Archived News

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.

Underwater Earthquakes’ Sound Waves Reveal Changes in Ocean Warming

September 17, 2020 By Carolyn Gramling Science News
Sound waves traveling thousands of kilometers through the ocean may help scientists monitor climate change. As greenhouse gas emissions warm the planet, the ocean is absorbing vast amounts of that heat. To monitor the change, a global fleet of about 4,000 devices called Argo floats is collecting temperature data from the ocean’s upper 2,000 meters. But that data collection is scanty in some regions, including deeper reaches of the ocean and areas under sea ice.

A New Ship’s Mission: Let the Deep Be Seen

September 17, 2020 By William J. Broad The New York Times
A giant new vessel, OceanXplorer, seeks to unveil the secrets of the abyss for a global audience.

Could Marine Mammals Contract COVID-19?

September 17, 2020 By Nancy Averett Hakai Magazine
Some marine mammals carry gene mutations that could make them more susceptible than humans to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus at the heart of the ongoing pandemic. If these marine mammals get infected, the results could be devastating—more than half of the species predicted to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 are already at risk of extinction.

We are Failing to Save the Planet’s Species, Finds UN Report

September 16, 2020 By Liz Kimbrough Mongabay
As the planet plunges headlong into its sixth mass extinction, caused by humans, biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate, and efforts to address this crisis, through a series of targeted goals, have largely failed.

Deep Beneath the High Seas, Researchers Find Rich Coral Oases

September 14, 2020 By Ian Morse Science Magazine
Aiming to bolster conservation on the high seas, a team of marine researchers today released the first comprehensive survey of coral reefs in the high seas–the roughly two-thirds of the ocean outside of national jurisdictions.

The Arctic Is Shifting to a New Climate Because of Global Warming

September 14, 2020 By Henry Fountain The New York Times
The effects of global warming in the Arctic are so severe that the region is shifting to a different climate, one characterized less by ice and snow and more by open water and rain, scientists said Monday.

In Indonesia’s Coastal Villages, the Plastic Crisis is Both Homegrown and Invasive

September 9, 2020 By Basten Gokkon Hakai Magazine
Proper management of plastic waste is lacking in coastal communities in Indonesia, the No. 2 contributor to the ocean plastic crisis. That’s the conclusion of a recently published study, which notes that the use of plastic is increasingly outpacing mitigation efforts.

Ocean Warming has Seafloor Species Headed in the Wrong Direction

September 7, 2020 By Erik Stokstad Science Magazine
As the world warms, many species of plant and animal will have to find new—often cooler—places to live. But things are trickier for sedentary marine creatures like snails, worms, and clams, according to a new study. It finds that in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, many species are spawning earlier in the year, when currents take their larvae southward and into warmer waters—the wrong direction. For some of them, including the sand dollars beloved by beachcombers, this means their range is shrinking.

Orca Tahlequah is a mother again

September 5, 2020 By Lynda V. Mapes The Seattle Times
Mother orca Tahlequah has had her baby. The endangered southern resident killer whale, J35, touched hearts in the Pacific Northwest and around the world in August 2018 when she lost a calf that lived only a half-hour. She carried the calf for 17 days and 1,000 miles, refusing to let the calf go.

Coming Home to the Klamath

September 4, 2020 By Steve Murray Hakai Magazine
A genetic discovery may help restore chinook salmon to reopening river habitats.

What A 1000-Year-Old Seal Skull Can Say About Climate Change

September 2, 2020 By Abigail Eisenstadt Smithsonian Magazine
Once in a while, scientists re-discover an unusual specimen hidden on the shelves of a museum collection. This time, they found a cast of a skull from a Southern elephant seal, Mirounga leonina, which swam upriver to Indiana over 1000 years ago. The cast had been hidden in a drawer of the fossil marine mammals collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since the 1970s.

Plastics Are Messing with Fish Physiology

September 2, 2020 By Michael Allen Hakai Magazine
A systematic review exposes the dangers of tiny plastics and the hidden bias at the heart of plastic research.

