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oceans

When Jacques Costeau’s film crew first captured the beauty and abundance life among Caribbean coral reefs, we fell in love with the ocean. 

Today, many of those same reefs are collapsing. Once vibrant coral reef ecosystems look like rubble fields. The fish are few, and algae has smothered and killed the reefs.

Atlantic Trawler

The annual spring migration of river herring into East Coast estuaries and rivers historically supported a wealth of predator life, cultural events, and even thriving commercial fisheries.

But a deadly combination of overfishing at sea, dams and pollution in rivers has contributed to a 96 percent decline in river herring populations. Despite removal of dams and reduced pollution in rivers, the recovery has been stubbornly slow, leading scientists to say that the problems at sea must be addressed.

A pod of southern resident orcas in Boundary Pass, north of San Juan Island, WA.

(An infant orca was captured in 1970, named Lolita, and has lived ever since in a tiny pool at the Miami Seaquarium. The following is about her life and a growing movement supported by Earthjustice to have Lolita reintroduced to her native waters and possibly rejoined with her family pod in Washington state waters.)

Pressure cleaning rocks on intertidal zone in Alaska's Prince William Sound area.

Tragedy struck Prince William Sound in Alaska 25 years ago today when the Exxon Valdez ran aground, rupturing its hull and pouring nearly 11 million gallons of oil into the sound’s pristine waters.

The effects of that oil spill haunt the remote region to this day. Oil remains trapped between and under the boulders on beaches in the Gulf of Alaska. And thousands of gallons of Exxon Valdez oil lurk in beach sediments—still toxic and harmful to marine life.

A recent report, Deadly Waters, details a new threat to endangered species: rising sea levels. After analyzing data from scientific literature, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, scientists at the Center for Biological Diversity identified 233 federally protected species in 23 coastal states that risk habitat loss due to sea level rise.

In November, whales and other marine mammals along the Pacific Coast from Northern California to the Canadian border got a little help from a federal court. Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas set a deadline of August 1, 2014 for the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a plan that will ensure Navy sonar and live-fire training doesn’t violate the Endangered Species Act.

Earlier this month, the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) agreed to review a petition by Earthjustice and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) asserting that Mexico is failing to enforce its environmental laws to protect coastal ecosystems in the Gulf of California from rampant tourism development.

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