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Archive for May, 2015

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Toxic meal: Chemical cues from copepods increase red-tide toxicity

Yes, you can purchase a fuzzy red tide-forming algal cell. Aside from being much smaller and lacking any type of eye, these organisms can produce massive, toxin-rich blooms in the ocean. Nasty toxins can be harmful to other organisms in the water and even reach humans via the consumption of shellfish and fish. Through the release of chemical cues, copepods have been shown to promote further toxicity in bloom-forming algae.

Figure 1: The strange but beautiful opah, Lampris guttatus. Image from swfsc.noaa.gov

The first evidence of a warm blooded fish

Fish are cold blooded, right? Their body temperature is regulated by the temperature of the surrounding water. Well, this may not be the case for all fish. New evidence suggests a species of fish, the opah, is warm blooded! This is the first evidence of full body endothermy in fishes, making this fish kind of a big deal

Figure 1. Loggerhead sea turtle. Photo Source: http://www.animalspot.net/loggerhead-sea-turtle.html

Technology for Turtles: TurtleWatch Program to Protect Sea Turtles and Assist Fishermen

A technology that both benefits fishermen and helps prevent sea turtle bycatch? Yes, please! The great news is that it exists! And now, it has been updated to include leatherbacks. Read on to learn more about TurtleWatch.

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Staying ahead of commercial exploitation in the deep sea

The first seafloor massive sulfide mine in the Pacific is expected to begin commercial operation in 2017. Licenses have already been granted and environmental impact assessments conducted, but we know little about the marine communities surrounding sulfide deposits in the ocean. This study characterizes such communities in a future mining exploration site.

Fjord in Norway: the Seven Sisters. (Source: Quarks and Quasars)

Cold Fjords are Hot Spots for Carbon Burial

Marine sediments are responsible for long-term burial of organic carbon. Fjords transport massive amounts of fresh sediment to the ocean each year, and researchers created new organic carbon burial budgets to account for this. They have found that 18 Megatons of organic carbon are buried in these environments each year, which further demonstrates the importance of high-latitude glacial systems.

How evolutionary biologists get around.

From 591 leagues under the sea to eukaryote and me: introducing the closest known relative to our cells

Scientists think they’ve found an ancient link to the eukaryotic cell from the deep down in the ocean, and it’s an archaeon.

http://walkingwith.wikia.com/wiki/Precambrian_Era

A 2.5 billion year old story about iron in the ocean, told by a rock

New light has been shed on the possibility of an alternative iron sink than previous thought prior to the oxygenation of the oceans 2.45 billion years ago. The findings could affect our interpretations of the early seawater chemistry, nutrient cycling, and trace metal distribution in the Precambrian.

Figure 3 - Signs alerting citizens of the moratorium on river herring harvest in MA.

Protecting Hometown Herring

River herring are anadromous fish, which means they live most of their life in the ocean but spawn in freshwater streams and rivers. Recent decades have seen a massive decline in river herring populations caused primarily by over-harvesting and decreased access to spawning habitat. These fish are now largely protected in freshwater systems during their spawning migrations, but they are still at risk of bycatch while in the ocean. Little is known about river herring movement behavior while they are in the ocean. Cutting edge technology in chemistry and genetics is helping to shed light on this.

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Global temperatures: an uphill battle of warm vs. cold

An illusional and fanciful pause in global warming has climate change skeptic buzzing. Understanding the decadal oscillations of natural climate variability places transient pauses in global warming in perspective. Spoiler: we’re still trending towards a warmer climate.

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What would coral reefs be like without human impact?

One would think that an isolated reef ecosystem shielded from the influence of people would provide an ideal benchmark against which other coral reefs can be compared. But in a recent study, researchers found it isn’t that simple.

Figure 2. The smaller image is a segment of a nerve taken from a dissected fin whale tongue in its resting (un-stretched) state. The larger image shows the extent that the nerve can stretch while still quickly returning to its original length without any observable damage. Nerves in the tongue and mouth of rorqual whales can extend from 75 to 115% longer than their resting state. In contrast to this, a 10% extension in a human nerve reduces nerve performance and a 30% extension would cause nerve failure and permanent damage.

Elastic nerves make rorqual whales the Mister Fantastic of the ocean

A team of researchers have discovered extremely elastic nerves in the mouth and tongue of rorqual whales. This is highly unusual considering nerves in nearly all other animals are quite rigid and sensitive to damage by overextension.

Mark the green sea turtle's new profile pic!(Credit: Roy Niswanger)

Taiwan creates “Facebook” for sea turtles!

Photo ID databases have been used to estimate population sizes for zebras, cheetahs, whales, sharks dolphins, turtles and more. This tool has now spread to a new area. Introducing the first animal photo ID database in Taiwan for green sea turtles!

The beauty of Boston Harbor. Credit: Trip Advisor

Nineteen years later: The clean-up of Boston Harbor’s waste water

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority spent ten years from 1991 and 2000 drastically improving the treatment of waste water released into Boston Harbor in an effort to improve the overall health of this unique estuary. This study measured how the sediments reacted and recovered to this massive effort. Despite the complexities and variability, from start to finish the sediments saw reductions in oxygen demand, nitrogen fluxes, and organic matter.

Fig. 1: A school of bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) (iss-foundation.org).

Open-ocean oddity: why isn’t increased prey abundance helping bluefin tuna?

For an apex marine predator like bluefin tuna, increased abundance of prey species should be beneficial. So why then is tuna health on the decline? Read on to find out!

Green sea urchin. Photo credit: Ed Bierman.

Sea urchins and their pathogens: a relationship that’s heating up.

The relationship between sea urchin, their amoeba pathogens and their kelp prey is changing with the climate. Find out how!

Figure 2. "Deep ocean!" PFASs shout. (picture from Hastings water works)

Pollutants have fun sliding downhill in submarine canyons!

Many of us believe that the deep ocean is pristine and not affected by any human activities; the fact that pollutants such as perfluoroalkyl substances can reach deep ocean gives us a warning sign. It was estimated that around 60 kg of these chemicals was transported during the sampling periods.

Figure 1: Centrostephanus rodgersii

Can sperm cells make it in an acidified ocean?

Researchers in Australia investigated whether sea urchin sperm are going to make it through an acidified ocean or if they’ve reached their tipping point. Read on to learn more!

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Slightly Refreshing News In A Time of Drought

Two hot items in climate science today are the North American drought and the decade-long warming hiatus. This study finds a relationship between these two headliners and seeks to answer the question: Are humans responsible for the drought?

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Offspring inherit trait developed in parents

Damselfish offspring inherit a trait developed by parents raised in warmer temperatures.

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.

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