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Ocean in Focus

Featuring images from the Marine Photobank, these photo stories highlight ocean issues as well as the ability of visual media to promote ocean conservation. Would you like see one of your images as an Ocean in Focus photo? Please become a contributing member of the Marine Photobank and let your photos work on behalf of the ocean.

Jellyfish Motions

Allison Finch

Alison Finch

This moon jellyfish glides through the water, illuminated by the moonlight. Similar to most jellyfish, moon jellyfish swim horizontally to allow their tentacles to grab nearby food, their favorite being other forms of zooplankton.

Reef Threats: Disease

Fish swim by white-band afflicted coral

Craig Quirolo/Reef Relief/Marine Photobank

The coral pictured here suffers from white-band disease. First identified in 1977 when it struck a reef in the Caribbean, this lethal coral disease primarily targets Elkhorn and Staghorn species.  White-band disease is distinguished by the unique banding pattern that forms when tissue peels off of the coral skeleton. Though the exact cause of this is unknown, the number of coral affected by coral diseases as a whole seems to be increasing. Scientists attribute the increase to rising sea temperatures, human pollutants, or a combination of the two.

Power Struggle?

view of the Biscayne plant on the horizon

Wolcott Henry/Marine Photobank

This nuclear power plant near Biscayne National Park, Florida, will require 80 million tons of water to operate under a proposed expansion plan – something several conservation organizations argue could adversely impact the surrounding marine ecosystem. In addition, the plant is situated on land at risk of flooding according to projections for sea level rise. Flooding would damage not only the construction of the plant, but could affect the area’s fresh water supplies.

A Lion of a Problem

Danielle Storz/Marine Photobank

A lion fish, an invasive species in the Caribbean Sea, in La Caleta MPA outside of
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Danielle Storz/Marine Photobank

Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea, and an invasive species in Atlantic waters. Lionfish wreack havoc on the balance of marine habitats to which they are introduced by consuming resources needed by other species. Scientists say the fish can produce roughly 30,000 eggs in a single spawning event, and can spawn as frequently as every four days. This results in an annual output of two million eggs per female, and an ever-growing population. Contributing to the problem is the fact that lionfish have no known predators, so their populations can continue to grow unabated.

Efforts are underway to reduce lionfish populations, by for example, presenting the meat of this species as safe to eat, which is true despite their external poisonous spines.

Gone Overboard

Bycatch in Mexico. Naomi Blinick/Marine Photobank

Bycatch from shrimp trawling being shoveled overboard, Sonora, Mexico.
Naomi Blinick/Marine Photobank

Shrimp trawling in the Gulf of California results in enormous amounts of by-catch, including highly unsustainable numbers of juvenile sharks, rays and commercial fish. After sorting the shrimp out of the catch, the remaining organisms (most of which are already dead) are swept overboard to huge flocks of seabirds and groups of hungry sea lions following the boat.

A Clean Bill of Health

Oiled Pelican being cleaned. Justin Stumberg, U.S. Navy/Marine Photobank

Louisiana State Wildlife Response Team member works to clean oil off of a pelican.
Justin Stumberg, U.S. Navy/Marine Photobank

A pelican is cleansed of oil in Louisiana one month after the April 2010 explosion on the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon.

The photo was taken by Justin Stumberg, U.S. Navy, at the Clean Gulf Associates Mobile Wildlife Rehabilitation Station on Ft. Jackson.

While rescue costs vary widely depending on the source of the information, David Jessup and Jonna Mazet of the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center have reported that the actual cost of collecting and caring oiled marine birds is “about $600-$750 each."