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Erin McLean

Erin McLean has written 32 posts for oceanbites

An Ocean in Your Beer

This St. Patrick’s Day, think outside the green beer and whiskey and try an ocean-inspired beer! Didn’t know there were beers brewed with ocean life? Read on to learn more about how our oceans and your beer are intertwined.

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!

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!

Lionfish slime helps ward off diseases

We know of many things that protect animals against disease – immune systems and gut bacteria are just the two most common examples. It turns out fish have antimicrobial properties that come from bacteria that live in the slime that covers their bodies, and it just might make lionfish specifically more resistant to disease.

When Pigs Get Crabs: A Story of Symbiosis

Excerpt: The deep sea is not an easy place to live. Cold, dark, and featureless, it doesn’t provide a lot of food or hiding spots for the animals that live there. Read on to find out the odd way one species of crab has evolved to avoid both problems!

Seahorses Don’t Like It Hot

Scientists have been doing a lot of work recently trying to figure out how species are going to react to climate change. This research group wanted to figure out just how much heat seahorses could take…and seeing as they can’t get out of the ocean, things aren’t looking good. Read on!

Lobster Poop: Way More Interesting Than You’ve Ever Imagined

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never ever given any thought to lobsters and their poop. In contrast, the researchers who wrote this study have thought way too much about lobster poop; read on to find out what they discovered!

How Much Wood Can A Wood Boring Clam Bore?

How much wood could a wood boring clam bore if a wood boring clam was given a lot of different options of wood to bore? Not as catchy as the original, but check this article out to learn about how the type of wood that falls to the deep ocean influences the community of animals that comes to feast on it.

Migrating lobsters use magnets to find their way

For the last post in our school’s out for summer theme week, take a look inside to see how migrating groups of lobsters use the force to navigate around the bottom of the ocean!

Can being sick be a good thing for surviving ocean acidification?

Scientists (myself included!) have been doing a lot of work on how marine animals respond to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, but CO2 alone isn’t the only problem. This study looks at how having a parasite affects survival in marine snails exposed to high CO2 – do they survive longer in those conditions with or without a bunch of parasites? Read on for a surprising answer!

When life gives you dead mussels, make…lobsters?

Many industries have been trying to figure out how to make their waste products into useful raw materials for other products. Read on to find out how mussel aquaculture could contribute to your next lobster dinner!

Marine life: Coming to a PharmaSea near you!

The PharmaSea program is looking to expand our library of marine-derived compounds for use in drug discovery. Want to know what marine organisms are already used in medicine, and where this program is looking to find new medicines? Read on to find out!

Sea of Love: The Fascinating Story of Sexual Parasitism

When they think of deep sea fish, most people think of that crazy fish from Finding Nemo with the big teeth and the light on its head. The folks at Disney Pixar weren’t exaggerating; that kind of fish really does exist in the deep ocean, and it’s even weirder than you think it is. Read on to find out how they mate!

Stop: Recovery Time!: Using volcanoes to model recovery of deep-sea communities

Deep sea communities are full of weird and wonderful animals that we don’t know much about, and human demand for sulfides may lead to deep sea mining near their habitat. We don’t know how they’ll respond to a disturbance, so these researchers looked at what happens after a natural disturbance: a volcanic eruption. Read on to find out what happened to the vent communities!

Are marine “nuisance” species expected to increase under ocean acidification?

Most studies that look at how animals respond to climate change look at species we like – oysters, corals, and whales are just a few examples. The authors of this review looked at something else – how are the species we hate going to respond to climate change, specifically ocean acidification? Read on to find out!

Will Climate Change Alter How We Vacation?

When we talk about climate change, usually we talk about the effects that it’ll have on the environment and the animals that inhabit it; rarely do we talk about the impact that it can have on something as seemingly unrelated as tourism. However, tourism in regions known for their natural beauty is just as much at risk from climate change as polar bears and coral reefs. Read on to find out more!

The new fad diet for sea turtles? Plastics

Paper: Wedemeyer, K. R., George, S., James, H. B., Peterson, T. D., Wicksten, M. K. and Plotkin, P. T. (2015). High frequency of occurrence of anthropogenic debris ingestion by sea turtles in the North Pacific Ocean. Mar. Biol. Background If you’re a coastal resident, I’m sure you see the same thing as I do when I […]

Diving birds find an abundant food source in a surprising place

Jellyfish have been getting some bad press recently, and for good reason. As temperatures warm, jellyfish increase in number, and they eat up a lot of the food necessary for other animals in the food web. This new study suggests that jellyfish may be impacting the food web in a different, positive way: by providing a feeding opportunity for diving seabirds. Read on to find out more!

Beyond the shell: What are hermit crabs really after?

A favorite activity for beachgoers is to comb the sand and tide pools for marine life, and one of the most familiar tide pool animals is the hermit crab. Kids and parents alike love to find them out on the rocks, but how much do we really know about them? This article explores the important ecological role that hermit crabs play in tide pool ecosystems.

Giant Clams Catch a Giant Break

Most of today’s research into the effects of climate change and ocean acidification is all doom and gloom: this animal and that ecosystem are developmentally challenged as a result of warming temperatures and lowered pH. This new study out of Australia is a rare bit of good news in the field, finding that giant clams (important economically for food and tourism) might escape the worst effects of ocean acidification thanks to their symbiotic bacteria.

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