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Archive for February, 2016

Figure 2 – The Elwa dam study site in WA on September 17, 2011(Photo by Ben Cody, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16563772).

Solving Big Dam Problems

The US has a lot of dams. Probably far more than you ever imagined possible. Many of these dams are around 100 years old. How long does it take to restore a riverine ecosystem to a more natural state after a century of alteration by a dam? Scientists addressed a portion of this question by measuring the return of salmon to a section of river previously blocked by the dam and the use of the nutrients delivered by these salmon by other organisms in the area.

The Nathaniel B. Palmer, the icebreaker used in this study. Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Lead Pollution in Antarctic Waters: Have We Cleaned Up Our Act?

Researchers traveled to the far reaches of Antarctica to determine whether lead levels there have declined since humans started cleaning up their act by halting lead emissions. They found that global warming might be negating some of the good we’ve done, as melting glaciers could release stored natural and industrial lead into the ocean.

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A cloudy future for climate engineering

Pumping reflective aerosols into the atmosphere may hold promise for cooling the climate. But once we start, we won’t be able to stop.

Figure 1. Thousands of wedge-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) nest on the islets surrounding Oahu. (Image from http://kauaiseabirdproject.org/index.php/the-birds/other-seabirds/wedge-tailed-shearwater/)

Seabird poop and coral reefs

Scientists have known for a long time that nutrient-rich guano can significantly change the ecology of areas where seabirds nest in large populations. Recently, it has it become clear that they also impact coral reef ecosystems.

Figure 1: Seagrass meadow in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photographer: Heather Dine. Source: NOAA Photo Library via https://www.flickr.com/photos/51647007@N08/5077876455/

Seagrass Fights Back Against Grazing!

If you were a plant, like seagrass, how would you prevent other creatures from eating you? Do you even try? Learn a bit about plant defenses and find out about a new discovery in seagrasses by reading today’s oceanbites!

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Antarctic ice dams at risk

Source: Fürst et al. (2016), The Safety band of Antarctic ice shelves. Nature Climate Change The shrinking Antarctic As our planet warms, the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps is causing sea level rise, threatening the future of coastal cities and low lying areas around the world. This melting includes Antarctica’s ice shelves, which add […]

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Unbelizeable, part I

A fieldwork faerie tale about an art/island paradise/conservation opportunity gone right

from google images

Fueling Science with Science (& hydrothermal fluid)

Wouldn’t it be wicked cool if scientists could overcome the obstacle of power limitation by plugging their instruments directly into the sea floor? Now they can by using thermoelectric converters to take advantage of the Seebeck effect at hydrothermal vent fields!

Octopus cover

Cephalopods engage in colorful confrontations

Octopuses were once thought to be mostly solitary creatures, only worried about looming predators or potential mates. It turns out, octopuses can also communicate with each other by changing their body pattern and color. How does this form of communication work when octopuses decide to fight?

Complete nitrification by a single bacterium - kind of a big deal, guys!

One to tango: a bacterium that does the work of two in the nitrogen cycle

Scientists report bacterial species capable of performing the two-step process of nitrification, traditionally thought to exist only as a division of labor between two functionally distinct bacteria.

Darwin

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

207 years ago, a renowned naturalist and geologist was born; Charles Darwin. Today OceanBites is honoring Charles Darwin and his insatiable quest for knowledge by exploring some of his marine observations.

Figure 1: anemone fish (sometimes called clown fishes) are protandrous hermaphrodites. Image from: Krzysztof Odziomek/Shutterstock, retrieved from theatlantic.com

Sea of Love: Hermaphroditic fishes

Finding a date on Valentine’s Day can be hard! Whether you are single or in a relationship, we are trying to make your week a little brighter by sharing some tales of romance from the ocean. Today we will look at the answer some fishes have found for not being able to find a suitable date: they just change their gender!

Chromodoris reticulata - a sea slug with a disposable penis (Credit: prilfish, flickr Creative Commons)

Sea of (Unromantic) Love: Strange Mating Behaviours

Tired of being alone on Valentine’s Day? Well, picture yourself in any of these animals situations and well, maybe it’s for the best. Featuring indiscriminate mating, golden showers and stabby & disposable penises.

Figure 5: Happy Valentine’s Day! Sources: Anglerfish, cited paper (Pietsch 2005); banner, https://item2.tradesy.com/images/david-tutera-silver-glitter-just-married-hanging-banner-brand-new-4538911-0-0.jpg?width=720&height=960)

Sea of Love: The Fascinating Story of Sexual Parasitism

When they think of deep sea fish, most people think of that crazy fish from Finding Nemo with the big teeth and the light on its head. The folks at Disney Pixar weren’t exaggerating; that kind of fish really does exist in the deep ocean, and it’s even weirder than you think it is. Read on to find out how they mate!

March Theme Week 2016

Make your voice heard by our writers! Let us know what you want to read about in March!

This could be a sitcom. [Wikimedia]

Odd Couples ♥ Tales of Symbiosis in the Ocean

Our Sea of Love theme week kicks off with tales of symbiotic partnerships in the ocean. [Feature image from Wikimedia]

Since 2013, ComSciCon has helped over 300 graduate students improve their science communication skills through workshops across the country. ComSciCon 2016 will be the 4th annual National Workshop, hosted in Cambridge, MA, from June 9-11.

Calling STEM Grad Students: Apply for ComSciCon 2016!

Applications are now open for the Communicating Science 2016 workshop, to be held in Cambridge, MA on June 9-11, 2016. Graduate students at US institutions in all fields relating to science and engineering, are encouraged to apply.

Fig. 4: Massive chunks of ice break off from glaciers in a process called calving (lonelyplanet.com).

Hope Floats: how icebergs are fighting climate change

An iceberg couldn’t help Leo win an Oscar, but new research highlights how icebergs may help battle climate change. Read on to find out how!

Figure 2: An osprey with their fresh caught dinner! Organic contaminants can bioaccumulate in fish and be transfer and magnified up the food web.

Flying high: the ospreys are alright!

Chesapeake Bay osprey populations were at an all-time low in the 1970’s due in part to pesticides like DDT. Forty years later, organic pollutant concentrations in eggs and fledglings are on the decline and observations from 2011-2012 suggest there were no large scale effects of organic contaminants on osprey productivity.

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