Archived News

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.

New Genetic Tools Will Deliver Improved Farmed Fish, Oysters, and Shrimp. Here’s What to Expect

November 19, 2020 By Erik Stokstad Science Magazine
Two years ago, off the coast of Norway, the blue-hulled Ro Fjell pulled alongside Ocean Farm 1, a steel-netted pen the size of a city block. Attaching a heavy vacuum hose to the pen, the ship’s crew began to pump brawny adult salmon out of the water and into a tank below deck. Later, they offloaded the fish at a shore-based processing facility owned by SalMar, a major salmon aquaculture company.

Tabulating the Victims of Plastic Pollution

November 19, 2020 By Alastair Bland Hakai Magazine
Hundreds of sea turtles and marine mammals have been choked, snared, and hooked by plastic debris.

Prairies of the Sea

November 18, 2020 By Katherine Harmon Courage Smithsonian Magazine
Bright sunlight filters down through the clear Mediterranean waters off the coast of Spain, illuminating a lush meadow just below the surface. Blades of strikingly green grass undulate in the currents. Painted comber fish dart among clumps of leaves, and technicolor nudibranchs crawl over mounds. Porcelain crabs scuttle by tiny starfish clinging to the blades. A four-foot-tall fan mussel has planted itself on a rock outcropping. A sea turtle glides by.

Seas Are Rising Faster Than Ever

November 18, 2020 By Paul Voosen Science Magazine
Ask climate scientists how fast the world’s oceans are creeping upward, and many will say 3.2 millimeters per year—a figure enshrined in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, from 2014. But the number, based on satellite measurements taken since the early 1990s, is a long-term average. In fact, the global rate varied so much over that period that it was hard to say whether it was holding steady or accelerating.

The Rising Tide Underfoot

November 17, 2020 By Grace Mitchell Tada Hakai Magazine
Changing sea levels are pushing groundwater into new and problematic places.

Could China Become a Partner in Galapagos Marine Conservation? Yolanda Kakabadse Thinks So

November 16, 2020 By Rhett A. Butler Mongabay
In August this year, a fleet of around 300 Chinese fishing vessels attracted international attention when they congregated just outside Ecuador’s territorial waters around the famed Galápagos Islands. Said to be fishing for squid, the fleet’s checkered past raised concerns about the possibility the ships were actually targeting sharks and other threatened species.

Report Sounds an Alarm on Ongoing Decline of US Coral Reefs

November 10, 2020 By Bobby Caina Calvan Associated Press
A first of its kind assessment of coral reefs in U.S. waters is again sounding the alarm over the continued decline of these sensitive underwater ecosystems, which scientists deem essential to the health of the world’s oceans amid the environmental effects posed by human activity and climate change.

Why a COVID-19 Vaccine Could Further Imperil Deep-Sea Sharks

November 13, 2020 By Justin Meneguzzi National Geographic
Shark liver oil can make vaccines more effective, but increased demand could harm critically endangered species. Pfizer and Moderna’s promising vaccine candidates do not contain the substance.

Could Listening to the Deep Sea Help Save It?

November 10, 2020 By Sabrina Imbler The New York Times
You might know what a hydrothermal vent looks like: black plumes billowing from deep-sea pillars encrusted with hobnobbing tubeworms, hairy crabs, pouting fish. But do you know what a hydrothermal vent sounds like?

The Ocean Carbon Sink Has Set the Next Political Hurdle

November 9, 2020 By Drew Higgins Hakai Magazine
New research reveals that once anthropogenic carbon emissions drop, so too will the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide. That could make it seem like emission reduction efforts aren’t working.

Frustration as Antarctic Conservation Summit Fails to Declare Marine Sanctuaries

November 6, 2020 By Elizabeth Claire Alberts Mongabay
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a governing body of 25 member states and the European Union, missed an opportunity to establish a network of three marine protection areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean, according to conservation experts who attended the commission’s recent meeting.

