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Archive for January, 2017

Figure 2: A humpback whale swims with her calf. Image from Pitman et al., 2017- taken by M. Lynn, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Heroic Humpbacks: Orcastrate an Escape

While watching a pod of killer whales attacking their prey, scientists noticed a small group of humpback whales come to the rescue. Why did these humpbacks risk their own safety to save another animal? Read more about how scientists are investigating this question.

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Working with the coast

The coast is very dynamic and at the constant mercy of wind and water energy. Often times, humans will try to control the coast by constructing seawalls and groins. Such projects have major impacts on sediment transport that can affect natural ecosystems and recreational beaches. Read here about a group of scientists who sought to quantify just how much of an impact seawall and groin development had on a section of coast in southeast India.

Soft coral dominated reef. Author: Matt Kieffer. Source: Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/15439205306)

Hard Coral or Macroalgae? Coral Reefs May Have Another Option

Most of the time coral reef communities are discussed, it seems the focus is whether they’re dominated by hard coral or algae. It turns out there may be other possible outcomes for reefs in the future. Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

Fig 2. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) (Caroline Weir).

Contaminant fingerprints in fat tell all

This tell-all exposé isn’t from the Maury Show…read on to learn about the use of a nifty chemistry technique that paints a picture of all the contaminants found in the fat of Brazilian dolphins, and what this means for you

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Diversity within Marine Science: We Can Do Better (Guest Post by Danielle Perry)

The lack of diversity within STEM, particularly marine science, is an apparent issue within the scientific community. What is discouraging minorities from pursuing these types of careers? I interviewed minority marine scientists at URI to shed light on what’s causing diversity deficiency within marine science. STEM diversity initiatives are instituted at many universities, but we can do more to encourage diversity as individual scientists. Diverse perspectives within science will only enhance scientific knowledge.

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Studying plankton from an atmospheric satellite

Scientists found a way to repurpose data from an atmospheric satellite to study the tiny creatures at the base of most ocean food webs. The instrument, originally designed to study aerosols, allowed researchers to build the most complete record of polar plankton activity ever assembled.

¡¡Ciudadano Científico en el año Nuevo!!

Original Post By ANDREA SCHLUNK,  Translated by Sandra Schleier Nosotros aquí en OceanBites, nos apasiona traerles la ciencia a ustedes, nuestra audiencia de una manera accesible. Pero al final del día, reconocemos que leyendo sobre proyectos de investigaciones chéveres y descubrimientos inesperados solo te trae más cerca de la acción. Algunos de ustedes puede que solo […]

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A scientist’s guide to addressing fake science

Do scientists have a responsibility to address fake science? If so, what should their role be?

Fig. 1: Massive kelps are good at creating habitat for others but have proven sensitive to changes in climate. Could they be canaries in the coal mine for detecting climate change? (Photo: Riverview Science)

The Kelp in the Coal Mine: can kelps act as an indicator for climate change?

Many scientific studies have shown that kelp species are sensitive and vulnerable to climate change. Some scientists think of them as sentinel species, or early warning indicators of climate change. Recently, a large mass of warm water, affectionately known as “The Blob,” covered the northeast Pacific, resulting in a long-term elevation of ocean temperature. With existing ecological records of kelp forests in California, this provided an opportunity for researchers to test whether these giant kelps are indeed a sentinel species and can warn us about the looming effects of climate change.

(source: culture.oasiscollections.com)

Paradise Loss: How humans are impacting coastal reef communities

Humans are drawn to beautiful beaches and warm water, and with us come the conveniences of modern day civilization. While life may be flourishing in the shops, restaurants and luxury hotels, this development is taking its toll on the fragile reef community just off shore. Although reefs may appear healthy to the naked eye, researchers have discovered coastal development impacts their biological diversity, and this may be an indication of more serious, long-term damage.

Figure 4: Schematic of the seagrass bed food web. Detritus from the seagrass decays in the sediment, where chemosynthetic bacteria in the clam gills are able to use sulfur to turn it into carbohydrates.  The lobsters eat the clams (20% of their diet) and are then taken into a $17.4 million fishing industry. Source: Higgs et al. 2016.

All Food Does NOT Come from the Sun

Excerpt: We’re taught at a young age that all food comes from the sun via photosynthesis. But, does it really? Read on to find out about a major fishery that is underpinned by chemosynthetic primary production!

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Earth’s strongest current even stronger than previously thought

The Antarctic Circumpolar current, which wraps around Antarctica and connects the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, is notoriously difficult to measure. Recently a group of researchers tackled the wild current, and found it was 30% stronger than scientists previously thought.

An eight-week old starfish larva forms vortices around its body while eating. This image was made by adding tiny white beads to the water that follow the diverging currents. Food is trapped in the vortices and brought to the larva’s mouth. (Figure 1a in the paper.)

The whirling world of starfish larvae whorls

A close look at starfish larvae reveals the beautiful patterns they create while moving through the water. These tiny vortex machines can create lots of swirls around themselves to trap food, or they can let the water flow by them smoothly when they want to swim fast.

Ladies and gentleman, the death defying killifish!

Ain’t no killing the killifish (for now): on the virtues of genetic diversity

Atlantic killifish are spared extinction in the face of pollution thanks to their remarkable genetic diversity.

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Warm water curtails sea snakes’ dives

Like frogs, sea snakes can uptake oxygen through both their lungs and their skin. How will these “bimodal breathers” cope with warm ocean temperatures?

Fig. 1. Encroaching Mangrove in Homestead, FL
Source: G. Gardner, National Park Service, via Wikimedia Commons

Mangrove Takeover Impacting Salt Marshes

Mangroves are encroaching on salt marsh habitats worldwide, but what does this change in plant community mean for the plants, ecosystem processes, and other inhabitants of these areas? Find out a bit of the answer to that question in today’s oceanbites!

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Citizen Science in the New Year!

Tired of only reading articles about science and wishing you could get out there any join those research teams instead? Well, you don’t need a degree to help out—you can get involved in any number of citizen science initiatives! So, if you feel like chipping in and helping scientists gather data, click here to find out more!

The Lilypad Wave Energy Converter (WEC). Credit: Energy Island.

New Year, new innovations: energy and climate science

Research in marine renewable energy and climate systems will grow ever more important in the future. The research for these areas are not just done on the coast, however – I ventured into the mountains to learn more.

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