The Beacon

Blog Tags: Pollution

Green Sea Turtle Tumors Linked to Nitrogen Runoff in Hawaii, Study Says

Nitrogen runoff is linked with green sea turtle tumors

A green sea turtle with tumors (Chelonia mydas). (Photo: Peter Bennett & Ursula Keuper-Bennett / Wikimedia Commons)

Green sea turtles are an endangered species, at risk from poaching, incidental take in fishing gear, and coastal development. But they also suffer from fibropapillomatosis—the leading cause of death in this endangered species—which causes tumors to grow along sea turtles’ faces, flippers, and internal organs.


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Oceana Explores the Baltic!

20130607 - Trip Madrid - Malmö from Oceana on Vimeo.

On World Oceans Day this past Saturday, Oceana launched its first ever Baltic Sea coastal expedition. We’ve dedicated this mission to studying the Baltic coastline, and particularly Sweden, Denmark, Poland and Finland, where a number of unique and incredible areas will be explored


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Meet the Faces of the Ocean Hero Awards!

 

Sara Bayles was a 2010 Ocean Hero Awards Finalist.

In May 2009, Sara Bayles started her Daily Ocean Project, in which she pledged to do 365 (non-consecutive) 20-minute beach cleanups and blog about it the whole way through.  Two and a half years later, on December 8, 2012, she completed her last clean up, tallying 1,333.1 pounds of trash removed from her local beach in Santa Monica!

Although she’s completed her original goal, Sara is not turning her back on the littered beaches. 


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What Do Historic CO2 Levels Mean for the Oceans?

“Keeling Curve” shows CO2 levels increase from 1958-2013. (Source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD)


For the first time in human history, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels passed 400 parts per million
(ppm) of carbon dioxide at the historic Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This is the same location where Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Charles David Keeling first established the “Keeling Curve,” a famous graph showing that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere. CO2 was around 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution, when humans first began releasing large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. On May 9, the reading was a startling 400.08 ppm for a 24-hour period. But without the help of the oceans, this number would already be much higher.


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What Pollution Looks Like

March 13th fish kill in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. Photo REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

Rowers take your mark! This lagoon will be the site of the rowing competition at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics, but yesterday this was the scene, as thousands of fish died and had to be removed after oxygen levels in the water plummeted due to heavy pollution.

Learn about what Oceana is doing to combat pollution in the ocean and what you can do to help.


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The Dangers of Ocean Litter, Writ Large

Even dolphin statues are not safe from the dangers of entanglement in ocean litter like this plastic 6-pack ring

In an apparent guerilla stunt, a wildlife sculpture in downtown Vancouver has been "caught" in a giant plastic 6-pack ring. The sculpture, located at the corner of Georgia and Thurlow Streets, depicts two dolphins, whose necks are now caught in the giant plastic rings marked with the "PlasticPollutionCoalition.org" web address.

This stunt is a large-scale reminder of the dangers of litter, particularly plastics, in our ocean. Approximately 75-80 million tons of plastics are used every year to produce the world's food packaging alone, and a large proportion of these plastics inevitably end up in our oceans. Almost 80% of the garbage found in the ocean comes from land-based sources, with the majority being packaging and food containers like the ubiquitous 6-pack ring featured in this guerilla demonstration. This garbage kills sea creatures by strangling them, drowning them through entanglement, or even starving them through malnutrition when ingested debris in the creatures' stomachs prevents them from getting the food and nutrients that they require. 


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Creature Feature: Seahorse

Camouflaging in coral ©Wikimedia Commons

Though you won’t see them saddled and ready to ride anytime soon, seahorses are pretty fascinating little sea creatures.

Named for their resemblance to the horses that we’re used to seeing on land, the seahorse is one of the slowest moving fish in the ocean. They swim upright, unlike their cousin the pipefish, and flutter their dorsal fin up to 30-40 times per second to move around (more like a hummingbird than a horse).

There are 47 distinct species of seahorses, and all are in the genus Hippocampus, which comes from the Ancient Greek for “sea monster.” You can find them in shallow waters throughout the world, especially in seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangroves, where they can take cover and hide from bigger fish that might want to make a meal out of them.

Seahorses are fairly small, ranging from 0.6 to 14 inches. But the smallest of all are the pygmy seahorses. Scientists are continuing to discover new species of pygmy seahorse, but they’re tough to find because they camouflage themselves and live in or near coral, algae, or seaweed, where they blend so well that they’re nearly impossible to spot. They often use their tails to anchor themselves to a surface, then use their snouts to catch brine shrimp and other small crustaceans floating by.

One of the seahorse’s most unique characteristics is that males carry the fertilized eggs instead of females. The male seahorse has a brood pouch on his front side where the female deposits eggs during mating. He carries the eggs until they’re fully developed, then releases the tiny seahorses out into the ocean to fend for themselves. A single brood can contain up to 1,500 young!

Because seahorses are so elusive, we don’t know very much about their populations worldwide. But the coral reefs, seagrass beds, and other areas they call home are endangered by habitat depletion, pollution, and ocean acidification, which has made some species of seahorse vulnerable to extinction.


