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News articles on oceans
Mongabay.com news articles on oceans in blog format. Updated regularly.
(12/25/2006) In a study published in the Dec. 25 Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists show they can predict how the distance marine larvae travel varies with ocean temperature. The say that the findings have important implications for the conservation and management of fish, shellfish and other marine species in oceans increasingly effected by climate change.
Giant squid captured!
(12/22/2006) Japanese researchers captured a small female giant squid near the Ogasawara islands, 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo. The squid, which measured 3.5 meters (11 ft 6 in) long and weighed 50 kg (110 lb), was hooked at a depth of 650 meters (2,150 ft). The capture comes a year after researchers produced the first photographs and video of living squid.
'Happy Feet' penguins declining fast in the Falklands
(12/22/2006) The rockhopper penguin, a species featured in the movie Happy Feet, has taken a suffered a 30 percent population decline over the past five years according to the latest survey figures from Falklands conservation, a conservation group with offices in Stanley, Falkland Islands and London, England.
Bush administration sued for failure to protect sea otter
(12/19/2006) A conservation group filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal district court in Washington, DC, seeking more protection for sea otters in Alaska. The Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit conservation organization that aims to conserve endangered species and wild places, says that the Bush administration has failed to designate critical habitat for sea otters in southwest Alaska, despite the species' listing as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act in August 2005. Sea otter populations have decline by 90 percent in some areas according to the group.
Worst coral reef die-off in 11,000 years
(12/18/2006) Two new studies by scientists at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University suggest that coral reefs may be in worse shape than previously thought. The first, appearing in the journal Geology indicates that the current large scale coral die-offs are now occurring more frequently than at any time in the last 11,000 years. The second, published in Current Biology, suggests that the loss of a single 'keystone' species can trigger a rapid shift in the health of a reef.
Marine protected areas boost fishing yields
(12/18/2006) A new study conducted on the reefs of Madagascar found that marine protected areas can benefit the fishing industry. The study, authored by Frances Humber, a scientist with conservation group Blue Ventures, found that implementing seasonal fishing closures for octopus boosted returns for fishermen when the closed areas were reopened to fishing after seven months. Octopus yields increased 13 times while the total weight of octopus caught jumped 25 times.
Coral reefs help protect from tsunami damage
(12/18/2006) Healthy coral reefs can help reduce the impact of tsunami waves relative to unhealthy or dead reefs, according to a new Princeton University study published in the December 14 edition of the journal Geophysical Review Letters.
Yellow Sea biodiversity needs protection says WWF
(12/13/2006) In response to worsening pollution in China's Yellow Sea, environmental group WWF is pushing for the establishment of a network of protected areas between China and South Korea.
ESA seeks to better understand impact of oceans on climate
(12/11/2006) The European Space Agency (ESA) said it is backing two projects that aim to better understand the impact of oceans on climate.
500 species found in census of marine life
(12/11/2006) Some 500 previously unknown species of marine life were discovered during the latest Census of Marine Life (CoML), a research effort involving some 2000 researchers from 80 countries. The discoveries, made during 19 ocean expeditions in 2006, included a gigantic 1-centimeter in diameter single-celled organism in the Nazare Canyon off Portugal, a "blonde-haired" lobster near Easter Island, a "chewing" squid, and a four-pound (1.8 kg) lobster off Madagascar.
4-pound lobster discovered off coast of Madagascar
(12/11/2006) Researchers with the Census of Marine Life discovered a 1.8 kg (4 lb) rock lobster that lives off the coast of Madagascar. Named Palinurus barbarae, the beast is half a meter (one-and-a-half feet) long.
Living fossil found in South Pacific
(12/11/2006) French scientists found a species of crustacean previously believed to have become extinct 60 million years ago, according to an update from the Census of Marine Life.
The Vaquita, the world's smallest cetacean, dives toward extinction
(12/10/2006) Accidental death in fishing nets is driving the world's smallest cetacean, the Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), towards extinction, according to a new study published in the current issue of Mammal Review, the official scientific periodical of the Mammal Society.
