Oceanography in the News

This is a selection of stories, subject to the following rules. First, I don't guarantee close daily coverage of everything that happens (because I have a job to do apart from maintaining this Web page). Second, the site has to be generally accessible. (Many journals make their pages accessible only to people who have paid a subscription to the written version.) Third, I try to choose sources that tend to keep their pages accessible for more than two weeks over those that do not. For example, I've had to limit stories from the New York Times. It is a fine paper, but its new policy is to take off its stories within DAYS and then charge for access to them. I'll attach a notice to each item which says, This won't last long on free access (with free registration). If you want to keep this, DOWNLOAD IT NOW!

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Oceanography in the News

  • December 29, 2006. Huge ice shelf breaks off in the Canadian Arctic. We are more used to this happening around Antarctica, which has more ice shelf.

  • December 27, 2006. The sounds of hydrothermal vents. Paper in PLoS One

  • December 22, 2006. Happy Christmas, Exxon!The penalty Exxon Mobil owes for the massive Alaska oil spill of 1989 has been reduced (AGAIN!). And when indeed they do pay it (don't hold your breath), it will of course be in deflated dollars, unadjusted for nearly 20 years' inflation. BBC News OnLine

  • December 21, 2006. Europeans cut fishing quotas a little: maybe not enough. BBC News OnLine See previous story: October 18, 2006.

  • December 19, 2006. The battle to keep the northwest Hawaiian island chain as a marine preserve. New York Times. If you want it, DOWNLOAD IT NOW before they start charging money for it!

  • December 19, 2006. The Army Corps of Engineers versus coastal scientists: how best to deal with the Gulf Coast? Article by Cornelia Dean. New York Times. If you want it, DOWNLOAD IT NOW before they start charging money for it!

  • December 18, 2006. The Brits plan the world's biggest offshore wind farm. BBC News OnLine

  • December 14, 2006. The tonguefish of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. (Skimming over pools of molten sulfur!) BBC News OnLine

  • December 14, 2006. We may be underestimating future sea-level rise. BBC News OnLine

  • December 12, 2006. Summer Arctic sea ice could be gone by 2040. The paper is in Geophysical Research Letters.

  • December 11. 2006. New species from the world's oceans.

  • December 10, 2006. Sustainable fisheries are possible: inshore Alaska is close to that ideal. LA Times story in the San Francisco Chronicle

  • December 7, 2006. Groupers and moray eels co-operate to hunt.

  • December 5, 2006. The west coast of Sumatra is likely to be hit by more tsunami over time. Well, I would hopd that anyone who has done an intro geology course could tell you that! However, this project was done with (gasp!) COMPUTER SIMULATIONS, so that must make it true. The paper is in PNAS, which makes you wonder. New York Times Download it now if you want it, before they start charging money for it.

  • December 4, 2006. Ancient tsunami in the Mediterranean from a collapse on the side of Etna.

  • November 28, 2006. Patagonian toothfish = "Chilean sea bass": it's still not OK to buy it. National Geographic News

  • November 27, 2006. Mid-ocean ridge eruption in the Pacific covers scientists' instruments with lava. Live Science

  • November 24, 2006. More on the underwater eruption in Tonga: it formed a new, but likely temporary, volcanic island.

  • November 24, 2006. Failure of movement to ban deep-sea trawling. Apparently this was an unholy alliance between Iceland and Russia. BBC News OnLine. Previous story: BBC News OnLine, November 15, 2006. Previous stories: October 20, 2006.

  • November 24, 2006. Attempts to reduce the by-catch in shrimp fishing. BBC News OnLine

  • November 21, 2006. The Montauk lighthouse and coastal erosion: guess who's winning? Feature by Cornelia Dean in the New York Times. If you want it, download it now before they begin charging for it.

  • November 20, 2006. An El Niño is on the way. NASA imagery

  • November 19, 2006. Sunken treasure from Indonesian waters. BBC News OnLine

  • November 17, 2006. Large earthquake, small tsunami in the Kuril island chain north of Japan: but the tsunami hit Crescent City, California!

