Marine mammals are some of the most beloved animals in our ocean. Whether you have a soft spot for majestic whales, playful seals or adorable sea otters, you have reason to celebrate. Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, an important piece of legislation that protects all marine mammal species found in U.S. waters.
When I think of the great filter-feeding whales, I don’t tend to think of the Gulf of Mexico. However, I was recently reminded that the Gulf is home to some of these amazing whales. They are called Bryde’s (pronounced BROO-dus) whales, and they are found around the world, but only 33 of them live in the northern Gulf. A recent genetic study by NOAA biologists reveals that this small group of whales may be a completely unique subspecies!
Every year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers all around the world remove trash from their local beaches and shorelines for the International Coastal Cleanup. View some of the photos we collected from the 2014 Cleanup.
The Bering Strait is the only marine connection between the Chukchi Sea and Arctic Ocean to the north and the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean to the south. Just 55 miles wide, the Strait separates Alaska to the east and Russia to the west.
The Bering Strait is a biological hotspot. Millions of seabirds and hundreds of thousands of marine mammals use the Strait as a migratory corridor, and the Bering and Chukchi Seas are one of the most productive ocean ecosystems in the world.
The world’s largest network of no-take marine reserves was announced today; 7 islands and atolls make up this vast area, and President Obama is taking action today to hugely expand the area protected around 3 of them. Here are 8 reasons why today’s announcement is a huge deal:
1) Protecting the ocean is bipartisan – Obama just built on President George W. Bush’s establishment of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in January of 2009 before he left office. Obama’s announcement today expands that network from nearly 83,000 square miles to more than 490,000 square miles, or 370,000 square nautical miles.
2) This marine monument is so big, the states of Texas, California, and New York COMBINED could fit within its borders.
3) The monument spans the International Date Line; Wake Island inhabitants celebrate New Year before most people on Earth, and Johnston Atoll is one of the last places to sing Auld Lang Syne. It’s so big it can be in two days at once.
Breaking news: Shell has announced 2015 plans that could bring not one, but two drilling rigs to the Chukchi Sea. That spells double trouble for the Arctic—say NO to Shell’s plan.
Shell’s already tried and failed. When Shell tried to drill in the Chukchi Sea two years ago, it had to stop after just one day because a huge ice floe drifted into the area. A couple months later, the company’s drillship caught fire. Their proposed oil spill containment system? It was “crushed like a beer can” during testing.
By the end of the season, Shell’s drillship was hobbled by mechanical difficulties and had to be towed to Asia.