Global warming could reduce ocean productivity
(12/06/2006) Global warming could cause a rapid overall reduction in marine life resulting from diminished ocean productivity, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature. The researchers, led by Michael Behrenfeld of Oregon State University, say that the growth of phytoplankton -- the basis of the ocean food chain -- will likely be reduced by climate change.
Moray eels and groupers hunt together
(12/05/2006) Moray eels and groupers hunt together according to research published in the December 5 issue of PLoS Biology. A team of researchers lead by Redouan Bshary, a biologist at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, found that moray eels and groupers practice cooperative hunting in Red Sea coral reefs -- behvaior not before described outside primates and birds. The hunting habits of groupers, which are diurnal (day-active) predators that hunt in open water, are markedly different from moral eels, which are evasive nocturnal hunters that sneak through reef crevices in an attempt to ambush and corner prey. As such prey have distinctly different evasive behvaior when confronted by groupers versus morays.
Great Barrier Reef shark populations collapsing finds study
(12/04/2006) Coral reef shark populations are declining rapidly due to fishing according to research published in the December 5th issue of the journal Current Biology. The paper says that "no-take zones" -- areas where fishing is prohibited -- can be effective in protecting sharks but only when the no-take regulations are strictly enforced. Examining two common species of sharks on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the researchers found that both populations are in the midst of a rapid population decline -- 7% per year for white tip sharks and 17% per year for gray reef sharks, showing that current shark conservation strategies are not effective.
Manatee food source threatened by development
(12/01/2006) Seagrass ecosystems are in peril according to an article published in the December issue of the journal Bioscience. The paper says that seagrasses, which provide important ecological services including habitat for aquatic life, mitigation of nutrient and sediment pollution, and reduction of beach erosion, are highly threatened by coastal development, pollution, and agricultural runoff. Further, the paper warns that their degradation could be sign of worsening environmental conditions.
Whales share human brain cells
(11/27/2006) Whales share brain cells with humans according to a new study published online November 27, 2006 in The Anatomical Record, the official journal of the American Association of Anatomists. The research suggests that "certain cetaceans and hominids may have evolved side by side."
U.N. ocean trawling ban blocked by Iceland
(11/24/2006) United Nations negotiators failed to agree on a measure banning deep-sea bottom trawling, a practice that has been called highly destructive by environmental groups. Iceland, a country recently criticized for resuming commercial whaling, blocked the U.N. resolution.
Global warming-fueled storms could devastate coral reefs
(11/23/2006) Australia's Great Barrier Reef and other coral ecosystems could suffer from increasingly powerful storms brought about by global warming according to computer models published by a team of Australian scientists in the journal Nature.
Unknown extremophile species discovered in seas off New Zealand
(11/21/2006) An international team of scientists has found bizarre creatures living around deep-sea methane seeps off New Zealand's eastern coast. Colorful tube worms, bacterial mats, corals, and sponges were among the organisms found living in the extreme environment where methane gas serves as the primary energy source for the community. Scientists say that a symbiotic relationship with bacteria enables such communities to convert methane into living matter in the absence of sunlight through a form of chemosynthesis.
When icebergs attack!
(11/19/2006) An iceberg was spotted from the New Zealand shore for the first time in 75 years. The iceberg, one of more than 100 drifting off the southern coast of New Zealand's South Island, was briefly visible late last week from the town of Dunedin. It is the first time that icebergs have been seen from the shore since 1931 according to Mike Williams, an oceanographer at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.
Bottom trawling is ecologically destructive and should be banned says coalition
(11/15/2006) Deep sea bottom trawling is threatening marine ecosystems and biodiversity and should be banned said the Deep Sea conservation Coalition, an advocacy group representing more than 60 conservation organizations from around the world.
Philippines announces new nature conservation plan
(11/08/2006) Philippine president Gloria Arroyo has enacted a new national conservation policy according to conservation International (CI). Arroyo signed an Executive Order at a Nov. 8 ceremony that stated "It is the policy of the state to protect, conserve and sustainably use biological diversity to ensure and secure the well-being of present and future generations of Filipinos."