  • November 17, 2006. The Atlantic conveyor is NOT slowing down. This was a scary observation from 2004. However, it seems that the Atlantic ocean current system varies quite a lot, and the 2004 survey was done when the current were on the slow end of their spectrum. It's still true that the conveyor system might be the most vulnerable part of the ocean system to global warming, with potentially drastic consequences for Europe in particular. It is not true that were are rapidly approaching a crisis. The news item was in Science this week (Kerr, R. A. 2006. Science 314: p. 1064). No Web sites yet; but the item will be available freely on the Web early next year here .

  • November 15, 2006. Japanese begin annual whale hunt. Target: 860 whales. BBC News OnLine. Previous stories: April 17, 2006.

  • November 14, 2006. Insights into bacterial biology near hydrothermal vents. Public Library of Science

  • November 14, 2006. Mega-tsunami from an Indian Ocean impact around 2800 BC (!!??!!). New York Times Download it now, because it won't last long. As for the idea, it's a real stretch. That doesn't mean it's wrong, but it means that it requires far more evidence than is available now. For example, there are plenty of low-lying islands in the tropical Indian Ocean that should have been wiped CLEAN of terrestrial creatures (tortoises, ground-dwelling birds, etc etc): were they? That would be one simple test, and it wouldn't cost anything except time to do a literature search. But no, what am I thinking about? The proponents would much rather have a multi-million dollar grant from NSF to do research that wouldn't really test their assertions.

  • November 6, 2006. The problem of floating plastic (this time in the Pacific). San Francisco Chronicle. Previous story: Christian Science Monitor, October 11, 2006.

  • November 4, 2006. Feature article on the full scope of the shark-fin trade. Janet Raloff in Science News. Previous stories:

  • November 2, 2006. Enjoy your seafood while it lasts. BBC News OnLine

  • November 1, 2006. Somali pirates thrown into jail in Kenya. BBC News OnLine. Previous stories:

  • October 31, 2006. The dead zone off the Oregon coast set a record for length (4 months), but has finally faded away. Seattle Times

  • October 30, 2006. A "trapped wave" may increase the storm surge of a hurricane. Live Science. This is bad news for engineers, because their "worst-case" scenarios for coastal structures become even worse. Of course, they'll ignore it because it's a rare phenomenon.

  • October 24, 2006. Feature on great white sharks: smarter and more complex than you might think. Natural History Magazine. Thank you for the general access.

  • October 24, 2006. Sea lions versus fisheries and fishermen. National Geographic News. This is a long-running problem. Now that the sea lion population is healthy, what do we do?

  • October 23, 2006. Iceland kills its first whale of the year.

  • October 21, 2006. Large area of the Pacific floor with practically no sediment. Science News. The paper is in the October Geology, so is not generally available on the Web.

  • October 21, 2006. The largest man-made islands in the world: the Palm Islands, Dubai. NASA images.

  • October 20, 2006. Very deep diving by beaked whales. PhysOrg.com site

  • October 20, 2006. Deep-sea corals: discovery and destruction. BBC News OnLine. The problem has been apparent for years: see these previous stories.

  • October 19, 2006. Dead zones are increasing around the world. Live Science

  • October 19, 2006. Don't mess with stingrays, episode 2. National Geographic News. Episode I: Steve Irwin is killed by a sting ray . National Geographic News, September 5, 2006.

  • October 18, 2006. Side effects of overfishing. National Geographic News The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

  • October 18, 2006. Scientists ask for cod fishing ban in the North Sea. BBC News OnLine. They're probably wasting their time (again). But it's good to have it on record. Related stories go back for years:

  • October 16, 2006, 2006. The man-made mud volcano in Java.

  • October 10, 2006. Special series on the pollution of Puget Sound in Washington: The Sound of Broken promises. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, with links to other articles in the series.

  • October 3, 2006. The UN may ban fishermen from using deep-sea trawls. ABC News .

