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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!

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An Ocean in Your Beer

This St. Patrick’s Day, think outside the green beer and whiskey and try an ocean-inspired beer! Didn’t know there were beers brewed with ocean life? Read on to learn more about how our oceans and your beer are intertwined.

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Oceans absorb more carbon with weaker ocean circulation

A team of researchers investigate why the ocean has been absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere in recent decades, and find ocean circulation could be responsible.

An anatomically incorrect sketch of an elasmosaurian plesiosaur. Sketched by Charles Robert Knight, 1897.

A look into the past…and into a gnarly set of teeth

New discoveries are made every day, but ‘new’ does not always mean current. In this case, scientists are using technology to reconstruct the jaws of a creature that dominated the oceans over 70 million years ago and are solving the mystery of how its strange teeth allowed for a diverse diet. Intrigued?

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.

photo credit: Anne Hartwell

Glaciers have big league role in silica budget.

Glaciers get a lot of attention because they’re expansive sheets of ice. They’re important to understand because they can impact sea level, circulation, climate, albedo, and they are homes to microbial organisms and large animals. A new reason they are getting attention is their recently realized importance to the global silica budget. Researchers found that melting glaciers deliver enough silica to the surface ocean that their contribution should not be ignored.

Adult hawksbill turtle, one of the study subjects of Brei et al. 2016. Image credit: NOAA Photo Library

Turn off some lights for the turtles: using statistics to make turtle conservation tangible

You’ve heard about “turn down for what…”; now check out this article and figure out exactly what you’re turning down for, or at least turning the lights down for! Turtles are impacted by light pollution; this article summarizes research framing this problem in an economic way.

Congress can be a confusing place. This brief guide will help you become better informed and more active. Credit: wikicommons.

Keeping Up the Fight: Tips for Science Policy Engagement

Concerned for the future of science? I’ve highlighted a few things you can do to stay engaged in 15 minutes a day.

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Fisheries and Food Security

Fish have provided sustenance for millions of people, but in a world where stocks are rapidly depleting, what are the consequences of trying to save and rehabilitate their populations?

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Working with the coast

The coast is very dynamic and at the constant mercy of wind and water energy. Often times, humans will try to control the coast by constructing seawalls and groins. Such projects have major impacts on sediment transport that can affect natural ecosystems and recreational beaches. Read here about a group of scientists who sought to quantify just how much of an impact seawall and groin development had on a section of coast in southeast India.

Soft coral dominated reef. Author: Matt Kieffer. Source: Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/15439205306)

Hard Coral or Macroalgae? Coral Reefs May Have Another Option

Most of the time coral reef communities are discussed, it seems the focus is whether they’re dominated by hard coral or algae. It turns out there may be other possible outcomes for reefs in the future. Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

Fig 2. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) (Caroline Weir).

Contaminant fingerprints in fat tell all

This tell-all exposé isn’t from the Maury Show…read on to learn about the use of a nifty chemistry technique that paints a picture of all the contaminants found in the fat of Brazilian dolphins, and what this means for you

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Earth’s strongest current even stronger than previously thought

The Antarctic Circumpolar current, which wraps around Antarctica and connects the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, is notoriously difficult to measure. Recently a group of researchers tackled the wild current, and found it was 30% stronger than scientists previously thought.

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.

Fig. 1. Encroaching Mangrove in Homestead, FL
Source: G. Gardner, National Park Service, via Wikimedia Commons

Mangrove Takeover Impacting Salt Marshes

Mangroves are encroaching on salt marsh habitats worldwide, but what does this change in plant community mean for the plants, ecosystem processes, and other inhabitants of these areas? Find out a bit of the answer to that question in today’s oceanbites!

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Beyond Florida-bound: Birds tweak their winter travel plans in response to climate change

Seabirds are switching up their annual winter travels in response to climate change…read on to discover how researchers used museum displays, isotopes, and really expensive GPS tags to piece together this seabird story.

Figure 2: 3D-image of a coral reef in HI presented in a detailed presentation about monitoring the change of a reef area via SfM. The video is  available to watch for free on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/140017194

Ocean mapping on a budget

The seafloor is complex and mapping it is difficult because direct observations are hindered because it is underwater. Scientists have developed field methods and remote sensing methods to model the geomorphology of the seafloor but they are either limited spatially or by resolution. A newer method being applied to seafloor mapping is called Structure from Motion, and its low cost and high resolution may play a big role in future projects regarding ocean exploration. Read more to find out how scientists used it to increase the accuracy of rugosity measurements on a Hawaiian coral reef.

Image credit: Pinterest

The sappiest oceanbites article you may ever read: one author’s ponderings about gratitude for the oceans

When I first saw the email stating that the oceanbites theme week would revolve around why we are thankful for the oceans, my mind flew back to my grade school celebration of the first Thanksgiving. We dressed up as Pilgrims and Native Americans, ate traditional dishes from the first Thanksgiving, and lined up to state […]

Courtesy Evan-Amos via wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pumpkin-Pie-Slice.jpg)

The ocean is my cake

Or, to be more thematically appropriate, pie. Pumpkin pie. Because, if we’re being honest, pumpkin pie is the superior Thanksgiving pie. [Editor’s note: This is merely the author’s opinion. Clearly, chocolate pudding pie is the superior Thanksgiving pie]

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