The world's oceans cover more than 71 percent of our planet. These pages contain news of those who depend on the ocean's vast resources, who recognize the awesome power and beauty these bodies of water possess, and who seek to protect and preserve their place within our heritage.


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SPOTLIGHT: Harnessing the Power of Kelp
It's green, it's slimy, it catches on your hook, it washes up on the beach as giant wavy strands of rubbery underwater flora. It's also wrapped around that piece of sushi, floating in your miso soup, munched on as a salty iron-rich snack, and well, at the heart of a $7-billion industry:

A crop from the ocean floor (LA Times, Dec. 5, 2009)
Paul Dobbins and Tollef Olson admit they still have a kink in their scheme to use seaweed to revolutionize American eating habits, clean the environment, lower the federal trade deficit and make themselves fabulously rich.

And in case you missed it,
Friendship of Salem is back home after a long stay in Boothbay, Maine, for a major overhaul. (Please note, the author of this story is well aware that Friendship is most definitely not a schooner. Unfortunately, this detail eluded the copy desk at the Boston Globe.) Here are some photos of the return trip last month submitted by maritime photographer Leighton O'Connor.

MARINE MARVELS AND MYSTERIES: The horseshoe crab
If you have walked a beach, you have likely stumbled upon the shell of a horseshoe crab. Their spiny tails and rock-hard shells make them appear to be formidable foes--at least for the soles of your feet.

Here are some quick facts from the Ocean Almanac on these prehistoric "fossils of the sea:"

  • It's a distant relative of the spider.
  • Apparently, they got it right the first time: The horseshoe crab has hardly changed in 200 million years.
  • The horseshoe crab's "vicious" spike is not fatally poisonous; the crab uses its spike to flip itself over when it finds itself languishing on its back.
  • Like other crabs--though they aren't crustaceans--they molt.
  • Those horseshoe crabs you find on the beach are often not dead horseshoes but former homes: "Examine a cast carefully, and you can see the slit around the whole length of the great curve where the horseshoe crab crawled out of its old shell and where sand has filled the vacuum."

Click here for more marine marvels and mysteries.



HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NEWS: Oct. 22-Dec. 4, 2009
Check back each day for the top maritime-related news from around the globe. Still thirsty for maritime news? Click on one of the topics in the navigation bar to the left for more of the latest stories.

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SEALIFE
Rare giant sea turtle found on Stinson Beach (San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 4, 2009)
An endangered giant sea turtle rarely found north of Mexico washed up alive on Stinson Beach after drifting possibly thousands of miles.

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FISHING INDUSTRY
State creating new oyster sanctuaries, pushing aquaculture (Baltimore Sun, Dec. 3, 2009)
In a move aimed at restoring the Chesapeake Bay's depleted oyster population, Gov. Martin O'Malley will announce this morning a major expansion of the state's existing patchwork of oyster sanctuaries, according to sources, setting aside large stretches of rivers to protect the water-filtering shellfish from commercial harvest.

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NEW ENGLAND
Nantucket Sound may get historic listing, delaying wind farm (Boston Globe, Nov. 6, 2009)
Massachusetts’ top historic preservation officer has dealt a setback to the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm, ruling yesterday that the body of water is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places because of its cultural significance for two Native American tribes.

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SHIPPING
As shipping slows, banks and carriers fear loan defaults (NYT, Nov. 12, 2009)
When Eastwind Maritime, a medium-size carrier company, went bankrupt this summer, few banks in the United States took notice. But in Europe, where banks hold over $350 billion of increasingly dubious shipping industry loans, the inability of Eastwind, which is based in New York,to handle its debt of more than $300 million set off an anxiety attack on lending desks across the Continent.

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SEATIME
2 Japanese subs from World War II era are found off Hawaii (NYT, Nov. 12, 2009)
Researchers on Thursday announced the discovery of two World War II Japanese submarines, including one meant to carry aircraft for attacks on American cities and the Panama Canal, in deep water off Hawaii, where they were sunk 63 years ago.

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HEALTH CHECK
Panel backs no-fishing zones off Southern California coast (LA Times, Nov. 11, 2009)
A state blue-ribbon panel unanimously approved landmark fishing restrictions Tuesday for Southern California, creating a patchwork of havens for marine life designed to replenish the seas while leaving some waters open for anglers.


Researchers explore growing ocean garbage patches (NYT, Nov. 10, 2009)
Aboard the Alguita, 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii — In this remote patch of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from any national boundary, the detritus of human life is collecting in a swirling current so large that it defies precise measurement.

MARITECH
UCSD Scientists will develop mini-robots to explore ocean (KPBS.org, Nov. 10, 2009)
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been awarded nearly $1 million to develop new tools for ocean exploration. Scientists will use the money to develop miniature robots that will explore ocean ecosystems in small scale.


LAW & DEFENSE
Rival Somali groups fight over British couple (AP, Nov. 3, 2009)
Rival pirates and militia groups have fought for control over a British couple held hostage for more than a week, an Islamic militia commander and a local elder said Monday. The couple were not injured in the fighting.

Read more coverage
here.

History of U.S.S. New York and its predecesors (NYT, Oct. 30, 2009)
This gleaming $1.3 billion vessel is piled high with some of the Navy’s most sophisticated technology. So while watching the hovercraft roar in and out of the lower landing deck on a rainy Friday morning, it is easy to forget that the name has not always been attached to such a venerable fighting machine.

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WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT
Oceanworks plan to build San Diego Airport on Pacific Ocean (CleanTechnica.com, Oct. 22, 2009)
A group of 40 architects and planners has come up with a pretty wild and grandiose (or brilliant and visionary) solution to San Diego’s siting problems for its much needed new airport. Float the entire thing off-shore. How serious are they? In a legally unprecedented move, OceanWorks CEO Adam Englund has booked the 40,000 square mile space on the Pacific with
this claim holding “airport rights.”