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R J Parker

R J Parker has written 34 posts for oceanbites

Mysterious Wintertime Travels of Black Guillemots Revealed in Canada

The Black Guillemot is a plump little seabird that lives along the Atlantic coast from the Arctic to the Gulf of Maine. Like other open-ocean birds including their cousins, the Puffin and Razorbill, Guillemots are sensitive to environmental changes and can be used as an environmental indicator in marine habitats. It’s important, then, that we […]

Science Reveals Sperm Whale Bro-Fest

  In the mammal world, males tend to not like each other very much. Male-only social groups are rare. The few species who do have boys’ clubs, like chimps, cheetahs, and lions, form them from their relatives and only because they need to protect a shared territory or access to females. This doesn’t seem to […]

“Bake and Shark” – Asking Trinidadians and Tobagonians How They Feel About This Traditional Beach-Side Snack

Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overharvest, due to their slow maturity and reproductive cycles. Shark meat, cartilage, and other products are consumed and sold in many countries around the world, with varying degrees of formal protection or regulation of shark fisheries, making global attempts at conservation a tricky matter. The International Union for the Conservation […]

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 […]

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  • by oceanbites 4 weeks ago
    Happy Earth Day! Take some time today to do something for the planet and appreciate the ocean, which covers 71% of the Earth’s surface.  #EarthDay   #OceanAppreciation   #Oceanbites   #CoastalVibes   #CoastalRI 
  • by oceanbites 2 months ago
    Not all outdoor science is fieldwork. Some of the best days in the lab can be setting up experiments, especially when you get to do it outdoors. It’s an exciting mix of problem solving, precision, preparation, and teamwork. Here is
  • by oceanbites 3 months ago
    Being on a research cruise is a unique experience with the open water, 12-hour working shifts, and close quarters, but there are some familiar practices too. Here Diana is filtering seawater to gather chlorophyll for analysis, the same process on
  • by oceanbites 4 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #oceanbites  we are featuring Hannah Collins  @hannahh_irene  Hannah works with marine suspension feeding bivalves and microplastics, investigating whether ingesting microplastics causes changes to the gut microbial community or gut tissues. She hopes to keep working
  • by oceanbites 4 months ago
    Leveling up - did you know that crabs have a larval phase? These are both porcelain crabs, but the one on the right is the earlier stage. It’s massive spine makes it both difficult to eat and quite conspicuous in
  • by oceanbites 4 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Cierra Braga. Cierra works ultraviolet c (UVC) to discover how this light can be used to combat biofouling, or the growth of living things, on the hulls of ships. Here, you
  • by oceanbites 4 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Elena Gadoutsis  @haysailor  These photos feature her “favorite marine research so far: From surveying tropical coral reefs, photographing dolphins and whales, and growing my own algae to expose it to different
  • by oceanbites 5 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on Oceanbites we are featuring Eliza Oldach. According to Ellie, “I study coastal communities, and try to understand the policies and decisions and interactions and adaptations that communities use to navigate an ever-changing world. Most of
  • by oceanbites 5 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Jiwoon Park with a little photographic help from Ryan Tabata at the University of Hawaii. When asked about her research, Jiwoon wrote “Just like we need vitamins and minerals to stay
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  on  #Oceanbites  we are featuring  @riley_henning  According to Riley, ”I am interested in studying small things that make a big impact in the ocean. Right now for my master's research at the University of San Diego,
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Gabby Stedman. Gabby is interested in interested in understanding how many species of small-bodied animals there are in the deep-sea and where they live so we can better protect them from
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    This week for  #WriterWednesday  at  #Oceanbites  we are featuring Shawn Wang! Shawn is “an oceanographer that studies ocean conditions of the past. I use everything from microfossils to complex computer models to understand how climate has changed in the past
  • by oceanbites 6 months ago
    Today we are highlighting some of our awesome new authors for  #WriterWednesday  Today we have Daniel Speer! He says, “I am driven to investigate the interface of biology, chemistry, and physics, asking questions about how organisms or biological systems respond
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    Here at Oceanbites we love long-term datasets. So much happens in the ocean that sometimes it can be hard to tell if a trend is a part of a natural cycle or actually an anomaly, but as we gather more
  • by oceanbites 7 months ago
    Have you ever seen a lobster molt? Because lobsters have exoskeletons, every time they grow they have to climb out of their old shell, leaving them soft and vulnerable for a few days until their new shell hardens. Young, small
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    A lot of zooplankton are translucent, making it much easier to hide from predators. This juvenile mantis shrimp was almost impossible to spot floating in the water, but under a dissecting scope it’s features really come into view. See the
  • by oceanbites 8 months ago
    This is a clump of Dead Man’s Fingers, scientific name Codium fragile. It’s native to the Pacific Ocean and is invasive where I found it on the east coast of the US. It’s a bit velvety, and the coolest thing
  • by oceanbites 9 months ago
    You’ve probably heard of jellyfish, but have you heard of salps? These gelatinous sea creatures band together to form long chains, but they can also fall apart and will wash up onshore like tiny gemstones that squish. Have you seen
  • by oceanbites 10 months ago
    Check out what’s happening on a cool summer research cruise! On the  #neslter  summer transect cruise, we deployed a tow sled called the In Situ Icthyoplankton Imaging System. This can take pictures of gelatinous zooplankton (like jellyfish) that would be
  • by oceanbites 10 months ago
    Did you know horseshoe crabs have more than just two eyes? In these juveniles you can see another set in the middle of the shell. Check out our website to learn about some awesome horseshoe crab research.  #oceanbites   #plankton   #horseshoecrabs 
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