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Sharks And Stingrays Close To Extinction, According To New Study

Sharks have been fascinating sea creatures for as long as we can remember. Are they as life-threatening as it’s depicted in Jaws? But unfortunately, sharks are not threatening our lives; they are endangered themselves. A new report reveals many of the world’s most unique sharks and rays are close to extinction. This includes the largetooth sawfish, whale sharks, electric rays, and more. These sea creatures have swum the oceans for over 250 million years.

But now, they’ll soon disappear into extinction— forever.

More At Risk

According to the new report, sharks, rays, and chimeras are among many animals on the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species. Many of these sharks and rays are at the top of their food chain, making them crucial to the health of the Earth’s ecosystem. If they were to go extinct, it would harm the entire aquatic environment.

EDGE Sharks coordinator Fran Cabada said, “Sharks, rays, and chimeras have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, but due to human activities, their modern relatives are facing threats all over the world.”

But now that conservationists know these animals are on the endangered species list, they can implement efforts to protect these sea creatures from complete extinction. Who would want to say goodbye to these beautiful sea animals?

The Largetooth Sawfish

The most critically endangered shark is the popular largetooth sawfish. Usually found in tropical waters, the shark is famous for its unique shape. Unfortunately, the sawfish population has declined rapidly in recent years, largely due to unsustainable fishing.

Everyone can agree the shark is unique, but it’s now the highest-ranked EDGE species in the world. That’s not something to celebrate.

The Basking Shark

Not that many people know about this unique shark, but the basking shark is a generally harmless shark. As a slow-moving sea creature, it feeds in shallow waters.

Much like the largetooth sawfish, the basking shark population is decreasing because of the fishing industry. The shark’s fins are found in soup and its cartilage is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The Whale Shark

The largest living fish species, the whale shark can live up to 100 years old. But now, they’re at high risk of endangerment. Because of their impressive size, growing up to 40 feet, the sharks are targeted by fishermen.

Conservationists have worked hard to protect these sea creatures. Their hunting is now banned in the Philippines, India, and Taiwan.

Sting Rays

While sharks are endangered species, we can’t neglect rays, who dominate the EDGE species list. This includes stingrays, eagle rays, and guitarfishes. At the moment, conservation action for rays is lagging far behind protection for endangered sharks.

Overfishing is the main threat to the species. Rays have been decreasing in the ocean system for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, if they, along with sharks, were to become extinct, it would harm the Earth’s ecosystem in more ways than what many realize.

“The modern extinction of a single species from this list would cause the loss of millions of years of evolutionary history,” said Matthew Gollock of the Zoological Society of London.

MORE: World populations of marine wildlife have declined by 50% over the past four decades. Which species are most in danger and what can be done to protect them?

The Oceanic Twilight Zone Is A World Like No Other

There lies in the ocean an unseen world that is filled with creatures beyond the imagination. It lies 660 to 3,300 feet below and is known to scientists as the twilight zone. Not much research has been done on this layer of the ocean, but it is believed that there are more animals here than anywhere else in the world.

There’s a group of scientists currently studying this area’s bizarre inhabitants and they are hoping their research can help find a more sustainable approach to the surface’s fisheries.

Creatures Beyond Science-Fiction

The ocean’s creatures are unique compared to those on land because they each hold their own auditory signature that our ships can detect using our own sound waves. The animals that reside in the twilight zone are also known to produce their own light through different chemical reactions.

This light helps them blend in with the light flowing from the surface. Hatchet fish use this technique called counter-illumination to hide from predators looking for their silhouettes from below. Other animals down here may turn their eyes into giant lenses (like how our eyes adjust to light) or even opt to use other senses instead like the Fangtooth. The Fangtooth is known to bump into objects and other fish using pressure sensors on the sides of its body.

The Great Migration

Biologists have known about a vertical migration since the 1800s because their sample nets seemed to come back fuller at night than during the day. The size of the migration wasn’t discovered till World War II when the Navy sailors detected what they called a “false bottom” on their sonar screens.

