Oceans 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 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, 2008

  • December 26, 2008. Coastal erosion in a beauty spot on the southern English coast. BBC News

  • December 18, 2008. World's largest tide-power turbine now running at peak power. BBC News

  • December 17, 2008. Update on Somali pirates: good news, bad news. For previous stories, see December 2, 2008. Terra Daily

  • December 5, 2008. Icelandic whale meat goes on sale in Japan. BBC News. Previous story: November 17, 2008.

  • December 3, 2008. Venice's most serious flood for over 20 years. This is the usual Venice scenario: nothing to do with rain or river floods. It's an "Acqua alta": winds blow sea water into the city from the Adriatic. St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) is under water.

  • December 2, 2008. US cruise ship avoids Somali pirate attack.

  • November 26, 2008. Bleak outlook for the Atlantic cod fishery of Newfoundland. ScienceNOW. This site is freely available for only four weeks.

  • November 25, 2008. The Europeans have failed to deal with the crisis in the Mediterranean bluefin tuna population. BBC News. For previous stories, scroll down to October 7, 2008.

  • November 17, 2008. The Japanese whaling factory ship has left quietly for the annual whale hunt in Antarctic waters. This year's target is 985 whales. All for "research".

  • November 10, 2008. President-elect of the Maldives plans to evacuate the islands. BBC News

  • November 2, 2008. Dubai's beaches have greater problems than uninhibited tourists. Terra Daily

  • October 30, 2008. More certainty that humans are causing global warming: this time the new evidence comes from Arctic and Antarctic ice. The paper is in Nature Geoscience, so it won't be freely available on the Web. BBC News

  • October 28, 2008. More bad news about Arctic Ocean ice. BBC News

  • October 18, 2008. Treasures from the Tang dynasty: a shipwreck from the coast of Indonesia yields a historic bonanza. BBC News OnLine

  • October 9, 2008. A Native Alaskan whale hunt. Apparently they don't sell it, they eat it. BBC News

  • October 7, 2008. Italian overfishing of bluefin tuna is "out of control". Terra Daily, October 7, 2008. Previous stories:

  • September 26, 2008. Dig for diamonds, find a historic shipwreck: Portuguese ship dating from the early 1500s found on the "Skeleton Coast" of Namibia. BBC News OnLine

  • September 18, 2008. Don't live on a barrier island... But if you do, leave before the hurricane hits!

  • September 17, 2008. More really bad news about Arctic sea ice.

  • September 16, 2008. French commandos rescue captives from Somali pirates, but pirates seize another ship.

  • September 16, 2008. Continuing problem of shark finning. BBC News. Previous stories:

  • September 12, 2008. Greenland and whaling. When is "subsistence" whaling commercial? Presumably when the meat is sold... Looks simple enough to me! BBC News

  • September 12, 2008. The village of Happisburgh, on the Norfolk coast of England, which is rapidly being destroyed by coastal erosion. (It's pronounced "Haysburra".) It sits on a low cliff made of very soft sediment, and it faces severe waves during storms coming off the North Sea directly at the cliffs. Global warming and sea-level rise have nothing to do with this problem: similar stories have played out along this coast for centuries. The village of Whimpwell, next door to Happisburgh, was almost gone by 1183. Sir Charles Lyell visited and described the process geologically in the 1830s.

  • September 10, 2008. Warmer seas (read "global warming") mean bigger hurricanes. The effect has been building for years, obscured by the fact that it is the larger hurricanes, not the average hurricane, that are now more dangerous. The paper is in Nature. Terra Daily

  • September 4, 2008. How much will sea-level rise by 2100? New estimate is centered around 2 meters, enough to drown most of Bangladesh. That's more than the estimate from the UN group, which was deliberately conservative. The paper is said to be in Science (I didn't see it!). National Geographic News

  • September 3, 2008. Major losses of ice from Canada's ice shelves. This is in addition to the loss of floating sea ice in the Arctic.

  • September 3, 2008. How fast can an ice sheet melt? The answer is very important, given the danger of global warming: but we don't know the answer yet. It might be very rapid...