What COVID-19 Means for Coastal Cleanups

August 31, 2020 By Kate Wheeling Hakai Magazine
In an ordinary year, Californians gather along the state’s beaches, parks, and waterways on the third Saturday of September to pick up trash before it can make its way into the Pacific. Every cigarette butt, bottle cap, and plastic bag in sight is collected and recorded, each a new point in a massive data set built over 35 years of coastal cleanups. Now, both the ecosystem and the data describing it are at risk.

Growing Underwater Heat Blob Speeds Demise of Arctic Sea Ice

August 25, 2020 By Paul Voosen Science Magazine
Arctic sea ice is itself an endangered species. Next month its extent will reach its annual minimum, which is poised to be among the lowest on record. The trend is clear: Summer ice covers half the area it did in the 1980s, and because it is thinner, its volume is down 75%. With the Arctic warming three times faster than the global average, most scientists grimly acknowledge the inevitability of ice-free summers, perhaps as soon as 2035. “It’s definitely a when, not an if,” says Alek Petty, a polar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Big Fish: The Aquacultural Revolution

August 24, 2020 Hakai Magazine
As the world’s population swells to 9.7 billion, industry and governments say aquaculture is the way to provide protein to the people—if that’s true, can we learn from the past and avoid screwing over the planet and each other?

Sharks Nearby? A Bottle of Seawater Can Hold the Answer, Study Says

August 21, 2020 By Elizabeth Clare Alberts Mongabay
Two liters of seawater, or about half a gallon. That’s all that’s needed to detect the presence of sharks in the ocean, according to a new study. A group of researchers from Florida International University (FIU), New College of Florida and Havenworth Coastal Conservation recently teamed up to develop a new method of detecting the presence of blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) in Terra Ceia Bay, a semi-enclosed bay on the west coast of Florida.

Loss of Greenland Ice Sheet Reached a Record Last Year

August 20, 2020 By Henry Fountain The New York Times
Greenland lost a record amount of ice in 2019, researchers reported Thursday. Nearly half of it was lost in July, when the region roasted from an unusual heat wave.

IMO Admits It Does Not Know Effect Of Wakashio Fuel In Mauritian Waters

August 19, 2020 By Nishan Degnarain Forbes
Global shipping regulator, London-based UN Agency, the International Maritime Organization released a statement on the effect of the fuel that spilled into the waters of Mauritius from Japanese vessel, The Wakashio, in which they admit they do not know the effects of releasing this amount of fuel (VLSFO) into the biodiversity-rich coral lagoons of Mauritius.

A Tuna’s Worth

August 18, 2020 By Sasha Chapman Hakai Magazine
Bluefin tuna are a luxury that feeds the egos of many, the bellies of few. Inside a Canadian fishery that pursues them.

How China’s Expanding Fishing Fleet Is Depleting the World’s Oceans

August 17, 2020 By Ian Urbina Yale Environment 360
After exhausting areas close to home, China’s vast fishing fleet has moved into the waters of other nations, depleting fish stocks. More than seafood is at stake, as China looks to assert itself on the seas and further its geo-political ambitions, from East Asia to Latin America.

Trump finalizes drilling plan for iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

August 17, 2020 By Juliet Eilperin The Washington Post
The Trump administration finalized plans Monday to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, a move that will auction off oil and gas rights in the heart of one of the nation’s most iconic wild places. Achieving a goal Republicans have sought for 40 years, it marks a capstone for an administration that has ignored calls to reduce fossil fuel consumption in the face of climate change.

If You Unbuild It, They Will Come—The Fish, That Is

August 14, 2020 By James Prosek National Geographic
Maine pioneered dam removal to restore salmon runs. Now millions of fish, among them alewives, are swimming upriver again to inland spawning grounds.

How 14 Elephant Seals Assisted an Antarctic Ice Study

August 14, 2020 By Oliver Whang The New York Times
Mapping currents in the Southern Ocean is vital to monitoring climate change, but hard to conduct. So scientists turned to seals for help.

