Oceana’s blog about the latest ocean news, policy and science.
Belize’s Mesoamerican reef is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Central America. Crystal blue waters, white sand beaches, and vibrant coral reefs are home to dolphins, sea turtles, and hundreds of species of fish. But a part of this beautiful protected area is under immediate threat from developers, who want to build a luxury resort, Formula One racetrack, and airport right on the reef itself.
Every day, commercial and artisanal fishermen set out across the world’s oceans in search of their daily catch. Using harpoons, line-and-hooks, trawl nets, gill nets, and many, many more types of fishing gear, they set out to comb the oceans from the coast to the high seas in search of crab, tuna, swordfish, shrimp, and many more species. Of course, such high fishing pressure takes a toll on the oceans—leaving many fish stocks overfished, and critical habitat like coral reefs and seagrass beds in poor condition.
- New research shows that seals are picking up on the pings from acoustic tags on fish. Through experiments, the researchers found that seals located fish with acoustic tags on them more easily than untagged fish. BBC News
Ocean sunfish, also called the common mola, are arguably one of the ocean’s funniest looking fish. Their back fin that they are born with never actually grows, and instead just folds into itself and forms a blunt, flattened structure called the clavus, says National Geographic. This means that sunfish must swim by flapping their dorsal and anal fins side to side, making them sometimes appear to be awkward swimmers.
- In a high-tech experiment off of South Africa, researchers have started testing an electronic cable attached to the seafloor as a shark repellent. Because of sharks’ acute sense of electroreception, the researchers expect sharks to be able to detect the low-frequency field emitted from the cable. Reuters
Though it’s easy to see that our domesticated four-legged friends have quirky personalities, new studies show that some ocean animals may just have their own, too. And not only do some animals have unique personalities, but their disposition may just play unique evolutionary roles.
Each year, thousands of people embark on whale watching tours in hope of spotting the majestic humpback whale in the wild. These baleen whales—who engage in lively leaps and flips, enhanced by their thin flippers and blue-back coloration—can put on quite the show for onlookers, but there is something extra special about encountering these marine mammals when it’s unexpected.
- This past weekend, more than 45 endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles became stranded on Cape Cod beaches after suffering from hypothermia. Animal strandings are typically a bad thing, but in this case, say scientists, strandings mean that the sea turtles can be rescued before dying from hypothermia. The Boston Globe
Each November marks Manatee Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and educate others on these gentle giants. This celebratory month falls right around the start of manatee’s winter season—November 15—when manatees start to move into warmer waters as temperatures drop below 68° Fahrenheit, according to Defenders of Wildlife.
Monitoring global fishing activity is a monumental task. I’d like to introduce you to a groundbreaking new tool, created by Google, SkyTruth, and Oceana, called Global Fishing Watch. Using satellite data emitted by fishing vessels, the program gives people around the world a simple online platform to visualize, track, and share information about ocean fishing activity.