Archive for March, 2014


How Coral Size Influences Fish Size

Many fish find a coral colony to host in, living their whole life in that same coral. They must pick carefully, however, for the shape and size of the coral will determine how the fish will grow.

WACS cruise track superimposed on maps of satellite-derived chlorophyll-a concenatrtions using the Aqua Modis satellite.

A break-up in the relationship between organic carbon in sea spray and chlorophyll-a concentrations

The transfer of organic matter from the surface sea water to sea spray aerosols appears constant despite the concentration of chlorophyll-a. This could suggest that satellite-derived estimates of organic matter in sea spray are inaccurate in the open ocean

Fig 3: The sea bream ready for consumption.

You Are What Your Fish Eats: how an invasive seaweed is contributing to the decline in nutritional value of commercial fish

Invasive species are known to be harmful to native species, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. But recent research has shown that certain invasive species may be affecting the nutritional quality of your food!

Figure 2. Combined high-resolution bathymetry and topographic LiDAR dataset.

Unlocking the secrets of the Kameni Islands in Santorini, Greece

In Geology 101, professors aim to teach the overarching concept that the present is the key to the past. In other words, natural processes that happen in the modern world would have functioned the same way in the distant geologic past. For volcanologists, this means that volcanic events occurring now can help interpret what happened in the past, and visa versa. This applies to the recent work by Nomikou et al. about the emergence and growth of the Kameni Islands in Santorini, Greece.

Fig 2. Locations of core sites.

Rapid Reductions in North Atlantic Deep Water during the Peak of the Last Interglacial Period

North Atlantic deep water forms primarily in more extreme northern latitudes due to the colder, saltier water with a higher density. When this flow of water goes south it mixes with the cold Antarctic water and then redistributes into other parts of the world. As high latitude warming and ocean refreshing reduce water density, North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation can be prohibited.

Figure 3.  Conceptual model showing a northern to southern hemisphere transect at three time instances: Pliocene (>3.3 Ma), Pleistocene transition (2.7 - 2.5 Ma) and Modern (2 - 0 Ma).

Hello Glaciers, Goodbye Winds!

With the intensification of glaciation in the northern hemisphere approximately 2.7 million years ago, the prominent westerly wind belts responded by shifting towards the equator based on evidence from sediment cores. But how exactly are scientists able to determine the position of the winds millions of years ago? The answer lies in proxies!

The original citing of the wreck was in 1982. This picture is a section of a plank with iron nails.

Wrecked in New Zealand

There are well document reports recording the exploration of New Zealand and the South Pacific Ocean by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642 and British Captain James Cook in 1768. During the 125 years between these two voyages, however, there is speculation that there may have been additional explorers who visited the area. In 1982 a ship wreck was noted near Kaipara Harbor on the west coast of Northland in Northern New Zealand. Further investigation of recorded history and analysis of radiocarbon ages have led investigators to believe they may be examining the oldest known New Zealand shipwreck and a piece of evidence that suggests additional exploration of New Zealand by the Dutch after Tasman.

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 1: Distributions of the three most toxic OPEs throughout the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

From Your Sofa to the Sea

Oceanographers from Spain have measured several commonly used (and potentially harmful) organophosphate ester flame retardants in the air over the Mediterranean and Black Seas. What does it mean for the environment? We’re only just beginning to find out.

Figure 2: Aerial view of the marine protected area of Torre Guaceto (www.pugliaevents.it)

The far-reaching benefits of marine reserves

It can actually work! A recent multidisciplinary study combining genetics and modeling conducted in the marine protected area of Torre Guaceto, Italy shows how effective marine reserves can be.

Pozo et al. - Lenga Estuary POPs sampling site

Sticking to it – Sediments act as a “sink” for pollution

POPs, or persistent organic pollutants, are manmade chemicals that don’t break down in the environment and are found nearly everywhere around the planet. In this study, scientists traveled to central Chile to look at a couple of different POPs accumulating in sediments from an estuary.

credit: Photograph by Brian Skerry National Geographic October 2008

Fatter Whales Float Better

North Atlantic right whales are giant marine mammals that rely on their blubber to store energy, stay warm, and float. Their blubber thickness is dependent on nutrition and if they are unable to satisfy their nutritional demands then the consequences can influence how efficiently they dive, and, in the long term, may restrict a population’s ability to reproduce and effectively recover from the Endangered Species list.

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