  • September 2, 2008. Norwegian whalers defend their traditions. Terra Daily

  • September 2, 2008. The Japanese did not need to kill 4000 whales to measure the thickness of their blubber. National Geographic News

  • August 29, 2008. Evidence that Baltic Sea cod are smaller than they were several thousand years ago. The probably culprit is overfishing. Frankly, though this is a valuable study, the scale of the change is peanuts compared with many better-documented cases elsewhere round the world. Read Callum Ross's new book The Unnatural History of the Oceans. Terra Daily

  • August 27, 2008. Illegal fishing for cod by.... Swedes!!!!? AFP story on Terra Daily

  • August 25, 2008. Remember the giant squid that was caught off New Zealand last year? Here is some information and a lot of speculation after its dissection. For previous stories, scroll down to May 1, 2008. National Geographic News

  • August 22, 2008. The sudden disintegration of much of Petermann Glacier, in Greenland. National Geographic News

  • August 20, 2008. Realistic but pessimistic prognosis for life in the oceans. Jeremy Jackson is one of the smartest people working in the field of marine ecology, and he doesn't make inferences without a mass of evidence. This is serious science, not wild arm-waving. The paper is said to be coming out in PNAS.

  • August 14, 2008. Global increase of dead zones in the oceans. San Francisco Chronicle

  • August 12, 2008. Haaf fishing on the northwest coast of England. This the county where I grew up. If they'd leave these guys alone, they would disappear because this is such a hard way to make a penny. BBC News. Background site: Haaf fishing

  • August 11, 2008. Increase in jellyfish swarms. There's a perfectly sound suggestion: that these swarms are associated with marine ecosystems that have been overfished, so that the normal checks on jellyfish populations are reduced. National Geographic News

  • July 16, 2008. The largest coral reefs in the South Atlantic: only just discovered. National Geographic News

  • July 16, 2008. Fifty years ago: the world's highest tsunami. Lituya Bay, Alaska, July 9, 1958. Feature on Geology.com
  • July 16, 2008. Britain's only no-fishing zone is now teeming with life. Five years without fishing made a huge difference. BBC News OnLine

  • July 15, 2008. The Wilkins Ice Shelf may not last much longer -- and in the Antarctic winter too! Terra Daily

  • July 8, 2008. Bad karma? A huge algal bloom on the Chinese coast at the venue for the Olympic sailing events.

  • June 27, 2008. Whaling by Japan, Norway, and Iceland: why do the Japanese get most attention (and criticism)? National Geographic News

  • June 26, 2008. Explosive volcanism on the deep Arctic Ocean floor is a surprise. The paper is in Nature this week. National Geographic News

  • June 25, 2008. US Supreme Court reduces Exxon's damages bill to $500 million for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In 1994, a jury awarded fishermen and others $5 billion (in 1994 dollars). By 2004, that had been reduced a little, to $4.5 billion (in 2004 dollars). Last year, an appeal court cut it to $2.5 billion (in 2007 dollars). So now the Supreme Court has cut it to $509 million (in even more worthless 2008 dollars). The vote was 5-3. In perspective, $509 million is less than 5 days' profit for Exxon Mobil. And the interest earned by Exxon on the $5 billion it didn't pay is about twice the actual award: in other words, Exxon made a profit on the delay, while the plaintiffs were dying of old age.

  • June 23, 2008. Dangerous dead zones in the Baltic Sea. Consider the source: World Widlife Fund. HOWEVER, the Baltic Sea is especially prone to the spread of dead zones. It is shallow, it has minimal exchange of water with the world ocean, it is polluted, and it already has a sea floor that is often anoxic. Terra Daily

  • June 22, 2008. The mindset of Japanese whalers. Terra Daily

  • June 20, 2008. Another human foot, still inside sneakers, has washed up on the coast of British Columbia. That's five in all, four rights and a left. A "sixth" was a hoax.

  • June 19, 2008. Japanese produce fake caviar. For years, you haven't been able to trust restaurants to serve you the real stuff, but at least you got fish eggs. From now on, you won't know whether you're eating fish eggs or extruded glop dyed with squid ink. I'm not complaining, mind you. My peasant soul glories in this thought. Terra Daily

  • June 18, 2008. The Greenland ice cap is melting much faster than we thought: that's REALLY bad news. Greenland story on Terra Daily, June 17, 2008.

