Rebecca “Bec” Wellard is a marine scientist currently focusing her research efforts on orcas in Australian waters. Building on her past research studying bottlenose dolphin communication and how boat noise affects this communication, Bec is now working on her PhD by researching orca population dynamics and acoustic behavior in Western Australia.
There is a lot of trash in the ocean, and the problem is getting steadily worse. Some estimates suggest more than 1 billion pounds of debris enters the ocean every year. This debris can cause all kinds of problems for marine life and marine ecosystems—from wildlife entanglement to habitat destruction. So what can we do about it?
Ten years ago, the crew of the San Aspiring fishing vessel, which was on the hunt for Antarctic toothfish, pulled in a longline and discovered they had caught something unexpected. It was a huge, red blob—a deep-sea-dwelling colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) that had also been hunting for toothfish more than a mile below the surface. Recognizing they had something unique on their hands, the crew hauled the now-deceased squid onboard and froze its body.
Since we last blogged about the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal, in July 2016, the situation has become grimmer for these tiny porpoises living in the Gulf of California. Just yesterday, the IUCN-SSC Cetacean Specialist Group provided an update on the decline of the vaquita due to continued illegal gillnet fishing in the vaquita’s habitat.
Penguins are flightless seabirds that get around by swimming and diving, waddling around on land, and, sometimes, slipping and sliding on their bellies. Scientists have identified more than a dozen penguin species, and each one has an outer layer of waterproof feathers, webbed feet, and flippers for swimming. Penguins frequently preen (groom) and spread an oil-like substance on their feathers, which helps keep their bodies dry and insulated against water and wind.
Happy 2017! If you’re setting New Year’s goals to help keep you focused on positive action throughout the next 12 months, consider sharing our resolution to use less plastic. Just like committing to be more frugal, eat less junk food, or exercise more regularly, the quest to use less plastic in 2017 won’t be easy. However, it’s an opportunity to create life-long changes that will help the environment and set an important example for our children, families, friends, and coworkers.
On December 6, 2016, a sea turtle named Peanut was released back into the wild after a seven-month rehabilitation period at Florida’s Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. We got the scoop on this coordinated and collaborative effort from Jordan Hennessey, the president and founder of Shark Sentinels, a conservation organization that works to protect sharks and other marine life in Florida. Here’s your chance to go behind the scenes of Peanut’s rescue and release!
Research and conservation are like peanut butter and jelly—they’re simply better together. Marine conservation biologist Simon Pierce, co-founder of the Marine Megafauna Foundation, has seen firsthand how important research can be in conserving species. Just this summer, Simon’s research on whale shark populations helped prompt the species’ reclassification from “vulnerable” to “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Back in October 2014, Asha de Vos, a Sri Lankan marine biologist, took the stage at TEDGlobal to deliver a 6-minute speech called “Why you should care about whale poo.” She spoke passionately about the devastating effects 200 years of whaling had on global whale populations. She argued that these animals’ importance extends far beyond their charismatic beauty. Rather, as “ecosystem engineers,” she said whales play an important role in maintaining the health of Earth’s oceans.
Imagine being the very first person to stumble upon a giraffe, a blue whale, or a panda. What would you think about a giraffe’s 6-foot-long neck, a blue whale’s humongous body, or a panda’s striking black-and-white fur? These would be startling sights indeed!