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Biological oceanography

This category contains 28 posts
Conservationists are scrambling to save the species of the world, but where should they start

‘The conservationist is ready to see you’: triaging marine ecosystems in times of climate change

Climate change affects ecosystems worldwide, but how do conservationists decide which of planet earth’s ecosystems are most in need?

Cover Photo (source: freakingnews.com)

Hunter-Chiller: Multiple feeding strategies for some of the world’s smallest organisms

Because of their ability to conduct photosynthesis, most of our planet’s oxygen comes from microscopic organisms in the ocean called algae. In addition to photosynthesis, some of these algae can also hunt and consume prey to supplement their energy needs. In this study a group of scientists has set out to determine just how their hunting strategy works, and why each strategy has its own set benefits and drawbacks.

(source: thekitchn.com)

Clamate Change: How clams may be able to cope with a warming world

Global temperatures are increasing at a rate never before seen in Earth’s history. Although efforts to mitigate this are still very important, it is also important to study and understand what is going to happen to the plants and animals that live here. Evidence of climate change already surrounds us, and the more we know, the better prepared we will be to cope with our new environment. In this study, a group of researchers have studied how two species of clams react to a warmer environment to understand the coping mechanisms they use for survival.

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Studying plankton from an atmospheric satellite

Scientists found a way to repurpose data from an atmospheric satellite to study the tiny creatures at the base of most ocean food webs. The instrument, originally designed to study aerosols, allowed researchers to build the most complete record of polar plankton activity ever assembled.

(source: culture.oasiscollections.com)

Paradise Loss: How humans are impacting coastal reef communities

Humans are drawn to beautiful beaches and warm water, and with us come the conveniences of modern day civilization. While life may be flourishing in the shops, restaurants and luxury hotels, this development is taking its toll on the fragile reef community just off shore. Although reefs may appear healthy to the naked eye, researchers have discovered coastal development impacts their biological diversity, and this may be an indication of more serious, long-term damage.

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.

Pseudo-nitzschia, a species of diatom that produces the neurotoxin domoic acid. (Wikipedia)

A toxic toasty blob: warm water in the Pacific provides a happy home for poisonous algae

A warm blob at the ocean surface, fishery closures, and unhappy marine mammals – what do all these things have in common? The answer is microscopic: a toxic type of algae called Pseudo-nitzschia thrives when temperatures are warm and nutrients are plentiful. It poisons the shellfish that feed marine mammals and support a multi-million dollar fishing industry.

Figure 1: There are five major ocean-wide gyres — the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean gyres. Credit: wikemedia/NOAA.

Eat Organic at Your Local Gyre Margin

Paper: Letscher, Robert T., et al. 2016. Nutrient budgets in the subtropical ocean gyres dominated by lateral transport. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 815–819 If you were a marine organism looking for some grub, where could you find something nutritious? Nutrients in the ocean accumulate in the bodies of living things, which tend to sink to deeper waters […]

Deep Water Horizon (Source: www.slate.com)

Microbes: The original organic cleaning agents

Natural and human caused leakage of oil into the environment is commonplace throughout the world. Scientists are learning how microbes (microscopic organisms) can break down this oil and use it for energy. By understanding these processes, we will be able to determine the short and long-term environmental impacts, as well as use these organisms to help us clean up after a major spill.

krillicekils

Positive real estate outlook for Antarctic krill

An Australian research team predict future sea-ice habitats for Antarctic krill larvae, and are surprised to find more suitable ice habitats in the future, despite shrinking sea-ice cover.

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.

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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?

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!

Figure 2: Octopus maya. (Photo: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México) http://fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&id=63647&ndb=1

Cool Fact! Octopuses spawn with ease when temperatures are lower

Octopuses in the YP may experience temperature changes that do not bode well for reproduction. At what point will the influence of temperature be enough to inhibit the octopus population from growing? Consequences could be tough for octopus fisheries in the area. Read about how temperature stress that a mother experiences can influence her offsprings ability to cope.

invasivefish

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?

featured

Wasting Away in Virus-ville

Sea star wasting disease still plagues the U.S. West Coast, but clues to its nature are being uncovered. Find out how temperature may be a key player in the progression of the disease in today’s article!

Figure 1: There are less fish in the sea then there were just a few decades ago. Image from World Wildlife Fund

Earth Week: Overview on Overfishing

We rely heavily on the oceans as a source of food. Unfortunately, fish populations have declined by over 50 percent over the past several decades. This can spell disaster for us and ocean ecosystems. Read on for to find out more about how we are impacting the oceans through overfishing.

polynyas

Plankton fill up ice-free summer homes

Source: Li, Y., R. Ji, S. Jenouvrier, M. Jin, and J. Stroeve (2016), Synchronicity between ice retreat and phytoplankton bloom in circum-Antarctic polynyas, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 2086–2093, doi:10.1002/2016GL067937. Antarctic coasts Despite the dark winters and freezing cold conditions, the coastline of Antarctica is a hotspot for growth of phytoplankton, the tiny, photosynthesizing organisms that […]

Walrus whiskers

What’s up with Whiskers?

Whiskers are like finger tips for flipper-footed marine mammals, like seals, sea lions, and walruses. Learn more about how pinnipeds use their whiskers to track prey, and discriminate between different objects by size, shape, and surface structure.

Fig. 4: Massive chunks of ice break off from glaciers in a process called calving (lonelyplanet.com).

Hope Floats: how icebergs are fighting climate change

An iceberg couldn’t help Leo win an Oscar, but new research highlights how icebergs may help battle climate change. Read on to find out how!

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