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A Massive New Marine Protected Area Network in Gabon

By John Robinson

The first day of the IUCN 2014 World Parks Congress marked a significant win for the oceans. The President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon announced the decision to create a new marine protected area network of ten marine parks covering more than 18,000 square miles (over 46,000 square kilometres). The network – encompassing about 23 percent of Gabon’s territorial waters and EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) – will safeguard whales, sea turtles, and other marine species inhabiting the nation’s coastal and offshore ecosystems. As the President noted in his speech, this puts Gabon “near the 20 to 30 percent that marine biologists tell us is needed to maintain biodiversity and restore depleted areas outside parks.” This is a massive increase from the 1 percent of marine area currently protected by Gabon.

Are You Kidding? Larger Tanks Won’t Cut it for Killer Whales

Once again Sea World is missing the point. The aquatic entertainment enterprise just doesn’t seem to give up despite documentaries like Blackfish and a growing public awareness that keeping cetaceans in captivity is cruel and morally wrong. Even Wall Street is turning its back on the company. Now, with a new and grandiose multi-million dollar plan for expanding their killer whale tanks, Sea World is taking the “logical” next step to resurrect itself.

Two-Headed Dolphin Is Super Rare

A dead two-headed dolphin that washed ashore this week in Turkey is only the fifth-known case of conjoined twins in dolphins, experts say.

They Aren’t Always Smiling: Skin Lesions and Deformities Plague Wild Dolphins

Dolphins are top predators, meaning they feed at the top of the food chain. When chemical pollutants settle into seafloor sediments, they are absorbed by a variety of small organisms. Some of these creatures end up in the stomachs of bottom feeders, which, in turn, accumulate higher concentrations of the same contaminants in their body…

Amazing Animals That Walk on Water

A surprising study reveals ants can walk on water—find out what other animals can also accomplish this incredible feat.

Dolphins Guide Scientists to Rescue Suicidal Girl

One day, my research team and I were following a school of bottlenose dolphins near shore as we do on a regular basis in the waters off Los Angeles, California. We just wrapped up our photo-identification work and were moving on to take video of dolphin social interactions and enter data on behavior. The dolphins…

How to View Marine Mammals Responsibly

The waters off Southern California have been the platform for my field research on whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals for almost two decades.  Lately, however, something has changed in the occurrence of these animals in my ocean “backyard.” I have never seen such a diversity and abundance of cetaceans as in recent times. In…

Debunking Captivity: 3 Reasons Not to Keep Dolphins in a Tank

I have spent much time in the company of wild dolphins over the last twenty-something years. I’ve built a career following their everyday movements and observing their behavior both from shore and from research boats. When I began my studies, I knew these creatures primarily as the objects of my research but, as the years…

Tech Troubles in the Field

Justine Jackson-Ricketts is an National Geographic Young Explorer studying a rare and elusive species of dolphin called the Irrawaddy dolphin. By taking a closer look at their diet, Justine can help determine whether or not Irrawaddy dolphins eat the same types of fish, squid, and crustaceans caught by fisheries in the Gulf of Thailand. This will…

Vanishing Innocents: Fish, Dolphins, and Other Sea Creatures in Troubled Waters

Sardinia has a unique and unforgettable scent, different from any other place I’ve known. It’s the scent of the Mediterranean undergrowth, of junipers and myrtles. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can almost smell it even now, thousands of miles away and many years later. As a young girl, I anxiously waited for…

Your Weird Animal Questions Answered

What is a honey badger, really? How do spiders not get stuck to their webs? See answers to these questions and more in our weekly Q&A column.

A Week of Wanderings in Thailand

Justine Jackson-Ricketts is an National Geographic Young Explorer studying a rare and elusive species of dolphin called the Irrawaddy dolphin. By taking a closer look at their diet, Justine can help determine whether or not Irrawaddy dolphins eat the same types of fish, squid, and crustaceans caught by fisheries in the Gulf of Thailand. This will…

Dolphins Compete in a Wash of Splashing, Flying Flukes

In a world of competing male dolphin alliances, there is a struggle for power in which only one alliance can emerge victorious.

Listening to Sperm Whale Sonar

Amazing. A few years ago in the Gulf of California, we found ourselves surrounded by a pod of female sperm whales sleeping peacefully like massive logs in a calm sea. One, followed closely by a seemingly protective companion, had a baby so new that it still trailed an umbilical cord as it swam with tail…

Dolphin Mating Season Begins!

Love is in the air at Shark Bay.