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Physiology

This category contains 30 posts
Fig. 4: Ringed seal pup. Author: Shawn Dahle, NOAA, Polar Ecosystems Program research cruise. Source: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pusa_hispida_pup.jpg

Throwing Babies out with the Sea Ice: Ringed Seals Response to Ice Decline

As the Earth warms, sea ice declines. What happens to those animals who rely on the ice? Today’s oceanbites looks at one animal, the ringed seal, and how it may be affected by climate change!

An eight-week old starfish larva forms vortices around its body while eating. This image was made by adding tiny white beads to the water that follow the diverging currents. Food is trapped in the vortices and brought to the larva’s mouth. (Figure 1a in the paper.)

The whirling world of starfish larvae whorls

A close look at starfish larvae reveals the beautiful patterns they create while moving through the water. These tiny vortex machines can create lots of swirls around themselves to trap food, or they can let the water flow by them smoothly when they want to swim fast.

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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: These larval lobsters (phyllosomas) hitch a ride on these jellies, taking nutrients and protection as they go. © Marty Snyderman. Source: http://www.alertdiver.com/Shooter_Snyderman

Lobster Poop: Way More Interesting Than You’ve Ever Imagined

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never ever given any thought to lobsters and their poop. In contrast, the researchers who wrote this study have thought way too much about lobster poop; read on to find out what they discovered!

Atlantic Surfclam
CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Honey, we shrunk the seafood

Atlantic surfclams have gotten smaller over the last thirty years. This modeling study explores how temperature and how we fish can change the average size of individuals in a population.

Figure 3. Deep sea octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica). Source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Photo also used as featured image.

Parenthood: The Most Rewarding Experience or The Ultimate Sacrifice?

Our human parents make a lot of sacrifices for us! They devote their time and energy, provide for us, invest in us (monetarily, sure, but also emotionally), nurture us, attempt to teach us, make career decisions with us in mind, and lose a lot of sleep worrying about us. However, in the marine world things can get much more extreme? Some animals make the ultimate sacrifice by literally dying to reproduce. Find out more about some of these marine creatures in today’s Oceanbites!

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Frequent Fallers: Fat penguins have trouble staying on their feet

Yesterday was World Penguin Day. In honor of that, let’s take some time to appreciate just how awkward they are when they have to walk, and investigate why fatter penguins may fall more often.

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Turtles turn heat exchange topsy-turvy

Counter-current heat exchange is a classic example of an elegant anatomical solution to this physiological problem. Leatherback sea turtles do things just a little bit different.

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Oxygen favours the bold

It takes personality for the African sharptooth catfishes to breathe air. But they also consider their surroundings before visiting the surface. Photo: Wikimedia.

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Trawling selects for faster fish

A new study suggests that differences in exercise performance make some individuals more vulnerable to capture by trawling than others, and that this may drive the evolution of commercially-important fishes (Photo: Wikimedia).

Fig. 3: Premnas biaculeatus,  an anemonefish and the focal point of this study. (Photo: wikimarino.com)

Warming up to climate change

Are you a fish that can’t cope with warming oceans? Don’t hesitate, acclimate! Scientists have found if fish have the chance to acclimate to warmer temperatures they may be better off in the future.

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Icefish can’t keep their cool in warm water

The Antarctic climate is changing, and the increasing temperature is wreaking havoc on the physiology of endemic species. Will icefish, the Southern Ocean’s most abundant group of fishes, be able to cope with the metabolic consequence of life in warm water?

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Sound waves: dolphins in a noisy ocean

As human influence in Earth’s oceans increases, so does the background noise. How might dolphins cope with changes in environmental noise levels, particularly in areas where it has seen a substantial, recent increase? Do chattier dolphins have to invest more energy into their aural physiological systems?

Schooling Diagram

Science Says Fish Should Stay in School!

Is it cool for fish to stay in a school? Many do, but why? Avoiding predators is one reason, but scientists debate on whether fish gain an energetic advantage of easier swimming when in a group. New research published in Fish and Fisheries uses advanced technology to test old and new theories of hydrodynamics and fish schooling, with some surprising results.

Fig. 2: Cold-water corals found in the deeper parts of the ocean (Source: NERC).

Consummate Corals: resilience in an acidifying ocean

Gloom and doom has been the dominant message associated with climate change. However, it is important to remember that when faced with change, not all species and ecosystems are created equal. Recently, researchers have found that several species of cold-water corals are quite resilient to ocean acidification.

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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.

Figure 1: The strange but beautiful opah, Lampris guttatus. Image from swfsc.noaa.gov

The first evidence of a warm blooded fish

Fish are cold blooded, right? Their body temperature is regulated by the temperature of the surrounding water. Well, this may not be the case for all fish. New evidence suggests a species of fish, the opah, is warm blooded! This is the first evidence of full body endothermy in fishes, making this fish kind of a big deal

Figure 2. The smaller image is a segment of a nerve taken from a dissected fin whale tongue in its resting (un-stretched) state. The larger image shows the extent that the nerve can stretch while still quickly returning to its original length without any observable damage. Nerves in the tongue and mouth of rorqual whales can extend from 75 to 115% longer than their resting state. In contrast to this, a 10% extension in a human nerve reduces nerve performance and a 30% extension would cause nerve failure and permanent damage.

Elastic nerves make rorqual whales the Mister Fantastic of the ocean

A team of researchers have discovered extremely elastic nerves in the mouth and tongue of rorqual whales. This is highly unusual considering nerves in nearly all other animals are quite rigid and sensitive to damage by overextension.

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Offspring inherit trait developed in parents

Damselfish offspring inherit a trait developed by parents raised in warmer temperatures.

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Sea urchins work harder, faster to cope with ocean acidification

The ability of sea urchins to withstand ocean acidification comes at a hidden cost.

oceanbites photostream

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