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Archive for February, 2017

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Funny happenings in the tropical Pacific

Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas made by environmental microbes. In the ocean, microbes making this greenhouse gas live in zones with little to no oxygen. Scientists always thought that Bacteria were making this gas. Recently, a team from the UK set out to explore this hypothesis in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and found that actually a totally different type of microorganism, Archaea, were making the nitrous oxide. These are important findings since global warming and increased human inputs in the ocean are causing low oxygen zones to expand, potentially making even more greenhouse gas!

Locations of the ice stations sampled during the expedition. At each ice station, samples from sea ice, melt pond water, under-ice water and deep-chlorophyll maximum water were collected. Maps show the average amount of ice coverage for August, September and October.

The Meltdown: Protists in the time of disappearing Sea Ice in the Arctic Ocean

Sea ice levels in the Arctic Ocean safeguard thousands of marine biosystems. Protists are little known micro-organisms that play a key role in maintaining a balanced oceanic ecosystem. Read more to see how climate change is affected sea ice-levels, and what that means for our protist comrades.

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Manmade Pollutants Plague Deep-sea Organsims

Scientists have found an alarming accumulation of certain persistent organic pollutants in an environment previously thought pristine and untouched by humans: the deep sea.

Figure 1: A venomous cone snail that lives in tropical reef systems. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ocean acidification makes predators dumb

Chemistry is important for a lot of things, but can it change the behavior of animals? Read on to find out how changes in water chemistry alter the behavior of a venomous cone snail!

Red Crown-of-Thorns Starfish eating coral. Author Matt Kieffer, Flickr. No modifications made. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/3016449061 Link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Small MPAs: the new all-you-can-eat buffets?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a popular conservation tool and are in many situations very effective. Unfortunately, as with many plans, there may be some unintended consequences, as seen in the case of small MPAs in Fiji, where they appear to have attracted corallivorous crown-of-thorns sea stars (Acanthaster spp.). Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

Figure 1: A school of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Source: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/fish2001.htm)

What can tuna tell us about mercury emissions?

North America’s mercury emissions have declined over the last two decades. Researchers have found a connection between the declining emissions and the mercury level in tuna. Read more to find out how they made this link and what it could mean for the future.

All the places you can mate! After an epic migration from Souther America to the Arctic Rim, male pectoral sandpiper's a rearing to visit all the breeding grounds. (Bird and Map adapted from Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Like a champion Casanova in the sky

After migrating thousands of miles from their southern wintering grounds, males of a certain species of shorebird log thousands more miles scouring the summer territories for fertile females. It’s pretty nuts.

photo credit: Anne Hartwell

Glaciers have big league role in silica budget.

Glaciers get a lot of attention because they’re expansive sheets of ice. They’re important to understand because they can impact sea level, circulation, climate, albedo, and they are homes to microbial organisms and large animals. A new reason they are getting attention is their recently realized importance to the global silica budget. Researchers found that melting glaciers deliver enough silica to the surface ocean that their contribution should not be ignored.

Adult hawksbill turtle, one of the study subjects of Brei et al. 2016. Image credit: NOAA Photo Library

Turn off some lights for the turtles: using statistics to make turtle conservation tangible

You’ve heard about “turn down for what…”; now check out this article and figure out exactly what you’re turning down for, or at least turning the lights down for! Turtles are impacted by light pollution; this article summarizes research framing this problem in an economic way.

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Senators propose bill to ensure independence of federal researchers

Last week, a group of Senators introduced legislation that aims to preserve the independence of U.S. government scientists. The Scientific Integrity Act instructs executive branch administrators to implement policies to ensure that data and results be disseminated in a timely and open manner. The bill, if enacted, would help separate the government’s scientific output from partisan politics.

Congress can be a confusing place. This brief guide will help you become better informed and more active. Credit: wikicommons.

Keeping Up the Fight: Tips for Science Policy Engagement

Concerned for the future of science? I’ve highlighted a few things you can do to stay engaged in 15 minutes a day.

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The Emergence of Science Twitter: 140 characters of facts and…fun?

It’s hard to argue that recent changes in the political landscape have brought science and scientists down from the Ivory Tower and out of the shadows. As a growing method of science communication, many scientists have taken to Twitter to promote their work, connect and engage with a broader audience, and to have a little fun. Science Twitter has been on fire lately, read on to find out the utility of science Twitter and some of the fun hashtag “games” started by scientists around the world.

(source: thekitchn.com)

Clamate Change: How clams may be able to cope with a warming world

Global temperatures are increasing at a rate never before seen in Earth’s history. Although efforts to mitigate this are still very important, it is also important to study and understand what is going to happen to the plants and animals that live here. Evidence of climate change already surrounds us, and the more we know, the better prepared we will be to cope with our new environment. In this study, a group of researchers have studied how two species of clams react to a warmer environment to understand the coping mechanisms they use for survival.

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Apply for ComSciCon17 Now!

Applications are open for the Communicating Science 2017 (ComSciCon17) workshop, to be held in Cambridge, MA on June 8-10, 2017! The deadline for applying is March 1st.

Satellite image of the Mertz Glacier Tongue just after breaking off from the glacier. Image from NASA Earth Observatory.

Antarctica’s bottom waters freshen up

A team of researchers went back to the same part of Antarctic after a decade to see how the deep ocean had changed, and were surprised to find the deep ocean was fresher than they expected.

Menopause only occurs in humans and two species of toothed whale [Flickr].

What killer whales tell us about menopause

Killer whales, or orcas (Orcinus orca), are amazingly intelligent and social animals. What can they tell us about the evolution of menopause?

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¿Cómo combatir la Ciencia Falsa? Una guía para científicos y los defensores de la ciencia

Translated by Sandra Schleier, Original post BY MEGAN CHEN ⋅ Artículo: Thaler, AD, Shiffman, D., (2015).  Fish tales: Combating fake science in popular media.  Ocean & Coastal Management.  15:88-91. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.04.005 Los medios de comunicación social han cambiado la manera en la cual los científicos y conservacionistas se comunican con el público. En estos días, cualquiera puede promover una […]

Figure 1: Manta rays are gentle giants that filter feed on tiny zooplankton. Image from strangebehaviors.wordpress.com

Theme Week Survey: March 2017

Hello! We, the Oceanbites Team, want to know what you want us to read more about! Please take the survey below and tell us what you’d like us to cover for one week in March! And please feel free to give us suggestions for future theme weeks in the Comments! Thank you very much! ~The […]

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Fisheries and Food Security

Fish have provided sustenance for millions of people, but in a world where stocks are rapidly depleting, what are the consequences of trying to save and rehabilitate their populations?

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