  • June 18, 2008. China and Japan resolve a dispute over offshore oil and gas fields, so can now go ahead and develop them jointly. BBC News

  • June 16, 2008. Collapse of part of an Antarctic ice shelf. And don't forget, it's WINTER down there! And still there are people who don't want to see that global warming is real! National Geographic News

  • June 14, 2008. The British warship HMS Ontario from the American Revolutionary War has been found intact on the floor of Lake Ontario. OK, I know it's not an ocean, but this is full of interest. And I hasten to point out that it was not sunk by the rebels, but by a gale.

  • June 13, 2008. Gasp! A sunken ship being excavated by archaeologists, not looters. (This is NOT the same ship that was featured in yesterday's news, even though it is only a few miles away.)

    June 12, 2008. Background story on scrapping old ships. Newsweek

  • June 12, 2008. Background story on the growth of piracy this year. Newsweek. For previous story, scroll down to June 4, 2008.

  • June 12, 2008. Underwater eruption caught on camera along the Gorda Ridge off the Oregon coast. Discovery Channel

  • June 12, 2008. Pirates of the Channel Islands: the sinking of the French treasure ship La Vierge du Bon Port in 1666, and the potential for looting its cargo by the American salvage company Odyssey.

  • June 9, 2008. Weird events in the Monterey submarine canyon. A very nice backgrounder explaining current sedimentological research. Clastic Detritus site

  • June 4, 2008. Tense standoff over a hijacked Dutch-owned ship in Somalia. The ship is registered in Antigua, and I don't imagine that the Antiguan Navy will rescue it any time soon. However:

  • June 3, 2008. Great white sharks are smart. Feature article in Smithsonian magazine, June 2008.

  • June 3, 2008. Interview with Wally Broecker. Smithsonian magazine, June 2008.

  • June 2, 2008. Iceland and Norway reportedly exporting whale meat to Japan. BBC News OnLine

  • May 23, 2008. Combating pirates in the Malacca Straits. BBC News

  • May 23, 2008. Huge cracks in the ice of the Canadian Arctic. BBC News

  • May 20, 2008. World record for flying fish. BBC News, with video clip

  • May 20, 2008. Iceland begins its annual whale hunting season. Much smaller than the Japanese hunt, but it's the principle of the scheme that is controversial, even in Iceland.

  • May 20, 2008. Millions of brittlestars found on a seamount south of New Zealand. The nutrient-laden Circumpolar Current hits the seamount and rises over the top: and that's where the brittlestars gather to catch the plankton. This phenomenon has been seen before on seamounts, but this is a spectacular example. National Geographic News

  • May 19, 2008. Magellan's voyage round the world may have been affected by an El Niņo. Press release, reposted on Terra Daily

  • May 16, 2008. Pilot whales are "cheetahs of the deep" (chasing squid).

  • May 15, 2008. Indian justice: the Makah Tribal Judge can't find a jury to try the whale killers of 2007. He did fine the alleged offenders $20 each. Seattle Times Previous stories:

  • May 9, 2008. Spain files suit to recover treasure lifted from a Spanish warship sunk by the British in 1804. Usually, captains of that time tried to capture ships without sinking them: there was oodles of "prize money" for the ship, even when they didn't know about the value of the cargo. In this case the events are clear, from accounts of the British captains. The story is laid out in the last two URLs listed here. The incompetence of the Spanish crew of La Nuestra de las Mercedes in safeguarding their (gunpowder) magazine led to the explosion of the ship almost as soon as firing began. That's why there's no sign of the ship itself. Those of you who are C. S. Forester and/or Patrick O'Brian fans will be delighted to know that both Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey were at or near this action. Note too that the two squadrons were evenly matched, but that the British won rather effortlessly. The same pattern happened a year later at Trafalgar, but there the British began the battle outgunned and outnumbered. [Actually, if anyone deserves the loot, it's the Royal Navy....!!!] It seems to me that there's no question that the American company looted the wreck of the Mercedes: but unfortunately for the Spanish, the case is being brought in an American court in Florida...

