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A Crucial System of Ocean Currents Is Faltering, Research Suggests

August 5, 2021 By Heather Murphy The New York Times
A slowdown in the network, which influences weather far and wide, could spell trouble. “We’re poking a beast,” one expert said. “But we don’t really know the reaction we’ll cause.”

How the Moon ‘Wobble’ Affects Rising Tides

July 16, 2021 By Jacey Fortin The New York Times
Scientists say it’s less like a wobble and more like a slow, predictable cycle. And while the phenomenon will contribute to rising tides caused by climate change, it is just one of many factors.

On an Alaskan Island, a Mayor Fights for Fur Seals – and a New Future

July 12, 2021 By Matthew Green and Nathan Howard Reuters
Fifty years ago, Patrick Pletnikoff spent his summers stripping blubber from the carcasses of seals clubbed to death in Alaska’s annual harvest, competing with other young men to show who wielded the fastest blade.Now he’s fighting for a bigger prize: to transform his native St. George Island’s fortunes and protect dwindling colonies of northern fur seals by creating Alaska’s first marine sanctuary in the surrounding waters – a move that would empower local people to limit fishing for the seals’ prey.

How a Mexican Lagoon Lost Its Colors

July 12, 2021 By Allison Keeley The New Yorker
Bacalar is poised to become one of the country’s great tourist destinations—if its ecosystem can survive.

Like in ‘Postapocalyptic Movies’: Heat Wave Killed Marine Wildlife en Masse

July 9, 2021 By Catrin Einhorn The New York Times
The combination of extraordinary heat and drought that hit the Western United States and Canada over the past two weeks has killed hundreds of millions of marine animals and continues to threaten untold species in freshwater, according to a preliminary estimate and interviews with scientists.

It’s Cold in the Ocean but It’s Hotter Inside Sea Otters

July 8, 2021 By Veronique Greenwood The New York Times
Sea otters run hot. It’s not just a manner of speaking: Scientists have found that the furry mammals’ metabolisms work at a rate three times what might normally be expected from a creature their size, burning swiftly through calories.

As Seagrass Habitats Decline, Florida Manatees are Dying of Starvation

June 21, 2021 By Greg Allen NPR
In Florida, wildlife managers and environmental groups are stunned by a record number of manatee deaths. More than 750 manatees have died since the beginning of the year, the most deaths ever recorded in a five month period. Most of the deaths are in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, where a large die-off of seagrass has left manatees without enough to eat.

There’s a New Ocean Now—Can You Name All 5?

June 8, 2021 By Sarah Gibbens National Geographic
On World Oceans Day, Nat Geo cartographers say the swift current circling Antarctica keeps the waters there distinct and worthy of their own name: the Southern Ocean.

Biden Administration Strikes Deal To Bring Offshore Wind To California

May 25, 2021 By Lauren Sommer NPR
The Biden administration plans to open the California coast to offshore wind development, ending a long-running stalemate with the Department of Defense that has been the biggest barrier to building wind power along the Pacific Coast.

Extraterrestrial Plutonium Atoms Turn Up on Ocean Bottom

May 17, 2021 By William J. Broad The New York Times
Scientists studying a sample of oceanic crust retrieved from the Pacific seabed nearly a mile down have discovered traces of a rare isotope of plutonium, the deadly element that has been central to the atomic age.

Plastic World or Plastic-Free World?

May 10, 2021 By Erica Cirino Yes!
The plastic crisis is tied not only to ecological destruction, but also drives systemic injustice. With plastic’s fall, will we rise?

The Birds and the Buoys: Using Googly Eyes to Avert Extinction

May 10, 2021 By Annie Roth The New York Times
Every day, thousands of hooks and nets meant for fish end up catching seabirds — a global problem that is pushing many seabird species to the brink of extinction. But no fishing gear may do more damage than the gillnet, which entangles and kills at least 400,000 seabirds each year.

Salmon Have Shrunk So Much That Whole Foods Redid its Guidelines

At OBI Seafoods, a sprawling operation with outposts throughout Alaska, there’s all sorts of extra machinery for workers to master. At Whole Foods Market, there are new guidelines for purchasing salmon from wholesalers. And at Ivar’s, a fixture on Seattle’s waterfront for eight decades, the chef is sending back skimpy salmon delivered to his kitchen.

Fukushima Wastewater Will Be Released Into the Ocean, Japan Says

April 12, 2021 By Jennifer Jett and Ben Dooley The New York Times
Japan said on Tuesday that it had decided to gradually release tons of treated wastewater from the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the ocean, describing it as the best option for disposal despite fierce opposition from fishing crews at home and concern from governments abroad.

The Island Where It Rained Oil

March 24, 2021 By Juliet Eilperin, Darryl Fears and Salwan Georges
The Washington Post
In the Virgin Islands, a refinery tests Biden’s environmental justice commitment.

