Oceans in the News, 2007
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 things 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 warning notice to each item that might have this problem.
Similar pages on the Geology Department web site are
Oceans in the News, 2007
December 27, 2007. The decline of the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Christian Science Monitor
December 21, 2007. Recovery of an 800-year-old Chinese ship loaded with priceless porcelain. BBC News
December 21, 2007. Japan will not hunt humpback whales this year in Antarctic waters. They will still hunt nearly 1000 minke whales.
December 18, 2007. Captain Kidd's ship is discovered on the Dominican coast. Captain Kidd was a licensed British privateer who was framed as a pirate by powerful enemies in Government, tricked into surrendering, and hanged for piracy. His ship was "lost" for three hundred years.
December 14, 2007. Arctic sea ice is melting far faster than we thought: and we were already very worried! National Geographic News
December 13, 2007. Salmon farming is harming wild salmon because it breeds vast numbers of salmon parasites. National Geographic News
December 6, 2007. A flood from the North American ice sheet occurred just as the climate changed dramatically in Europe about 8000 years ago: unlikely to be coincidence! National Geographic News
December 3, 2007. The Dungeness crab fleet in the Pacific Northwest: America's mst dangerous fishery. SeattleTimes
November 27, 2007. Fish stealing food from the Hawaiian monk seal. National Geographic
November 22, 2007. Enormous submarine slide off Africa, 60,000 years ago. The terrific thing about it is that the researchers traced it in sea-floor sediments for 1500 kilometers down to the abyssal sea floor, where it spread out in a layer 150 km wide. When you add up the sediment, it adds up to ten times the sediment carried to the oceans by all the rivers in the world put together, yet the whole event took probably only hours from beginning to end. Unfortunately the paper is in Nature, which does not make its papers generally available.
November 21, 2007. Jellyfish attack wipes out salmon farm. BBC News
November 19, 2007. The cyclone that hit Bangladesh last week. National Geographic News. Forecasts and warning are much better than they used to be, so the death toll is in the low thousands, not the thousands and tens of thousands that have happened on this vulnerable coast in the past. Even so, the same story is unfolding: low casualty numbers are announced, but they grow ten-fold as news filters in from the remote villages along the shore.
November 19, 2007. A new variant on the Noah's Flood-Black Sea hypothesis. This time it's the collapse of the Laurentide ice sheet, which is said to have raised sea levels by four feet, flooding low-lying areas in (among other global areas) the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The paper is said to be in Quaternary Science Reviews, and I'll perhaps amend this when I've read it.
November 16, 2007. A phytoplankton bloom off the coast of Namibia. Great satellite image. NASA
November 15, 2007. The Dutch and the North Sea: a battle that has continued for centuries. Christian Science Monitor
November 14, 2007. The San Francisco Bay oil spill.
November 13, 2007. Major oil spill in the northern Black Sea. BBC News OnLine
November 12, 2007. The Wild West: staking claims to the best sites for wave energy generators. San Francisco Chronicle
November 12, 2007. The British narrowly avoided a major flooding disaster on their East Coast last week.
November 8, 2007. Terschelling: where the Dutch are going to harvest bananas along the shore. National Geographic image
October 31, 2007. Who are the world's worst Atlantic tuna poachers? Yes, just as you would expect if you've been paying attention: Italy, France, Japan, and Spain. And Libya is not far behind. AFP story on Terra Daily. Previous story: The incompetent administration of bluefin tuna fisheries. BBC News. October 17, 2007.
October 30, 2007. Somali pirates overwhelmed by North Korean ship's crew. Voice of America. Previous stories:
Japanese ship hijacked off Somalia. BBC News, October 29, 2007
Somali pirates are thriving, BBC News, October 16, 2007.
The French Navy sails for Somalia to protect against pirates(well, for two months!). AFP story on Terra Daily, September 26, 2007.
Update on piracy along the coast of Somalia BBC News OnLine, April 5, 2007.
Pirates strike again off the coast of Somalia. BBC News OnLine, February 25, 2007.
Somali pirates thrown into jail in Kenya. BBC News OnLine, November 1, 2006.
