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Archive for January, 2014

Sunscreen for marine microbes

Humans are not the only species that apply suntan lotion to prevent sunburns. Microbes all over the globe produce their own suntan lotion, called MAAs, to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful rays.

Now you see it, now you don’t!

BRMs (Burial Recording Mines) are cylindrical instruments that capture 4-D data of small scale sediment position on the sea floor in intervals as close as every 15 minutes. Scientists can use the information they collect to model the evolution of sediment geomorphology on the sea floor in response to normal and extreme conditions and use that information to predict how the sediment buries and shifts objects lying on the seafloor.

A Song of Ice, Fire, and Climate: Could Warming Seas Release Methane from Beneath the Seafloor?

In 2008, scientists were troubled to find methane bubbling up from marine sediments off the coast of a string of islands in the Arctic Ocean. In this study, researchers investigate whether the methane is the result of destabilization of methane hydrates under the seafloor due to warming ocean waters.

Coral Invasion in the Gulf of Mexico

The black sun coral is “invading” the Gulf! Once settled, it could out-compete other benthic epifauna and change the dynamic of the region’s community structure.

We didn’t start the fire!… that changed the southeast Australian landscape 44 thousand years ago

A sediment core suggests that the large ecosystem changes that occurred in southeastern Australia were caused by the extinction of large grazers, not human-controlled fire use, which caused fire-prone forest vegetation to overtake the grassy landscape.

Marine herbivores “steal” and use chemical defenses from algal hosts

A recent study has shown that a species of amphipod is disregarding the “WARNING: DO NOT INGEST” label on chemically defended seaweed. As it turns out, these tiny herbivores are able to sequester (seize and store), via ingestion, some of the toxins found within the tissues of macroalgae. These amphipods then use the sequestered toxins for their own defense against predation by fish. What was long thought to be a mutualism between amphipods and algae has now shifted, giving a greater advantage to the herbivore.

First evidence of deep explosive volcanic activity at the Marsili Seamount

The Marsili Seamount is the largest volcanic complex in the Mediterranean area and Europe. Previously thought to have last erupted between 100,000 and 1 million years ago, new evidence suggests the latest eruption was only 3 thousand years ago. Additionally, that eruption was explosive and deep (500-800 meters below sea level), resulting in several tephra deposits left for scientists to analyze.

Sea ice leads cause changes in mercury and ozone levels in the Arctic

In our changing climate, the opening and closing of sea-ice is occurring more frequently, resulting from thick perennial Arctic sea ice shifting into thin seasonal ice sheets. This physical phenomenon can not only affect the energy balance in the Arctic, but can also have some influence on its atmospheric chemistry involving components such as mercury and ozone.

Reconstructing climate history from sediments in the Gulf of Taranto, Italy

What was the climate like in Southern Italy 10,000 years ago? This question and many more can be answered by collecting sediment from the seafloor. Understanding the types of sediment and where it all came from, and determining the age of deposition make it possible to reconstruct the history of regional climate.

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.

Plenty of fish in the sea? Appearances can be deceiving.

Overfishing reduces the ability to adapt in the face of change, even in highly abundant marine fishes.

Annual fishing weir catches may be under-reported to the U.N. by Persian Gulf Nations

Scientists from the University of British Columbia who are a part of the Sea Around Us Project use Google Earth to estimate fish catches in the Persian Gulf. Their findings show that the estimated catch is up to six times greater than official figures from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Hitchin’ a Ride – The Risks of Ballast Water Exchange

Ballast water transfers occur in or near major ports all the time to keep up with the demands of global shipping. Read about some of the potentially harmful organisms catching a free ride.

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