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Archive for December, 2016

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Beyond Florida-bound: Birds tweak their winter travel plans in response to climate change

Seabirds are switching up their annual winter travels in response to climate change…read on to discover how researchers used museum displays, isotopes, and really expensive GPS tags to piece together this seabird story.

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Exciting strides for eDNA: Insights into whale shark population genetics

In the past few decades scientists have found new and exciting ways to use DNA to answer scientific questions. There is now a new technique that could further revolutionize DNA analysis by using tiny pieces of tissue floating around in the ocean. Read more about how scientists are using this technique to answer questions about whale sharks.

Figure 2: Kavachi Eruption: Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2002: Explorer Ridge. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0a/May_14_Kavachi_eruption.jpg

Sharkcano, a melting pot for biology

No, a Sharkcano is not a volcano that erupts sharks. IT IS WAY COOLER THAN THAT! It is a submarine volcano that hosts a diverse macro community in water that is much warmer and more acidic that the surrounding seawater. Read more to find out about this alien-esc ecosystem in the South Pacific Ocean.

En estas Navidades… Sal a comer a tu giro oceánico local!

Translated by Sandra Schleier, Original Post by ZOE GENTES Paper: Letscher, Robert T., et al. 2016. Nutrient budgets in the subtropical ocean gyres dominated by lateral transport. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 815–819 ¿Si tu fueras un organismo marino buscando que comer, donde podrías conseguir algo nutritivo? En el océano, los nutrientes se acumulan en los cuerpos de los […]

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Sub sea ice technology aims to expand Arctic plankton surveys

A German research team tested out three devices for studying plankton in Arctic sea ice. These new methods might allow scientists to expand Arctic primary production studies and yield new insight into these important, understudied ecosystems.

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So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

It’s been an incredible year and a half, but this will be my final regular post with Oceanbites. Thanks for reading! For my final post here, I wanted to tell you a little more about what I do as a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Swashbuckling spiders sailed the high seas

Long before the Vikings reached North America, a group of coastal spiders was already sailing around the world using prevailing winds, currents, and rafts.

Fig. 4: Microscopic phytoplankton contribute to the ice algae community. Here they can bee seen growing in the spaces between the ice (Photo: Live Science).

Frozen Food: how ice algae support Arctic ecosystems

It may seem like a harsh place to grow, but algae inhabit the under side of Arctic ice. As it turns out, these frozen, sea “veggies” provide an important source of food for Artic ecosystems.

Where is all the methyl mercury coming from?! 
(Creative Commons photo by Patrick Kelley)

A mercurial tug o’ war in Antarctic sea ice

DNA from bacteria living in Antarctic sea ice provides a clue to the mysterious origins of methyl mercury in seawater in the Southern Ocean.

Figure 1: Santa's Workshop (Source: pinterest.com)

Polarized: What makes the North Pole the ideal location for Santa and his crew?

Location, location, location. He may not need to be in the best school district, or have an easy commute to work, but Santa still decided to live at the North Pole over the South. While it may seem that both locations are cold, barren, and isolated, there are some fundamental differences that may have affected his decision. Read on to learn some of those differences and wow your friends with science at your holiday party this year!

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Pole wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Sea Ice

In the sea ice battle between the North Pole and the South Pole, there is no winner in 2016, as sea ice cover is plummeting at both poles.

Fig. 7: Kelp forests usually do best when they can go uneaten (Photo: NOAA).

Kelp Deforestation: warming oceans are paving the way for seaweed eaters

As oceans heat up, tropical fish have started migrating to colder, temperate waters. The change in scenery from corals to kelp has plant-eating tropical fish drooling over the abundance of food in their new surroundings. After monitoring kelp habitat in Australia over a ten-year period, researchers found that this increase in tropical fish had some serious consequences for kelp forests.

Pseudo-nitzschia, a species of diatom that produces the neurotoxin domoic acid. (Wikipedia)

A toxic toasty blob: warm water in the Pacific provides a happy home for poisonous algae

A warm blob at the ocean surface, fishery closures, and unhappy marine mammals – what do all these things have in common? The answer is microscopic: a toxic type of algae called Pseudo-nitzschia thrives when temperatures are warm and nutrients are plentiful. It poisons the shellfish that feed marine mammals and support a multi-million dollar fishing industry.

Image 2: a) sea pen and b) hermit crab in their habitat before being collected taken by Taylor, ML.  c) polyester microfibre and d) acrylic microfibre found within deep sea animals, taken by Gwinnet, C.  (Figure used with permission from Taylor et al., 2016).

First evidence of plastic microfibre consumption by deep-sea animals

For the first time ever, scientists have found evidence that deep sea animals are actually consuming plastic microfibres. Read more about the study and why we should care.

Figure 1 – The beautiful lionfish. Each spine has venom in it that could seriously harm a human (or anything else that tried to attack it). Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lionfish slime helps ward off diseases

We know of many things that protect animals against disease – immune systems and gut bacteria are just the two most common examples. It turns out fish have antimicrobial properties that come from bacteria that live in the slime that covers their bodies, and it just might make lionfish specifically more resistant to disease.

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The Polar Linkage Express: complicated interactions between the Arctic and mid-latitudes

Climb aboard the Polar Linkage Express to learn about the main challenges facing scientists as they try to decipher just what is going on with winter weather these days! Is it really linked to the state of the Arctic?

Figure 1: There are five major ocean-wide gyres — the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean gyres. Credit: wikemedia/NOAA.

Eat Organic at Your Local Gyre Margin

Paper: Letscher, Robert T., et al. 2016. Nutrient budgets in the subtropical ocean gyres dominated by lateral transport. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 815–819 If you were a marine organism looking for some grub, where could you find something nutritious? Nutrients in the ocean accumulate in the bodies of living things, which tend to sink to deeper waters […]

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