The “false bottom” was later named the deep scattering layer as it occasionally rose toward the surface each night and sank again the next morning. This layer is produced when sound waves reflect off gas-filled swim bladders or fat droplets within the migrating creatures. This daily migration is one of the largest in the world and it happens every day. Every night creatures from the dark come to the surface just to return to the depths in the morning.

What is the point? Why travel such long distances every single night? The simple answer is food. They do it for survival, but it also helps our planet regulate climate change.

Helping The Earth’s Climate

The creatures that reside in the twilight zone are very small which is very important in an environment like this since small things don’t eat as much. However, when these organisms travel to the surface at night they will often eat the plant material there before traveling downward.

The plant material they eat consists of a large amount of carbon and through the organism, it gets transferred from the surface to the ocean depths. The animals from the twilight zone will then recycle the carbon they collected as feces, breath it out as carbon dioxide, or just turn it into dissolved organic carbon. This entire process has helped the planet regulate the amount of carbon dioxide that exists in our atmosphere. It’s just another important piece to the giant carbon cycle puzzle.

This Drone May Have Saved Hundreds of Whales From A Terrible Fate

Do you remember when we used to tell our friends locations to look up on Google Earth to see crazy stuff that was captured by the cameras? Now, the same thing happens with drone footage. Although it would be nice if a drone in Russia simply caught an odd-looking cat or a person walking down the street in a costume, the footage that was captured is sad rather than entertaining.

The grisly footage

A drone noticed what seemed to be boxes in the middle of a bay off the coast of Nakhodka, Russia. When they zoomed in, they noticed that over 100 whales and orca were being held captive in the humongous cages. When word spread of this strange and disturbing sight, activists traveled to the location to get a closer look.

If you’d like to see these “whale jails” for yourself, you can check out these close-up images.

What’s going on?

It didn’t take long for the authorities to get involved. Keeping such largine marine animals in crates that are barely larger than their bodies isn’t just hard to look at. It’s also extremely illegal.

It turns out that there are four different companies involved in this illegal scheme. The companies shared the expenses of the cranes, employees, tarps, water, and crates necessary to pull off this operation. They planned to sell the whales on the black market

Why is the whale trade illegal?

According to the International Whaling Convention (IWC), it is illegal worldwide to buy a whale, sale a whale, or hunt a whale for the purpose of selling it. The laws was created in the 1940s to slow down the whale trade because the whale population was dropping too fast. In the 1980s, the law was updated to put a worldwide ban on all selling and buying of whales.

Why capture whales?

These companies were reportedly going to sell the whales to Chinese aquariums. In China, aquariums are a booming business, and the ones with the largest, most exotic marine life get the most customers. One whale could sell for over $5 million. To get around the IWC, contracts for the whale sales are often written as if the whales are merely being rented.

How do they pull it off?

The companies lied to Russian conservation authorities about their purpose for keeping the whales. Under the International Whaling Convention, it is perfectly legal to capture whales for the purpose of science. Of course, even for science, there are still limits on how many whales can be taken out of the wild. Anyone who claims to be using whales for science has to prove it and get permission before they take any whales out of the ocean.

These companies had a permit to capture 13 orcas for stricly scientific purposes. Clearly, the companies overstepped the bounds of the permit, and they were capturing the whales to illegally sell them. Let’s hope these gentle giants get back to the ocean soon!

In other whale news, scientists have discovered an underwater ‘highway’ of mountains where hundreds of whales congregate.

The Curious Case Of The Sinking Volcano

Tsunamis and volcanoes are catastrophic natural disasters, and there is a volcano in Italy that is a tsunami threat to Scicillian coastline for one very weird reason. The volcano isn’t erupting; in fact, a part of it is sinking. Why is this a problem?

Mount Etna Is Falling

Mount Etna lies near the Sicilian coastline. This mountain was created by the slow and steady oozings of lava over millions of years from the volcano that lies in the center of it. Although it has shown no signs of an imminent eruption, Mount Etna has scientists and people who live nearby extremely worried.

Since the 1980s, there has been consistent data recorded to prove that a huge chunk of the eastern side of the Mountain is falling apart.

How Bad Is It?

