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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.

Humpback Whales Take a Bite of the New York Bight

Suddenly, a humpback whale bursts through this bait ball off the starboard side like a torpedo to its mark. The whale’s mouth is open wide and scooping in as many fish as it can hold, with the remnants spilling back into the sea. As it smacks its massive head down, a wave of very fishy whale’s breath blows across the bow of the boat.

Whale Encounters in Arctic Svalbard

We did not see the rare bowhead whale during our week-long cruise through Svalbard early in the summer of 2014, but our ship, National Geographic Explorer, had some dramatic encounters with humpbacks, and there were also excellent sightings of fin whales and belugas.

March 3, 2013: Everest Emergency, How to Train Your Cat, and More

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend. Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend, or pick your favorite segments and listen now below! Episode: 1309 – Air Date:…

Willow the White Whale

Above video from Barcroft TV. Like a scene from Moby Dick, a rare white whale was spotted off the coast of Spitsbergen in Norway by maritime engineer Dan Fisher of the UK. Swimming alongside a pod of other, regular grey humpback whales, this whale likely has a condition called leucism, which causes a reduction in…

Eye to Eye with a Humpback

One of the benefits of being in the water with humpback whales is that it makes me appear svelte by comparison.

NG Weekend: Battle at Kruger

This week on National Geographic Weekend radio, host Boyd Matson speaks with guests about hope for people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, scarlet macaws, animal survival, compost, humpback whales, an Arctic journey, and dignity for Ethiopian mothers. Hour 1 National Geographic Emerging Explorer Zinhle “Zinny” Thabethe has a voice that moves audiences to tears,…