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A record number of dolphins have washed up dead and mutilated on French beaches, and scientists don't know exactly why.
Activists say 1,100 dolphins have washed up on France's Atlantic coast since January, but the number could be as much as 10 times higher than that, as many likely sink instead of washing ashore. Researchers at the La Rochelle marine laboratory Observatoire Pelagis said they had seen "extreme levels of mutilation" on the dolphins that did wash up, The Guardian reported.
A federal judge in Alaska ruled on Friday that President Donald Trump "exceeded the president's authority" when he signed an executive order to allow offshore oil drilling in around 125 million acres of the Arctic Ocean, CNN reported.
U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason's decision restores a ban on drilling in 98 percent of the U.S.-controlled Arctic Ocean, according to Earthjustice, which sued to stop Trump's order on behalf of several environmental groups and Alaska Native communities.
The ruling "shows that the president cannot just trample on the constitution to do the bidding of his cronies in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our oceans, wildlife and climate," Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.
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House Bill 808, which outlaws the intentional killing, capture, abuse or entanglement of sharks and rays in state marine waters, passed its first committee meeting on Wednesday. The upper chamber version, Senate Bill 489, secured its first committee approval late last month and passed a second reading on Monday.
The Florida Keys is home to the third largest living coral barrier reef system in the world. The ecosystem is a habitat for fish species and other marine life and also serves as economically important touristic and recreational spot.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says that its vessel, the M/V Farley Mowat, was ambushed on Jan. 31 by a group of poachers posing as fishermen while the ship was conducting maritime conservation patrols in a vaquita refuge in Mexico's Gulf of California. It's the second such attack in less than a month.
The conservation organization says its ship was surrounded by more than 50 assailants on 20 high speed boats, according to a press release shared with EcoWatch.
Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's announced major efforts on Monday to quickly curb its use of single-use plastics. By April of this year, its 600-plus Scoop Shops around the world will only offer wooden spoons, rather than plastic ones. Paper straws will also only be available upon request.
All together, the move is expected to prevent 2.5 million plastic straws and 30 million plastic spoons from being handed out each year, Jenna Evans, Ben & Jerry's Global Sustainability Manager, said in a press release.
Whale watchers and researchers are rejoicing after a third North Atlantic right whale calf was documented this winter, especially after the previous calving season resulted in no confirmed births.
A whale mother known as 1204 and the newborn were seen off Florida's northeast coast last week.
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive fish.
However, other marine biologists, including Michael Domeier, the founding director of the non-profit Marine Conservation Science Institute, raised concerns about Ramsey's actions, especially for touching the shark and for possibly inspiring non-experts to hop in the ocean in search of selfies with vulnerable and potentially dangerous ocean creatures.
The white, tiger and bull shark are the top three shark species behind the most fatal attacks due to their large size, according to the Florida Museum.
"The number 1 rule of legitimate shark diving operators is DON'T TOUCH THE SHARKS!" Domeier wrote in an Instagram post. "This is not shark advocacy...it is selfish, self-promotion."
Domeier wrote in a separate Instagram post that a day after Ramsey's videos went viral, about 60 people visited the waters around her swim, putting themselves and the area's sharks at risk.
"Guess how many sharks were observed: ZERO! Don't you think all those people in the water might intimidate the sharks??" he wrote.
David Shiffman, a marine conservation biologist who studies sharks, told The Washington Post: "I can't believe that 'please don't grab the 18-foot long wild predator' is something that needs to be explicitly said out loud, but here we are."
"There is absolutely no reason for this person to grab and attempt to ride a free-swimming animal. It doesn't show that sharks aren't dangerous, it shows that some humans make bad choices," Shiffman tweeted.
In one Instagram photo, Ramsey's hand appears to be placed on the shark. She also wrote in a different post, "I waited quietly, patiently, observing as she swam up to the dead sperm whale carcass and then slowly to me passing close enough I gently put my hand out to maintain a small space so her girth could pass."
Ramsey helps lead educational shark diving tours in Oahu, the Post reported.
"I know some people criticize touch but what some don't realize is that sometimes sharks seek touch," Ramsey added in the post. "I wish more people would have a connection with sharks and the natural world, because then they would understand that it's not petting sharks or pushing them off to maintain a respectable space that is hurting sharks (because trust me if she didn't like being pet she can handle and communicate)."
She continued, "it's the wasteful and cruel practice of grabbing and catching sharks to cut off their fins (which slowly kills them) for shark fin soup."
[Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that sharks are marine mammals. Sharks belong to a family of fish that have skeletons made of cartilage.]
The current outbreak, which began in October 2017 off southwest Florida, has been tied to a record 589 sea turtle deaths and 213 manatee deaths, the Herald-Tribune reported, citing figures from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Sea Shepherd released a video showing fishermen shouting, hurling objects and trying to foul the propellors of the M/V Farley Mowat, a Sea Shepherd vessel used in campaigns against illegal fisheries activities.