Ocean phytoplankton may influence the formation of clouds, affect global warming
(11/07/2006) Atmospheric scientists have reported a new and potentially important mechanism by which chemical emissions from ocean phytoplankton may influence the formation of clouds that reflect sunlight away from our planet. Discovery of the new link between clouds and the biosphere grew out of efforts to explain increased cloud cover observed over an area of the Southern Ocean where a large bloom of phytoplankton was occurring. Based on satellite data, the researchers hypothesized that airborne particles produced by oxidation of the chemical isoprene -- which is emitted by the phytoplankton -- may have contributed to a doubling of cloud droplet concentrations seen over a large area of ocean off the eastern coast of South America.
Coral reefs can be saved from global warming
(11/03/2006) The outlook for coral reefs -- often termed the rainforests of the sea -- is dire. Overfishing, pollution, damage from anchors, mining for construction materials, and over-collection for the pet trade are all over-shadowed by climate change which could decimate reefs by higher water temperatures and increasingly acidic conditions which could render many coral species incapable of forming carbonate support structures. Nevertheless a new report from the World conservation Union (IUCN) and The Nature Conservancy says that measures can be taken to help increase the survival chances for coral reefs. The report, "Coral Reef Resilience and Resistance to Bleaching", outlines strategies for helping reefs to be better adapt to the impacts of climate change.
All stocks of wild seafood species to collapse by 2048 says new study
(11/03/2006) All stocks of currently fished wild seafood species are projected to collpase by 2048 according to a study published in the November 3 issue of the journal Science. The four-year analysis by an international group of ecologists and economists shows the marine biodiversity loss is reducing its resilience due to overfishing, pollution, and other stresses like climate change.
Oregon dead zone event over, but cause still unknown
(10/30/2006) The hypoxic dead zone off the coast of Oregon has finally dissipated but researchers still don't know why it has formed each of the past summers.
100 species discovered in Hawaii
(10/30/2006) A three-week scientific expedition to America's newest marine park, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, may have discovered 100 species of marine creatures including crabs, corals, sea cucumbers, sea quirts, worms, sea stars, snails, and clams. While some of these species are known from other areas, this will be the first time they have been recorded in the French Frigate Shoals of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Tiny crab protects coral
(10/23/2006) Researchers have discovered a symbiotic relationship between tiny crabs and coral in the South Pacific. The relationship between the crab and the coral is detailed in the November 2006 issue of the journal Coral Reefs.
Grey whales missing from traditional feeding grounds
(10/23/2006) Researchers found few grey whales in their traditional feeding grounds in the North Pacific last summer according to a scientist at the University of Bath. Dr. William Megill, a professor of mechanical engineering with special interest in biomimetics at the University of Bath, said that the absence of the 17,000 grey whales from traditional summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific could be cause for concern, despite the species' recent removal from the endangered species list.
Commercial fishing can cause fish population imbalance
(10/18/2006) New research has found that commercial fishing can cause significant fluctuations in marine fish populations. Writing in Nature, scientists from several institutions and agencies argue that fishing can amplify the highs and lows of natural population variability.
Phytoplankton generate about five times as much energy as humans finds study
(10/14/2006) A new study estimates that oceanic phytoplankton generate about five times the annual total energy consumption of humans.
Global warming and pollution could doom oysters
(10/11/2006) Oysters exposed to high water temperatures and a common heavy metal are unable to obtain sufficient oxygen and convert it to cellular energy, according to a new study presented at The American Physiological Society conference, Comparative Physiology 2006.
Massive coral bleaching in Madagascar
(10/06/2006) A new survey of reefs along Madagascar's southwestern coast found massive damage from coral bleaching, including some reefs that lost up to 99 percent of their coral cover. But the survey team, led by the conservation groups Blue Ventures and the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) and funded by conservation International (CI), also found some signs of hope. Scientists discovered several small reefs with corals that appeared to be resilient to rising sea temperatures and could ultimately be used to reseed damaged reefs. These resilient reefs may also provide valuable information about how to protect corals from future damage.
