with multiple rows of sharp, serrated teeth that help the shark saw off pieces of fish.

Great whites also have an additional sense that allows them to detect the electromagnetic field emitted by the movement of living animals. By searching for these tiny electromagnetic pulses and using their excellent sense of smell, sharks can seek out prey from miles away.

In the social structure of white sharks, females dominate males, and size matters. They resolve conflict through rituals and displays of power, and rarely attack one another. Some sharks have even shown behavior that appears playful!

Great whites have earned a bad reputation as ferocious man-eaters due to movies like Jaws and stories about rogue sharks attacking humans. Truth is, great whites aren’t all that interested in humans. They would rather eat a fish or a seal than a human. While a significant proportion of shark accidents around the world involve white sharks, most are not fatal. Great whites are curious sharks, and will give an unknown object a sample bite, then release it.

These powerful creatures may be at the top of the food chain, but their biggest predator is humans. Only a few hundred great whites are left in the population off the coasts of California and Mexico, and they’re not getting the protection they need. Sign today to help get great whites covered by the Endangered Species Act.


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A Big Win for Sea Turtles in the Atlantic

A loggerhead sea turtle hatchling. © Oceana/Cory Wilson

We’re happy to announce a victory for sea turtles in the Atlantic this week.

The scallop fishery has long been a threat to sea turtles, who get caught up and drowned in the heavy equipment. Scallops are often collected by dredges— heavy metal nets attached to a flat scoop that drags along the ground, collecting everything large enough to fit in the net. These dredges are hazards in sea turtle habitats, where they catch, drag, and drown sea turtles along with the desired scallops.

All six sea turtle species in the United States are threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, making these deaths all the more tragic.

Fortunately, there’s a new type of gear that includes something called a Turtle Deflector Device (TDD). With a TDD, dredges can push sea turtles out of harm’s way instead of pulling them into the nets.

This week, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced new regulations for the Atlantic scallop fishery that will require TDDs in areas and during times when sea turtles are known to be present.

We are excited about these new rules, which will save many sea turtle lives.

Gib Brogan, our Northeast representative, said that “Oceana is relieved that after 10 years of requests, NMFS has finally taken action to reduce the scallop fishery’s deadly interaction with threatened sea turtles. We support TDDs as a solution to sea turtle bycatch in the scallop fishery and commend the industry and its research partners for their work to develop this new gear.”


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Fact of the Day: Greenland Shark

The Greenland shark is a cold water shark, living in the northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans.  Its flesh is poisonous to humans if eaten fresh. 

Check out our full list of creatures and come back tomorrow for another random fact!  


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