A Pacific Ocean coral species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The month of June honors both National Ocean Month and World Ocean Day (June 8). What better time, then, to check out photos of undersea life and be reminded that things "down there" are just as important as things up here on land. Here, a manatee goes about its day. The manatee, also known as a "seacow," is an air-breathing herbivore listed as a federally endangered species. Manatees are slow moving and can't swim quickly away from boats. This often results in collisions that can kill or injure them.Whales Counted With Space Satellites
Life's a beach. Mom and her baby elephant seal roll around in the sand in Ano Nuevo Island, Calif.Elephant Seal Calls Tell Rivals Who's Boss
Robert Schwemmer, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries
A humpback whale breaches in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of California.Distinct Humpback Whale Populations Found in North Pacific
A blue rockfish fans for the camera in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, in California.200-Year-Old Fish Caught Off Alaska
A Southern sea otter, aka,
Enhydra lutris nereis
, wonders what all the fuss is about, at South Harbor, Moss Landing, Calif. The World Ocean Day Photo Contest entrant was Submitted by Dr. Steve Lonhart.PHOTOS: Otter vs. Gator: Otter Wins
A white-lobed sponge brightens up the scenery. It's one of several images of rarely seen deep-sea animals that were captured on camera in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary during a NOAA expedition. Researchers used a NOAA remotely operated vehicle in waters 328 to 656 feet deep off the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. The research was funded by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program.Strange, Carnivorous Sponge Found In Deep Sea
This image brimming with colorful marine life is from the Pearl and Hermes Atoll. It's a huge oval coral reef within several internal reefs and is the second largest among the six atolls in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.PHOTOS: Sharks, Marine Mammals Hang in Paradise
Having no backbone isn't always a bad thing! Just ask any octopus. These boneless invertebrates know how to squeeze into (and out of) many a tight spot. They have three hearts, nine brains and blue blood. (Two hearts send blood to the gills, while the third pumper sends it to the rest of the body.)VIDEO: Octopi Have a Brain in Every Tentacle
Rapture Reef sits within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. The monument encompasses more than 140,000 square miles of ocean and coral reef habitat.PHOTOS: Life in Australia's Great Barrier Reef
This seal is eager to wriggle its way back to freedom, as divers release it from fishing nets. Marine debris -- such as these nets -- makes a serious impact on its surroundings. From being an eyesore on a beach to injuring marine life or stopping a 400-ton vessel at sea, it causes problems that are difficult to ignore.Seal Pup Found in Forest
A tenfold increase in the number of protected coral species was announced this week, with 20 new corals added to the list of threatened species.
In total, 22 coral species are now classified as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Two coral species were previously listed in 2006.
Reef-building coral face severe threats from climate change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement Wednesday (Aug. 27) announcing the new listings. Oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic, and coral diseases are causing mass die-offs. Other threats include pollution and overfishing in coral reef ecosystems.
The new regulations do not prevent harvesting or damage from tourism and fishing. (No-take zones were put in place for elkhorn and staghorn corals, the two Caribbean coral species listed in 2006.)
The newly added coral species are all found off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts or in U.S. territorial waters. None are from Hawaii.
Fifteen are Pacific corals, from American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Pacific Remote Islands National Monument. The other five are Caribbean corals found offshore of Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The protected Caribbean corals include commonly recognized species such as pillar corals, boulder star corals and rough cactus corals. The Pacific corals include stony corals, staghorn corals and pore corals.
The listings were sparked by a 2009 petition calling for more protection for coral species by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. In 2012, NOAA initially proposed to list 66 species: seven Pacific coral species as endangered and 52 as threatened, and in the Caribbean, five endangered and two threatened. The 20 species that made the final cut this week were listed after two years of assessment and public comment.