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human impacts

This tag is associated with 19 posts
Fig. 4: Ringed seal pup. Author: Shawn Dahle, NOAA, Polar Ecosystems Program research cruise. Source: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pusa_hispida_pup.jpg

Throwing Babies out with the Sea Ice: Ringed Seals Response to Ice Decline

As the Earth warms, sea ice declines. What happens to those animals who rely on the ice? Today’s oceanbites looks at one animal, the ringed seal, and how it may be affected by climate change!

Red Crown-of-Thorns Starfish eating coral. Author Matt Kieffer, Flickr. No modifications made. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/3016449061 Link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Small MPAs: the new all-you-can-eat buffets?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a popular conservation tool and are in many situations very effective. Unfortunately, as with many plans, there may be some unintended consequences, as seen in the case of small MPAs in Fiji, where they appear to have attracted corallivorous crown-of-thorns sea stars (Acanthaster spp.). Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

Fig. 3. Entangled Sea Turtle. Source: NOAA.

Let’s Ghost Fishing for Halloween!

Ghost fishing is ghastly because it creates underwater graveyards for wildlife. The authors covered here wrote a new review of gear entanglement among mammals, reptiles, and sharks. Find out what they discovered by reading today’s post!

whalebone

Big animals face big trouble in our oceans

Many believe we are in the midst of another mass extinction both on land and in the ocean. What marine animals are most at risk of extinction? Using current and past extinction data, researchers were able to pinpoint the most vulnerable types of marine animals.

First-generation hatchery-reared fish have been released since 1992 to boost the threatened Hood River, OR steelhead population. Photo modified from Oregon State University @ Flickr.

Pet trout: domestication rapidly alters gene expression

The impact of domestication can be detected within one generation in steelhead trout, and may involve adaptation to highly crowded conditions.

greenlandshark

Ancient swimmers: Greenland sharks live for centuries

Using radiocarbon dating, scientists have discovered that the Greenland shark can live longer than any other known vertebrate. How long have some of these individuals been alive?

Fig. 1. Polar Bear (climate change refugee). Source: Wikimedia Commons, Author Arturo de Frias Marques.

If You Must, Adjust? Polar Bears Leaving Sea Ice in the Arctic

Everyone knows that polar bears have become the poster children for species threatened by climate change. And it’s for good reason that they are. Polar bears rely on sea ice for access to prey, finding mates, and creating dens. The persistence of the species depends on the state of sea-ice and more generally a healthy marine ecosystem in the Arctic. Unfortunately, the volume and extent of sea ice have been decreasing by 28% and 14% per decade. Is there a way for polar bears to adapt to the changing sea ice coverage in this sensitive habitat?

Happy Shark Week! Today we examine a persistent and interesting biogeographical puzzle: why are there so few deep sea sharks?

Why don’t sharks go deep?

Happy Shark Week! Today we examine a persistent and interesting biogeographical puzzle: why are there so few deep sea sharks?

Big container shrimp moving across a lot of marine habitat. Credit: NOAA

Eavesdropping prawns get more than they bargained for

Marine animals living below the surface have to put up with noise generated by human activity. Heavy shipping traffic can bring a lot of noise. How does the common prawn respond?

Fig 1: Marine debris on the beach at Green Island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Author: Keeley Belva, NOAA. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kure_debris_440.jpg

To I.D. Debris: LIDAR as a tool to identify trash on the beach

Scientists may have a new option for figuring out how much debris litters our beaches and what it all is! Find out more in today’s World Oceans Day post on marine debris!

invasivefish

Aliens attack: Predicting the spread of marine invasive species

Species invasions have become serious issues in the marine environment, mostly as a result of increased ship traffic. Once a new species invades an area, it is next to impossible to draw it out. What if there was a way to predict the arrival of alien species to new locations in the ocean? Would this predictive power help minimize future invasions?

Pretty, isn't it? "The Blue Marble" photograph of Earth, taken when the Apollo 17 mission travelled to the moon in 1972. This picture is featured on the official Earth Day Flag. [Wikimedia]

Go Green for Earth Day!

Do Mother Nature a solid with these helpful tips & tricks to go green today!

Image 5: A wide array of plastic fragments found in a freshwater river.

A Million Little Pieces….of plastic

Trillions of tiny plastic fragments are floating in the Earth’s ocean. These microplastics can attract organic pollutants, be ingested by marine organisms, and even end up in table salt. This Earth Week post gives a broad introduction to microplastics and examples of how we can all help to reduce this problem!

Sea_cow

Stellar’s Sea Cow and Their Not So Stellar Demise

Steller’s Sea Cow provides an example of how many large animals in the Pleistocene may have gone extinct.

Figure 1: Seagrass meadow in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photographer: Heather Dine. Source: NOAA Photo Library via https://www.flickr.com/photos/51647007@N08/5077876455/

Seagrass, Disturbance, and the Blue Carbon Cycle

Seagrass beds bury carbon incredibly well! What happens to that carbon when you uproot, plow through, or otherwise disturb seagrasses? Does that carbon get released again? And how long does it take to capture that much carbon again once the seagrass grows back? All great questions with answers in today’s oceanbites!

Red Rock Shrimp (Lysmata Californica).  Credit: D.D.Deheyn and M.C.Allen.

Ocean acidification may make “peekaboo” harder for shrimp

What happens to a shrimp’s shell when exposed to more acidic conditions? Read more to find out!

Figure 1: The seagrass Posidonia oceanica © Carlos Minguell, Oceana

Long live the seagrass! The relationship between human disturbance and genetic diversity

The Mediterranean seagrass plays very important ecological functions but human disturbances are thought to be one of the main causes for its population decline. In this study, Jahnke et al (2015) try to understand how genetic diversity correlates with human disturbances and the results are surprising.

Fig 1

Baleen whales have a bone to pick with noise pollution

CT scans of the skull of a beached whale has helped a pair of researchers figure out how baleen whales hear. Through computer modeling, they found that baleen whales, in addition to using soft tissue in their head like antennas, also use the bones in their skull to pick up sounds from their environment.

Figure 1: Yearly production of electrical energy by wind farms globally.  The red line is the doubling time, three years.

Environmental Blow from Wind Farms

Wind farms are an ideal source of electrical power because of their ability to provide an environmentally low-impact fuel source at a low cost. Over the past few decades, global wind farm production has grown exponentially and will continue to rise into the future. Unfortunately, reported cases of environmental impacts continue to arise; what was once viewed as an eco-friendly fuel source is gaining scrutiny from nearby communities.

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