The latest incident of piracy on the Somali coast. BBC News OnLine, August 6, 2006.
BBC News OnLine, November 11, 2005.
October 30, 2007. Indigenous shark fishing in Madagascar. BBC News picture gallery
October 29, 2007. Ten endangered East Coast beach towns. National Geographic
October 29, 2007. Exxon may finally have to pay its first dollar of punitive damages for the Exxon Valdez spill, after 18 years. Oh wait! First it has to go to the Supreme Court. Do you feel confident that *this* Supreme Court will rule the right way? And if not, why not? BBC News OnLine. Previous stories:
Christian Science Monitor, June 4, 2007.
President Bush removes an offshore drilling ban from Bristol Bay, Alaska, the richest salmon fishing area in the world. That ban has been in effect since the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. MSNBC, January 10, 2007.
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. Stories from December 22, 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 ever made by any company in the history of the United States. San Francisco Chronicle, January 28, 2006.
Aging oil tankers. Christian Science Monitor, 2002.
Exxon Valdez damage after 13 years
October 28, 2007. Ming the Icelandic clam was the oldest living animal until it was dredged up by a gang of Welshmen.
October 16, 2007. New deep-sea species from the Celebes Sea, off the Philippines. National Geographic picture gallery
October 16, 2007. The Spanish arrest a ship that they believe is plundering the wreck of a Spanish treasure ship. They may be right in their suspicions, but the law on the point is murky. BBC News OnLine.
October 10, 2007. Young orcas in the Seattle area still carry large quantities of pollutant molecules in the general PCB category. Seattle Post-Intelligencer
October 4, 2007. Makah Indians are indicted in Federal court for killing a gray whale. Interesting, too, that the tribe has rifles (including a .557-caliber rifle called Tyrannosaurus) that tribal members can check out like library books). Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Previous stories: scan down to September 12, 2007.
October 1, 2007. British tidal power project planned for the estuary of the River Severn. BBC News
September 28, 2007. Rising sea level and the Maldive Islands. Reuters
September 21, 2007. The Northwest Passage is clear of ice and fully navigable for the first time in recorded history, and the Arctic ice cover reached an all-time low last week.
September 19, 2007. Europe bans bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean for the rest of the year. OF COURSE they should: the "quota" of bluefins has been caught! This is probably too little, too late to help much. BBC News
September 17, 2007. You really shouldn't buy beach front property at a place called Washaway Beach! (You can't make up stuff like this!) Seattle Times story with image links.
September 17, 2007. Call to protect the Coral Sea as a huge marine park. BBC News
September 16, 2007. Florida's beaches are running out of sand.
September 13, 2007. Do jellyfish rule the world? Feature article in DIscover, September issue
September 13, 2007. The effect of quotas on North Atlantic cod fishing. BBC News. The bottom line here is that the tragedy of the commons is real. Fishermen are not going to conserve stocks on their own, and it's very difficult to frame the right, ENFORCEABLE, rules to make them do so.
September 10, 2007. Are Pacific gray whales doing well, or not? BBC News OnLine
September 5, 2007. How moray eel jaws work. And that includes the little puhi you see when you're snorkeling around Hawaii...
September 3, 2007. Japanese dolphin meat tests out at ten times the government warning level for mercury. Do you think that more than one Japanese cares about that? Terra Daily
August 31, 2007. Massive ice island trapped on the Canadian Arctic coast. BBC News
August 27, 2007. Invading jellyfish along the southeast coast. National Geographic News
August 22, 2007. New and strange deep-water Atlantic creatures. National Geographic News
August 22, 2007. Photogallery of strange deep-water Atlantic creatures. National Geographic News Look at the claws on the amphipod! See also links in "related stories."
August 20, 2007. Astonishing drop in the amount of floating ice in the Arctic Ocean. National Geographic News.
