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R J Parker

R J Parker has written 31 posts for oceanbites

Rough, Rocky Shores Acting as Climate Refuges for Kelp Forests

On the coasts of British Columbia, habitat-forming kelp algae are on the decline. Sensitive to increasing temperatures, changing nutrient dynamics, and always at risk of being carved out of their coastal homes by storm activity, kelp seem to be on the losing side of global climate change more often than the winning. Considering the extensive […]

From Table to Tour Boat: How Our Perception of Large Marine Animals Has Changed Over Time

Whether they elicit feelings of awe, admiration, or fear, there’s just something fascinating about large animals. In the Western world, large marine animals (or marine megafauna as scientists call them) have experienced a polarizing shift in how human societies view them over the last 50-100 years. In their recent article, published in PLoS ONE this […]

Arctic Viruses Infecting sub-Arctic Seals: How Climate Change is Creating Marine Epidemics

With all the preparations being made to help human populations get through Covid-19, many are wondering about the effect the coronavirus or similar viruses may have on our animal counterparts. Some panicky pet owners are even rushing to get their dogs special Covid masks. While it’s highly unlikely your dog will catch Covid-19, SARS-type viruses […]

Size Matters in Kelp Forests – Big, Dense Populations Are Better Equipped to Recover from Disturbance

Kelp are habitat-forming species, the “ecosystem engineers” of our coasts. Standing metres tall and sheltering coastal habitats from the full force of the ocean’s waves, kelp provide a refuge for a variety of marine animals and create a forest ecosystem similar to what you might find in the temperate latitudes on land. They are nursery […]

Sinking Alligator Carcasses into the Deep Ocean to See What Eats Them

  The Deep Unknown The deep ocean is an alien world. Life here must contend with crushing pressures, near-freezing temperatures, and a complete absence of light. At more than a thousand feet deep, it’s also the least explored and least understood ecosystem on Earth. That’s a problem, because the deep makes up about 95% of […]

Key fisheries move North to Canada, but is Canada ready to adapt to a warmer ocean?

The American Lobster, Homarus americanus (by Bart Braun) Communities Shaped by the Ocean Climate change is expected to affect the behaviours, geographic ranges, and ecological processes of marine species around the world. In the Northwest Atlantic, scientists are particularly concerned about northward range shifts in resource species and potential declines in valuable shellfish fisheries that […]

Adapting marine parks to survive climate change

Protected areas are generally considered to be parcels of land or water where different kinds of human uses are limited to some degree, in order to safeguard the natural resources, cultural sites, recreational benefits, or other values contained within (or even outside of) the area boundaries. Terrestrial protected areas have existed in some form for […]

Turning Knowledge into Action: How the Town of Truro Adapted to Increasing Flood Risk Under Climate Change

Global sea level is projected to rise at a rate of 3.7mm/year throughout the first half of the next century, according to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC). As coastal communities around the world brace to meet this worrying projection, it’s become clear that many simply have no options […]

Do you have to understand marine science to care about marine conservation? Wetland research says No.

  Ware J, Callaway R (2019) Public perception of coastal habitat loss and habitat creation using artificial floating islands in the UK. PLoS ONE 14(10): e0224424. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224424 In places where coastal ecosystems have been dramatically altered by human activity, green infrastructure projects like artificial wetlands, eelgrass plantings, and artificial floating islands provide novel opportunities to […]

Caught in the Storm: Tropical Bird Sightings in Nova Scotia after Hurricane Dorian

Dorian was one of the biggest storms to hit Nova Scotia in recorded history, bringing with it Category 2 force winds and heavy precipitation that took roofs off buildings and flooded coastal areas throughout the province. It was also among the top 10 strongest hurricanes by barometric pressure at landfall and top 5 by sustained […]

Telling the complicated story of Atlantic Salmon with the help of genetic technology

  Plamu Salmo salar (or “Atlantic Salmon”, “Black Salmon”, or “Plamu” as it’s known in my neck of the woods) is a culturally, ecologically, and economically vital fish species that has experienced widespread declines over the last century. Damming, habitat degradation, climate change, and aquaculture are all thought to pose significant threats to salmon health, […]

What’s Killing Seabirds in the Bering Sea?

Jones T, Divine LM, Renner H, Knowles S, Lefebvre KA, Burgess HK, et al. (2019) Unusual mortality of Tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) in the eastern Bering Sea. PLoS ONE 14(5): e0216532. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0216532 Mass mortality events (or MMEs) are incidents that kill a vast number of individuals in a short period of time. They’re often caused […]

A boon to ocean conservation? Certain fungi can degrade marine plastics

Brunner I, Fischer M, Ru ̈thi J, Stierli B, Frey B (2018) Ability of fungi isolated from plastic debris floating in the shoreline of a lake to degrade plastics. PLoS ONE 13(8): e0202047. About a year ago, I decided to make a move towards reducing my plastic consumption. Working in environmental conservation leaves you with […]

There’s plastic in your tap water, beer, and table salt

Kosuth M, Mason SA, Wattenberg EV (2018) Anthropogenic contamination of tap water, beer, and sea salt. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0194970. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194970 You’ve seen it; plastic bottles discarded on the beach, photos of marine life starved on a diet of plastic straws, shopping bags adrift in a flotilla of single-use refuse. Plastic changed the world when […]

Turtles of the North – Canadian Fishermen Help Scientists Study the Cryptic Leatherback

  For most people, sea turtles evoke visions of white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and boozy fruity drinks, the embodiment of a tropical vacation. They don’t usually bring to mind the rocky coasts of Cape Breton or the cold waters of the North Atlantic. In the fishing grounds of Atlantic Canada, June to October […]

Turtles unbothered by close drone monitoring, while birds and crocodiles flee

Bevan E, Whiting S, Tucker T, Guinea M, Raith A, Douglas R (2018) Measuring behavioral responses of sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles, and crested terns to drone disturbance to define ethical operating thresholds. PLoS ONE 13(3): e0194460. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194460 Unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones, are quickly gaining popularity as cost effective tools for conservation […]

Important oyster-producing region of British Columbia swamped with microplastics

  If you grew up in the developed world, chances are you have an intimate relationship with plastic. Your lunch container, your childhood toys, your coffee press, that sweater you just bought, and the packaging it came in – they’re all made of low-cost petrochemical derivatives. And they’re swamping our oceans in a pollutant the […]

Old Bay of Fundy dykelands could sequester massive amounts of carbon if restored to saltmarsh

  Blue Carbon Blue carbon is a term scientists use to describe the organic material contained within all the living organisms and soil found in coastal ecosystems. Together, this organic matter, combined with the carbon contained in land-based systems, makes up the stored portion of the Earth’s carbon budget. Climate change scientists hope to protect […]

Agricultural Stewardship Could Prevent Invasive Species Takeover Downstream

  Phragmites australis, or Common Reed, is a marine grass likely introduced to North America from Eurasia in the late 1800s through the garden trade. It has since become one of the most aggressive invaders in history, replacing native grasses in wetlands and disrupting native ecosystem function. Wetlands are interesting study systems for invasive plants. […]

Just Put on the Market: Ideal for Coral Reef Development

Scientists Identify Best Spots for Reef Restoration Coral reefs have been front and center in the news lately, as rising temperatures, increased acidity, and nutrient pollution cause mass bleaching events and scientists lament losses they say mark the “death” of coral reefs around the world. Conservation superstars have even weighed in on the issue; Suzuki, […]

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