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Marine Biology

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Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is preparing for the arrival of five Beluga whales from a zoo and amusement park in Canada after navigating approval processes on both sides of the U.S. border and overcoming legal challenges from environmental groups.

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NEW YORK (AP) — When a killer whale slowly circled back toward wildlife photographer Brian Skerry in the middle of the ocean after discarding the giant sting ray it was devouring, panic is not what came to mind: “Part of my brain is thinking, ‘I can’t believe what I’m seeing,’” recalled Skerry. “'Don’t screw it up.'”

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DARWIN, Australia (AP) — Wildlife rangers have trapped a 4.4-meter (14.5-foot) saltwater crocodile at a tourist destination in Australia's Northern Territory, the biggest caught in the area in years, a wildlife ranger said Monday.

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Alaska has a lot going for it: stunning glaciers, lush forests and ample wildlife both on and off land. Travelers looking to have an up close and personal look at whales can’t do much better than Alaska, as it’s home to multiple whale species during the summer months. Humpback, gray, killer (orca) and beluga whales are all found in waters around Alaska, particularly by Juneau and Seward, and in the Inside Passage. Visitors can opt to see them on small whale-watching boat tours and on personal sea kayaks, and it’s likely that they can be spotted from cruise ship decks. No matter your vantage point, breaching humpback whales and swimming pods of killer whales are an extraordinary sight to behold.

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For scuba-divers, nothing can quite compare to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It’s home to more than 1,600 species of fish, about 600 types of hard and soft coral, 133 species of sharks and rays, 30 species of whales and dolphins, and six of the world’s seven species of threatened marine turtles. Keep a lookout for humphead Maori wrasse, giant clams, dugong and parrotfish. The 1,430-mile, colorful reef is the only living structure visible from space. Unfortunately, the reef has been extremely affected by coral bleaching, resulting in the loss of reportedly half of its coral. Still, the Great Barrier Reef remains stunning and mesmerizing, and eco-friendly tours are available.

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Made famous from Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” the Galapagos Islands are an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Ecuador, that’s well-known for its diverse and unique wildlife population. The 19 islands are home to a number of endemic species, meaning some animals are only found there; examples include the Galapagos giant tortoise, Galapagos penguin (the only penguin species found north of the equator), marine iguana, many types of finch and Galapagos fur seal. A staggering 97% of Galapagos land area is designated a national park, allowing for the protection of the various fauna and flora. Visitors can expect to see sea lions napping on sandy beaches or even benches, while snorkelers may also spot green sea turtles, octopuses, sea horses and reef sharks. A popular way of exploring the Galapagos is on a small expedition cruise.

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“Zinc is one of the minerals most commonly associated with immune health — not surprising, considering the many immune cells it affects,” explains Tynan.

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Few Florida beaches have more activities for children than Clearwater’s. Sunsets at Pier 60 is a daily festival that begins two hours before sunset and ends two hours after the sun goes down. Showcase events include jugglers, magicians, acrobats and artists making landscape paintings in minutes. Thrill-seekers can ride a giant slide or skip through a bouncy house right on the beach.

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Palawan's extraordinary natural beauty continues into its underwater depths. The Calamian Islands, located just off Palawan's northern coast, are home to some of the best and most accessible diving opportunities in the region. Coron Island is surrounded by numerous wreck sites from sunken Japanese ships during World War II. An oil tanker, known as Okikawa Maru, is the largest of the wreck sites.

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Chances are, you're visiting Cat Island to decompress, so there's no need to pack your day with activities. Spend some time coiled in a hammock, staring out into the waves or strolling along the eight miles of pink-sand beach. Visitors who want to get active can fish, swim, hike, and snorkel. Many locals describe Dean's Blue Hole as the deepest blue hole in the world. The natural saltwater pool extends 663 feet down into the ocean, and also boasts the world's second-largest underwater chamber. For those who don't want to trek to the ocean's depths, there are coral caves and tropical marine creatures to peep along the edge.

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BRIGANTINE — Marine Mammal Stranding Center Director Bob Schoelkopf started his Wednesday with a call about two stranded green sea turtles on Long Beach Island. The next day, a call about six more near-dead turtles needing help came into the nonprofit animal rescue center.

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