Arctic Summer Sea Ice Could Disappear as Early as 2035

August 13, 2020 By Alejandra Borunda National Geographic
Last month, less sea ice covered the Arctic Ocean than in any other July since scientists began keeping track of it with satellites in 1979, marking another step toward a devastating and planet-reshaping inevitability: an ice-free summer for the Arctic Ocean.

DARPA’s Ocean Of Things Is An All-Seeing Eye On The High Seas

August 13, 2020 By David Hambling Forbes
DARPA has awarded a contract for the next phase of development of its Ocean of Things (OoT), a project to seed the seas with thousands of floating sensors, monitoring everything that passes from aircraft to submarines.

They Outlived Dinosaurs, But Can Glass Sponge Reefs Survive Man-Made Warming?

August 11, 2020 By Francesca Edralin Mongabay
Glass sponge reefs may have outlived the dinosaurs, but they may not survive much longer. In May, Stevenson and her colleagues published a study in Scientific Reports that warns that the impacts of climate change will likely weaken glass sponges’ skeletal strength and filter-feeding ability.

How Diseases Sweep through the Sea

August 7, 2020 By Bradley van Paridon Hakai Magazine
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is a reminder of the devastation disease outbreaks can cause. But such disasters do not only affect humans. New research led by Claire Sanderson, a wildlife epidemiologist and immunologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, shows that disease outbreaks among marine mammals have quietly been on the rise.

The Ocean’s 12 Megaprovinces

August 5, 2020 By Jackie Snow Hakai Magazine
Scientists have determined a new way to slice and dice marine ecosystems.

Satellites Find New Colonies of Emperor Penguins

August 5, 2020 By Jonathan Amos BBC
Satellite observations have found a raft of new Emperor penguin breeding sites in the Antarctic. The locations were identified from the way the birds’ poo, or guano, had stained large patches of sea-ice.

To Oblivion and Back

August 3, 2020 By Greg Rasmussen and Chris Corday CBC News
How sea otters are radically changing the West Coast ecosystem 50 years after their return to B.C.

Young Dolphins Pick Friends with Purpose

July 31, 2020 By Robin Smith-Duke Futurity
Wild bottlenose dolphins devote time early in life to making friend connections that could give them an edge later on, a new study shows.

Bright Lights and Dark Nights: The Challenge Facing Sea Turtles in the City

July 30, 2020 By Annemarie Mannion Hakai Magazine
Sea turtles became an unexpected passion for Jones, who now often wears sea turtle T-shirts or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNT) garb instead of his old Florida Gators shirts. (The TMNTs aren’t sea turtles, but Jones’s link to the superheroes is irresistible: the human vigilante who fought alongside them was also named Casey Jones.) He began searching for ways to help conserve the reptiles, which is how he learned about a pervasive and preventable risk to their well-being: light pollution. Artificial bright lights are a deadly hazard that can lead sea turtles astray. Jones had found his mission.

Rising Seas Could Menace Millions Beyond Shorelines, Study Finds

July 30, 2020 By Brad Plumer The New York Times
As global warming pushes up ocean levels around the world, scientists have long warned that many low-lying coastal areas will become permanently submerged. But a new study published Thursday finds that much of the economic harm from sea-level rise this century is likely to come from an additional threat that will arrive even faster: As oceans rise, powerful coastal storms, crashing waves and extreme high tides will be able to reach farther inland, putting tens of millions more people and trillions of dollars in assets worldwide at risk of periodic flooding.

Scientists Pull Living Microbes, Possibly 100 Million Years old, From Beneath the Sea

July 28, 2020 By Elizabeth Pennisi Science Magazine
Microbes buried beneath the sea floor for more than 100 million years are still alive, a new study reveals. When brought back to the lab and fed, they started to multiply. The microbes are oxygen-loving species that somehow exist on what little of the gas diffuses from the ocean surface deep into the seabed.