Study: Sharks feeding ability impaired by ocean acidification


Some sharks may lose their edge as the world’s oceans become more acidic in the next few decades. Photo courtesy Paula Whitfield, NOAA.

‘In warmer water, sharks are hungrier but with increased CO2 they won’t be able to find their food’

Staff Report

The effects of ocean acidification on shellfish are already well understood. There’s little doubt shell-forming species like oysters will face big challenges as the water chemistry changes. In some cases, more acidic water will simply corrode there shells.

But a new study found that some top ocean predators will also be affected. Ocean acidification will impair the ability of some sharks to hunt and find food, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide (Australia). Continue reading

Scientists search for ‘acoustic wilderness’ in the oceans


A supply ship lumbers through the biodiverse waters of the Antarctic Sound. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Ocean scientists are advocating for the designation of quiet zones to help gain a better understanding of how noise pollution affects marine life.

Creating areas where ship traffic is limited would help researchers find the best way to protect marine life from harmful noise, according to a new study published in the journal  Marine Pollution Bulletin. By assigning zones through which ships cannot travel, researchers can help find the best way to protect marine life from harmful noise.

Almost all marine organisms, including mammals like whales and dolphins, fish and even invertebrates, use sound to find food, avoid predators, choose mates and navigate. Chronic noise from human activities such as shipping can have a big impact on these animals, since it interferes with their acoustic signaling. Increased background noise can mean animals are unable to hear important signals, and they tend to swim away from sources of noise, disrupting their normal behavior. Continue reading

Chile creates largest marine preserve in the Americas

 Photo courtesy Enric Sala/National Geographic

A new marine park off the coast of Chile will help protect important ocean resources. Photo courtesy Enric Sala/National Geographic.

‘A gift to the world …’

Staff Report

The creation of the world’s largest marine park in the Americas could help rebuild fish stocks off the coast of South America, ocean experts said this week, hailing Chile’s announcement that it will protect 297,518 square kilometers as a no-take zone. With the formation of Nazca-Desventuradas, Chile will now protect 12 percent of its marine surface area

 “Chile is one of the world’s primary fishing countries,” said Alex Muñoz, vice president for Oceana in Chile. “With the creation of this large marine park, Chile also becomes a world leader in marine conservation.” Continue reading

NOAA to webcast deep-sea explorations

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer systematically explores the deep oceans of the world. (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer systematically explores the deep oceans of the world. (Credit: NOAA)

Research voyage begins Aug. 1; scientists say they expect to find new species

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean enthusiasts will have a chance to do some armchair exploring the next few months as NOAA scientists deploy unmanned submarines to explore protected areas in the central Pacific Ocean.

Starting Aug. 1, anyone with an internet connection can join the expedition in real time at NOAA’s research ship, the Okeanos Explorer, will visit deeper waters in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Continue reading

Is it time to rethink governance of high-seas fisheries?

‘We should use international waters as the world’s fish bank …’


Shrimp boats in Apalachicola, Florida. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Growing exploitation of open-ocean resources will soon require  the world to rethink the way it manages the high seas, including a potential ban on commercial fishing that would help distribute fisheries income more equitably among the world’s maritime nations, according to research from the University of British Columbia.

After studying fisheries data, the researchers concluded that maintaining or boosting fish stocks in the high seas would help boost coastal fisheries. If increased spillover of fish stocks from protected international waters were to boost coastal catches by 18 per cent, current global catches would be maintained. When the researchers modeled less conservative estimates of stock spillover, catches in coastal waters surpassed current global levels. Continue reading

Oceans: New report says pirate fishing still widespread

Access to U.S. seafood market at stake for some countries

Fishermen in the harbor in Saranda. Albania.

Fishermen in the harbor in Saranda. Albania. bberwyn photo.

FRISCO— In a new report to Congress, federal fisheries biologists fingered six countries as still sanctioning pirate fishing. Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Portugal could all lose certifications from the U.S. because they aren’t doing enough to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Violations include fishing in restricted areas, discarding tuna, misreported catch, and improper handling of turtle entanglement. NOAA Fisheries will work with each of the cited nations to address these activities and improve their fisheries management and enforcement practices. Continue reading

Oceans: Whale sharks get a little love from tuna fishermen


Whale sharks are getting some protection from purse-seining in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

New fishing regs protect world’s largest fish from harmful tuna netting practices

Staff Report

FRISCO — Whale sharks in the Pacific Ocean are getting a little help from an international fishing group that recently banned the practice of placing purse-seine tuna nets around the world’s largest fish.

Whale sharks are so docile that humans often swim alongside them without concern, snapping photographs of their incredible size. But it is exactly their enormous bulk that made them an accidental target of commercial fishermen, who know that tuna like to gather in schools around whale sharks (as well as other large floating objects).

Tuna fleets often use fish-aggregating devices to attract tuna to an area, making it easier to find and encircle the tuna in the purse seine nets much more efficient. When fishermen deploy nets around whale sharks to capture tuna swimming beneath it, the encircled whale sharks are often caught in the net, where they are injured or die. Continue reading


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