President Barack Obama responded to appeals from Alaska Native villages and gave them more of a say in the federal management of marine resources of the Bering Sea. Obama signed an executive order Friday to create a Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area that will focus "locally tailored" protections on marine resources. The newly created resilience area covers 112,300 square miles and stretches from north of the Bering Strait to north of Bristol Bay. The order requires more focused federal consultation with Alaska tribes and 39 communities that line the west coast of Alaska, along with state officials. The area supports what may be the world's largest annual marine mammal migration of bowhead and beluga whales, Pacific walrus, ice seals and migratory birds.
Emblematic of the effects of climate change, polar bears have once again been shown to be highly vulnerable due to shrinking sea ice levels throughout the range of their habitat. A study published Wednesday by an international team of researchers found a 71 percent chance that over 30 percent of Earth’s polar bear population could be gone in 35-41 years.
Scientists have long used satellite tags to track blue whales along the West Coast, learning how the largest animals on the planet find enough small krill to feed on to support their enormous size. Now researchers from NOAA Fisheries, Oregon State University and the University of Maryland have combined that trove of tracking data with satellite observations of ocean conditions to develop the first system for predicting locations of blue whales off the West Coast. The system, called WhaleWatch, produces monthly maps of blue whale "hotspots" to alert ships where there may be an increased risk of encountering these endangered whales.
Today, the National Ocean Council (NOC) finalized the Nation’s first ocean plans, taking a historic step toward fulfilling President Obama’s commitment to healthy ocean ecosystems and a strong, sustainable marine economy. The two regional plans, the Northeast Ocean Plan and the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan, promote the use of integrated ocean data and best practices for informed and efficient management of the Nation’s shared marine resources. This approach is designed to work across all levels of government and to advance economic, environmental, and cultural priorities within each region. In addition to years of historic collaboration among states, tribes, Federal agencies, and Fishery Management Councils, the Plans are a result of extensive participation and input from marine stakeholders representing fishing, recreation, energy, transportation, telecommunications, and many other interests.
It’s something all whale-watchers yearn to see. The sight of whales breaking the surface and slapping their fins on the water is a true spectacle – but the animals don’t do it just for show. Instead, it appears that all that splashing is about messaging other whales, and the big splashes are for long-distance calls. Ailbhe Kavanagh at the University of Queensland in Gatton, Australia, and her colleagues studied 94 different groups of humpback whales migrating south along the Queensland coast in 2010 and 2011.
Pods of playful Hawaiian spinner dolphins are popular with tourists along the western shore of Hawaii’s Big Island. But noise from sightseeing boats and other coastal users wakes these vulnerable animals from their essential daytime slumber, a new study shows. A pending federal rule would protect the species, but advocates on both sides are unhappy with it.
Two captive harbour porpoises called Freja and Sif have helped to reveal that porpoises —and probably all cetaceans — consciously adjust their heart rate to suit the length of a planned dive.
The narwhal is not an aquatic unicorn. It’s not magical, or mythical. It’s just a whale with two teeth, one of which happens to be really long on males. But it’s not just its snaggletooth — which can be up to nine feet long — that makes this Arctic sea creature unbelievable. The narwhal sees with sound — and it’s exceptionally good at it too, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.
Research into the winter foraging and diving behaviour of Antarctic fur seals has revealed, for the first time, two contrasting strategies the predators use to survive in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments.
Most homebuyers don’t think about Antarctica when buying beachfront property. But maybe they should. The 5.4 million-square-mile Antarctic ice sheet is melting, and scientists estimate that if it disappeared completely, sea level would rise by 200 feet. While no one expects complete melting to happen in the immediate future, competing pressures are increasing the rate of ice melt, whose impacts will be felt in varying ways around the globe – and could even affect that beachfront buy sooner rather than later. In addition to Antarctica’s globally significant role in sea level rise, ocean and atmospheric circulation, and carbon cycling, it has a unique ecosystem that offers myriad opportunities for scientific research. Last week, at a congressional briefing hosted by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), scientists discussed the changing Antarctic and research opportunities in light of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s strategic vision for NSF-supported research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean over the next ten years.
A remote and largely pristine stretch of ocean off Antarctica received international protection on Friday, becoming the world's largest marine reserve as a broad coalition of countries came together to protect 598,000 square miles of water.
Researchers have discovered that hooded seal mothers are inadvertently passing on environmental pollutants to their newborn offspring. The toxins are transferred through the placenta and the mother’s milk. The details are in a paper that was just published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.