This has the potential to be a catastrophic event, so there are multiple groups of scientists keeping an eye on things. One group says that a humongous chunk of the mountain has been moving as much as two inches every year.

Another group has data to show that the entire mountain, not just a chunk of it, has been sinking into the seafloor by a little less than 15 millimeters a year. Both groups have noted that although the rogue chunk of the mountain as a whole is moving by a few inches a year, there are portions of the chunk that moved several inches in the course of a month.

What Is Happening?

Mountains are symbols of stability, so what is making this one move? At first, scientists hypothesized that it was due to the magma bubbling on the inside of the mountain. Magma is very hot, corrosive, and destructive. It was hypothesized that magma explosions inside the volcano were to blame for sudden movements on the outside of it.

That theory has been disproven, and now scientists think that the culprit for the curious case of the sinking mountain is simply gravity. The eastern portion of the mountain has begun to separate, and gravity is just continuing the process. Since the mountain is extremely heavy, there is potential for it to suddenly drop even further down or to break off completely.

Why Is This Dangerous?

The portion of Mount Etna that is most in danger of breaking off or dropping suddenly is already completely underwater, but any sudden movement of something as large as a chunk of a mountain can have a widespread effect. Have you ever put two cups together and then separated them underwater? If you have, you know that it causes a very loud noise and a huge bubble.

The underwater separation of Mount Etna will cause humongous waves to go radiating through the Ionian Sea. This could cause life-threatening, humongous tsunamis on the Scillian coastlines. We often think of tsunamis as being caused by earthquakes, but this monster of a tsunami could be caused by a portion of the Earth breaking apart. Scientists will be keeping an extremely close eye on Mount Etna.

Want To Know What Ancient Earth Was Like? Look To The Bottom Of The Ocean

Although new species are being discovered on a seemingly daily basis, the bottom of the ocean is still largely uncharted territory for humans. The extreme temperatures and intense levels of pressure make it impossible for humans to safely explore the deep ocean floor, and the equipment necessary to make the journey safely is costly and cumbersome. Oddly enough, scientists have been able to explore even deeper than the ocean floor for half a century. How?

Deep Beneath The Ocean’s Crust

Scientists have been using highly equipped ships to drill into the bottom of the ocean. This is not done in an effort to find oil, but it is done in an effort to find new information about Earth.

A humongous drill is attached to the side of a boat. Sound waves are sent from the boat to the bottom of the ocean so that scientists can tell where the best place to drop the drill is. Studying the sound waves makes it possible to drill in a clear spot in the ocean rather than sending a drill down blindly to break up vegetation or coral reefs.

A Tedious Process

After the right place to drop the drill is determined, the process is far from over. When the drill reaches the bottom of the ocean, it can only drill for a limited amount of time before the tough rock it’s drilling through makes the tip of the drill blunt.

At that point, the drill has to be retracted back up to the boat at the surface of the ocean. The boat’s crew has to replace the drill bit with a new one. Next, a specialized tool is used to put the enormous drill back in the right place. This time-consuming process has to be repeated over and over again in one ocean drilling expedition, but the results are worth the headache.

A Natural Museum Under The Ocean

On land, huge rock structures are a key to understanding the past. Fossils trapped in the rock reveal what kind of animals used to live in that area. Rock fossils are the way scientist know that the continents used to be one supercontinent called Pangea. Ancient fossils on the western coast of Africa are identical to those on the eastern coast of South America.

There is strong evidence that some of the world’s oceans used to be land and that some terrain that is currently land used to be an ocean. For example, many scientists agree that the Sahara Desert was a vast ocean at one time. So, fossils and patterns within the rock structures underneath the ocean can give lots of clues about land animals millions of years ago.

What Has Been Found?

In the last 50 years, ocean drilling has been the cause of many scientific discoveries. This is how we know what ancient marine life looked like.

These clues in the crust are also how we know that dinosaurs died suddenly. The ocean is full of knowledge. Who knows what we’ll discover next?

There’s A Fish That Melts If It Reaches The Surface Of The Ocean

The bottom of the ocean is like an alien world. It’s hard to believe that some of the amazing creatures who live there are living things on Earth rather than the characters in a science fiction novel. Recently, scientists have discovered another cool fish that is stranger than fiction.