  • May 2, 2008. De Beers searches for diamonds on the Namibian sea floor, and instead finds a 500-year-old wreck laden with treasure. There's little detail, but this sounds to me like a ship from the 1500s not the 1400s (coins are always older than the ship that carries them), and a ship that was on its way to India, not returning from there. Returning ships would be carrying gold and spices, not copper, European coins, and ivory. National Geographic News

  • May 1, 2008. Dead zones in the oceans are growing, especially in tropical oceans. The paper is in Science, so it will be freely available on the Web in a few months. National Geographic News

  • May 1, 2008. Defrosting the colossal squid, which has the world's biggest eyes.

  • April 27, 2008. Despite some success in Somalia, piracy is increasing this year. Spanish ship released for a big ransom AP story on Google.

  • April 25, 2008. Shark kills swimmer off Southern California. AP story on National Geographic News

  • April 24, 2008. The weather has been abnormal this spring, mostly because of the La Niņa in the tropical Pacific. Terra Daily

  • April 22, 2008. More about the Maldive Islands, which are critically vulnerable to sea-level rise. Terra Daily

  • April 22, 2008. Canada protects a sea-mount as an underwater reserve. Terra Daily

  • April 21, 2008. Mass coral spawning turns the ocean pink in Palau. Full moon turns them on. This is an eye-witness account from the BBC reporter. BBC News

  • April 15, 2008. Forecast for larger sea-level rise than previously estimated. However, the paper is only submitted, not published. BBC News OnLine

  • April 14, 2008. Japan's Antarctic whaling fleet caught only (ONLY!) 551 whales this year. More than in previous years, but less than their target. The Japanese describe the news as "regrettable".

  • April 11, 2008. No commercial salmon fishing off the California and Oregon coasts this year. (There are hardly any salmon left to catch.) AP story on National Geographic News

  • April 6, 2008. There has been an undetected dead zone off the coast of Texas for over 20 years. NASA Earth Observatory

  • April 1, 2008. Japan's tactics at the International Whaling Commission. They stink like a dead whale. National Geographic News

  • March 25, 2008. Part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica seems to be breaking up. National Geographic News

  • March 13, 2008. Iceland is likely to resume commercial whaling. Given that its tourist industry (including whale watching) is much bigger than its whaling industry, this doesn't seem to make economic sense. Maybe they don't fear a tourist boycott. Maybe this is faith-based government. BBC News

  • March 12, 2008. A dolphin rescues two stranded whales. Great story, especially if it's true. AP story, National Geographic site

  • March 7, 2008. What kind of research do the Japanese actually do on whales? Thanks to Emory Kimbrough for the link! Sydney Morning Herald

  • February 19, 2008. The camouflage masters: cephalopods. Nice article by Carl Zimmer for the New York Times

  • February 19, 2008. Deep-sea coral gardens. National Geographic News

  • February 19, 2008. Shark migrations. National Geographic News

  • February 15, 2008. The world's largest marine reserve, in the island nation of Kiribati. National Geographic News

  • February 15, 2008. The dead zone off the northwest coast has become a critical problem. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Previous stories:

  • February 8, 2008. Tidal power generator to be installed in Northern Ireland. BBC News

  • February 7, 2008. Japanese whalers killing a mother and her calf in the Southern Ocean. The Japanese called the publication of the photos "emotional propaganda": they didn't deny their reality. BBC News OnLine with link to a video.

  • January 25, 2008. Tuvalu: a doomed island group? The answer is no: the corals will keep growing. But it may be doomed as a viable habitat for people. There are thousands such coral islets and atolls in the Pacific.

  • January 16, 2008. President Bush allows the US Navy to ignore the law, and continue to use sonar that damages marine mammals.

    For current news stories, see Oceans in the News

    FOR STORIES FROM 2007, go to 2007 news archives

    FOR STORIES FROM 2006, go to 2006 news archives

    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

    [For Geology in the News, see Geology in the News

    [For Paleontology in the News, see Paleontology in the News

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