Why Cracking Down on the Shark Fin Trade May Be Easier Than We Thought

October 27, 2020 By David Shiffman National Geographic
Many shark fins used in a traditional Asian delicacy come from the coastal waters of just a handful of countries. The finding upends conventional notions—and could make this conservation challenge easier to tackle.

On a Philippine Island, Indigenous Women Get Their Say on Marine Conservation

October 22, 2020 By Jen Chan Mongabay
In the Philippines, the fishing industry has long been considered male territory, with fathers, sons and brothers taking their boats out to sea each day in hopes of catching tuna, blue marlin, or sea bass. A closer look, however, reveals that women play an equally significant role.

As Waters Warm, Ocean Heatwaves Are Growing More Severe

October 13, 2020 By Nicola Jones Yale Environment 360
With oceans absorbing more than 90 percent of global warming, marine heatwaves are becoming hotter and larger and are lasting longer. Scientists say the trend has major ecological consequences, from altering fish and plant populations to forcing whales into hazardous waters.

In Bali, the Pandemic Unravels a Hard-Won Campaign to Save Benoa Bay

October 12, 2020 By Alaine Johnson Mongabay
On Oct. 10, 2019, the Bali governor designated Benoa Bay a conservation area for religious and cultural activities and artisanal fisheries, protected from reclamation of any kind. For a brief moment after five years of relentless protests, it appeared that Benoa Bay would remain untouched. Barely 11 months later, the Balinese legislature gathered discreetly during the COVID-19 pandemic and approved a zoning plan for the area that would permit sand mining and an expansion of the harbor and airport.

‘Real and Imminent’ Extinction Risk to Whales

October 10, 2020 By Helen Briggs BBC
More than 350 scientists and conservationists from 40 countries have signed a letter calling for global action to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises from extinction.

Novel Brain Surgery Seeks to Reverse Epilepsy in Sea Lion

October 8, 2020 By Matt Richtel Cronutt The New York Times
Cronutt, like a growing number of ocean mammals, developed seizures because of toxins in the water. Scientists hope the pioneering procedure he underwent this week could help.

Blinded by the Light

October 7, 2020 By Forest Ray Hakai Magazine
In the Southern Ocean, bioluminescent animals deploy light to evade attacks from hungry elephant seals.

Plastic Pollution is a Huge Problem—and It’s Not Too Late to Fix It

October 6, 2020 By Laura Parker National Geographic
The global campaign to gain control of plastic waste is one of the fastest-growing environmental causes ever mounted. Yet it hasn’t been enough to make a dent in the growing tonnage of discarded plastic that ends up in the seas.

Greenland Ice Sheet on Course to Lose Ice at Fastest Rate in 12,000 Years, Study Finds

September 30, 2020 By Andrew Freedman and Brady Dennis The Washington Post
The Greenland ice sheet is on track to lose mass at about four times the fastest rate observed over the past 12,000 years. At its current trajectory, such melting would dump huge quantities of freshwater into the sea, raising global sea levels and disrupting ocean currents, scientists concluded in new research Wednesday.

Another Baby Orca Born to J Pod — the Second This Month

September 25, 2020 By Lynda V. Mapes The Seattle Times
Another baby orca has been born to J pod, the Center for Whale Research confirmed Friday morning. It’s the second calf born this month for the endangered southern resident orcas that frequent Puget Sound.

New Tool Alerts Ships When Whales Are Near. But Will They Slow Down?

September 23, 2020 By Claudia Geib Mongabay
The new mapping and analysis tool alerts mariners when whales are likely present in the busy Santa Barbara Channel near Los Angeles, drawing on data from an acoustic monitoring buoy, on-the-water sighting reports, and computer modeling.

Past Illegal Activity Dogs Chinese Fleet That Fished Squid Near Galapagos

September 23, 2020 By Michelle Carrere Mongabay
In early June, a fleet of around 260 boats from China reached the limits of Ecuador’s exclusive economic zone around the Galápagos Islands to fish for Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas). For months, the fleet skirted this area, drawing outrage among Ecuadorans as well as scientists and conservationists around the world.