The Pink, Blue, And Purple Atacama Snailfish

The pink, blue, and purple Atacama snailfish is so new that it only has a preliminary name. After scientists have more time to study the amazing species, they will give it a shorter, permanent name. The largest of these fish is about 10 inches long.

NOAA OKEANOS EXPLORER Program, Gulf of Mexico 2014 Expedition

Snailfish are certainly not a new species. There are hundreds of varieties of snailfish, many of them translucent, that live in different parts of the world. This snailfish is the first to be discovered living so deep in the ocean.

What Does It Look Like?

The fishes have a large head, two big fins attached to the head, and a long, thin, curvy body that resembles that of a tadpole. The fish are so translucent that its tiny bones can be seen through its skin. Unlike many fish that humans are more familiar with, this fish has a sleek and slick body without any scales


The fish’s jaw and teeth are some it is biggest bones, giving it the ability to tear apart and chew prey. The fish’s strongest bone is one in the inner ear that helps the top-heavy fish balance in the water. As the temporary name suggests, the fish come in pink, blue and purple tints.

What Is It Up Against?

It is remarkable that a little snailfish can survive at the bottom of the Atacama Trench. The amount of pressure is extremely high. If a human were to that deep in the ocean, he or she would have to withstand almost 1,000 worth of pressure on the body.

Since the snailfish’s habitat is about five miles deeper than the heat provided by sunlight, it must also withstand very cold temperatures that are usually only a few degrees above freezing. There is also a limited menu of what the fish can eat at this depth of the ocean.

How Does It Survive?

As mentioned earlier, this fish has tiny, fragile bones. These bones are not what holds the fish together. This fish has a gel matrix throughout its body that protects it. While more research needs to be done to prove it, it’s quite likely that the gel is what gives the snailfish a translucent appearance.

NOAA OKEANOS EXPLORER Program, Gulf of Mexico 2014 Expedition

The gel helps the fishes body to absorb any impact that its tiny bones can’t withstand. Scientists who brought these tiny fish to the surface said that the fish melted at the surface. The intense pressure environment and the gel within its body work together to allow the fish to survive. This amazing fish is just one example of the amazing species waiting to be discovered at the bottom of the ocean.

5 Ways Companies Make Products From Ocean Plastic Waste

Eight million tons of plastic are thrown into ocean waters every year. Think about that for a second. Millions and millions of harmful plastics are floating and swimming around with aquatic life and endangering their lives in their natural habitat. But what if there were ways to recycle the plastic we find? Plastic sometimes washes up to the beaches, allowing us to find them and either discard them or recycle them into useful products. Which would you rather choose?

Thankfully, there are five products that are already using recycled ocean plastic. Purchase these and you’ll do your part to help the environment.

Recycled Jewelry Is “In”

If you think people don’t want to wear jewelry made from recycled plastic, think again. 40Ocean designed a new type of bracelet made from recycled glass and plastic bottles. Only costing $20, every purchase funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines.

In less than two years, 4Ocean has helped to remove 1,295,480 pounds of trash from the ocean. It helps that the bracelets are pretty, too.

Dressed To Help The Environment

You could be playing a game of tennis or go for a quick jog without knowing you’re helping the environment. But thanks to the popular sportswear brand Adidas, this is actually happening. The company designed women’s running shorts made with yarn spun from recycled ocean plastic.

At $20, go for a walk in the park wearing these shorts designed to perform a good deed for the environment.

The Most Helpful Duffle Bag

The Hamilton Perkins duffle bag is one of the most helpful brands of duffle bags ever invented. Each bag is made with 17.5 recycled ocean plastic bottles. The bags are durable to last for years.


At $95, the duffle bags will store all your items, and each time you sling it over your shoulder, you’ll remember you’re helping the environment. It’s a win-win situation.

Playing For A Cause

You’re not just playing with this frisbee; you’re helping the environment. The Bureo frisbee, designed by Lake Buckley, contains 80 percent recycled items, including fishing nets.

