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Erin Markham

Erin Markham has written 11 posts for oceanbites

The Ghastly Impacts of Ghost Fishing Gear

Derelict fishing traps, or DFTs, are abandoned traps that may still be actively capturing marine organisms, in a phenomenon known as “ghost fishing.” In this study, a group of scientists put together a qualitative assessment on the ecological and economic impacts these traps may be having on coastal ecosystems throughout the United States.

The Hairy Truth: Using Grizzly Bear hair to study mercury levels

A large portion of the North American Grizzly Bear population call Western Canada home. The diet of these bears ranges from berries to mammals, and every year in the fall, coastal bears consume copious amount of Pacific salmon. This study investigates hair samples from Grizzly Bears and how they can be used to reflect dietary changes in mercury consumption.

I plead the soil amendment – Improving the function of restored wetlands

Wetlands provide valuable services to humans every day, including flood protection, water purification, and shoreline stabilization to name a few. Unfortunately, restored wetlands often fall short of providing all of the services that their natural counterparts do. This study investigates ways to improve the capability of restored wetlands in removing excess nitrogen from their systems.

Time for an oil change: How filter feeders avoid feeding on oil

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Here, a pair of researchers investigates the incorporation of oil into mussels and barnacles in Louisiana estuaries, finding minimal amounts of oil signals detected in the species in the months following the spill.

On a mission to partition: the likelihood of flame retardants to bind to marine organic matter

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants found in the environment all over the globe, including the Arctic. Here, scientists explored the chances of PBDEs to bind to dissolved organic matter (DOM) in Arctic waters, which may affect their environmental availability, transport, and fate.

Increasing fiber in your diet… microplastic fibers, that is

Microplastics constitute the large majority of plastic pollution in our global oceans. Microplastic fibers are small fibers that might not be visible to the naked eye, but can be found on virtually every coastline. Researchers in Halifax, Nova Scotia looked for these fibers in beach sediments, worm fecal casts, and both natural and farmed mussels – see what they found here!

Sticking to it – Sediments act as a “sink” for pollution

POPs, or persistent organic pollutants, are manmade chemicals that don’t break down in the environment and are found nearly everywhere around the planet. In this study, scientists traveled to central Chile to look at a couple of different POPs accumulating in sediments from an estuary.

The Grit in the Oyster – Pearl Farming in French Polynesia

French Polynesia produces a large majority of the world’s Tahitian cultured pearls and is at the center of the multi-million dollar pearl oyster farming industry. Take a look into this study that looked at the effects of pearl oyster farming on reef fish abundance and diversity. It presents some good news and demonstrates that if sustainable farming practices are followed, pearl oyster farming might actually have positive effects on reef fish abundance.

Hitchin’ a Ride – The Risks of Ballast Water Exchange

Ballast water transfers occur in or near major ports all the time to keep up with the demands of global shipping. Read about some of the potentially harmful organisms catching a free ride.

Is the Oil Sands Industry in Canada Linked to Mercury Levels in Birds?

The oil or “tar” sands in Alberta, Canada are the third largest known reserves of accessible oil in the world. They are located around 200 km upstream of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, which is considered a wetland of international significance. This Delta is an ecologically sensitive habitat that provides services for millions of birds, which led a group of scientists in Canada to study mercury levels in bird eggs and investigate sources of mercury to the area.

Disconcerting trends of pollutants in the Scandinavian Otter Population

Fluorinated compounds are an emerging class of persistent pollutants that have a global presence in the environment, biota, and humans, but are only now beginning to be regulated. A group of researchers from Scandinavia looked at liver samples taken from otters in Sweden and Norway from 1972-2011 and found that concentrations of many of these compounds have increased at disquieting rates, particularly within the last decade.

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