The Blog Aquatic

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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

About Catherine Fox

Senior editor Catherine Fox has a keen ear for storytelling and seeks out the most compelling people, science and news to inspire fellow ocean conservationists. Her ocean connection began with a childhood spent fishing, kayaking and swimming along Virginia’s Rappahannock River, which flows to Chesapeake Bay and on to the Atlantic. Catherine lives in Herndon, Virginia, and her most recent saltwater adventures include learning to sail.

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Amazing Facts about Bowhead Whales and How You Can Help Them

Posted On August 7, 2012 by

Did you know bowhead whales can boast some surprising statistics?

  • their blubber is more than a foot thick, and
  • their baleen—plates in the mouth that filter prey from water—can grow 15 feet long.

But one of their most eye-opening attributes is their longevity. Chemical analysis on samples from whale eyeballs the size of billiard balls revealed ages up to an estimated 211 years. Accounting for a margin of error of about 16 percent, the oldest bowhead studied could have been up to 245 years old—no other mammal is known to have lived as long.

More than 13,000 bowheads swim off Alaska’s coast, but threats are growing. Oil and gas exploration will impact bowhead habitat and increases the stresses whales face. Continue reading »

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How Much Plastic Trash Clogs the Ocean? Exhibit Offers Insights

Posted On August 3, 2012 by

How do you explain the magnitude of the ocean trash problem, particularly to people in a landlocked country like Switzerland? Put a representative sampling right in front of them.

Check out this video of a crew setting up an installation that’s part of the fantastic exhibit “Out to Sea? The Plastic Garbage Project” at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, Switzerland (soon going on tour). You can see it took some time. Unfortunately, every 15 seconds this same amount of trash enters the ocean, according to estimates from the United Nations Environment Programme. Continue reading »

How to Make a Good Day on the Water Great: 5 Tips to Reduce Trash

Posted On August 2, 2012 by

Love clean water? Pick up as you go to keep it that way! Credit: JohnCramerPhotography flickr user

With record temperatures coloring the weather map red across much of the country this summer, many of us are seeking relief on lakes, rivers, bays and the ocean. This past weekend, I beat the heat by floating blissfully down the Shenandoah River at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia in an inner tube.

But right away I saw that my fellow tubers and I weren’t the only things being carried downstream. Around me bobbed all kinds of trash heading for the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Wind and ocean currents might even carry this trash to the North Pacific Gyre, or Pacific Garbage Patch.

My friend Steve and I made a fun and friendly competition of spotting and cleaning up Styrofoam cups, food wrappers, red-and-white fishing corks and even someone’s lost Croc. Continue reading »

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The Fin-tastic Voyage Connects Paddleboarding and Beach Cleanups

Posted On July 25, 2012 by

The Fin-tastic Voyage is all about having a blast on clean beaches.
Credit: Courtesy of LandShark.

Why not help the ocean and have fun at the same time?

That’s what Ocean Conservancy and LandShark Lager thought when we put together the Fin-tastic Voyage, a series of summertime events along the East Coast combining beach cleanups with great beach activities like stand-up paddleboarding and games. Continue reading »

Franken-jelly: Check the Pulse of New Artificial Jellyfish in this Video

Posted On July 24, 2012 by

Researchers have created an artificial jellyfish that propels itself through the water by pulsing, thanks to heart cells from rats.

This research may lead to break-through treatments for damaged human hearts, reminding us yet again that the ocean is one incredible laboratory for life-saving medical innovation.

Found on Wired Science and the BBC.

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5 Questions with Photographer Marc Shargel on Wonders of the Sea

Posted On July 23, 2012 by

The long arms of a blood star stretch across purple California hydrocoral. Credit: Marc Shargel.

Page through Marc Shargel’s three-book series “Wonders of the Sea” about California’s coast and you’ll be awed by both the human history and the natural history told through photographs and stories. An award-winning photographer, Shargel learned to scuba dive while studying marine biology at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. He has been diving for more than 30 years, from lush kelp forests to isolated offshore pinnacles, and observed many changes. To celebrate California’s network of marine protected areas, Marc shares some of what he’s seen through his lens.

Catch the interview and more amazing photos after the jump. Continue reading »

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What We Can Learn From Recent Bulldozing of Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtles

Posted On July 20, 2012 by

A tiny leatherback hatchling on its way to the sea. Credit: Daniel Evans, www.conserveturtles.org

There was shocking news last week from Trinidad’s Grande Riviere beach, probably the densest nesting site for endangered leatherback sea turtles on the planet.

A long wet season had diverted a river’s flow, threatening turtle nesting areas as well as a hotel that hosts ecotourists who come to witness nesting season.

Government efforts to bulldoze the river back to its usual path, a move meant to save nesting areas, crushed sea turtle eggs and hatchlings. Early reports ranged to upwards of 20,000 small turtles lost, but revised numbers are much lower. Continue reading »