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Sean Anderson

Sean Anderson has written 19 posts for oceanbites

Big animals face big trouble in our oceans

Many believe we are in the midst of another mass extinction both on land and in the ocean. What marine animals are most at risk of extinction? Using current and past extinction data, researchers were able to pinpoint the most vulnerable types of marine animals.

Ancient swimmers: Greenland sharks live for centuries

Using radiocarbon dating, scientists have discovered that the Greenland shark can live longer than any other known vertebrate. How long have some of these individuals been alive?

Tiny but tough: calcification in marine phytoplankton

Coccolithophores stand out from other marine phytoplankton in their ability to form calcified plates. Why is it beneficial for coccolithophores to calcify and how may these plates hold up under future ocean conditions?

Changing with the environment: how resilient are coral reef fish?

Coral reef fish are some of the most sensitive animals to climate change. How will coral reef fish respond to predicted increases in temperature and carbon dioxide? Do they have the ability to adapt to future conditions or is it already too late?

Aliens attack: Predicting the spread of marine invasive species

Species invasions have become serious issues in the marine environment, mostly as a result of increased ship traffic. Once a new species invades an area, it is next to impossible to draw it out. What if there was a way to predict the arrival of alien species to new locations in the ocean? Would this predictive power help minimize future invasions?

Cephalopods engage in colorful confrontations

Octopuses were once thought to be mostly solitary creatures, only worried about looming predators or potential mates. It turns out, octopuses can also communicate with each other by changing their body pattern and color. How does this form of communication work when octopuses decide to fight?

Killer food: the harmful effects of a diatom diet

What if a single bite out of your favorite cheeseburger was toxic to your health? In the ocean, copepods are faced with this issue when they feed on certain types of diatoms. Some diatoms produce toxins as a way to defend themselves from predators. How do these toxins effect hungry copepods?

Cuttlefish “freeze-out” their predators

Cephalopods such as cuttlefish are known to use camouflage behavior to avoid being eaten. Sharks are able to find disguised cuttlefish using their electrolocation. Do cuttlefish have a way to counter? This study suggests cuttlefish can “freeze” themselves in order to escape predation.

Plankton are eating plastic!

Zooplankton, the tiny animals that make up the base of marine food webs, are ingesting microplastics. Given the widespread abundance of microplastics in the ocean, this finding could have serious ramifications for zooplankton and their predators.

Decomposition in the Deep Sea

Whale carcasses that fall to the seafloor provide large amounts of food to deep-sea environments. Though ecologically important, little is known about whale falls and the communities they harbor in the vast Atlantic Ocean – all information comes from the Pacific. What happens to large mammals that sink to the bottom of the Atlantic and how does this impact communities there?

Wake-up Call: Global Oceans in Big Trouble!

Our global oceans are in a state of crisis. A new report from the WWF paints a bleak picture: human interference has pushed the oceans to the brink of collapse. The health of marine organisms and the habitats they live in have become severely threatened by compounding factors such as pollution, overfishing and increased CO2 input. This situation is urgent and requires global awareness and swift action. The ocean is changing at a rapid pace before our eyes and we can no longer waste time.

Feeling the heat: how do plankton respond to glacial melting?

The current, and sometimes rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets is a direct consequence of climate change. Glacial melting on land can leave behind newly formed ice-contact lakes, which are prevalent around the world. These lakes contain high levels of mineral particles, as well as previously trapped inorganic and organic nutrients carried by glacial meltwater. What are the chances of survival for plankton in this type of environment?

Carbon sinks: Diatoms in the deep sea

Fast-sinking phytoplankton particles deliver carbon from the surface to the deep ocean. Are plankton cells still able to survive when they sink to the deep ocean? If so, how long may they survive without any sunlight?

Untangling the issues with longline fishing

Longline fishing has been used for decades as a way to catch large amounts of commercial fish. Though effective in capturing target fish, longlines unintentionally snag and kill millions of other marine species. Aside from being caught themselves, marine mammals (i.e. dolphins and killer whales) may eat target fish off the hooks and destroy fishing equipment. Are there ways to reduce incidental bycatch and make longline fishing more sustainable?

Toxic meal: Chemical cues from copepods increase red-tide toxicity

Yes, you can purchase a fuzzy red tide-forming algal cell. Aside from being much smaller and lacking any type of eye, these organisms can produce massive, toxin-rich blooms in the ocean. Nasty toxins can be harmful to other organisms in the water and even reach humans via the consumption of shellfish and fish. Through the release of chemical cues, copepods have been shown to promote further toxicity in bloom-forming algae.

Time to rethink the role of ocean’s microbes?

Have you ever wondered what may live inside the tiniest drops of seawater? Global oceans are dominated by organisms we cannot even see. Marine microbes are resilient, incredibly diverse, and ecologically important. These microbes deserve a closer look.

Sewage pollution running amuck in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon

Harmful algal blooms are common events that occur in coastal waters. In Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, nutrient groundwater runoff initiates massive and highly toxic bloom events. Harmful blooms spell trouble for the environmental health and economic value of the lagoon. How bad has this issue become and what can be done to minimize the severity of future blooms?

Crustaceans are smarter than you think

Ever wondered how your lobster behaves before it reaches your dinner plate? Caribbean spiny lobsters take advantage of a unique sensory system to survive in the wild. Recently, the spiny lobster has been hit by a deadly virus that is threatening population size. How do healthy spiny lobsters avoid other individuals with the disease?

Deadly Dino’s

Copepods dominate the world’s oceans. They are important in the marine food web and help to regulate the global carbon cycle. Being abundant in the ocean is not always fun. Copepods attract attention from infectious parasites, especially from a certain species of dinoflagellate. What potential effects can this parasite have on copepods and what other large-scale implications may arise?

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