August 20, 2007. New piece to add to the ocean current circulation maps. Terra Daily
August 15, 2007. Peru and Chile bicker over fishing rights. CNN
August 15, 2007. Tidal power projects for the Bay of Fundy? Christian Science Monitor
August 11, 2007. Wave power system planned for the Oregon coast. AP story, Seattle Times
August 11, 2007. What's the prognosis for New Orleans? No good news. National Geographic feature
August 11, 2007. Hunting narwhals. National Geographic feature
August 9, 2007. Dangerous initiative to allow longline fishing off the California coast. San Francisco Chronicle
August 8, 2007. A "La Niña" may be building off the coast of Peru. NASA imagery
August 8, 2007. A submerged Stone Age village off the coast of southern England. BBC News
August 7, 2007. Coral reefs are vanishing faster than rain forests, says a new study. National Geographic News
August 7, 2007. Lingering effects of the former Soviet Navy's sunken nuclear submarines. BBC News
August 1, 2007. The Russians try to claim much of the Arctic Ocean floor as theirs. Is anyone paying attention in Washington? No.
August 1, 2007. Glass sponge reefs found off the coast of Washington. Terra Daily
July 31, 2007. Dead zone re-forms off the Oregon coast: it seems to be turning into an annual event. Seattle Times
July 31, 2007. Dead zone forms off the coast of Texas. This may be temporary, set off by unusually heavy rain and run-off from Texas. Houston Chronicle
July 30, 2007. Global warming has raised the number of hurricanes that form. However, it's not overall global warming, but OCEAN warming that is working here. National Geographic News
July 27, 2007. Squid invasion of California waters imperils the fish stick industry. And it is all human induced: one, by global warming of the ocean waters; and second, by overfishing the tuna that used to deal with these squid. National Geographic News
July 23, 2007. There She Blew: a new history of American whaling. A review in the New Yorker
July 20, 2007. The history of whales, penguins, and krill around Antarctica. National Geographic News
July 11, 2007. Huge giant squid washes ashore in Australia. National Geographic
July 11, 2007. Japanese giant jellyfish, and their economic value. Null Hypothesis
July 10, 2007. Should the US expand aquaculture? Feature article on Terra Daily
July 10, 2007. Piracy on the Somali coast poses an increasing threat. Terra Daily. Previous story: Piracy increases again off the coast of Somalia. BBC News OnLine, May 21, 2007. Same old story that has occurred over the past few years: for previous stories, see April 5, 2007. This BBC story also has some links to previous stories of theirs.
June 28, 2007. Rubber ducky voyage continues, fifteen years on. The Times. Previous stories: Flotsam for science: the work of Curtiss Ebbesmeyer. Ebbesmeyer has been famous for this for a long time: since the times of the Nike shoes spill and rubber duckie spill.
June 26, 2007. Viagra oysters. The inventor's site
June 26, 2007. Exploiting old shipwrecks. Feature article in Archaeology by Heather Pringle
June 22, 2007. How icebergs fuel plankton in the Southern Ocean (and presumably in the Arctic as well). BBC News OnLine
June 21, 2007. How many hagfish make a Hyundai: a small component of international trade. Seattle Times. Astoundingly, this windfall for West Coast American fishermen arises because of overfishing of hagfish, first in Korean waters and now in East Coast US waters. Idiocentrism site
June 19, 2007. Exploring the Nazaré Canyon, off the coast of Portugal. BBC News OnLine
June 13, 2007. Testing a new design for generating wave power. BBC News OnLine
June 7, 2007. The world's biggest tidal turbine, on the Northern Irish coast. BBC News OnLine Search for "Strangford Lough" on Google Earth and you can see how the tide would indeed race in and out of the Lough.
June 6, 2007. Antarctic glaciers melting faster. National Geographic News
June 6, 2007. Stinky whales in the North pacific. National Geographic News.
June 5, 2007. Overfishing and the ecology of the Black Sea. BBC News OnLine. The paper is due out in PNAS.
June 2, 2007. Coral slime. One more symbiosis to add to the coral reef community. Janet Raloff in Science News
May 30, 2007. Japanese attitudes towards whaling. BBC News OnLine
May 29, 2007. Squabbles over whaling at the international conference.
May 27, 2007. Bottled seawater for $5 a bottle. I love this story! Taipei Times
May 25, 2007. Japanese whaling: science or not? BBC News OnLine
May 24, 2007. An impact that started the Younger Dryas cold period (and also did in the Clovis people)? This was a set of talks at a meeting: it's not published science yet. And if there really is a lot of iridium, then it wasn't a comet! If Jim Kennett weren't involved, I'd call it rubbish right now: but I respect Jim's work.
