The Beacon

Oceana’s blog about the latest ocean news, policy and science.

On World Fisheries Day, A Look at Oceana’s Work to Create Sustainable Fisheries (Photos)

November 21 is World Fisheries Day

Splendid Perch (Callanthias platei) with Pampanito (Scorpis chilensis), pictured off the Desventuradas Islands off Chile. (Photo: Oceana)

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.


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Ocean Roundup: Seals Can Pick up Pings from Acoustic Tags on Fish, Climate Change Making Crabs “Sluggish,” and More

Grey seals may be able to detect pings from fishing gear

Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) in Santander bay, Cantabria, Spain. New research shows grey seals may be able to pick up pings from acoustic tags on fish. (Photo: Oceana / Enrique Talledo)

- 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


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Creature Feature: Ocean Sunfish

Ocean sunfish can weigh up to 5,000 pounds.

An ocean sunfish (Mola mola). (Photo: © Mark Harris)

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.


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Ocean Roundup: North Atlantic Right Whales Calving in Southeast, New Shark Repellent Tested in South Africa, and More

North Atlantic right whale calving season is underway in the southeast

A North Atlantic right whale and calf off Florida. (Photo: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute / Flickr Creative Commons)

- 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


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Extroverted Sharks and Stressed Penguins: Uncovering Personality in Ocean Animals

Native little penguins have different personalities

Native little penguins’ personality may play a role in their ability to cope with climate change. (Photo: M Kuhn / Flickr Creative Commons)

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.


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Video: Humpback Whales Cause Quite the Surprise As They Hunt for Herring

A new video caught humpback whales feeding on herring

Several humpback whales burst from the water to catch herring. (Photo: djnord / YouTube)

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.


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Ocean Roundup: Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Catch Quotas Raised, Kemp’s Ridley Turtles Stranding in High Numbers, and More

ICCAT raised catch quotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna

Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thynnus thynnus). The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) has raised catch quotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna for the first time since 1990. (Photo: Oceana / Keith Ellenbogen)

- 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


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Photos: Happy Manatee Awareness Month!

November is Manatee Awareness Month

(Photo: Oceana)

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.


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CEO Note: Oceana, Google, and SkyTruth Announce New Technology to Track Global Fishing Activity

Oceana, Google, and SkyTruth released Global Fishing Watch

A trawler fishing in the Gulf of Bothnia, Sweden. (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Mingue

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.


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Ocean Roundup: Humpback Whale Scars Can Reveal Migration Patterns, Sea Star Die-Offs Linked to Virus, and More

Humpback whale scars can be used to identify migration patterns

A humpback whale off Monterey Bay, California. Scientists have found that humpback whale scars can be used to identify their migration patterns. (Photo: NOAA Photo Library / Flickr Creative Commons)

- In a new study, researchers say that identifying scars on humpback whales from killer whales and cookiecutter sharks is helping scientists better understand their migration patterns. Because cookiecutter sharks are typically found in warmer waters, whereas killer whales are widely distributed, scars from cookiecutters show that humpbacks recently passed through warmer waters. Independent Online


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