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photo credit: Anne Hartwell

Glaciers have big league role in silica budget.

Glaciers get a lot of attention because they’re expansive sheets of ice. They’re important to understand because they can impact sea level, circulation, climate, albedo, and they are homes to microbial organisms and large animals. A new reason they are getting attention is their recently realized importance to the global silica budget. Researchers found that melting glaciers deliver enough silica to the surface ocean that their contribution should not be ignored.

Adult hawksbill turtle, one of the study subjects of Brei et al. 2016. Image credit: NOAA Photo Library

Turn off some lights for the turtles: using statistics to make turtle conservation tangible

You’ve heard about “turn down for what…”; now check out this article and figure out exactly what you’re turning down for, or at least turning the lights down for! Turtles are impacted by light pollution; this article summarizes research framing this problem in an economic way.

Congress can be a confusing place. This brief guide will help you become better informed and more active. Credit: wikicommons.

Keeping Up the Fight: Tips for Science Policy Engagement

Concerned for the future of science? I’ve highlighted a few things you can do to stay engaged in 15 minutes a day.

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Fisheries and Food Security

Fish have provided sustenance for millions of people, but in a world where stocks are rapidly depleting, what are the consequences of trying to save and rehabilitate their populations?

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Working with the coast

The coast is very dynamic and at the constant mercy of wind and water energy. Often times, humans will try to control the coast by constructing seawalls and groins. Such projects have major impacts on sediment transport that can affect natural ecosystems and recreational beaches. Read here about a group of scientists who sought to quantify just how much of an impact seawall and groin development had on a section of coast in southeast India.

Soft coral dominated reef. Author: Matt Kieffer. Source: Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/15439205306)

Hard Coral or Macroalgae? Coral Reefs May Have Another Option

Most of the time coral reef communities are discussed, it seems the focus is whether they’re dominated by hard coral or algae. It turns out there may be other possible outcomes for reefs in the future. Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

Fig 2. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) (Caroline Weir).

Contaminant fingerprints in fat tell all

This tell-all exposé isn’t from the Maury Show…read on to learn about the use of a nifty chemistry technique that paints a picture of all the contaminants found in the fat of Brazilian dolphins, and what this means for you

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Earth’s strongest current even stronger than previously thought

The Antarctic Circumpolar current, which wraps around Antarctica and connects the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, is notoriously difficult to measure. Recently a group of researchers tackled the wild current, and found it was 30% stronger than scientists previously thought.

An eight-week old starfish larva forms vortices around its body while eating. This image was made by adding tiny white beads to the water that follow the diverging currents. Food is trapped in the vortices and brought to the larva’s mouth. (Figure 1a in the paper.)

The whirling world of starfish larvae whorls

A close look at starfish larvae reveals the beautiful patterns they create while moving through the water. These tiny vortex machines can create lots of swirls around themselves to trap food, or they can let the water flow by them smoothly when they want to swim fast.

Fig. 1. Encroaching Mangrove in Homestead, FL
Source: G. Gardner, National Park Service, via Wikimedia Commons

Mangrove Takeover Impacting Salt Marshes

Mangroves are encroaching on salt marsh habitats worldwide, but what does this change in plant community mean for the plants, ecosystem processes, and other inhabitants of these areas? Find out a bit of the answer to that question in today’s oceanbites!

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Beyond Florida-bound: Birds tweak their winter travel plans in response to climate change

Seabirds are switching up their annual winter travels in response to climate change…read on to discover how researchers used museum displays, isotopes, and really expensive GPS tags to piece together this seabird story.

Figure 2: 3D-image of a coral reef in HI presented in a detailed presentation about monitoring the change of a reef area via SfM. The video is  available to watch for free on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/140017194

Ocean mapping on a budget

The seafloor is complex and mapping it is difficult because direct observations are hindered because it is underwater. Scientists have developed field methods and remote sensing methods to model the geomorphology of the seafloor but they are either limited spatially or by resolution. A newer method being applied to seafloor mapping is called Structure from Motion, and its low cost and high resolution may play a big role in future projects regarding ocean exploration. Read more to find out how scientists used it to increase the accuracy of rugosity measurements on a Hawaiian coral reef.

Image credit: Pinterest

The sappiest oceanbites article you may ever read: one author’s ponderings about gratitude for the oceans

When I first saw the email stating that the oceanbites theme week would revolve around why we are thankful for the oceans, my mind flew back to my grade school celebration of the first Thanksgiving. We dressed up as Pilgrims and Native Americans, ate traditional dishes from the first Thanksgiving, and lined up to state […]

Courtesy Evan-Amos via wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pumpkin-Pie-Slice.jpg)

The ocean is my cake

Or, to be more thematically appropriate, pie. Pumpkin pie. Because, if we’re being honest, pumpkin pie is the superior Thanksgiving pie. [Editor’s note: This is merely the author’s opinion. Clearly, chocolate pudding pie is the superior Thanksgiving pie]

A mother and baby sperm whale.

A Whale Shaped Needle in a Ocean Sized Haystack

Sperm whales are very large, but they can still be tricky to find in the ocean! These researchers combined several data sets, from centuries old whaling records to modern automated location recording, to determine the locations off the southwest Australia most suitable for sperm whales, so policy makers can plan to protect these animals and other scientists can save time searching for them.

Mussel bed in an intertidal zone during low tide. Photo by Ian Sutton, 2009.

With A Little Help From My Friend: Unexpected benefits of invasive species?

Invasive species are widely talked about as unequivocally bad influences on ecosystems, but oftentimes their interactions are more complex. Click here to read more about an unexpected interplay between two mussel species in the intertidal zone!

Figure 2: Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Credit: Wikicommons.

The Pacific Pacemaker: Using Models to Explain Warming Hiatus

While the Earth’s mean surface temperature is slowly increasing, there are occasional, temporary slowdowns in the overall trend. The Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, a strong, varying climate pattern, may be held accountable for the phenomenon.

Blubber from stranded common bottlenose dolphins was used in this research. Common bottlenose dolphins are globally distributed and are considered an apex marine predator. Credit: NASA - http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/detail.cfm?mediaid=21807, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37679800

Rachel Carson had the right idea: DDT persists in unexpected ways in dolphins

Rachel Carson was right to focus her novel on the effects of DDT; DDT persists to this day in dolphins off the California coast in forms that are often not monitored by monitoring programs.

A view from my outdoor office at the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Bon Voyage to Oceanbites

Oceanbites has been an incredible experience. Today is my goodbye post and my thank you to the readers and Oceanbites contributors!

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The Antarctic Peninsula is cooling… for now

Temperature records from the Antarctic Peninsula show that the region has been cooling since the end of the 20th century. But the story is much more complicated than that. Temperatures in the Antarctic are extremely variable, and these findings only highlight the climate drivers that lead to that variability

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