  • October 2, 2006. The break-up of iceberg B15A in Antarctica may have been triggered by a storm in the Gulf of Alaska. Live Science. That's REALLY difficult to believe. The energy delivered at that distance must have been very small. If it's true (the paper is in the reputable journal Geophysical Research Letters), then we really do live on a planet with interconnected dynamic processes.

  • September 29, 2006. Three tons of anchovies strand themelves on a Spanish beach. Live Science

  • September 26, 2006. Leatherback turtles ranging far north this summer, to Point Reyes in California. San Francisco Chronicle

  • September 26, 2006. Mapping the ocean's biggest waves. Live Science. With links.

  • September 21. 2006. Krill stir the surface waters of the ocean if they are plentiful enough, bringing nutrients to the surface. The paper is in Science. National Geographic news

  • September 21, 2006. Propane discovered in the seafloor off the Galapagos. Presumably it's being generated by microorganisms, in reactions we did not know about. PhysOrg site

  • September 20, 2006. The Greenland ice sheet is melting even faster than we had feared.

  • September 20, 2006. Forget that scare stuff about Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary islands. It was supposed to fall into the ocean and blast the entire North Atlantic coast with a killer tsunami. Lots of geologists got on TV shows with that one, especially, I'm sorry to record, some British ones. Now a geotechnical survey has found that it is not going to happen. PhysOrg.com site. Previous stories:

  • September 19, 2006. Time to move the Mississippi. New York Times. This will disappear from general viewing (even with the required free registration), so look at it now. It is a very good article by Cornelia Dean about a proposal to divert the Mississippi and its mud south of New Orleans back toward the coastline instead of letting it run uselessly into deep water.

  • September 18, 2006. Awesome diversity of reefs found in Papua. Based on their track record, the Indonesians will wreck it. These are the same people who are burning, felling, and clearing the rainforest of Borneo as fast as they can; and who have wrecked the reefs and mangroves along the coasts of Sumatra, Java, and elsewhere. They are also transporting tens of thousands of Javanese to Papua, wrecking the cultural integrity of the native Papuan population. So I have no great optimism about all this.

  • September 17, 2006. Tracking humpback whale migrations in the Pacific. BBC News OnLine

  • September 16, 2006. The formation of the English Channel between England and France. This is a strange story. On the face of it, it discusses the role of the Channel in separating European and British faunas. But the real backdrop is not mentioned: a paper that appeared in yesterday's Science documenting the "Channel River" as the largest river that Europe has ever seen. This was produced as the ice sheets started to melt; but no European rivers could drain northwards out of the North Sea because it was still blocked byice. Instead the whole outflow drained in a giant river through where the English Channel now forms a strait. Great story: it will be freely available on the Web in a few months. Meanwhile, I hope there will be a Web story soon that I can add to this item. BBC News OnLine

  • September 14, 2006. Drastic shrinkage in Arctic sea ice.

  • September 14, 2006. An El Niño is forecast for this (northern) winter season.

  • September 6, 2006. Big new oil field found deep under the Gulf of Mexico.

  • September 6, 2006. If you want venomous vertebrates, fish outnumber all the others. National Geographic news The irony is that this piece comes out just before Steve Irwin is killed by a sting ray . National Geographic News.

  • August 30, 2006. A bizarre chain of circumstances causes a pool of liquid carbon dioxide on the deep sea floor.

  • August 30, 2006. Melting ice dilutes northern seas. BBC News OnLine The paper was published last week in Science.

  • August 29, 2006. A large role for seafloor methane in climate oscillations? The paper is on-line at PNAS, and the lead author is our very own newly appointed Tessa Hill. National Geographic News

  • August 28, 2006. The oil spill on the Lebanese coast. San Francisco Chronicle. Previous story: BBC News, August 17, 2006.

  • August 18, 2006. Huge swarms of stinging jellyfish in the Mediterranean this summer. National Geographic News

  • August 18, 2006. Making artificial "reef" habitats from sunken objects. National Geographic News. Previous story: A 1990 shipwreck is now teeming with marine life. San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 2006.