Up to 73 million sharks killed per year for their fins
(10/04/2006) Between 26 million and 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fins according to a new paper published in the October 2006 edition of Ecology Letters. The estimates are three times higher than those projected by the United Nations.
Albatrosses at risk due to fishing
(10/04/2006) About 1 percent of world's waved albatrosses were killed by fisherman in a one-year period according to a new study published online Sept. 26 in the journal Biological conservation
Salmon Farms Kill Wild Fish
(10/03/2006) New research confirms that sea lice from fish farms kill wild salmon. Up to 95 per cent of the wild juvenile salmon that migrate past fish farms die as a result of sea lice infestation from the farms. The results of the research have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America.
Coral reefs survive tsunami but not cyanide bombs
(09/27/2006) The impact of a tsunami on a coral reef is minimal in comparison to human-caused damage according to a new study published in the journal Atoll Research Bulletin.
Arctic ocean warms as global oceans cool
(09/27/2006) Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center say that warm water from the North Atlantic Ocean continues to surge into the Arctic Ocean potentially increasing ice melt in the region.
Dolphin Slaughter Resumes in Japan
(09/21/2006) As the annual dolphin drive hunts begin in the Japanese villages of Taiji and Futo, a consortium of scientists and zoo and aquarium professionals has launched a campaign to end the practices through public awareness and by appealing to the government of Japan to put an end to the hunts.
New species of 'walking' shark discovered
(09/18/2006) Two recent expeditions led by conservation International (CI) to the heart of Asia'Coral Triangle' discovered dozens of new species of marine life including epaulette sharks, 'flasher' wrasse and reef-building coral, confirming the region as the Earthapos;s richest seascape.
Feathers, human hair used to fight oil spill in Philippines
(08/24/2006) The Philippines has asked for hair clippings from salons and chicken feathers to help fight the country's worst oil spill, according to a report from Reuters. The oil spill occurred August 1 after Solar I, an oil tanker chartered by Petron Corp. sank in rough seas. About 1700 barrels spilled initially, but because the tanker sank in deep water with as much as 15,300 barrels of bunker oil, more is expected to leak into the surrounding environment. According to Greenpeace, about 320 kilometers of coastline -- including a coral reef located in a marine reserve and 27 coastal villages -- have been affected by the spill.
Oceans noisier than ever
(08/18/2006) Declassified Navy documents allow comparison that points to global shipping as the likely reason behind increase in undersea noise pollution according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
Researchers seek controls to save coral reefs from live fish trade
(08/04/2006) Researchers are calling for tighter controls on the live reef fish trade, a growing threat to coral reefs, in letters to the international journal Science.
Pictures of Rare Marine Bacteria Discovered in Ocean Census
(08/01/2006) A startling revelation about the number of different kinds of bacteria in the deep-sea raises fundamental new questions about microbial life and evolution in the oceans.
Historic Caribbean sea turtle population falls 99%
(08/01/2006) Current conservation assessments of endangered Caribbean sea turtles are too optimistic due declines of populations on historically important nesting beaches, according to new research from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The plunge has significant ecological consequences.
Hypoxic "dead zone" growing off the Oregon Coast
(07/31/2006) A hypoxic "dead zone" has formed off the Oregon Coast for the fifth time in five years, according to researchers at Oregon State University. A fundamental new trend in atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns in the Pacific Northwest appears to have begun, scientists say, and apparently is expanding its scope beyond Oregon waters.
NASA satellite images key to coral reef survey
(07/31/2006) A first-of-its-kind survey of how well the world's coral reefs are being protected was made possible by a unique collection of NASA views from space.
NASA to study how African winds and dust influence hurricanes
(07/31/2006) Scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, universities and international agencies will study how winds and dust conditions from Africa influence the birth of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.
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