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Laura Zinke

Laura Zinke has written 6 posts for oceanbites

Paper or plastic? Policies inspired by research to find a solution to plastic pollution

Paper or plastic? In a lot of grocery stores, this is an innocent question, but recently it’s become a controversial issue. We talk about how plastic pollution research has inspired a barrel of policies, and some of the creative new ways people are trying to clean up the earth!

The oil droplet is quite terrified

Oil Spill Snorkels: Eating oil, breathing electrons, saving the world?

Oil spills are not great for the environment, but some bacteria thrive on eating oil. Scientists have been researching ways to use these natural oil degrading bacteria to clean up oil contaminated areas. A group in Italy adapted graphite rods to encourage marine mud bacteria to degrade oil more quickly. They call this the “Oil Spill Snorkel”. Read on to find out more about how and why this works, and some of the other ways we can naturally clean up the earth!

International Ocean Discovery Program (Note; Photo originally taken by DSDP then given to Ocean Drilling Program to archive. International Ocean Discovery Program is the current archivist.)

Under the Sea(floor): Ocean Drilling and Scientific Discovery

Deep, dark, and mysterious, the ocean seafloor contains clues and records of past life and climates on earth. Understanding the subseafloor is critical to understanding our planet. But how do we reach these muds and rocks that lie beneath? Here we explore the history of subseafloor exploration, and find out about some of the technologies and agencies who made accessing the deep possible.

Red dead algae

Life on earth has been evolving for a long time – billions of years! The timing of when different kinds of life developed is controversial, but can tell us about the conditions of earth in the past. A group of scientists in Sweden looked at ancient fossils from India, and found what they describe as red algae. This is important because at 1.6 billion years old (that’s 1,600,000,000 years) this is the oldest fossil of this type of algae described to date. These red algae fossils are also much older than most biological models said they should be. This could mean that more types of organisms have been around longer than we thought!

So cute!

It’s a trap! African penguins impacted by climate change

Young penguins living along the southwestern coast of Africa typically follow cool, nutrient rich water to find food as they grow up. This used to lead them to ‘delicious’ fish such as anchovies and sardines. However, in this ecosystem – the Benguela Upwelling Zone – climate change and overfishing have reduced these fish populations. This forces the young penguins to eat less nutritious fish so fewer of them survive to adulthood. This threatens the African penguin’s future. Conservation efforts are needed to ensure this important (and adorable!) species survives.

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!

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