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Oceans: Building Resilient Ecosystems

A U.S. Navy vessel, with a research ship and pod of orcas in the foreground.

Echolocation, the location of objects by reflected sound, is a mouthful. It is also something of a miracle.

For marine mammals, it’s how they communicate with each other, how they avoid perils, and how they locate food. Without healthy, functioning ears and sound-making systems, they are lost.

A blueback herring.

River herring spend most of their lives in the Atlantic Ocean. They are anadromous fish species, which means they return to spawn in coastal rivers in the spring. But these small fish are in big trouble. Based on analysis by the National Marine Fisheries Service, their populations have declined more than 98 percent from their historic level.

Bluefin tuna

Imagine meeting a 40-year-old fish that weighs 1,500 pounds and can accelerate faster than a sports car. Bluefin tuna are a top-of-the-food-chain fish and certainly one of the most impressive creatures in the ocean. Bluefin are also one of the most lucrative fish species to catch.

Buyers in the Japanese raw fish (sushi) markets set new records each year for the amount of cash they are willing to pay, and a worldwide fleet of fishers is eager to collect this cash.

Atlantic trawler.

Scientists and fishermen agree that the industrial midwater trawl fleet is taking a toll on many species on the Atlantic Coast. The massive nets of these vessels kill millions of river herring and, increasingly, the juveniles of some commercially important groundfish such as haddock. Unfortunately, an important action to rein in this damage is facing a substantial delay.

Plastic found in the ocean.

Have you ever dropped your phone in the water, never to find it again?

Well, according to new research out of Australia, that’s exactly what’s happening to 99 percent of the plastic that should be in the ocean; except, instead of one phone, we’re talking about millions of tons of plastic phone cases, straws, water bottles and other items that plasticize our lives. 

Parrotfish.

Since the May 14 release of the Earthjustice video titled Coral and Parrotfish – A Love Story, more than 100,000 people have learned how parrotfish can be essential players in coral preservation.

The video takes viewers scuba diving with Earthjustice attorney Andrea Treece as she explores Caribbean coral reefs and describes legal efforts to restore balance to the coral ecosystem:

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