Friday, November 21, 2014

Week in Review: Research Tags Become Dinner Bells, Beluga Birth Caught on Video, and More

1. Scientific Research Tags Placed on Fish Can Make them Vulnerable to Predators

Scientists have been using sound-emitting tags to track the long-term survival of fish. Observers are now reporting an ironic twist with this methodology. Seals have learned to use the tags as their "dinner bell" or tool to locate prey, thus shortening the lifespan of tagged fish. This artifact, if proven conclusive, would render the study worthless. Read more here...


2. Beluga Whale Birth Caught on Video

Video from China captured the unusual sight of a beluga whale giving birth in an aquarium, offering marine biologists an opportunity to study the labor process. Belugas are one of the most common cetaceans kept in aquariums worldwide and are rarely bred successfully in captivity. Watch the video here...


3. New Marine Reserve Established in Central Africa

A new marine reserve off the coast of the central African nation of Gabon will protect 18,000 square miles of ocean, home to threatened species such as great hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, manta rays, and leatherback turtles. Commercial fishing is banned in the area. Read more here...


4. Japan Reduces Whaling Quota

Japan plans to kill 333 minke whales when it resumes whaling in Antarctic waters next year, a reduction from last year's quota of 855. This follows a ruling at the International Court of Justice that the program was unscientific and merely an excuse to continue commercial whaling. Japan will continue its hunt despite a non-binding vote at the International Whaling Commission demanding limits on the program. Read more here...


5. Fisheries May Collapse Within 30 Years

Saltwater fish may be extinct by 2048 if we do not act now, according to a study published in the journal Science. Loss of ocean biodiversity has accelerated in recent years, threatening entire marine ecosystems due to declining water quality, aglal blooms, dead zones, fish kills, and coastal flooding. But we may be able to reverse the trend if we take action to improve diversity in vulnerable areas. Read more here...


6. Orcas Captured for Russian Aquarium

A new aquarium being constructed at an exhibition center in Moscow, Russia, will house orcas recently caught off the country's far eastern coast, even as public sentiment is turning against keeping cetaceans in captivity. Read more here...


7. Cause of Sea Star Wasting Disease Identified

Scientists think they have identified the cause of massive sea star die-offs along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. The culprit appears to be a virus similar to one that affects sea urchins and cockroaches. This commonplace virus has become lethal for unknown reasons. There is good news, however: massive numbers of baby starfish are showing up in some areas of the Pacific Coast. Read more here...


8. World Parks Congress Aims to Protect 30 Percent of World's Oceans

The World Parks Congress has set an ambitious new target to reserve 30 percent of the world's oceans as marine parks where fishing is banned. Currently only 2 percent of the oceans are protected. China, Russia, Canada, Madagascar, South Africa, and Brazil pledged to increase their marine protected areas significantly. The new target was based on more than 80 scientific studies. Read more here...


9. Seabirds Dying Along California Coast 

Dead seabirds are washing up on central California beaches, possibly as a result of starvation caused by high ocean temperatures and a lack of zooplankton. The birds, called Cassin's auklets, normally live in the open ocean and are rarely sighted along the coast. Auklets are an "indicator species" that provide a picture of the overall health of the marine ecosystem. Read more here...


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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.