  • August 18, 2006. "Monster exotic oysters" found in San Francisco Bay. San Francisco Chronicle. Previous story: Trying to re-establish oyster beds in San Francisco Bay. San Francisco Chronicle, August 14, 2006.

  • August 17, 2006. Sturgeon knocks out jet-skier.

  • August 15, 2006. Another "toxic ship" reaches India to be broken up. BBC News OnLine. Previous story from February 2006: BBC News OnLine

  • August 14, 2006. Sea surface temperatures are building in the Gulf of Mexico as hurricane season approaches. Satellite image

  • August 13, 2006. Oil exploration (and development) and cod fishing may not be able to co-exist in the Barents Sea. BBC News OnLine

  • August 12, 2006. Larger and thicker dead zones this year off the coasts of Oregon and Washington.

  • August 10, 2006. The Vance Expedition, 2006. Monterey Bay Research Institution. MBARI recently completed an expedition to study the dee-sea volcanism along the Gorda Ridge in the Northeast Pacific offshore from oregon. This link gives you the daily journal of the expedition.

  • August 9, 2006. Once more, the "Red Army" advances along the Norwegian coast. BBC News OnLine. This story is not new:

  • August 2, 2006. Oceanic legacy of the Krakatoa eruption of 1883? San Francisco Chronicle

  • August 2, 2006. Senate votes for offshore oil drilling off Florida. However, the House bill is far more sweeping, and who knows what will happen behind closed doors as the Republicans in both Houses work out a "compromise". Read all this story for the full implications. San Francisco Chronicle. Previous stories:

  • August 1, 2006. The diversity of ocean bacteria has been vastly underestimated. BBC News OnLine. The paper will be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • July 28, 2006. Whales and dolphins move north into Scottish waters. National Geographic News

  • July 27, 2006. The Senate so far supports offshore oil drilling on the Florida coast. San Francisco Chronicle. Well, serve 'em right. Florida voted at least once for George Bush.

  • July 27, 2006. New step in fish farming: zero-toxin tilapia. Can you believe the name "TiLoveYa"? Is this a great country or what? Seattle Post-Intelligencer

  • July 25, 2006. Two-toned lobster caught on the coast of Maine. National Geographic News

  • July 25, 2006. Giant sunfish seen off the British coast. (They are usually in more southerly waters.) BBC News OnLine. Previous story from last summer: BBC News OnLine

  • July 24, 2006. Prediction of larger dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico this year. Live Science

  • July 24, 2006. Illegal overfishing of Atlantic tuna. National Geographic News

  • July 14, 2006. Excellent satellite shot of a classic atoll. NASA

  • July 13, 2006. Bowhead whales can live to be 160-180 years old. National Geographic News

  • July 13, 2006. Norway is having a poor whaling season. And they can't sell what they catch,anyway. BBC News OnLine

  • July 11, 2006. Conservation groups buying out destructive fishing licenses. MSNBC

  • July 8, 2006. Protecting a reef off Belize. BBC News OnLine

  • July 6, 2006. Overview of modern piracy. National Geographic News. Recent story: Piracy in the Malacca Straits. BBC News OnLine, July 4, 2006. Of course, it's been a local industry there for at least 500 years. It's astounding in the age of radar and fast patrol boats that it continues....

  • July 6, 2006. Increased carbon dioxide is turning the ocean more acidic. That is not surprising: it's basic chemistry. What is surprising is how much and how fast.

  • July 6, 2006. US Navy sonar scanning harms whale, says judge. National Geographic News. It's not whether or not they are banned for a few days that matters...

  • July 4, 2006. Large new wetland created (in Britain). BBC News OnLine

  • June 28, 2006. California gray whales, and Alaska water warming. San Francisco Chronicle

  • June 23, 2006. Large underwater volcano discovered off the coast of Sicily. BBC News OnLine

  • June 20, 2006. Global sea level rise and American beaches. Very well-written article by Cornelia Dean. New York Times. This won't last long on free access (with free registration). If you want to keep this, DOWNLOAD IT NOW!

  • June 19, 2006. One step closer to a return to commercial whaling.

