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Miscellaneous: Reference Desk | Sitemap's 2006 Top Ten Underwater Stories of the Year

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MIAMI, Florida -- published links to over 3,000 stories in 2006, marking another year as the world’s leading portal for underwater news. 2006 also saw website traffic grow by over 100% for another year. Thanks for your continued support.

Like 2005, the top stories from 2006 echo the theme of exploration, exploitation, and destruction. Perhaps in 2006, we at least turned the corner, finally realizing that destruction and exploitation have real consequences in the world's oceans.

1) Steve Irwin Killed by Stingray’s Barb While Filming ‘Ocean’s Deadliest’

Steven Irwin, known as the 'Crocodile Hunter', was killed in September by a stingray barb during a diving expedition on the Great Barrier Reef. The stingray’s barb ended Irwin’s life in an instant; with his passing, the underwater world lost a friend like no other. The underwater king will be missed.

2) The Man Who Scared Millions, Peter Benchley, Dead at 65

Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, died in February at the age of 65. Even as Benchley became an advocate for the conservation of sharks, thanks to his novel and Steven Spielberg’s subsequent blockbuster movie, the simple act of swimming in the ocean became synonymous with a sense of terror that something horrible was lurking beneath the water.

3) Sipadan Marine Paradise Destroyed by Grounded Construction Barge

When word leaked out that a construction barge flattened Sipadan’s legendary Dropoff Point inflicting "incalculable" damage, Malaysia’s government went into immediate damage control. The state agency with the responsibility to oversee and protect the marine treasures at Sipadan approved a construction project designed to help the island. Unfortunately, that construction project inadvertently destroyed a reef.

4) Japanese Researchers Find Dolphin with 'Remains' of Legs; 'An Unprecedented Discovery'

In November, Japanese researchers discovered a dolphin with an extra set of fins, the likely remnants of the marine mammal's long-lost legs. The discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land.

5) Japanese Researchers Capture First-Ever Video of a Live Giant Squid

In December, a Japanese research team succeeded in capturing and filming a giant squid while still alive — possibly for the first time. The researchers also say the elusive creatures may be more plentiful than previously believed.

6) Shark Fin Trade Industry Estimated to Harvest 23 to 73 Million Sharks per Year

In September, a new comprehensive study of the shark fin trade revealed that between 23 and 73 million sharks are killed a year solely for their fins. This study was the first estimation based on real data, and the numbers were three times higher than previously reported by the United Nations.

7) Monterey Bay Aquarium Puts another Great White Shark on Display

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California put a great white shark on display in September. This latest great white shark on display follows up on the aquarium’s previous attempt to keep a great white in captivity, an effort that ended in some controversy.

8) ‘Luna’ the Lonely Orca R.I.P

In March, ‘Luna’, the lonely juvenile killer whale from Washington state, died when he was accidentally struck by a tugboat propeller. It was the sad end to a sad story of a whale that craved human interaction, and ended up paying the ultimate price.

9) Coast Guard Divers Perish in Training Exercise

In August, two highly-trained U.S. Coast Guard divers died on a simple check-out dive in the Arctic. Initially, the Coast Guard did not release any details on the accident, only adding to the mystery. Several months later, the mystery still abounds even after the Coast Guard autopsy on the divers was leaked to the press. The autopsy concluded that the divers died as a result of an 189 foot uncontrolled descent. The reason for the uncontrolled descent remains unknown to this day.

10) World’s Largest Artificial Reef, USS Oriskany, Sunk off the Florida Panhandle

In May, the U.S. Navy blasted holes in the retired US aircraft carrier Oriskany off Florida's coast and sent the warship to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico as the world's largest intentionally created artificial reef. The Oriskany sinking marked a growing trend of creating artificial reefs to not only attract marine life, but divers alike.

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