Tag Archives: Marine Animals

How Do Marine Mammals Avoid the Bends?

“©Freedom Breach” is an image courtesy of © Pasha Reshikov.


Deep-diving whales and other marine mammals can get the bends—the same painful and potentially life-threatening decompression sickness that strikes scuba divers who surface too quickly. A new study offers a hypothesis of how marine mammals generally avoid getting the bends and how they can succumb under stressful conditions.

Scientists once thought that diving marine mammals were immune from decompression sickness, but a 2002 stranding event linked to navy sonar exercises revealed that 14 whales that died after beaching off the Canary Islands had gas bubbles in their tissues—a sign of the bends…

Read Full Article, WHOI (04-18-2018)

Marine noise pollution stresses and confuses fish; Science Daily (08-10-2017)
Increased noise pollution in the oceans is confusing fish and compromising their ability to recognise and avoid predators…

Motor-boat noise changed the behavior of fish parents; Science Daily (06-06-2017)
The sound of motorboat engines disturbed coral reef fish so acutely it changed the behavior of parents, and stopped male fish properly guarding their young, feeding and interacting with their offspring, new research has found…

Whales turn tail at ocean mining noise; Science Daily (08-17-2017)
A new international study has measured the effect of loud sounds on migrating humpback whales as concern grows as oceans become noisier. Scientists have said one of the main sources of ocean noise was oil and gas exploration, due to geologists firing off loud acoustic air guns to probe the structure of the ocean floor in search of fossil fuels…

World Must Tackle the Biggest Killer of Whales – and it’s not Whaling; IPS News (10-24-2016)

Sonic Sea, Film Documentary; NRDC May 19th, 2016
Oceans are a sonic symphony. Sound is essential to the survival and prosperity of marine life. But man-made ocean noise is threatening this fragile world. “Sonic Sea” is about protecting life in our waters from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution…

Ship noise in coastal habitats could interfere with orca’s communication, Science Daily (02-03-2016)

A Rising Tide of Noise Is Now Easy to See, The New York Times (12-15-2012)

Accoustic Pollution and Marine Mammals, Nature
In the Canary Islands, 14 beaked whales washed ashore bleeding from the ears. All eventually died. A post-mortem examination revealed that the whales showed signs of decompression sickness (what scuba divers call “the bends”). Decompression sickness can occur when a mammal swims to the ocean’s surface too quickly, and the change in pressure produces lethal nitrogen gas bubbles that clog its blood vessels. Evidence of acute decompression sickness indicates unusual behavior. Over the past 40 years, cumulative research across the globe has revealed a coincidence between naval sonar testing events and acute decompression sickness in beached marine mammals…

Whale Mass Stranding Attributed to Sonar Mapping For First Time, Wildlife Conservation Society (09-26-2013)

A Silent Victory For Marine Mammals, On Earth Magazine (04-03-2015)
A federal judge stands up to the noisy navy for the sake of marine mammals…

“FREIGHTENED – The Real Price of Shipping,” a movie by multi award-winning filmmaker Denis Delestrac-©-2016; (03-31-2016)
90% of the goods we consume in the West are manufactured in far-off lands and brought to us by ship. The cargo shipping industry is a key player in world economy and forms the basis of our very model of modern civilisation; without it, it would be impossible to fulfil the ever-increasing demands of our societies. Yet the functioning and regulations of this business remain largely obscure to many, and its hidden costs affect us all. Due to their size, freight ships no longer fit in traditional city harbours; they have moved out of the public’s eye, behind barriers and check points…

Sea mammal on brink of extinction targeted by “mafias” in Baja, Mexico

The vaquita is a shy member of the porpoise family. Vaquitas are the most endangered of the world’s marine mammals. Less than 30 vaquitas remain in the wild, and entanglement in gillnets is driving the species toward extinction. Vaquitas have the smallest range of any whale, dolphin, or porpoise. They only live in the northern part of the Gulf of California, an area that is rich in fish and shrimp. Fishing is thus a major source of income for the people there, who almost exclusively use gillnets, but vaquitas can also become accidentally wrapped in the nets and drown. Captions and Photo source: NOAA


There’s a crisis going on in the Pacific Ocean as an innocent porpoise falls prey to money and greed.

