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Archive for July, 2014

Photo credit: http://cruiseastute.com/blog/category/news/ships/costa-concordia-disaster/

MAYDAY! MAYDAY! We’ve Run Aground!!…Assessing the early impacts of the Costa Concordia wreck

A week ago, on July 23, 2014, the Costa Concordia was finally towed away from its wreck site near Giglio Island, Tuscany, Italy where it ran aground on a submerged rock over two and a half years ago on January 13, 2012. Disasters like this one have the potential to royally screw up the environment. Immediate response and careful investigations are important for assessing what environmental impacts are attributed to chemicals and toxins released from the wreckage and salvage operations.

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Beware! Shellfish are taking over the fishing industry

Overfishing has created a cascading effect in the marine food web. Once, large apex predators, such as cod, dominated the fishing industry, but now, shellfish have taken over and contribute to more than half the fisheries stock.

RossSea

Take your iron! Seasonally melting snow as an iron supply to the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Observations show that the amount of primary productivity in the McMurdo Sound in the Ross Sea of Antarctica cannot be supported by the winter reserve of iron alone. This study suggests that atmospherically deposited iron accumulated on snow could be an additional nutrient supply to this region as it melts each year. This iron from melting snow could account for up to 15% of the region’s primary productivity.

Palmyra Atoll

Home is Where the Lagoon is: how highly mobile manta rays rely on specific habitats

There is nothing like coming home after a long trip; you’re able to rest, refuel, and recharge your batteries. Mobile marine species, like manta rays, seem to feel this way too, often spending significant time in atolls and lagoons. But how exactly are they utilizing these habitats? Researchers are beginning to put the pieces together, describing the reliance of manta rays on specific habitats.

Source: Keller et al.

Why Do Sea Turtles Get Tumors?

Large numbers of green sea turtles are growing tumors that impede their swimming, block their sight, and prevent them from feeding. Researchers know that the tumor-causing disease, fibropapillomatosis, is more prevalent in some areas than others, but no one knows why. In this study, scientists set out to determine whether exposure to chemical pollutants may make sea turtles more susceptible to fibropapillomatosis.

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Seafood? Yes! Plastics? No!

Seafood is an important part of people’s diets worldwide, so it is crucial to understand the presence of microplastics in seafood. Van Cauwenberghe and Janssen measured plastics ingested by the mussel Mytilus edulis and the oyster Crassostrea gigas because of their filter-feeding behaviors.

Figure 1. Eastern Boundary Current Systems (EBCSs).  This study utilizes historical wind data from these EBCSs, with wind trends ranging from 17 to 61 years in duration.

Strengthening Winds and Upwelling in a Changing Climate

In 1990, Andrew Bakun hypothesized that warming temperatures and changes in sea-level pressure gradients would lead to warm season intensification of upwelling favorable winds. This highlighted study puts his hypothesis to the test by analyzing historical wind trend data in four eastern boundary current systems of the world. The strength and spatial extent of upwelling has numerous implications for ecosystem health and major fisheries.

Mahi Mahi Dolphin Fish Dorado Bull Jumping

Too much acid in the mahi: Ocean acidification and larval dolphinfish

How will increased atmospheric carbon dioxide affect your dinner? Larval dolphinfish (or, ‘mahi mahi’) are apparently very sensitive to increased ocean acidification, a product of rising atmospheric CO2. This is one of the first studies of the effects of ocean acidification on the early life stage of a pelagic fish species.

Sea Catfish with a Seventh Sense

The Seventh Sense: Catfish Sense pH Changes

Some catfish aren’t just limited to the traditional five senses – instead, they have a unique adaptation to sense pH changes in the water to help them find their prey.

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Fight of the Century: CO2 vs. Calcifying Phytoplankton

From the very first sentence of the abstract, these scientists make clear they are not messing around, “Ocean acidification is a result of the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere into the ocean and has been identified as a major environmental and economic threat.” In other words, humans are causing ocean acidification and the consequences will hit everything from the blue of the sea to the green in our wallets. So how is the most abundant species of calcifying phytoplankton being affected?

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus). Photograph by Brian J. Skerry

Are whale sharks in trouble?

A recent study at the global scale suggests that there are two distinct populations of whale shark (Indo-Pacific and Atlantic Ocean). Authors show the evidence that populations of sharks aggregating at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia have been declining in genetic diversity from 2007 to 2012.

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