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The least auklet (Aethia pusilla) is a seabird and the smallest species of auk. It is the most abundant seabird in North America, and one of the most abundant in the world, with a population of around nine million birds. They breed on the islands of Alaska and Siberia, and spend the winter close to the edge of the Arctic ice sheet. Their largest colonies are on the Aleutian Islands, St. Lawrence Island and Little Diomede Island.

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In the ocean, a drama is playing out between two marine mollusks: sea butterflies–tiny swimming snails the size of a grain of sand (also known as Pteropods)—and the larger sea angel that preys on them. But it’s another drama, one on a global scale, that concerns marine biologist Gareth Lawson and sculptor Cornelia Kavanagh: the changing chemistry of our warming oceans. The scientist and artist are collaborating to bring that story to a wider audience in the hope of rewriting the ending. Ari Daniel reports from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and New York City.

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The bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to 20 m (66 ft) in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh 75 tonnes (74 long tons; 83 short tons) to 100 tonnes (98 long tons; 110 short tons), second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead’s maximum length is less than several other whales.

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Learn how three fiery, painful stings during an early morning swim in Hawaii changed the life of researcher Angel Yanagihara. Once the young biochemist had recovered from her box jelly encounter, Carybdea alata had her full attention. Now she works to unlock the secrets of venom of these beautiful, and sometimes dangerous, angels of the sea.

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The stargazers are a family, Uranoscopidae, of perciform fish that have eyes on top of their heads (hence the name). The family includes about 51 species (one extinct) in eight genera, all marine and found worldwide in shallow and deep saltwaters.

In addition to the top-mounted eyes, a stargazer also has a large, upward-facing mouth in a large head. Their usual habit is to bury themselves in sand, and leap upwards to ambush prey (benthic fish and invertebrates) that pass overhead. Some species have a worm-shaped lure growing out of the floors of their mouths, which they can wiggle to attract prey's attention. Both the dorsal and anal fins are relatively long; some lack dorsal spines. Lengths range from 18 up to 90 cm, for the giant stargazer Kathetostoma giganteum.

Learn about how they make for an interesting encounter at the beach in The Daily Catch:

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The Brandt's cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) is a strictly marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabits the Pacific coast of North America. It ranges, in the summer, from Alaska to the Gulf of California, but the population north of Vancouver Island migrates south during the winter. Its specific name, penicillatus is Latin for a painter's brush (pencil of hairs), in reference to white plumes on its neck and back during the early breeding season. The common name honors the German naturalist Johann Friedrich von Brandt of the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg, who described the species from specimens collected on expeditions to the Pacific during the early 19th century.

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The North Atlantic Right Whale is currently one of the rarest large whales in the world, having been drastically reduced to critically low numbers by years of exploitation. Its robust, somewhat rotund, body is mostly black, with a large head that measures up to one third of the total body length. Some individuals may also bear white patches on the underside, while others have a more mottled appearance. More often, the only conspicuous feature of this great whale are the irregular patches of thickened tissue, called callosites, on the head. These callosites are inhabited by many small amphipods, known as cyamids or whale lice, and form a pattern unique to each individual whale, thus providing a means of identification. The North Atlantic Right Whale lacks a dorsal fin, but has large, paddle-like pectoral fins used for steering, and an enormous tail that provides propulsion with powerful vertical strokes. The downward-curved mouth of the North Atlantic Right Whale contains between 200 and 270 baleen plates on each side of the upper jaw. These plates, each measuring around two metres long and fringed with fine hairs, replace teeth in Balaenidae whales, and are central to their method of feeding. The North Atlantic Right Whale has two blowholes situated on top of its head through which it breathes, producing a distinctive, bushy, v-shaped cloud of spray when it exhales at the surface.

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For centuries, human commerce has played a role in distributing plant and animal species around the globe. But not every species can claim the title of circumnavigator. In this week’s episode, Ari Daniel Shapiro journeys to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. to meet a tiny Magellan, the star of an unlikely story that has come full circle.

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The Brown Pelican, Pelecanus Occidentalis, is characterized by an extremely large gray bill, pale yellow eyes, black legs and feet, and an unfeathered black throat pouch. It sets itself apart from seven other pelican species. Aside from being one of the smaller pelican species, the brown pelican is the only one that is known to dive and dine. Most pelican species feed by corralling fish into shallow waters through a group chase before scooping them up with their large beaks.

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The chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica) is a species of penguin which inhabits a variety of islands and shores in the Southern Pacific and the Antarctic Ocean. Its name derives from the narrow black band under its head which makes it appear as if it were wearing a black helmet, making it one of the most easily identified types of penguin. Other common names are "ringed penguin", "bearded penguin", and "stonecracker penguin" due to its harsh call.

Photo: Dr. Roger Hewitt, NOAA NMFS SWFSC

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So this penguin is to blame for every Douche bag tool of a guy sporting a chin strap beard?
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The species that was Àlex Lorente’s passion was an extraordinarily long-lived seagrass, once common along the coast of his native Spain. Tragically, Lorente himself was not to enjoy a long life: he died in 2012 at the age of 37. But his colleagues in marine conservation are working to make sure the links Lorente forged between scientists and fishermen survive, for the good of the Mediterranean that he cherished. Ari Daniel Shapiro reports.

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We're a nonprofit on a mission to create a global community to give voice to the least protected and most ignored part of our planet - the high seas. Join us! It's free, fun and you get a digital passport to the high seas. 


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