  • June 16, 2006. "Traditional" whaling in St. Vincent. BBC News OnLine. Supported by lavish Japanese aid, need I say?

  • June 15, 2006. Some good news for once: a huge Hawaiian Marine Sanctuary is formed. But be warned: declaring the sanctuary is one thing: funding its protection, care, and maintenance is another. And the record of the Bush administration on funding the National Park Service is and has been appalling. Wait and see what happens here....

  • June 12, 2006. Belize corals and climate change. BBC News OnLine

  • June 11, 2006. The latest on the rate of sea-level rise.

  • June 10, 2006. New hammerhead shark discovered on the US East Coast. BBC News OnLine

  • June 8, 2006. Huge eddy off the coast of Western Australia discovered by satellite imagery. NASA Earh Observatory

  • May 31, 2006. Sixy million years of Arctic climate history. This is a breakthrough study. Unfortunately, the three papers are in Nature, so they won't be freely available on the Web. The studies are based on drilling in the Arctic Ocean floor, a feat in itself. First, forget the idea that Antarctica froze before the Arctic: the two poles have had synchronized climate changes for 55 million years. This changes our whole approach to climate studies. The geographic factors I have used in my book over the years, for example: the opening of the Drake Passage, the rise of the Himalayas, the closing of Panama, are now seen as second-order components. The real drivers of climatic change are global, and that probably means atmospheric gases, changed by who knows what. Second, the warm episode at the Paleocene/Eocene boundary was bigger than anyone thought. The whole Arctic Ocean went up to perhaps 75° in summer, for example. The paleogeography of mammals now makes more sense: northern mammals could hop, gallop, and scurry around the northern continents as they pleased; and marsupials could cross Antarctica between South America and Australia. We knew about these movements, but now they become simpler to understand. Altogether, isn't it nice when new data change the previous picture, and make it simpler!!!

  • May 24, 2006. Submarine eruption caught on video. The paper is in Nature, so won't be on public access.

  • May 23, 2006. Fishermen vs. turtles, again. BBC News OnLine

  • May 17, 2006. The saga of the toxic French warship Clemenceau. BBC News OnLine

  • May 15, 2006. Beaching and corals in the Seychelles. BBC News OnLine. It's not clear (to me) that there's such a doomsday inevitability, though I'm not disputing the severity of this damage.

  • May 9, 2006. Plankton blooms occur before earthquakes. BBC News OnLine. There is no way this is cause and effect, even if the correlation is true in these four events.

  • May 8, 2006. Dolphins whistle to other dolphins by name.

  • May 4, 2006. The Pacific trade winds are slowing. This is probably not good news. San Francisco Chronicle. The paper is in Nature, which does not make its papers freely available on the Web

  • May 4, 2006. New species from the Atlantic Ocean. BBC News OnLine

  • April 21, 2006. New older date for the opening of the Drake passage between South America and Antarctica: about 41 Ma. BBC News OnLine. Obviously, this changes the story about the climatic history of the Southern Ocean. The paper is in Science today and will be freely available on the Web later this year.

  • April 17, 2006. Japan is "grimly determined" to continue commercial whaling in the face of all economic sense. TIME magazine. Related stories:

  • April 14, 2006. News from Vailulu'u seamount in the South Pacific. But don't worry about the "moat of death" stuff!! National Geographic News

  • April 10, 2006. The biggest fish: feature article on the whale shark. Natural History magazine. Thank you for the free access!

  • April 10, 2006. Floating iceberg hits a glacial tongue on the Antarctic coast. Great image! Live Science site

  • April 6, 2006. Puget Sound is a "toxic stew". Seattle Post-Intelligencer

  • April 6, 2006. Worst-case scenario for a storm surge up the River Thames into London. BBC News OnLine

  • April 3, 2006. What's the real story on sustainable seafood? Perspective in the Christian Science Monitor

  • March 31, 2006. Have fun watching the waves at Waikiki: but DON'T go in the water today! (Not sharks, but sewage.) Honolulu Star-Bulletin

  • March 30, 2006. (Very) deep ocean fish seem to be increasing. And no-one knows why. National Geographic News I'm not sure I even believe it. The sampling can only have looked at a very few sites, especially the "baseline data" they must be using as comparison. It would seem to me that an increase in echinodrms might indicate that their predators were decreasing.