The Vaquita, which means little cow in Spanish, is only about 4 feet long, weighs less than 100 lbs and calls the waters off the coast of Baja, Mexico home. With fewer than 30 left, it’s the most endangered marine mammal in the world…

Read Full Article, CBS News (07-30-2018)

Help Save the Vaquita; By NRDC (07-06-2018)

Fish Poachers Push Endangered Porpoises to Brink, Yale E360 (03-05-2016)
China’s lucrative black market for fish parts is threatening the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal. The porpoises, who live only in the Gulf of California, are getting caught up as bycatch in illegal gill nets and killed. Scientists fear the porpoise could vanish by 2018…

A mourning orca mother carried her dead baby for days through the ocean

Photo source: ©© Giuseppe Milo


A grieving mother orca near Vancouver Island has been carrying her dead calf for four days, after refusing to leave her baby behind when the rest of her pod left.

In this way, the sad display speaks to something deeper than a mourning mother and her lost child. Killer whale populations in the Pacific Northwest are dwindling…

Killer whales eat salmon, and a number of human practices have taken a toll on native salmon populations. Some sources of hydroelectric power block salmon’s natural spawning routes.

“It’s time to heed environmental protections and rebuild essential ecosystems … and restore some of these natural river systems to facilitate wild salmon populations again.” Balcomb also says we should reconsider certain dams that create more environmental upheaval and economic cost than they’re worth…

Read Full Article, CNN (07-27-2018)

When Dams Come Down, Salmon and Sand Can Prosper; The New York Times (10-20-2015)

Dam projects on world’s largest rivers threaten ecosystems, rural livelihoods; Science Daily (01-08-2016)

DamNation; a Documentary That’s Testing the Waters of Corporate Social Responsibility; Produced by Stoecker Ecological and Felt Soul Media, and presented by Patagonia.

Movement to Take Down Thousands of Dams Goes Mainstream, National Geographic (01-29-2015)

“River Reborn: Elwha Flows Wild and Free Once Again,” NBC News
A construction crew on Tuesday detonated a large charge of dynamite, destroying the last remaining portion of Glines Canyon Dam and hastening the restoration of the Elwha River in the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest.

Elwha, The Grand Experiment (11-12-2012)

Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost, The New York Times (10-25-2014)

Small Dams On Chinese River Harm Environment More Than Expected, study finds, NSF (05-30-2013)

Romans had whaling industry, archaeological excavation suggests

Sagrado corono de Jesus, Punta del Santo, Tarifa, facing the Strait of Gibraltar and Morocco. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


Ancient whale bones have been found on three Roman fish processing sites close to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Until the recent discoveries it was unclear whether the whales’ habitat had ever included the Mediterranean…

Read Full Article, Guardian UK (07-10-2018)

Chile’s Stunning Fossil Whale Graveyard Explained; BBC News (02-27-2014)

Help Save the Vaquita; By NRDC

The rarest of marine mammals: the vaquita, a species of porpoise. Photo source: Here & Now – Barbara Taylor / NOAA


“The vaquita marina is the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise. They are only found in the northern part of the Gulf of California, a narrow body of water 100 miles south of the U.S. border with Mexico. There are fewer than 30 vaquitas left in the world, mainly due to heavy fishing in the area. Although the vaquita is not the target of Mexican fishermen, it is frequently captured during gillnet fishing. Like all mammals, vaquitas breathe air. Therefore, when they become entangled in a gillnet, they are unable to surface for air and eventually drown. Fishermen catching shrimp and other seafood have caused a 95 percent population decline in the past 20 years. If current levels of gillnet fishing continue in the upper Gulf of California, the vaquita will likely be extinct by 2021…”—NRDC

Read Full Article and Learn More; NRDC (07-06-2018)

Inside the effort to save the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita; CBS News (06-30-2018)

Fish Poachers Push Endangered Porpoises to Brink, Yale E360 (03-05-2016)
China’s lucrative black market for fish parts is threatening the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal. The porpoises, who live only in the Gulf of California, are getting caught up as bycatch in illegal gill nets and killed. Scientists fear the porpoise could vanish by 2018…

Improving seabird conservation in Patagonian ecosystems

Patagonia. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


Preserving a 300,000 square km area in Patagonian waters could improve the conservation of 20 percent of the population of sea birds in their natural habitat.

