//archives

Archive for December, 2015

Microplastics for Dinner

Please Pass the Plastic

Tiny shards and fibers of plastic termed “microplastics” accumulate in seafood with unknown consequences for human health. Now, they’re turning up in a product even more difficult to avoid: Researchers in Shanghai recently found microplastics in table salts bought from supermarkets across China.

Global Consequences of Melting the Pine Island Glacier

Melting Antarctic glaciers have major consequences on global climate. In this study, climate simulations reveal a seesaw like behavior where cooling near the south pole means warming near the north pole.

How to See Through a Shell

You may never have heard of this funny little ocean creature, but the chiton is pretty incredible. Why? It has hundreds of remarkable little eyes! Read how materials scientists are using this odd ocean animal as a model for building better materials.

Cuttlefish “freeze-out” their predators

Cephalopods such as cuttlefish are known to use camouflage behavior to avoid being eaten. Sharks are able to find disguised cuttlefish using their electrolocation. Do cuttlefish have a way to counter? This study suggests cuttlefish can “freeze” themselves in order to escape predation.

How we broke radiocarbon dating

CO2 from fossil fuel burning doesn’t contain C-14. That’s bad news for the future of radiocarbon dating.

Mystery Solved: Insight into the Eel Migration

Article: Béguer-Pon, M., M. Casonguay, S. Shan, J. Benchetrit, and J.J. Dodson. 2015. Direct observations of American eels migrating across the continental shelf to the Sargasso. Nature Communications 6(8705): 1-9. Background For many organisms, migrating over thousands of miles every year can be the difference in between surviving or not. All sorts of species, including […]

Seagrass, Disturbance, and the Blue Carbon Cycle

Seagrass beds bury carbon incredibly well! What happens to that carbon when you uproot, plow through, or otherwise disturb seagrasses? Does that carbon get released again? And how long does it take to capture that much carbon again once the seagrass grows back? All great questions with answers in today’s oceanbites!

Predator vs. Prey: starfish vs. coral

The crown-of-thorns starfish has become a vicious predator of acroporid corals in the Indo-Pacific. This study looks at recruitment strategies of both the coral and the starfish in order to better understand if the coral has a chance of surviving the feeding frenzy of the crown-of-thorns starfish.

Kelp: It’s whats for dinner (or where you live)

Kelp is a kind of large algae that supports diverse ecosystems. These kelp forests may start receding as a result of ocean warming. How the organisms that live in these forests respond to the warmer environment and damaged kelp may determine how quickly that happens.

Sailing the Southern Ocean for science

Hear about my adventures living on an icebreaker on the Southern Ocean, deploying ocean robots to understand the chemistry and biology of the Southern Ocean.

Why I want to talk about science with you

I’ve been a writer here at Oceanbites for about a year, but now it’s time for me to hang up my mousepad. For my last piece, I discuss why science communication is so important (to me and to the world).

How thick is polar ice?

Based on a simple theory, the authors of this study are able to make a prediction about the distribution of sea ice thickness that works remarkably well, and provides a novel approach to estimating how much ice the polar ice caps contain.

I, Spy – Eye stripes and spots work together to distract predators

Eyespots and eye stripes are common markings on fish bodies. It is thought that they divert predator attacks away from the vulnerable and important head region. This paper shows that threespine stickleback, a predatory fish, prefers to strike at the region of the prey with an eyespot.

Captain’s Log: Hunting for Data in an Era Gone By

Sometimes scientists of the past didn’t plan their projects too well, but we can still dig up their records and make use of the data they collected!

A Career in Marine Mammal Acoustics and the Arctic

This week, I interviewed Joshua Jones, a Ph.D. student in biological oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The focus of his thesis research is marine mammals in the Arctic, their acoustic behavior and relationships with sea ice, and the effects of human activities on the underwater acoustic environment.

Evaporating History

More is better, especially when it comes to dissecting the past. A single proxy may be sensitive to various factors that make it difficult to distinguish their history. However, when multiple proxies are paired it enables scientists to constrain their interpretations to be more accurate. For example, the co-variation of oxygen and carbon isotopic signatures due to evaporation has proven to be important when interpreting paleo-hydrologic cycles.

Trawling selects for faster fish

A new study suggests that differences in exercise performance make some individuals more vulnerable to capture by trawling than others, and that this may drive the evolution of commercially-important fishes (Photo: Wikimedia).

Death by evolution: how a hapless adaptation aided in the untimely demise of a Lake Victorian fish

Scientists have demonstrated that a human-induced extinction of a tropical lake fish was unwittingly assisted by a millions year old evolutionary adaptation.

A Snack That’s Literally On the House?

Most important relationships have deep running roots, not always visible to the world. It turns out, some symbiotic or mutualistic associations in nature have more layers to them than meets the eye. Case in point: the clownfish and the anemone. Intrigued? Click here to read more!

Feeling fishy about our view of fish feelings

Humans are conscious beings that experience a range of emotions. But do other organisms share this quality, or is it unique to humans? A new paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B challenges the long held belief that fish do not experience “emotional fever” – a commonly used indicator of whether or not an animal is capable of experiencing emotions. Read more to find out how this could matter in terms of management and conservation.

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