2018 has been quite a year, filled with many stories, photographs, and videos. Get a closer look at which NOAA Fisheries features topped the list below.
1.) 12 Shark Facts That May Surprise You
Our number one story of the year involves some seriously fascinating creatures—sharks! We celebrated Shark Week 2018 by sharing some surprising shark facts.
2.) Savoring Seafood: Seafood Month 2018
The second most popular story we served up in 2018 revolves around one of our favorite subjects: seafood. For October's National Seafood Month, we highlighted sustainable (and delicious) U.S. seafood with new features, videos, and more.
3.) Fishing for Sharks in the Gulf of Mexico
Our third most popular story focuses on he Bottom Longline Survey conducted by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center and Mississippi Laboratories. The purpose of the survey is to monitor inter-annual variability of shark populations along the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. The survey utilizes commercial-type longline gear to catch and assess 19 U.S. fish stocks (17 of which are shark species). The longline survey is unique in that it is one of the few fisheries surveys to gather data from adult specimens in the wild.
4.) Impacts of Invasive Lionfish
Lionfish are coming in as our fourth most popular story 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.) 10 Wonderful Whale Facts
Lastly, we can't forget about the whales. We celebrated Whale Week with interesting tidbits about these majestic creatures, and this was our fifth most popular story in 2018.
Top Instagram Photos
1.) Baby Octopus
This baby octopus wins for our most liked Instagram photo of the year! After mass coral bleaching events across the Pacific Ocean, our scientists found major coral die-off in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in 2016 and 2017. In May 2018, NOAA Fisheries researchers aboard the NOAA Ship Hi‘ialakai set sail to assess the health of these coral reefs. On this 70-day mission to American Samoa and the Pacific Remote Islands, teams of scuba divers will conduct ecological assessments of corals and the many creatures that call the reef home.
2.) Sawfish Research
Coming in second place is this sawfish. Data collected from satellite tags are some of the first to show that larger juvenile smalltooth sawfish are capable of making long migrations. These data are crucial to understanding habitats that are used by larger juvenile smalltooth sawfish and can ultimately help lead to the conservation and recovery of this species.
3.) Sea Turtle Nesting in Hawaii
Turtles always top our list of popular photos. Our third place are these green turtles, basking along the shores of French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
4.) Pacific Blue Marlin
The fourth most popular photo features one angler, one big Pacific blue marlin, and one experience of a lifetime! Andy caught this marlin fishing solo and released the fish correctly by leaving her head and body in the water.
5.) Phronima amphipod
Prize number five goes to this Phronima amphipod, which is said to be the inspiration for the chest-busting xenomorph in the "Alien" movies. Phronima have impressive front claws that help them attach to salps so they can hollow them out like a Halloween jack-o'-lantern. Why? So they can climb in and sail the ocean blue, collecting food from the water column and sheltering their babies.
Top Instagram Videos
1.) Force Blue Coral Restoration #1
Our number one Instagram video of the year belongs features former combat divers and special operations veterans with Force Blue, who teamed up with NOAA, Sea Ventures, Inc., and the Ocean Conservancy to restore Puerto Rico's coral reefs damaged during last year's devastating hurricane season. This FEMA-supported emergency response and assessment effort is part of an ongoing mission to restore and minimize losses to coral reefs in Florida and Puerto Rico following hurricanes Irma and Maria.
2.) Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures Biodiversity Study
ARMS stands for Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures, and our video on them comes in second place. This set of three was deployed in Puget Sound for the first time on June 17, 2015.
3.) Force Blue Coral Restoration #2
The third most popular video on Instagram also goes to Force Blue Coral Restoration efforts. A partnership between NOAA, FEMA, nonprofits and a local enterprise is one of many engaging military veterans and restoring important ecosystems—this time helping revive coral reefs in the Caribbean.
Learn more about our partnerships with veterans
4.) Sea Turtles: Is the Future Female?
Sea turtles are the number four video on this list. Are sea turtles destined to turn all female? This video documents cutting edge research that discovers alarming trends as global temperatures rise, and fewer male turtles are hatching from the nesting beaches.
5.) Sea Turtle Week: Share the Shore
And our fifth most popular video centers on sea turtles too. The Hawaiian islands are a place full of natural wonder, and visitors come from around the world to enjoy the pristine beaches and see wildlife—with some species found nowhere else in the world. In Hawaii, protected marine animals can be found swimming, eating, and even sleeping near people. These animals are protected under federal laws like the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. For your safety and theirs, do not touch or harass turtles, seals, whales, or dolphins. When viewing them, maintain a safe distance.