May 23, 2007. Institutionalised schizophrenia over whaling in Japan. BBC News OnLine
May 22, 2007. Another coelacanth caught: this one came from the Indonesian population. National Geographic News
May 19, 2007. Cliff retreat along the California coast. New USGS publication
May 16, 2007. Hundreds of new species found in deep Antarctic waters. National Geographic News. Photo gallery from National Geographic.
May 10, 2007. Monitoring Kick-'Em-Jenny, an underwater volcano in the Caribbean. NSF press release
May 10, 2007. The oyster farmer vs. the National Park Service. And both sides have good arguments. San Francisco Chronicle
May 5, 2007. Huge areas in the South Pacific to be protected from bottom trawlers. Rules are only as good as their enforcement. But this is a promising sign. BBC News OnLine
April 25, 2007. Update and feature article on Icelandic whaling. BBC News OnLine
April 20, 2007. The Atlantis tsunami? A tsunami component to the end of the Minoan civilization has been suggested several times over the last few decades. Maybe this new evidence is compelling, maybe it isn't. Wait until it's published! And note that this item on BBC "news" is actually an ad for a BBC TV show. Scandalous!
BBC News OnLine
April 18, 2007. Drilling into a subduction zone. BBC News OnLine
April 17, 2007. No-fishing zones on reefs yield rapid fish recovery. New York Times WARNING: If you want it, download it now before they start charging money for it.
April 17, 2007. How to generate great surfing waves (at the famous Mavericks location in Northern California). Live Science
April 17, 2007. "Bycatch" is such a little word. But off Southern Africa alone, fishermen catch nearly 8 million sharks as well as 34,000 seabirds and 4000 turtles on hooks that are really meant to catch fish. National Geographic News
April 17, 2007. More evidence that freshwater floods from the St. Lawrence caused the Younger Dryas cold spell in the North Atlantic. PNAS abstract
April 17, 2007. The Europeans are bickering over overfishing again. It's not the Spanish, for a change. BBC News OnLine
April 14, 2007. California creates many new marine refuges. San Francisco Chronicle
April 10, 2007. The quake that caused the Solomons tsunami lifted Ranongga Island by 3 meters. Images from National Geographic. Parallel story: comparable damage to reefs off the coast of Sumatra in the 2005 earthquake: Live Science, April 13, 2007.
April 5, 2007. Venice, high tides, and global warming. A status report. Smithsonian magazine, March 2007.
April 3, 2007. Tsunami hits the Solomon Islands: villages wiped out. There had been a large earthquake offshore, variously reported as M 7.5 to M 8. Note that villagers say they ran inland when the water receded. Given the track record of the Solomons government since independence, this was not taught in schools or as public education: it's built into the folk wisdom of these coastal villagers. The tsunami hit in daylight, so the warning recession was visible.
April 3, 2007. Little seabirds having a hard time on the West Coast. San Francisco Chronicle
March 30, 2007. Squid population booms along the American coasts of the Pacific. This is likely to be another symptom of ailing ecosystems. National Geographic News
March 29, 2007. Kill off large sharks, and you lose scallop fisheries. The paper is in Science, so it will be freely available on the Web in a few months at this URL. It will become a classic paper. The story is familiar. Kill off the top predators (the great sharks), and the mid-level predators that they once ate (smaller sharks and rays) have a population explosion. These sharks and rays decimate shellfish, especially scallops. So the Chesapeake Bay scallop fishery is now extinct. More important, the same thing is probably happening globally, as the great sharks are killed off for Oriental restaurants, but surveys are not thorough enough to document those global effects.
March 22, 2007. The problems of studying a frozen colossal squid. Use a colossal microwave?
