Tagged: Marine Mammals

A new rule aims to protect marine mammals from becoming bycatch. (Credit: Boyd Amanda/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Fishing Rule Aims To Do For All Marine Mammals What It Did For The Dolphin

The vaquita is a small porpoise found only in the northern Gulf of California, in Mexico. Today, the species is critically endangered, with less than 60 animals left in the wild, thanks to fishing nets to catch fish and shrimp for sale in Mexico and America. The animal is an accidental victim of the fishing industry, as are many other marine mammals.

NOAA announced a recovery plan for Beluga whales in Alaska. (Credit: Mike Johnston/Flickr)

NOAA Releases Plan for Alaska Endangered Beluga Whales

A federal plan for the recovery of an endangered Alaska beluga whale calls for a reduction in threats of high concern while scientists try to pinpoint what has kept the population from growing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday announced its recovery plan for Cook Inlet beluga whales, a population listed as endangered since 2008.

Deep sea corals will be protected from destructive fishing gear in a new protected area in the Atlantic. (Credit: NOAA National Ocean

Atlantic Ocean Area The Size Of Virginia Protected From Deep-Water Fishing

Coral in an area in the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Connecticut to Virginia has been protected from deep-sea commercial fishing gear, by a new rule issued this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The protected area covers some 38,000 square miles of federal waters, NOAA says, which is about the size of Virginia. It’s the “largest area in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico protected from a range of destructive fishing gear,” according to the NRDC, an environmental advocacy group.

The new resilience area spans from north of the Bering Strait, shown here, to north of Bristol Bay, which is farther south. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/JPL/MISR-Team)

Obama Creates ‘Resilience Area’ To Protect Bering Ecosystem

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.

(Click to enlarge) The Northeast Ocean Plan and the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan were released today. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Nation’s First Ocean Plans

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.

The melting of sea ice in Antarctica has global impacts. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Antarctica: More Than Penguins

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.

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on reducing regulatory burdens. (Credit: Kris Krüg/WikiCommons)

Six Years After The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, the Gulf of Mexico and the lives and livelihoods of those dependent on it changed after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sent oil gushing from the sea floor for 87 days. Efforts are still being made to understand how the 3.1 million barrels of oil and 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersant (used to break the oil into smaller droplets) have and will affect life in the Gulf of Mexico – both aquatic and human – and the ecosystem itself. At a congressional briefing sponsored by retiring Representative Sam Farr (CA-20), experts came together to discuss the state of understanding of the effects of the spill and direction for the future.

Researchers from multiple agencies developed a report and online database to provide regional sea level and extreme water level scenarios for the future. (Credit: Infrogmation/Wikipedia).

Resiliency Reaches All Corners Of The Coast Thanks To Sea Grant

Students in Alaska take a field trip to a local salmon stream. An artificial reef is built off the coast of Florida. A duck hunter cleans his gear in Wisconsin. A lifeguard in Delaware explains rip currents to a family on their beach vacation. Even though these differing coastal activities take place over the entire continental U.S., they all have the National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant), in common. Sea Grant is comprised of a network of 33 programs along the nation’s coasts that support “research, education, outreach, and extension activities that provide communities with the tools to increase their resiliency capacities.” Sea Grant and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a briefing on the necessity of economic resiliency in coastal communities in the U.S. and featured three speakers who attested to the importance of resiliency and of Sea Grant’s support.

Deep in the oceans exist some of the world's oldest and most mysterious sea canyons and mountains, or seamounts. (Credit: NOAA)

First U.S. Marine National Monument Created In Atlantic

Deep in the oceans exist some of the world’s oldest and most mysterious sea canyons and mountains, or seamounts. Formed millions of years ago by extinct volcanoes and sediment erosion, sea canyons and seamounts are biodiversity hot spots — home to many rare and endangered species.