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Archive for June, 2016

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How badly do coral reefs and sharks need each other?

Overfishing threatens the populations of reef sharks that act as the top of the food chain on coral reefs. Their presence keeps the ecosystem in balance and without them, the reefs themselves are at risk of being overtaken by algae and losing much of the diversity they support. But is the story really that simple?

Happy Shark Week! Today we examine a persistent and interesting biogeographical puzzle: why are there so few deep sea sharks?

Why don’t sharks go deep?

Happy Shark Week! Today we examine a persistent and interesting biogeographical puzzle: why are there so few deep sea sharks?

“Semana de los tiburones”: ¿Buena o mala?

Translated by Sandra Schleier, Original Post by Derrick Alcott  Artículos: Myrick, JG and Evans, SD. 2014. Do PSAs take a bite out of shark week?:The effects of juxtaposing environmental messages with violent images of shark attacks. Science Communication, 36(5): 544-569. O’Bryhim, JR and Parsons, ECM. 2015. Increased knowledge about sharks increases public concern about their […]

Pregnant “Jamin” Tiger Shark at Tiger Beach, Bahamas (photo by Jamin Martinelli, Shark Researcher, Dive Master, and Field Contributor to this research project)

Guest Post: Tiger Beach, Bahamas: A Safe Haven for Female Tiger Sharks

Over the past few decades, the plight of sharks has been overshadowed by greed for shark fin soup and fears spurred on by movies like Jaws. However, the Bahamas have worked hard to create a safe haven for all shark species through policies and practices. Researchers have recently found that the exciting, cage-free, ecotourism dive spot of Tiger Beach is a very important site for Tiger Shark conservation — Please read on to learn more!

Figure 1 - The Great White Shark, the star of Discovery Channel's Shark Week

Is ‘Shark Week’ Good or Bad for Sharks?

‘Shark Week’ has become a staple of summer television. It is currently the longest continuously running series on television. It is also a rare example of quality scientific research (in any field) getting prime time television coverage. However, scientists and conservationists have highly criticized Shark Week in recent years for ‘fear mongering’ tactics. What does the science say about the impact of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week on the public’s impression of sharks? What can viewers expect from this year’s programming? Find out here.

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Unhappy as a clam: contagious cancer is widespread in bivalves

Cancer is not normally thought of as an infectious disease, but researchers have discovered transmissible cancers in mussels and clams adding to a cadre of examples of contagious cancers.

Figure 1 – Trematode parasites in an unshelled California horn snail.  The normal horn snail (top) has orange tissue that produces sperm.  The infected horn snail (bottom) has none of that orange tissue and is instead used as a resource for the trematode parasite.  Source: https://www.sciencenews.org/sites/default/files/8417

Can being sick be a good thing for surviving ocean acidification?

Scientists (myself included!) have been doing a lot of work on how marine animals respond to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, but CO2 alone isn’t the only problem. This study looks at how having a parasite affects survival in marine snails exposed to high CO2 – do they survive longer in those conditions with or without a bunch of parasites? Read on for a surprising answer!

Figure 2: A. Anglerfish, By Javontaevious at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37002424; B. Ponyfish, By Randall, JE at fishbase.org, CC BY-SA 3.0, http://www.fishbase.org/Photos/PicturesSummary.php?id=4451&picname=Leequ_u1.jpg&what=species; C. Dragonfish, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1152885; D. Hatchetfish, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1152905

Light on the Tree of Life: Evolution of Bioluminescence

The darkness can be scary sometimes–but that’s when evolution can get pretty crazy in its adaptations. Meet some of the fishes that can glow in the dark and learn about how many times this special ability evolved–it’s certainly surprised many scientists in the community!

Coral fish

Changing with the environment: how resilient are coral reef fish?

Coral reef fish are some of the most sensitive animals to climate change. How will coral reef fish respond to predicted increases in temperature and carbon dioxide? Do they have the ability to adapt to future conditions or is it already too late?

Big container shrimp moving across a lot of marine habitat. Credit: NOAA

Eavesdropping prawns get more than they bargained for

Marine animals living below the surface have to put up with noise generated by human activity. Heavy shipping traffic can bring a lot of noise. How does the common prawn respond?

Fig. 6: Photos E and F show larvae unexposed to microplastics, G and H show larvae exposed to an average concentration of microplastics, and I and J show larvae exposed to a high concentration of microplastics. In photos G-J, small, clear circles are microplastic! Fish shown in I and J have clearly ingested a lot of it.

Small fish dine on small plastics and that’s a BIG problem

We’ve heard a lot about plastics in the ocean, but a new study shows the ecological implications of fish eating plastic. Here, researchers found that larval fish are preferentially consuming microplastics and it’s stunting their growth, altering their behavior, and increases death rates.

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Inside Oceanbites: Why Do Scientists Blog?

On this International Webloggers’ Day, we decided to turn our focus to the scientist-writers who make Oceanbites possible. Since I created Oceanbites.org in September 2013, I have been so impressed by the enthusiasm of graduate students all over the world who have contributed to the site. Below, I interview a handful of them about their thoughts […]

Figure 2: Octopus maya. (Photo: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México) http://fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&id=63647&ndb=1

Cool Fact! Octopuses spawn with ease when temperatures are lower

Octopuses in the YP may experience temperature changes that do not bode well for reproduction. At what point will the influence of temperature be enough to inhibit the octopus population from growing? Consequences could be tough for octopus fisheries in the area. Read about how temperature stress that a mother experiences can influence her offsprings ability to cope.

Entintado y Comido: Como los calamares han adaptado un mecanismo de defensa para la captura de presa

Traducido por Sandra Schleier, Artículo Original por Gordon Ober Introducción: Sin ninguna duda los calamares son animales fascinantes y misteriosos. Piénsalo, el calamar gigante, uno de las criaturas más grandes del planeta, es raramente visto vivo. Los calamares son organismos que pueden camuflarse utilizando células pigmentarias llamadas cromatóforos para asimilarse con el fondo del ambiente y […]

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Sea Lions and goose chases – a day at the Marine Mammal Center

I spent a morning learning about the Marine Mammal Center at Moss Landing in California, helped with the intake of a sea lion, and went out on a call with the team.

Figure 1: The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (Creative Commons)

The Dirty Blizzard: how oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill reached the seafloor

Oil floats on water, yet oil spills are still devastating for marine life living on the seafloor. How does it get there? A new study shows that it can hitch a ride on sinking particles during an algae bloom, turning marine snow into a “dirty blizzard”. Read on to find out more!

Fig 1: Marine debris on the beach at Green Island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Author: Keeley Belva, NOAA. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kure_debris_440.jpg

To I.D. Debris: LIDAR as a tool to identify trash on the beach

Scientists may have a new option for figuring out how much debris litters our beaches and what it all is! Find out more in today’s World Oceans Day post on marine debris!

Credit: jidanchaomian, flickr Creative Commons

July Theme Week Survey

We’d love to know what you want to read about for a whole week during the month of July! Take our one question survey to share your opinion! Thank you!

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Ocean circulation keeping it cool in Antarctica

A group of scientists have delved deeper to solve the puzzle of why the ocean around Antarctica has been cooling, while the rest of the ocean is rapidly warming.

This artist’s impression shows how Mars may have looked about four billion years ago. The young planet Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 140 metres deep, but it is more likely that the liquid would have pooled to form an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’s northern hemisphere, and in some regions reaching depths greater than 1.6 kilometres. (M. Kornmesser via Wikipedia)

Paleo-oceanography from satellite data reveal ancient tsunamis…on Mars?!

Extraplanetary tsunamis. Need I say more?

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