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Valeska Upham

Valeska Upham has written 30 posts for oceanbites

The importance of sea urchins

A look into Valeska’s graduate research. Why coral reefs depend on the long spined black sea urchin for survival.

Are satellite tags the new dinner bell for harbor seals?

Satellite tags are being used to study the foraging behavior of fishes, but in the lab harbor seals have been found to be attracted to the acoustical signal given out by these tags. In the wild, does that mean these tags are acting as a dinner bell for harbor seals?

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

207 years ago, a renowned naturalist and geologist was born; Charles Darwin. Today OceanBites is honoring Charles Darwin and his insatiable quest for knowledge by exploring some of his marine observations.

Disoriented fish are getting lost at sea!

Young fish rely on sound cues to navigate the vast ocean, but as our oceans acidify, the journey home to safely settle becomes much more difficult. Disoriented and slow, these fish are getting lost at sea

Predator vs. Prey: starfish vs. coral

The crown-of-thorns starfish has become a vicious predator of acroporid corals in the Indo-Pacific. This study looks at recruitment strategies of both the coral and the starfish in order to better understand if the coral has a chance of surviving the feeding frenzy of the crown-of-thorns starfish.

Always follow your gut, or in this case, follow the fish guts

Following the guts of fish species is sometimes the best way to track small, mobile crustacean prey.

I’ll stand guard for you!

When it comes to helping each other out, it turns out that some fishes are better at it than we thought. New research shows how when foraging for food some rabbitfish species stand guard for one another, demonstrating how fishes can posses the cognitive ability to carry out reciprocal altruism acts.

The barrels of the sea; giant barrel sponges that is

Giant barrel sponges are understudied compared to many other marine organisms, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Climate change has taken its toll on the Florida Keys coral reefs, but the giant barrel sponge has proven to be a hearty animal, growing in size and population.

Corals better learn to keep up or they may drown!

The coral reefs protecting many islands in the Pacific need to grow quickly in order to keep up with the rising sea levels and increasing ocean temperatures. As of now, researchers are optimistic that some species of corals are up to this challenge, but that relies on the rate of sea level rise.

An exact replica of a coral reef right in the office!

In order to better understand coral reef complexity and structure researchers developed a cost effective way to 3D print coral reefs. Using these 3D models, researchers were able to dissect the complexity of coral reefs and better understand their intricate growth patterns.

Do fish communities need natural shorelines, or are artificial structures ok?

Due to coastal development and natural erosion, shoreline fish communities are stressed. Several versions of artificial structures have been built to help mimic natural shoreline habitats, but are they all equally helping to conserve the fish species, or are some better than others?

What would coral reefs be like without human impact?

One would think that an isolated reef ecosystem shielded from the influence of people would provide an ideal benchmark against which other coral reefs can be compared. But in a recent study, researchers found it isn’t that simple.

Just sealing around; Ice seal misidentification in aerial surveys

Aerial photographs are a great way to collect images of marine species in order to analyze their distribution patterns. Distinguishing different species is difficult, and unfortunately this leads to the misidentifictation of several species. This is the case for ice-associated seals, species for which global climate change has motivated intensive monitoring efforts in recent years.

A new thermally tolerant species of algae is found!

Rising ocean temperatures threaten coral reefs, but a new thermal tolerant algae could help.

Is a coral’s color all for show?

Two of the exact same corals, sitting right next to each other, often appear to be different based on their colors. Why is this? Scientists have shown that the answer involves intriguing genetics. The more genes a coral activates, the greater their strength of color.

Watch out guys, pregnant whale sharks are on the loose!

Whale sharks have become an increasingly popular tourist attraction, but much of their life history remains largely unknown. This study sets off to observe whale sharks around Darwin Island to help understand more about their habitat use, population size, and seasonal appearances. And what they find is a whole lot of pregnant whale sharks.

How do jellyfish find their prey?

Jellyfish bloom have multiplied over the years, gathering in large quantities in the Norwegian fjords. Researchers used this opportunity to study the jellyfish and understand how efficiently jellyfish can find their zooplankton prey.

Can a complex model hold the fate of the crown-of-thorns starfish?

Not all starfish are cute! The crown-of-thorns starfish has been eating all the coral on the Great Barrier Reef! Researchers set out to build a model in hopes of demonstrating the trophic interactions between this dangerous starfish and its prey, the coral.

The Language of Fishes

Coral reefs are composed of hundreds of different species, who all use different acoustics to communicate, just like we use different languages around the world to communicate. Researchers set out to better understand and record the language of fishes in hopes of building a species-specific soundscape of the coral reef community.

What factors influence Lionfish success in the Bahamas?

Lionfish are recent invaders of the Caribbean Basin and are reproducing at a rapid rate, their population continuing to grow and out compete native fish species. A recent study provides a new conservation strategy against these predators, involving what potentially might be a safe refuge for lionfish prey.

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