March 12, 2007. The US government encourages more seafood farming. Seattle Times. Previous story: More fish farms in the ocean? Christian Science Monitor, January 10, 2007
March 12, 2007. Aftermath of a shipwreck on the beach next to your village. And you thought that those BBC sitcoms were fictional.... BBC News OnLine. Previous stories:
March 11, 2007. Trouble for Cancun's beaches: the barrier island story all over again. AP story on PhysOrg site. Background story from a year ago: Wired News
March 11, 2007. Heavy rains in Queensland help the Barrier Reef (NOT TRUE!). This is a REALLY BAD report. Shame on the BBC. It's not clear that floods help the Great Barrier Reef in any case. Flood run-off dumps fine silt and fresh water on the Reef. Meanwhile, what's happening on shore? Are they dancing in the streets of Longreach at the thought of a good growth of pasture? Are they standing knee-deep in water in the bars in the streets of Rockhampton? Are McCafferty's buses making it up the Bruce Highway? BBC News OnLine
The answers to my rhetorical questions above are No, No, and Yes. Here is the reality, which I've had to piece together myself. Cyclone George expended most its energy on Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Cyclone Nelson's main rainfall in Queensland went into the north shore and into the Gulf of Carpinteria, not toward the Barrier Reef, or the interior. NASA image, taken March 12, 2007. So there's no flood reporting from the Queensland coast or interior because there's no flooding there, and no flood run-off is reaching the Great Barrier Reef at all.
Meanwhile, Cyclone Odette has churning away for a couple of weeks far out in the Coral Sea. It is this churning that is cooling the Great Barrier Reef. Odette on March 5th, 2007
The cooling of the Great Barrier Reef has nothing to do with any rainfall in Queensland. So the headline and the lead sentence and the main message of the BBC story are BADLY WRONG. They should take away Phil Mercer's badge.
March 10, 2007. Folklore helps at tsunami time. BBC News OnLine
March 7, 2007. Estimates of large amounts of methane hydrates in deep sea environments. National Geographic News
February 28, 2007. The Japanese are going to cut short their Antarctic whaling season. BBC News OnLine Previous stories:
February 22, 2007. More bad news about sharks. BBC News OnLine
February 20, 2007. Robo-sub explores deep water in the Antarctic. BBC News OnLine
February 17, 2007. The oceans are becoming (slightly) more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide. National Geographic News
February 17, 2007. The dead zone off the West Coast of the US; assessing the impact. BBC News OnLine
February 15, 2007. The state of the Baltic sprat industry. BBC News OnLine
February 14, 2007. The promise of wind farms along the East Coast. Live Science
February 14, 2007. Large deep-sea squid stuns its prey with a burst of light. The paper is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
February 12, 2007. Dangerous confrontation between anti-whaling activists and Japanese whalers in the seas round Antarctica. BBC News OnLine. Lots of links.
Recent story: The Japanese whaling fleet is active in the Southern Ocean, looking to kill about 1000 whales. "For scientific research", I should add. BBC News OnLine, January 30, 2007
February 8, 2007. The sounds of an ocean-floor hot-water vent. National Geographic News
February 7, 2007. Horrific death toll among sea turtles in the Indian Ocean: fishing nets are to blame. National Geographic News
February 6, 2007. After salmon farming, cod farming may be next. Seed magazine
January 30, 2007. Princess Cruises fined for killing a humpback whale. Seattle Times
January 30, 2007. Orcas moving south to hunt salmon in northern California waters. San Francisco Chronicle
January 10, 2006. Porpoises in trouble in European waters. It's easy and fashionable to blame global warming, But the fact is that the shortage of sand eels is a result of overfishing. Puffins in the North Sea crashed some years ago for that very reason. Yet overfishing only gets one throwaway line right at the end. National Geographic news
January 10, 2007. President Bush removes an offshore drilling ban from Bristol Bay, Alaska, the richest salmon fishing area in the world. That ban has been in effect since the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. MSNBC
January 3, 2007. Endangered whale killed by ship's propellor. National Geographic photo in the news. The problem is that the whale can undoubtedly hear the ship coming a mile away.
For current Oceans in the News, go to Oceans in the News
FOR STORIES FROM 2006, go to 2006 news archives
FOR STORIES FROM 2005, go to 2005 news archives
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FOR STORIES FROM 2002, go to 2002 news archives
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FOR STORIES FROM 1999, go to 1999 news archives
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