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5 Ways to Celebrate World Oceans Day

ocean whale

Every day is World Oceans Day when you're a humpback whale ©Oceana/Carlos Suarez

Happy World Oceans Day!

The ocean does a lot for us — it generates much of the oxygen we breathe, provides us with nutritious food to eat and regulates our climate. But if we want to hold onto these valuable resources, we have to take care of the ocean the way it takes care of us.

Today marks the 20th annual World Oceans Day, a chance for us to protect our most valuable resource. We’ve put together five ways for you to celebrate World Oceans Day (even if you’re nowhere near an ocean)

1. Go to the Beach What better way to celebrate World Oceans Day than to go straight to the source? If you’re lucky enough to live near the water, get a group together and head down to the shore. Pack a picnic (but no single-use plastic bags or bottles, please!) and spend the day learning about the ocean firsthand.

2. Visit an Aquarium If you can’t get out to the beach, try the next best thing. Aquariums let you see unique marine life that you wouldn’t encounter anywhere else. They also do a lot of great research and conservation so that we can protect our marine resources. Many aquariums and zoos are hosting special events for World Oceans Day, see if there are special events at one near you.

3. Clean Up Help keep the marine environment clean by participating in a river, bay, or ocean cleanup today — you might be surprised by what you find! You can find a cleanup event near you on the World Oceans Day website.

4. Adopt a Sea Creature Oceana works hard to protect all kinds of marine life, from sharks to penguins to sea turtles, and everything in between. You can support our efforts by adopting an animal.

5. Nominate an Ocean Hero Our fourth annual Ocean Heroes contest just started, and we’re looking for the most dedicated ocean activists we can find. If you know someone who’s doing great things for the ocean, tell us about them!

If you want to celebrate World Oceans Day with Oceana, we’ll be at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland today. Our 2009 Ocean Hero John Halas will dive in two of their exhibits with National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli. They’re also hosting special events all weekend, including scavenger hunts and book signings with Debbie Dadey, author of the Mermaid Tales book series.

We hope you have a wonderful World Oceans Day, and remember to look out for the oceans every day of the year!


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Nominate an Ocean Hero!

ocean hero sophi bromenshenkel

2011 Junior Ocean Hero Sophi Bromenshenkel with her snow hammerhead.

Is someone in your community doing great things for the oceans? We want to hear about them!

Nominations for our fourth annual Ocean Heroes Awards open today and we’re searching for people who work hard to make a difference and deserve to be recognized for it. Each year we choose a selection of adult and junior finalists, then let you vote to pick the winners.

What does it mean to be an Ocean Hero? The other day we took a look at previous finalists’ areas of interest, ranging from SCUBA and submarines to marine mammals and sea slugs. They work to influence lawmakers, rehabilitate animals, and reduce pollution. Every Ocean Hero is different, but they all share a passion for the world’s oceans that drives them to make a difference.

You can nominate an Ocean Hero between now and June 20th — that gives you two weeks to tell us about your friends who are working to protect the oceans. This Friday, June 8th is World Oceans Day, a good chance to look out for Heroes in your community.

We will announce the finalists on June 27th, and let you all choose our 2012 Ocean Heroes. The winners will receive a prize package that includes fantastic gifts from our corporate sponsors, Nautica and Revo.

Now’s your chance to tell us about the ocean heroes you know!


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Interesting Things About Interests

PeterWallerstein

2011 Ocean Hero Peter Wallerstein works to protect and rehabilitate marine mammals.

If you read the blog yesterday, you may recall two things: (1) the 4th Annual Ocean Heroes Contest kicks off on June 6, and (2) nearly 1/3 of Ocean Heroes finalists hail from California. Now while the a significant proportion of finalists in the contest’s  first three years have been from the same state, our 30 previous finalists cover a wide breadth of conservation issues.

For starters, if you were to ask, ‘How are the Ocean Heroes finalists helping the oceans?’, then I’d tell you there are – in my opinion – seven unique areas where people can invest their time: Political Activism, Habitat Conservation, Education, Pollution Reduction, Animal Rehabilitation, Research, and Promoting Sustainability. As you can see in the chart below, most finalists are politically active –from three girls scouts in Hawaii who rallied the state legislature to make World Oceans Day an official holiday to a physics and math professor in California who pushed Italian officials to end drilling in her native region of Abruzzo, which sits east of Rome on the Adriatic Sea.

Ocean Heroes areas of interest

Now that you see there are many different ways to put your energy into ocean conservation, you may ask, “Where is all that energy being focused?’. Amazingly, there’s no end to the different areas of focus where our Ocean Heroes commit their time and energy – SCUBA lessons for underprivileged kids (Education), developing a mooring buoy system to protect coral reefs (Conservation), saving stranded marine mammals (Rehabilitation), and the list goes on and on. As you can see in the pie chart below, marine mammals and sharks are the most popular focal points for our Ocean Heroes Finalists, but even an intense interest in sea slugs (Bonnie Lei, ’10) can earn someone a bid as an Ocean Heroes Finalist.

Ocean Heroes focus

So, whether you want to nominate yourself or someone else for conservation, education or activism, know that there’s no one sure-fire area of focus that makes someone an Ocean Hero Finalist – it’s about dedication and having an impact.


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