One Of Biden’s Biggest Climate Change Challenges? The Oceans.

March 18, 2021 By Lauren Sommer NPR
Ocean scientists say the Biden Administration is taking office at a critical time. Sea levels are rising, fish are migrating away from where they’re normally caught, and the water itself is becoming more acidic as it absorbs carbon dioxide that humans emit.

Satellite Imagery Shows Northern California Kelp Forests Have Collapsed

March 11, 2021 By Alex Fox Smithsonian Magazine
The coastal waters of Northern California are changing. A decade ago, hundreds of miles of the rugged seaside were flanked by thick, swaying underwater forests of amber-green bull kelp that were home to fish, abalone and a host of other species. Now, those forests have been nearly wiped out by a series of environmental events that have been falling like ill-fated dominos since 2013.

Biden Administration Backs Nation’s Biggest Wind Farm off Martha’s Vineyard

March 8, 2021 By Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin The Washington Post
The Biden administration took a crucial step Monday toward approving the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., a project that officials say will launch a massive clean-power expansion in the fight against climate change.

Talks Start to Protect Indian Ocean’s Depleting Tuna

March 8, 2021 Reuters
Representatives of 30 nations meet on Tuesday to seek ways to save fast-depleting tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean as demand in Asia and the West soars for sushi and tinned fish.

A Half-Trillion Corals Live in Just One Ocean. Does That Mean They are Safe?

March 4, 2021 By Elizabeth Pennisi Science Magazine
A comprehensive survey of corals has turned up billions of colonies across the Pacific Ocean. The work—based on actual head counts, satellite data, and informed estimates—suggests many species are not in immediate danger of extinction, and the census could help conservationists and policymakers make better decisions about how to protect reefs.

Tuna’s Last Stand

March 2, 2021 By Christopher Pollon Hakai Magazine
Skipjack are the world’s most abundant tuna. They’re resilient, but can they outswim our demand for this pantry staple?

Salmon Smolts: Here Today, Guano Tomorrow

February 26, 2021 By Larry Pynn Hakai Magazine
In British Columbia, great blue heron guano explains the mystery of the vanishing salmon smolts.

When Seas Turn Rough, Gleaning Keeps the Fish on the Table for Some Communities

February 24, 2021 By Basten Gokkon Mongabay
Communities living close to hard-bottomed shallow shores are more likely to hand-catch marine animals during seasons when other types of fishing often aren’t possible, a new study shows. The findings suggest that worsening sea conditions due to climate change will increase the importance of this type of harvest, known as coastal gleaning.

Gray Whales Learn Daring Feeding Strategy in Puget Sound: Digging for Ghost Shrimp at High Tide

February 16, 2021 By Lynda V. Mapes The Seattle Times
Every spring, a small group of about a dozen gray whales pauses along an epic migration from calving lagoons in Baja California to their feeding grounds in the Arctic. They travel more than 170 miles off their coastal migration route, to stop off in northern Puget Sound. There, they linger from about March through May.

The Environmental Threat You’ve Never Heard Of

February 10, 2021 By Doug Johnson Hakai Magazine
Coastal waters around the world are steadily growing darker. This darkening—a change in the color and clarity of the water—has the potential to cause huge problems for the ocean and its inhabitants.

Can 14 Nations Put Global Ocean Protection Back on Track?

February 9, 2021 By Olive Heffernan China Dialogue Ocean
For ocean conservation, 2020 was a year of high hopes dashed. It had been billed as the year when world leaders would end harmful subsidies that drive overfishing, agree a new law to protect marine life beyond national waters, and edge closer to protecting 30% of ocean space by 2030. Instead, the world grappled with the fallout of Covid-19.

The Whale Bone Squatters

February 4, 2021 By Kelly Fretwell Hakai Magazine
After a juvenile male humpback whale washed ashore on a remote beach along Calvert Island, British Columbia—the site of the Hakai Institute’s Calvert Island Ecological Observatory—in May 2019, the first order of business for scientists was to conduct a necropsy.

Is It Too Late for the Southern Resident Orcas?

February 3, 2021 By Catherine Denardo Outside Magazine
Researcher Ken Balcomb has spent more than half his life studying the iconic killer whales of Washington’s San Juan Islands and raising awareness about their struggle for survival. Now he may have run out of time.

After Hurricane’s Devastation, a Dilemma in Nicaragua: Rebuild or Relocate?

February 3, 2021 By Brent McDonald and Alfonso Flores Bermúdez The New York Times
When the leaders of an Indigenous Miskito village returned to their homes days after Hurricane Iota struck last November, they found their lush community in Nicaragua’s northeast laid to ruin — and the coastline itself transformed.

