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animal behavior

This tag is associated with 13 posts
So cute!

It’s a trap! African penguins impacted by climate change

Young penguins living along the southwestern coast of Africa typically follow cool, nutrient rich water to find food as they grow up. This used to lead them to ‘delicious’ fish such as anchovies and sardines. However, in this ecosystem – the Benguela Upwelling Zone – climate change and overfishing have reduced these fish populations. This forces the young penguins to eat less nutritious fish so fewer of them survive to adulthood. This threatens the African penguin’s future. Conservation efforts are needed to ensure this important (and adorable!) species survives.

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!

Menopause only occurs in humans and two species of toothed whale [Flickr].

What killer whales tell us about menopause

Killer whales, or orcas (Orcinus orca), are amazingly intelligent and social animals. What can they tell us about the evolution of menopause?

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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Warm water curtails sea snakes’ dives

Like frogs, sea snakes can uptake oxygen through both their lungs and their skin. How will these “bimodal breathers” cope with warm ocean temperatures?

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. 1. Polar Bear (climate change refugee). Source: Wikimedia Commons, Author Arturo de Frias Marques.

If You Must, Adjust? Polar Bears Leaving Sea Ice in the Arctic

Everyone knows that polar bears have become the poster children for species threatened by climate change. And it’s for good reason that they are. Polar bears rely on sea ice for access to prey, finding mates, and creating dens. The persistence of the species depends on the state of sea-ice and more generally a healthy marine ecosystem in the Arctic. Unfortunately, the volume and extent of sea ice have been decreasing by 28% and 14% per decade. Is there a way for polar bears to adapt to the changing sea ice coverage in this sensitive habitat?

Lagoon triggerfish in Frankfurt's zoo.
 
rhinecanthus aculeatus

Variety in the personal lives of triggerfish

Triggerfish don’t all opt for monogamy. Read on to see what mating strategies they use and why there is so much variety.

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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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I, Spy – Eye stripes and spots work together to distract predators

Eyespots and eye stripes are common markings on fish bodies. It is thought that they divert predator attacks away from the vulnerable and important head region. This paper shows that threespine stickleback, a predatory fish, prefers to strike at the region of the prey with an eyespot.

Figure 1 - Hermit crab without and with a shell

Beyond the shell: What are hermit crabs really after?

A favorite activity for beachgoers is to comb the sand and tide pools for marine life, and one of the most familiar tide pool animals is the hermit crab. Kids and parents alike love to find them out on the rocks, but how much do we really know about them? This article explores the important ecological role that hermit crabs play in tide pool ecosystems.

Figure 5 – A loggerhead sea turtle escaping a fishing trawl via a turtle exclusion device

Using Robots to Track Sea Turtles

A new technique using underwater robots may be able to teach us about sea turtle behaviors in the wild.

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