Marine ecosystems in the Argentinian Patagonia are one of the areas with a larger biodiversity and highest biological production worldwide. Despite their ecological value, they are now one of the most threatened marine areas by the impact of human activity -intense fishing activity- and changes related to global warming…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (07-05-2018)

Like human societies, whales value culture and family ties

Beluga (‘white’ in Russian) whales’ incredibly sophisticated series of vocal repertoires and acoustic systems suggest that they are capable of forming very complex relationships and groups. Credit: Lisa Barry, NOAA/NMFS/AFSC/MML.


In a detailed genetic kinship study, an international team is the first to reveal that just like human societies, beluga whales appear to value culture and their ancestral roots and family ties.

They have demonstrated that related whales returned to the same locations year after year, and decade after decade. Not only do these whales know where to go and where not to go, they are passing on this information from one generation to the next…

Read Full Article; PhysOrg (04-05-2018)

Dolphins tear up nets as fish numbers fall

“As the super trawler Margiris steams towards Australia’s shores, a series of concerns have been raised. One is the impact on marine life, like dolphins and seals, that invariably are caught in the vessel’s enormous nets. These pix were taken by researchers on board Dutch super trawlers while conducting peer-reviewed studies.” August, 2012. Captions and Photo source: © Greenpeace


University of Exeter researchers studied the impact of bottlenose dolphins on fisheries off northern Cyprus and said Mediterranean overfishing had created a “vicious cycle” of dolphins and fishers competing for dwindling stocks.

The researchers estimate that about ten dolphins are accidentally caught in the study area each year, but under-reporting by fishermen and possible deaths due to swallowing plastic from nets may mean this is an under-estimate…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (03-29-2018)

Large-scale commercial fishing covers more than half of the oceans, study finds; CBS News (02-23-2018)

Official fish trade ‘hugely underestimates’ global catches; Science Daily (10-09-2017)
Conservation of dwindling fish stocks is being severely hampered by poor controls on global trade, according to new research…

Overfishing is as big a threat to humanity as it is to our oceans; Guardian UK (02-16-2016)

As global per-capita fish consumption hits all-time high, UN warns on over harvesting; UN (07-07-2016)
A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that while growth in aquaculture has helped drive global per capita fish consumption above 20 kilograms a year for the first time, almost a third of commercial fish stocks are now overharvested at biologically unsustainable levels…

The World’s Tuna and Mackerel Populations Are in a “Catastrophic” Decline, Quartz (09-17-2015)

Chinese Foreign Fisheries Catch 12 Times More Than Reported, Study Shows; Science Daily (04-03-2013)

Nearly Half of U.S. Seafood Supply is Wasted, Study Shows, Science Daily (09-25-2015)
As much as 47 percent of the edible US seafood supply is lost each year, mainly from consumer waste, new research suggests…

Larger marine animals at higher risk of extinction, and humans are to blame; Science Daily (09-14-2016)
In today’s oceans, larger-bodied marine animals are more likely to become extinct than smaller creatures. It’s a pattern that is unprecedented in the history of life on Earth…

Students Dig Into Decades of Turtle Data

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


More than three decades’ worth of information is, for the first time, being pieced together to tell a story of sea turtle nesting habits on Bald Head Island’s shores…

Read Full Article; Coastal Review (03-28-2018)

Rising temperatures turning major sea turtle population female; Science Daily (01-11-2018)

A variety of maritime activities contribute to sea turtle deaths; The Outer Banks Voice (08-22-2017)

Palm Beach Sea Turtles Killed During Beach Renourishment Project, Broward Palm Beach New Times (04-28-2015)

A Turtle Saver, NC; Coastal Review Online (07-29-2016)
Sea turtles that nest in North Carolina are listed as endangered species in part because many beaches have become dangerous or undesirable places for nesting. One of the biggest issues is light pollution…

Florida beaches are becoming darker, and that’s good for sea turtles (01-29-2016)
Newly published research confirms that the density of sea turtle nests on Florida beaches is reduced where artificial lights along the coast deter nesting females. The data also show that the network of sea turtle-friendly lighting ordinances along Florida’s coast seems to be working…

Largest Turtle Breeding Colony in the Atlantic Discovered; Science Daily (06-04-2015)
A huge ground survey covering nearly 600 km of Gabon’s coastline has uncovered the largest breeding colony of olive ridley turtles in the Atlantic…

Saving Mexico’s endangered sea turtles will be good for tourism too, Huffington Green (10-27-2016)

Sea Turtle Egg Poaching Legalized in Costa Rica: The Debate, Coastal Care (07-29-2011)