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Archive for October, 2015

Halloween Edition: Creepy Ocean Critters

For this special Halloween edition of OceanBites we are going to explore the creepy creatures that inhabit our ocean. Get ready to learn about some weird, wonderful, and spooky animals. Happy Halloween!

Decomposition in the Deep Sea

Whale carcasses that fall to the seafloor provide large amounts of food to deep-sea environments. Though ecologically important, little is known about whale falls and the communities they harbor in the vast Atlantic Ocean – all information comes from the Pacific. What happens to large mammals that sink to the bottom of the Atlantic and how does this impact communities there?

Estimating carbon sequestration from plankton poop

Copepod fecal pellets—plankton poop—transport carbon from the ocean surface to the deep where it is stored for thousands of years. A new study presents a framework for scaling up our understanding of this process from observations of single organisms to the global ocean.

Tampering with the food web: what do changes in jellyfish and menhaden populations mean for the ecosystem?

Article: Robinson, K.L., J.J. Ruzicka, F. J., Hernandez, W.M. Graham, M.B. Decker, R.D. Brodeur, and M. Sutor. 2015. Evaluating energy flows through jellyfish and gulf menhaden (Brevoortia patronus) and the effects of fishing on the northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsv088 Background We’ve all grown up learning “who […]

Better Together: Mutualisms contribute to reef fish recruitment

All other things being equal, would you rather live where mutually beneficial relationships are available or where they aren’t? Well, if you’re like me, you’d prefer beneficial relationships. And I’m not alone in that. It turns out that damselfish on reefs prefer to settle where there are cleaner wrasses to keep them parasite-free. Read on to find out more!

I’ll stand guard for you!

When it comes to helping each other out, it turns out that some fishes are better at it than we thought. New research shows how when foraging for food some rabbitfish species stand guard for one another, demonstrating how fishes can posses the cognitive ability to carry out reciprocal altruism acts.

There’s a storm coming, Plankton. And we all best be ready when she does.

Oceanographers have long known that large storms cause changes in the near-shore ocean environment. But how those changes effect the marine ecosystem is still a grey area. A new study out of Texas A&M sheds some light on how plankton, the tiny creatures at the base of the food web, respond to these large atmospheric events.

Tiny plankton make big clouds brighter

Scientists use ocean color from satellites to show that tiny ocean plankton may be responsible for making clouds brighter around Antarctica.

Oceanbites Mingles With ArcticMix (Part 3)

This is part 3 of 3 in a series on the recent ArcticMix expedition aimed at improving ocean models that describe faster-than-predicted Arctic warming. Oceanbites sat down with Dr. Jennifer MacKinnon, chief scientist for the mission, to discuss her experiences in the field and her life as a scientist.

Ocean eddies suck carbon out of the atmosphere, thanks to plankton

When phytoplankton sink into the deep ocean, they take carbon with them, storing CO2 away from the atmosphere. This new study suggests that ocean eddies may play an important role in getting this tiny organisms to sink!

Healthy Obesity: Whales and Dolphins Benefit from their Blubber

Scientists study the genetic underpinnings of blubber formation in whales and dolphins, highlighting genes that may play a key role in human obesity.

A Tropical Cyclone Time Machine in an Australian Cave

Scientists look far and wide to find records of our planets history. This group used layers of mud trapped inside an Australian cave to uncover clues about the history of tropical cyclones over 2,000 years ago. Find out what they learned, and what it may mean for the planet’s future

Tracking the movements of a heavily fished Fijian shark

The silvertip is a reef shark targeted for its fins. Scientists tagged a Fijian silvertip to learn more about what depths and temperatures it likes to hang out in.

Making potable water safe for the seafloor

SWRO desalinization is a great way to get potable water. Unfortunately its production results in a high salinity low nutrient discharge that impacts the benthic communities. This study shows how a simple mitigation effort can reverse damage from discharge in just months!

The coelacanth and its leftover lung

The coelacanth keeps surprising us! Rediscovered off the South African coast in 1938, these animals were once thought to have died out 66 million years ago. Newly characterized lung and fatty structures may have been a key adaptation for their survival in deep-water environments.

Oceanbites Mingles With ArcticMix (Part 2)

This is part two of three in a series on the recent ArcticMix expedition lead by Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) scientists aimed at better understanding the mysterious sources of heat leading the faster-than-predicted rate of Arctic ice-melt due to global warming. Oceanbites sat down with Elizabeth “Effie” Fine, a second-year physical oceanography graduate student at SIO to discuss her experiences in the field, and how she became an Arctic explorer.

A First-Timer’s Look at a Scientist Congressional Visits Day

At Geosciences Congressional Visits Day, 2015, I joined a diverse group of over 60 geoscientists that gathered in Washington, D.C. to learn how to speak to policymakers and how to craft our message requesting continued strong federal support for earth sciences.

By the Light of the Night: Abiotic factors limit Arctic seabird foraging

Understanding how species interact with prey has often led scientists to only consider biological connections. But what if the environment itself alters how efficient predators can be? That may be the case for the thick-billed murre. Click here to find out more!

It’s a virus’ world: Glaciers host unique viral communities

Scientists have only recently started studying the wealth of biological diversity that is found on top of glaciers. Cryoconite holes hold microscopic communities of algae, bacteria, and viruses. These studies are revealing an increasingly complex web of interactions between community members, driving the evolution of many unique adaptations to survive in such stiff competition.

Kelps forced into hiding: Underwater forests troubled by warm oceans

Kelp forests are highly productive and diverse ecosystems found in cool coastal waters. A new study suggests that warmer waters allow for great increases in predation on kelps, forcing these plant-like algae into a limited and sheltered life hidden within crevices. This could pose a major problem as global warming is leading to increasing ocean temperatures.

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