At only $12, the frisbee is putting a positive spin on incorporating recycled items into your daily routine.

The Coolest Sunglasses Ever

Sunglass designers Norton Point launched a line of eco-friendly sunglasses in 2016. The sunglasses are recycled out of plastic high-density polyethylene (HDPE) found in many ocean waters. Ranging between $89 and $129, the eyewear line is part of the Martha Vineyard’s-based company, “Sea Plastic Differently.” HDPE is hard to design with, but it’s the only type of marine plastic hard enough to form a sturdy glass frame.


But that doesn’t stop designers Ryan Schoenike and Rob Ianelli in believing there’s a promising future for recycled plastic.

Schoenike said, “I think there’s still a lot more to be done in terms of other products that can be made and creating this greater awareness for people who aren’t fully aware of the issue and how it affects us.”

Let’s do our part to help the environment. After all, this is our home. Don’t destroy it.

There’s A Crazy (And Real) Plan To Actually Re-Freeze Melting Glaciers

Science has known for decades that global warming is melting humongous glaciers at the North and South Poles. Left unchecked, this pattern could cause catastrophic flooding along our coastlines. But scientists might finally have a plan to stop the melting. And it’s not a subtle one.

Glaciers Need Protection From Warm Water

Glaciers go all the way down to the bottom of the ocean. Temperatures at the surface of the ocean are still frigid in the Arctic. Due to ocean patterns, warm water impacts the bottom of the glacier before it reaches the top.

Once the bottom core of a glacier melts, the surface of the glacier falls apart, and the smaller chunks melt at an even faster rate. When these huge ice structures fall apart, they leak tons of fresh water into the ocean. This causes the ocean to rise, and can eventually flood coastlines far away from the melting glaciers.

What’s The Plan?

Scientists have proposed an idea to stop the melting from the bottom up. They want to build massive walls of up to 1.5 cubic kilometers thick at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean.

The walls, made of a heavy-duty rock and sand mixture, will block warm water from reaching the bottom of the glacier. That means that the foundation of the glacier will stay attached to the seafloor and won’t melt.

Will It Work?

There are two ways to execute the plan. We can either build one large wall for each glacier or a line of smaller walls. Based on computer models, scientists have hypothesized that a single big wall has a higher chance of success. The problem is, building a big wall is a much more difficult task than building a smaller one.

It will be a logistical challenge to safely get the wall building materials to the bottom of the ocean. Any machinery used must be able to withstand extreme pressure and subzero temperatures. Still, scientists are optimistic about this project for a few reasons.

It’s Been Done Before

This idea will certainly be the first time anyone has tried to build an underwater wall in the Arctic seas, but similar projects have been successful in other parts of the world. There are manmade islands that are held in place by the same kind of rock and sand mixture that scientists propose we use to make the Arctic walls.

While scientists point to the man-made islands as a sort of “proof of concept,” Arctic walls pose their own unique challenges, like their faraway location, as well as freezing water temperatures, which will make these massive walls especially hard to build.

More Work To Be Done

Unfortunately, this new solution is only a temporary fix. The bottoms of the glaciers will be protected from warm water for a time, but if ocean temperatures continue to rise due to pollution, the glaciers will still be threatened.

This effort will only slow the process of glaciers melting. This will give politicians and citizens around the world more time to make lifestyle and regulatory changes that will slow global warming.

Research Shows Being Near The Ocean Does Amazing Things For Your Brain

People love the ocean. It’s no wonder, with so many travelers choosing vacation destinations along the beach. However, have you ever wondered why exactly being near the ocean, or other bodies of water, makes us feel so good?

Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and author, has researched several beneficial effects the ocean has on the brain and body. From exercising more efficiently to achieving a zen-like state, here are a few reasons why people can’t get enough of the ocean.

Boost The Body And The Mind

Yes, exercising near the ocean can do wonders for your workout. Not only is jogging along the beach a killer exercise but being outside near water gives your mind a mental boost while working out. This is because your body is responding to natural stimuli rather than working out in a crowded gym or jogging along a busy city street.

Even just gazing at the blue color of the ocean will make your brain associate more positively with working out. This is because the color blue helps to calm nerves.

“Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Amber Pearson, an assistant professor of health geography at Michigan State University. Pearson co-authored a study released in 2016 which outlined how views of the ocean were associated with better mental health.

The Water And Well-Being

“Research has shown that being near, in, on or under water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body, including lowering stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts,” said Nichols.

What’s more impressive is that aquatic therapists are looking into how oceans and other bodies of water can help people manage disorders such as PTSD, addiction, anxiety, autism, and more.

Another major benefit of the ocean on the brain is the ocean’s rich amount of negative ions. Research has shown that positive ions are emitted by electrical items such as computers, microwaves, and more. These positive ions can have a draining effect. The negative ions emitted by ocean waves and waterfalls actually help reverse the damage of positive ions. The negative ions help us absorb oxygen better and balance serotonin levels. Serotonin balance is extremely important, as this is the neurotransmitter in our brain which contributes to well-being and happiness.

Seaside Serenity

Bodies of water also put people in a meditative, zen-like state. While this can do amazing things for emotional stress, being in a meditative state can also benefit the body by reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system.

The ocean’s sounds and visuals give people a break from constant overstimulation, making them more mindful in the process.

“The sound around us, from an auditory perspective, is simplified. It’s not quiet, but the sound of water is far more simple than the sound of voices or the sound of music or the sound of a city,” Nichols said. “And the visual input is simplified. When you stand at the edge of the water and look out on the horizon, it’s visually simplified relative to the room you’re sitting in right now, or a city you’re walking through, where you’re taking in millions of pieces of information every second.”

Scientists Follow As The Pacific’s Great White Sharks Disappear To A Hidden Lair

Ocean researchers recently solved a great mystery about some of the world’s most feared and fascinating animals. Great white sharks star in Hollywood movies, get in-depth Discovery Channel coverage for an entire week each year and haunt beaches and vacations all summer long. And even though these great fish of the sea have existed since the time of the dinosaurs, there is still much that we don’t understand about the great white shark.

Where Do Great Whites Go For The Winter?

One thing we didn’t know about the great whites that frequent California in the summer was where they go once winter rolls around. Some scientists figured out how to lo-jack some great whites and followed them to what looked like a vast void in the middle of the Pacific. This migration spot puzzled researchers who saw it as a dead zone. Great white sharks like to eat seals. That is why they show up at popular swimming areas along the California coast and vacation spots on the Atlantic, such as Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Seals are mammals, but unlike whales—the largest sea air-breathers—they like to be near land. Out in the middle of the sea, there are no seals. This fact led to much speculation about the shark’s destination. But when ocean scientists looked at this vast 160-mile radius area between California and Hawaii, they noticed it was actually chock-full of tasty tidbits.

Welcome to “White Shark Cafe”

Rather than a cold and empty void, this region has a rich mid-water area that is well-stocked with squid and small fish. The sharks weren’t swimming away to some spot to rest up for the winter, they were going to a veritable smorgasbord.

So, how did the scientists pinpoint where these sharks fled? Through advances in technology, researchers were able to tag certain sharks during their summer frolicking. These pinger tags emit a radio-frequency-signal that allowed the researchers to follow their every move. In addition, the tags also were programmed to detach and float to the surface when the sharks reached their winter feeding spot.

The Cafe Is Wide And Deep

And while the feeding grounds are known to cover a surface region of the Pacific that is roughly the size of Colorado, the surfae area is nothing compared to its volume. Once tagged and monitored, scientists learned that the great sharks were diving deeper than ever thought possible. Here the great white’s food runs reached depths of up to 3,000 feet. These depths are cold and inhospitable to the sharks, but sometimes a warm current flows to these depths. When this happens, schools of squid and fish dive, and the sharks follow.

The sharks follow a diving pattern. During the day, sunlight allows them to dive deep, while at night, they restrain themselves to a shallow dive. The researchers also noted that as summer approaches, male and female sharks approach hunting differently. The males begin rapid repeated diving—up to 140 times a day—while the females continue a night/day pattern.

The reason for this gender difference is now a new mystery for the scientists to ponder.