Zoe Ruge

Zoe Ruge has written 6 posts for oceanbites
Figure 1: March 11, 2011 magnitude 9.0 earthquake (red target) and location of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor (black and yellow radiation symbol) (Source:  http://www.whoi.edu/website/fukushima-symposium/overview)

Juvenile Pacific albacore party where the activity is hot: Studying the links between Fukushima-derived radionuclide distribution and fish migration

Radioactive particles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor entered the Pacific food chain in less than a month after the March 2011 tsunami. Trans-Pacific migrating fish are transporting these radionuclides across the ocean faster than surface currents. Could these radionuclide tracers help researchers determine the migration patterns of certain fish?

Ostreopsis cover fig

Talk about hay fever: toxic algal blooms may cause one doozy of an allergic reaction

Since the late 1990s, human respiratory symptoms have been associated with seasonal blooms of the dinoflagellate Ostropsis cf. ovata along the Tuscan coastline. While inhalation is the suspected pathway of human exposure, it is unclear whether human illness is an allergic response to breathing in cells of the algae themselves, or if beach goers are being affected by toxins produced by O. cf. ovata. Marine aerosols could hold the key.

Figure 3: Sun sponge
(Source: www.revolve-magazine.com)

Sea sponges soak up pollutants

Biomonitoring can be a great tool for measuring pollutants in marine ecosystems, but not all organisms accumulate chemicals equally. The sun sponge is being tested as a new and improved bioindicator for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Figure 3:  Diversity of fluorescent patterns and colors in marine fishes.
A, swell shark; B, ray; C, sole; D, flathead; E, lizardfish; F, frogfish; G, false stonefish; H, false moray eel; I, false moray eel; J, pipefish; K, sand stargazer; L, goby; M, goby; N, surgeonfish; O, threadfin bream.

From sea to glowing sea: many fish are found to biofluoresce

Bioluminescence, or light generation, has long caught our eye in the dark ocean water, but researchers have recently discovered how common a biofluorescent glow is in marine fish.

Anthropogenic marine debris (Source: http://www.oprah.com/world/Ocean-Pollution-Fabien-Cousteaus-Warning-to-the-World/1)

Waiter, there’s a whale in my soup: investigating the South Pacific garbage patch

Plastic debris has been found in both the North Pacific and North Atlantic since the early 1970s. It accumulates in naturally forming gyres located in the subtropical zones of the world’s oceans, creating a “plastic soup.” Recent investigations have confirmed the presence of a similar garbage patch in the South Pacific.

Illustration of a blue whale earplug. (A) Schematic diagram showing the location of the earplug within the ear canal: (a) whale skull, (b) tympanic bulla, (c) pars flaccida/tympanic membrane (“glove finger”), (d) cerumen (earplug), (e) external auditory meatus, (f) auditory canal, (g) muscle tissue, (h) blubber tissue, and (i) epidermis. (B) Extracted blue whale earplug; total length 25.4 cm. (C) Earplug longitudinal cross-section. (D) View (20x) or earplug cross-section showing discrete laminae. (Trumble et al. 2013)

Ear wax holds untold treasures for whale researchers

Ingested contaminants, along with hormones, are preserved in the whale’s earplug. Unlike muscle and blubber, ear wax does not allow rapid biodegradation of compounds. This wax builds up in laminar layers throughout the whale’s lifetime, producing a timeline of the whale’s existence, much like tree rings.

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