  • March 29, 2006. Huge marine reserve created in Kiribati. National Geographic News

  • March 29, 2006. Wave power. BBC News OnLine

  • March 24, 2006. Why it's important to know about tides. BBC News OnLine

  • March 23, 2006. Another warning on future sea level rise. Every year, more data rolls in, and the predictions become more securely based and more likely to be accurate. There are several papers in Science this week.

  • March 20, 2006. The dilemma of salmon fishing on the West Coast.

  • March 19, 2006. US Navy captures Somali pirates. BBC News OnLine. Jack Aubrey would simply have sunk the ship and sailed on...

  • March 16, 2006. Pirate fisheries are the worst culprits in overfishing the world's oceans. National Geographic News

  • March 11, 2006. Luna the orca meets a gruesome end. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. There's plenty of blame to go around.

  • March 8, 2006. New deep-sea vent crustacean found in the Pacific. BBC News OnLine

  • March 2, 2006. Antarctica is losing ice. BBC News OnLine. Hardly surprising, but it is confirmed by a new measuring technique.

  • February 28, 2006. Giant squid goes on display in London. BBC News OnLine

  • February 27, 2006. Building on a hurricane coast: bad idea! (Well, duh!) National Geographic News

  • February 22, 2006. Guilt-free fish farming. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Required reading!

  • February 21, 2006. Shark attacks on humans: the facts. National Geographic News

  • February 17, 2006. A fight is brewing over offshore California oil drilling. San Francisco Chronicle. It's going to be interesting to watch Florida, where Jeb Bush's political future, if any, probably depends on whether he can prevent offshore drilling.

  • February 14, 2006. Dramatic marine life on a seamount in the Caribbean. BBC News OnLine

  • February 10, 2006. Even the Japanese won't eat enough whale meat (it allegedly tastes bad), so the whales caught by their whaling fleet are being made into dog food. BBC News

  • February 1, 2006. An underwater expedition to Davidson Seamount, off the California coast. NOAA's Ocean Explorer site

  • January 28, 2006. ExxonMobil wants the $4.5 billion punitive damages for the Exxon Valdez spill essentially waived. My first reaction was, "Why haven't they paid any of it yet?" (Interest charges have piled up to the point that they now owe about $7 billion. My second reaction is to point out that ExxonMobil just reported its largest profit EVER for last year: $36 billion: this is the largest net profit made by any company in the history of the United States. San Francisco Chronicle

  • January 27, 2006. A new paper suggests accelerating sea level rise. BBC News OnLine. The paper is in Geophysical Research Letters.

  • January 19, 2006. Giant jellyfiah invade Japan. National Geographic's photo of the week.

  • January 19, 2006. How to fight off a shark. BBC News Magazine. Related site: International shark attack files

  • January 17, 2006. The largest whale sharks seem to be disappearing. BBC News

  • January 16, 2006. Changes in California tide pools. San Francisco Chronicle

  • January 8, 2006. Scientific American article on the Sumatra tsunami. January 2006 issue

  • January 8, 2006. Australian woman killed by sharks on a Queensland beach. BBC News OnLine

  • January 3, 2006. International trade in caviar banned. BBC OnLine. The aim is to save the caspian sturgeon. It's one thing to ban it, it's another to enforce it, especially in this region!

    FOR STORIES FROM 2005, go to 2005 news archives

    FOR STORIES FROM 2004, go to 2004 news archives

    FOR STORIES FROM 2003, go to 2003 news archives

    FOR STORIES FROM 2002, go to 2002 news archives

    FOR STORIES FROM June to December 2001, go to June to December 2001

    FOR STORIES FROM January to June 2001, go to Jan-June 2001

    FOR STORIES FROM 2000, go to 2000 news archives

    FOR STORIES FROM 1999, go to 1999 news archives

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