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Behavior

This category contains 50 posts
Figure 1: A venomous cone snail that lives in tropical reef systems. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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!

Red Crown-of-Thorns Starfish eating coral. Author Matt Kieffer, Flickr. No modifications made. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/3016449061 Link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Small MPAs: the new all-you-can-eat buffets?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a popular conservation tool and are in many situations very effective. Unfortunately, as with many plans, there may be some unintended consequences, as seen in the case of small MPAs in Fiji, where they appear to have attracted corallivorous crown-of-thorns sea stars (Acanthaster spp.). Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

All the places you can mate! After an epic migration from Souther America to the Arctic Rim, male pectoral sandpiper's a rearing to visit all the breeding grounds. (Bird and Map adapted from Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Like a champion Casanova in the sky

After migrating thousands of miles from their southern wintering grounds, males of a certain species of shorebird log thousands more miles scouring the summer territories for fertile females. It’s pretty nuts.

Figure 2: A humpback whale swims with her calf. Image from Pitman et al., 2017- taken by M. Lynn, NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Heroic Humpbacks: Orcastrate an Escape

While watching a pod of killer whales attacking their prey, scientists noticed a small group of humpback whales come to the rescue. Why did these humpbacks risk their own safety to save another animal? Read more about how scientists are investigating this question.

Figure 2: Kavachi Eruption: Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2002: Explorer Ridge. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0a/May_14_Kavachi_eruption.jpg

Sharkcano, a melting pot for biology

No, a Sharkcano is not a volcano that erupts sharks. IT IS WAY COOLER THAN THAT! It is a submarine volcano that hosts a diverse macro community in water that is much warmer and more acidic that the surrounding seawater. Read more to find out about this alien-esc ecosystem in the South Pacific Ocean.

A mother and baby sperm whale.

A Whale Shaped Needle in a Ocean Sized Haystack

Sperm whales are very large, but they can still be tricky to find in the ocean! These researchers combined several data sets, from centuries old whaling records to modern automated location recording, to determine the locations off the southwest Australia most suitable for sperm whales, so policy makers can plan to protect these animals and other scientists can save time searching for them.

Mussel bed in an intertidal zone during low tide. Photo by Ian Sutton, 2009.

With A Little Help From My Friend: Unexpected benefits of invasive species?

Invasive species are widely talked about as unequivocally bad influences on ecosystems, but oftentimes their interactions are more complex. Click here to read more about an unexpected interplay between two mussel species in the intertidal zone!

Fig.1: A decorator crab, Oregonia gracilis, costumed by seaweeds, sponges, bryozoans, and probably a lot else! (Photo: Flickr user Rick)

Costume Age: some crabs are too young to start dressing up

Well, it’s that time of year again where hoards of costumed kids roam the streets in search of candy. While these kids are met at each door with smiles and sugar, older kids and teenagers are more likely to be met with disapproving frowns – aren’t they too old to be doing this? Well, if you’re a decorator crab you also like to go all out in costume, but it’s not the younger crabs that are doing it, decorator crabs have to be a certain age before they start dressing up!

seahorse

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!

Figure 1: Manta rays are gentle giants that filter feed on tiny zooplankton. Image from strangebehaviors.wordpress.com

The Manta in the Mirror: Are Manta Rays Self-Aware?

Fish are not typically thought of as the most intelligent animals. Yet, new research on manta rays may revolutionize the way we think about how some fish grasp difficult concepts like self-awareness. Read on to see how.

Figure 2: Picture of French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum) originally by Albert Kok. Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons

Grunts and Gnathiids: One Fish’s Daily Migration to Escape Parasites?

Animals move for a number of reasons. The French grunt leaves the coral reefs at night for seagrass. A group of scientists proposes and provides good evidence for why they might do that! Read on to discover whether they’re leaving to avoid being parasitized?

Cuttlefish (Source: Zak Kerrigan)

Count On It: Cuttlefish Risk Management

As any gambler will tell you, the higher the financial risk, the larger the potential reward. As it turns out, the hungrier we get, the higher risks we’re willing to take, and this characteristic transfers over to other members of the animal kingdom. In this study, we look at how cuttlefish make decisions about attacking prey based on their level of hunger and the risk they are willing to accept when the reward is that much sweeter.

Fig. 3: Dolphins are highly social animals. Do they use language like humans do?

Dolphin Dialects: first evidence of spoken language in cetaceans?

We all know dolphins are intelligent creatures that communicate with one another, but a recent study has analyzed dolphin sounds finding evidence of actual human-like, structured conversation. Their chats are full of complex sounds and frequencies, akin to words and sentences. In addition, dolphins appear to have a politeness edge on humans as they were observed to pause and hear out others, rather than interrupting with their own sounds!

obelia

The physics of tiny jellyfish hunting

Tiny jellyfish live, swim, and eat in a viscous environment. How they capture their food is something of a mystery. A University of Oregon group took advantage of several fancy imaging techniques to shed some light on the matter.

Listening for Symptoms: A new use for hydrophones in the face of harmful algal blooms

Whales aren’t the only animals hydrophones can detect out in the ocean. In fact, in the near future it might be possible to listen in on animals like scallops and determine if they’re healthy or not. Intrigued? Click here for more!

Figure 1 – An underwater image of Antarctic sea urchins (red/pink) with a brittle star, many scallops, and an ice wall behind. Photo by Steve Clabuesch via Wikipedia Commons.

Hide-and-Go-Seek in the Deep Sea

In the deep sea off the coast of Antartica, sea urchins are getting crafty to avoid predation from king crabs. In the face of global climate change, their tactic may become less effective while the predators become more abundant. Find out more here.

Fig. 2: Fish group together in schools like this to combat predation or to forage (Photo: via Azula).

Loud and Order: How reef fish vocalize to keep schools cohesive

Many animals use vocalizations to send signals to their group, but never before has this been documented in fish, until now. Researchers have found a reef fish that uses vocalizations in order to keep their schools together. Read on to find out how.

Figure 1 – The rainbow darter: A small freshwater fish used in this experiment. Photo credit: Jeff Finley, USFWS

School is in Session for Fish

Human school is a place to learn. Fish school is a way of swimming in a group to stay alive. Baby fish are not cared for or taught the skills needed to survive by their parents, they are born with that innate knowledge. Does this mean fish don’t learn? Is their memory to short to learn? Find out here.

By Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Do You Have Your Exit Buddy?

It’s a tough ocean out there for a larval fish—sticking together can be the best thing to do. But until now, we didn’t know how beneficial schooling could be. Intrigued? Click here to find out more!

Orca (Killer) Whales breaching the surface source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_whale

Killer whale pods: hunting dynamics

Killer whale pods spend almost all of their time together, with the exception of when they hunt. Why are they not social when they hunt? Could it be to ensure the survival of the newest and weakest pod members? Is it related to food availability? It is related to food preference? It is just a factor of physical abilities? Read more to find out what scientist have learned so far!

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