They Want to Start Paying Mother Nature for All Her Hard Work

February 2, 2021 By Catrin Einhorn New York Times
The global system is built on buying and selling, but often, no one pays for the most basic goods and services that sustain life — water to drink, soil to grow food, clean air to breathe, rain forests that regulate the climate.

Small Particles, Big Problems?

February 1, 2021 By Rona Kobell Chesapeake Quarterly
Scientists Grapple with Many Unknowns about Microplastics and Their Impact on the Chesapeake Bay

Sea lions are Dying From a Mysterious Cancer. The Culprits? Herpes and DDT

January 31, 2021 By Rosanna Xia Los Angeles Times
Now, after two decades of study, an all-star team of marine mammal pathologists, virology experts, chemists and geneticists say they’ve connected two surprising culprits: herpes and toxic chemicals, like DDT and PCBs, that poisoned the California coast decades ago.

Activists Make the Case That Bigger is Better to Protect Galápagos Reserve

January 29, 2021 By Elizabeth Claire Alberts Mongabay
A group of scientists, conservationists and NGOs are campaigning to expand the current Galápagos Marine Reserve to protect an additional 445,953 square kilometers (172,183 square miles) in the exclusive economic zone of the Galápagos Islands.

Boat Strikes in Maldives Put Pressure on Whale Sharks’ Survival Odds

January 29, 2021 By Elizabeth Claire Alberts Mongabay
Known as “gentle giants,” whale sharks are the sweethearts of the ecotourism industry. They spend large parts of their day drifting beneath the surface, feeding on plankton and shrimp with their massive water-filtering gills, which makes the species easy to spot from boats. It also makes them particularly vulnerable to vessel strikes.

Shark Populations Are Crashing, With a ‘Very Small Window’ to Avert Disaster

January 27, 2021 By Catrin Einhorn The New York Times
In just the last half-century, humans have caused a staggering, worldwide drop in the number of sharks and rays that swim the open oceans, scientists have found in the first global assessment of its kind, published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Southern Ocean Waters are Warming Faster Than Thought, Threatening Antarctic Ice

January 21, 2021 By Andrew Freedman The Washington Post
The Southern Ocean is one of the most important yet least explored and understood regions of the planet when it comes to determining how global warming may affect the future of humanity, thanks to its capacity to absorb huge quantities of heat and carbon dioxide, and melt swaths of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Biden Selects NOAA Political Team as Decision on Next Agency Head Looms

January 21, 2021 By Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman The Washington Post
The Biden administration appointed a new political team to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Thursday, where they will help guide policies on the oceans and atmosphere. The staff members have a heavy focus on oceans policy, though the agency is also tasked with forecasting the weather and researching climate change.

Northwest’s Salmon Population May Be Running Out of Time

January 20, 2021 By Marie Fazio The New York Times
A Washington State report put it bluntly: Because of the devastating effects of climate change and deteriorating habitats, several species of salmon in the Pacific Northwest are “on the brink of extinction.”

How Whales Help Cool the Earth

Seeing a whale stranded on a beach often provokes a strong reaction. It can make people curious – beached whales can do strange things, like explode. It can also be upsetting to witness a creature so magnificent in water reduced to lifeless blubber on land. What rarely registers, however, is the lost opportunity for carbon sequestration.

US Fisheries Hit Hard by COVID-19

January 13, 2021 By Brian Owens Hakai Magazine
The COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the world for much of the past year has disrupted many industries, and fisheries are no exception. An early analysis estimates that in the United States, the pandemic has caused fresh seafood catches to decline by 40 percent relative to 2019, while imports fell by 37 percent and exports by 43 percent.

Someone Etched ‘Trump’ on a Florida Manatee

January 11, 2021 By Johnny Diaz The New York Times
The sighting in Florida this week of a manatee with “Trump” etched in block letters on its back has prompted an investigation and a plea for help from a nonprofit conservation group.

Diving Deep with Plankton from the Comfort of the Lab

January 8, 2021 By Harini Barath Hakai Magazine
Scientists at California’s Stanford University have fashioned an elegant device that allows them to watch microscopic plankton traverse the ocean’s depths—no wetsuits needed!

Inside the C.I.A., She Became a Spy for Planet Earth

January 5, 2021 By William J. Broad The New York Times
Linda Zall played a starring role in American science that led to decades of major advances. But she never described her breakthroughs on television, or had books written about her, or received high scientific honors. One database of scientific publications lists her contributions as consisting of just three papers, with a conspicuous gap running from 1980 to 2020. The reason is that Dr. Zall’s decades of service to science were done in the secretive warrens of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Salty Seas Make Lightning Brighter

January 4, 2021 By Nicola Jones Hakai Magazine
When marine scientist Mustafa Asfur made a tiny storm in a box, he stumbled on a possible solution to a long-standing mystery: why bolts of lightning are brighter over the ocean than they are over land.

