From sharks and sea turtles to a new mysterious type of killer whale, it was a busy year for the ocean! Check out the most popular content from 2019 below.
1) 12 Shark Facts That May Surprise You
Do sharks have bones or good eyesight? During Shark Week 2019, we explored shark facts that you may not know. This story on one of the ocean's top predators is our most popular two years in a row!
2) What Can You Do to Save Sea Turtles?
Learning what actions you can take to help save sea turtles was a top story for many of our readers in 2019. If you missed it, check out how you can help protect sea turtle habitat and brush up on sea turtle-friendly fishing and boating tips.
3) 10 Wonderful Whale Facts
Whale Week is one of our favorite times of year at NOAA Fisheries. To celebrate, we shared some interesting tidbits about these majestic creatures—including the largest animal that ever lived on Earth.
4) Impacts of Invasive Lionfish
An invasive species of the ocean holds the fourth spot in our top 5 ocean stories of the year. Lionfish are native to coral reefs in the tropical waters of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. But you don't have to travel halfway around the world to see them. This is an invasive species that threatens the well-being of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, including the commercially and recreationally important fishes that depend on them. NOAA and its partners are working hard to develop ways to prevent further spread and control existing populations.
5) 50-Year-Old Message in a Bottle
One Texas couple found NOAA "science treasure" during a walk on the beach in February 2019. Read this cool ocean tale proving you never know what you'll stumble upon on shore.
1) Type D Killer Whales - 1st Encounter
In March, we released a story about scientists finding mystery killer whales off Cape Horn, Chile. This video clip of their first encounter with Type D killer whales was our most popular of 2019.
2) Type D - Bob Pitman
Continuing with this trend, our second most popular video of the year goes to NOAA scientist Bob Pitman as he describes Type D killer whales.
3) Type D - Underwater Shots
Video footage from the expedition off Cape Horn, Chile documenting a new type of killer whale is also our third most popular video. Researchers obtained a tiny bit of tissue/blubber that will allow them to determine if the Type D whales are a new species.
4) Atlantic Recreational Shark Fishing: Handling and Release of Sharks
Coming in fourth place is a video that explores prohibited shark identification, including dusky and other ridgeback sharks. It also has tips for safe handling and release. Watch it for information on permitting and regulations for recreational shark fishing in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean.
5) Reporting Entangled Whales in Hawaii
And finally, our fifth and final video of 2019 is a public service announcement for the Hawaiian Islands region which covers how to report entangled humpback whales. Whale season in Hawai'i' runs November through April.
Top Instagram Photos
1) Pacific halibut
The most liked Instagram photo of the year belongs to Alaskan halibut. This fish can grow to be 8 feet long and 5 feet wide, and weigh 500 pounds! U.S. wild-caught Pacific halibut is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
A squid comes in second place. On the last trawl of the Deep-See cruise aboard the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow, scientists caught three very large strawberry squid. The largest had a mantle length of 29 centimeters (about 11.5 inches) and an overall length of about a meter (roughly 39 inches). This seems to be the maximum size reported for these squid. It’s good to confirm the presence of some of these large animals in the deep scattering layers in the mesopelagic zone, or more affectionately, the ocean twilight zone.
A little flying squid captured attention on Instagram, soaring into third place. Did you know some squid species can fly? They use jet propulsion to launch themselves out of the water to avoid predators. NOAA Fisheries West Coast biologists, engineers, stream surveyors, and other staff submitted their images from the field for the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region photo and video contest, and this squid was part of the bunch.
This lumpfish made it's way into our most liked photos in 2019. A lumpfish caught aboard the F/V Karen Elizabeth during the September 12 wingspread study with the NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow’s trawl net. Researchers and fishermen are at sea experimenting with the scientific survey net used for the world's longest-running bottom trawl survey to improve what we know about how well it captures flat fish like flounders.
A sea turtle biologist and a green sea turtle round out our list of top 5 NOAA Fisheries Instagram photos. World Sea Turtle Day (June 16) marks the birthday of Dr. Archie Carr, known as the father of sea turtle biology and conservation. Dr. Carr dedicated his life's work to studying sea turtles and he brought early attention to their declining populations. His pioneering research would give rise to much of the conservation and recovery efforts we see today.
Thanks for following along with our list of 2019's best ocean features, videos, and photos. We look forward to posting more features highlighting the ocean in the coming year!