Island shopping: Cambodian officials buy up the Cardamoms’ coast

The developers on Koh Toteung smothered the island's corals in sand while creating an artificial beach in June 2022.KOH S’DACH, Cambodia — Bristling with coral reefs, marine life and palm trees, the islands dotting Cambodia’s western and southwestern coasts have long lured tourists and investors alike with white sandy beaches sloping into the azure waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Beyond the postcard views, limited regulation and the availability of 99-year leases for […]

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Heat-sensing drone cameras spy threats to sea turtle nests

Sea turtles lumber from ocean to shore to lay their eggs in the sand. In some places, this effort is protected by humans who patrol beaches on foot, warding off poachers, predators and naïve tourists. But might there be a more effective way? Researchers used thermal infrared sensors mounted on drones to monitor sea turtle […]

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The mystery of narwhal behavior, solved by chaos theory

Narwhals are chaotic. At least, that’s what researchers thought until they developed a new math-based method to detect patterns in their seemingly irregular movements. Narwhals (Monodon monoceros) are known as the unicorns of the sea due to their distinctive single tusk, which is actually a feeling, enlarged tooth with up to 10 million nerve endings. […]

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Why are Florida manatees showing up in Cuba and Mexico?

Throughout the winter and spring of 2007, there were several curious sightings of a manatee and her calf in a power plant intake canal in the Cuban town of Santa Cruz del Norte, approximately 33 miles (54 kilometers) east of Havana. Manatees in Cuba aren’t known to frequent power plant canals. That kind of behavior […]

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Pandemic hit the pause button on the discoveries of new species

Smithsonian Museum field workIn November 2011, when a pregnant beaked whale drifted ashore on New Zealand’s Waiatoto Spit, Ramari Stewart, an Indigenous whale watcher, noticed that the whale looked slightly different to those usually stranded. It measured about 5 meters (17 feet) long, and after its skeleton was prepared and featured in the National Museum of New Zealand, […]

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Spectacular new fish species is first to be named by Maldivian scientist

Out in the azure waters and colorful corals of the Maldives, a resplendent, rainbow-hued fish has become the first to be named and described by a Maldivian researcher. New to science, the rose-veiled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa) is named in the local Dhivehi language. Finifenmaa means “rose” and is a tribute to the islands’ pink-hued […]

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Afro-Colombian community safeguards pristine oceans with new protected area

An Afro-Colombian community on the southwest coast of Colombia has helped establish a new marine protected area that will create more sustainable fishing and hunting practices while ensuring that one of the country’s most undisturbed ecosystems withstands outside threats of deforestation and pollution long into the future. The Isla Ají marine protected area, which covers […]

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Top 15 species discoveries from 2021 (Photos)

With humans sending probes to explore Mars and the sun, one might think we’ve already explored the full extent of our own planet. But scientists say we’ve only begun to find and describe the riches here on Earth. “I think most people believe that we know most species on Earth … but in the best-case […]

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