The Problem With Problem Sharks

January 1, 2021 By Jason Nark The New York Times
The war on sharks has been waged with shock and aweat times. When a shark bit or killed a swimmer, people within the past century might take out hundreds of the marine predators to quell the panic, like executing everyone in a police lineup in order to ensure justice was dispensed on the guilty party.

Octopuses Are Eight-Armed Taskmasters

December 30, 2020 By Cameron Duke Hakai Magazine
According to Eduardo Sampaio, a doctoral candidate at the University of Lisbon in Portugal and lead author on a new study documenting the behavior, there are a number of reasons an octopus might throw hands, from keeping its hunting partners in line to ejecting a parasitic group member.

A New Population of Blue Whales Was Discovered Hiding in the Indian Ocean

December 23, 2020 By Katherine J. Wu The New York Times
Weighing up to 380,000 pounds and stretching some 100 feet long, the blue whale — the largest creature to have ever lived on Earth — might at first seem difficult for human eyes and ears to miss. But a previously unknown population of the leviathans has long been lurking in the Indian Ocean, leaving scientists none the wiser, new research suggests.

Dead in the Water

December 21, 2020 By Victoria Petersen Hakai Magazine
As abandoned and derelict boats multiply from Alaska to California, officials scramble for solutions.

This Channel Isn’t Big Enough for Two Behemoths

December 14, 2020 By Casey Rentz Hakai Magazine
Ships killed at least 20 whales in California’s Santa Barbara Channel in the past two years. Now, a nonprofit is demanding action.

World’s Largest Iceberg Nears Collision With South Georgia Island; Could Imperil Penguins

December 10, 2020 By Andrew Freedman The Washington Post
An iceberg larger than the state of Rhode Island that broke off an Antarctic ice shelf in 2017 is closing in on South Georgia Island, a British territory in the south Atlantic Ocean. The iceberg, designated A68a by the National Ice Center, is being steered by ocean currents to a position closer to the island, which is home to large colonies of penguins, seals and other unique wildlife.

Shift to a Not-So-Frozen North Is Well Underway, Scientists Warn

December 8, 2020 By Henry Fountain The New York Times
The Arctic continued its unwavering shift toward a new climate in 2020, as the effects of near-record warming surged across the region, shrinking ice and snow cover and fueling extreme wildfires, scientists said Tuesday in an annual assessment of the region.

On the Trail of the Giant Squid

December 7, 2020 By Greg Noone Hakai Magazine
Advances in genetic research are creating new ways to hunt for this most mysterious of creatures.

A Race Against Time to Rescue a Reef From Climate Change

December 5, 2020 By Catrin Einhorn and Christopher Flavelle The New York Times
In an unusual experiment, a coral reef in Mexico is now insured against hurricanes. A team of locals known as “the Brigade” rushed to repair the devastated corals, piece by piece.

Tire Dust Killing Coho Salmon Returning to Puget Sound, New Research Shows

December 3, 2020 By Lynda V. Mapes The Seattle Times
In a breakthrough paper published in the Dec. 3 issue of Science, a team of researchers revealed the culprit behind the deaths of coho in an estimated 40% of the Puget Sound area — a killer so lethal it takes out 40 to 90% of returning coho to some urban streams before they spawn. It is a killer hidden in plain sight.

What’s Behind the Big Increase in Porpoises off Northern California?

December 2, 2020 By Paul Rogers Mercury News
In the 1980s and 90s, it was a grim trend off Northern California’s coastline: Hundreds of harbor porpoises, shy marine mammals that look like small dolphins, were killed every year in huge gill nets used by commercial fishermen.

Canada Gives BP Okay to Explore in Marine Conservation Area

November 27, 2020 By Brian Owens Hakai Magazine
Earlier this month, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board accepted a bid from oil company BP to explore for oil and gas in an area that includes part of Atlantic Canada’s largest marine conservation area.

An Unusual Snack for Cows, A Powerful Fix for Climate

November 27, 2020 By Tatiana Schlossberg Washington Post
One of the most powerful weapons in the fight against climate change is washing up on shorelines around the world, unnoticed by most beachgoers. It’s seaweed.

A Chilean Archipelago Rivaling the Galápagos Fends Off Invasive Species

November 26, 2020 By Barinia Montoya Hakai Magazine
Rich in both marine and terrestrial biodiversity, Juan Fernández Archipelago National Park (PNAJF) in Chile boasts species that live nowhere else in the world. Legends abound in this remote land, such as those that inspired the famous novel Robinson Crusoe — and which gives its name to one of its islands — of pirates, corsairs and even an ancient hidden treasure that eager seekers are still trying to unearth. This place is also an example of how concerted efforts can bring back to life places that are most degraded by human development.