Only three known species go through menopause: killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, and humans. Two years ago, scientists suggested whales do this to focus their attention on the survival of their families rather than on birthing more offspring. But now this same team reports there’s another—and darker—reason: Older females enter menopause because their eldest daughters begin having calves, leading to fights over resources. The findings might also apply to humans, the scientists say.
How humpback whales use marine habitats off the eastern coast of Africa is only partially understood, and that has become a conservation concern as offshore energy exploration expands in the region. However, a new study published in Marine Ecology Progress Series found that humpback whales that were satellite tagged off the coast of Madagascar during peak breeding season are traveling much further in the southwest Indian Ocean than previously thought. This research can help define potentially sensitive areas that should be protected from the disruption of seismic testing or other industrial development that could be destructive to the humpback population and this globally important marine habitat.
Tonga is a seismologists’ paradise, and not just because of the white-sand beaches. The subduction zone off the east coast of the archipelago racks up more intermediate-depth and deep earthquakes than any other subduction zone, where one plate of Earth’s lithosphere dives under another, on the planet. Tonga is such an extreme place, and that makes it very revealing,” said S. Shawn Wei, a seismologist who earned his doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis and now is a postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. That swarm of earthquakes is catnip for seismologists because they still don’t understand what causes earthquakes to pop off at such great depths.
Behold the hyolith — a bizarre Cambrian-period creature that dwelt on the ocean floor alongside other armored invertebrates like trilobites more than 500 million years ago. Its body was encased in a pair of shells that resembled an ice cream cone with a lid like a trap door. Two tusklike spines protruded from the soft tissue near the hinge, and on top of its mouth was a row of fluttering tentacles. Since its discovery in the 19th century, the hyolith has puzzled paleontologists. Some thought it was a mollusk, like a snail or clam. Others said it belonged to its own group of animals.
New climate model projections of the world’s coral reefs reveal which reefs will be hit first by annual coral bleaching, an event that poses the gravest threat to one of the Earth’s most important ecosystems. These high-resolution projections, based on global climate models, predict when and where annual coral bleaching will occur. The projections show that reefs in Taiwan and around the Turks and Caicos archipelago will be among the world’s first to experience annual bleaching. Other reefs, like those off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia, will be hit decades later, according to research recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.
New study finds that 10% to 50% of iceberg melting happens in the fjords, not in the open ocean as assumed by previous research. Icebergs contribute more meltwater to Greenland’s fjords than previously thought, losing up to half of their volume as they move through the narrow inlets, according to new research.
Greenland, the world’s largest island, is almost entirely covered by a permanent ice sheet that has been shrinking and melting as global warming increases temperatures. In fjords, narrow inlets where glaciers meet the sea, ice breaks off from glaciers to form dense packs of icebergs.
Some beluga whales are adapting to climate change by changing their migratory habits, while other are not, a new study finds. Beluga whales spend the summer in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, and winters in the warmer Bering Sea to the south. Some beluga whales are delaying their autumn southern migration by up to four weeks, according to a paper published in the journal Global Change Biology.
Pollution in the Arctic is so bad that chemicals are accumulating in polar bear mother’s milk and getting passed onto bear cubs. A new analysis of pollutants in the Arctic has found that polar bears are at a particularly high risk, compared to other animals like seals.
The study was published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in December and focused on a class of pollutants known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). POPs are toxic, hang around for a long time, and tend to build up in the bodies of humans and animals.
DC is in a (frigid) flurry of activity right now. After a rainy day of swearing in ceremonies on Tuesday, the 115th Congress got to work, with 417 bills and resolutions introduced by the end …
Changes in the way that ocean temperatures were measured in recent decades made it look like the oceans were getting cooler, but now independent data has confirmed that this so-called ‘hiatus’ in global warming never actually happened. The cause of the apparent hiatus in rising sea-surface temperatures was first identified in 2015 in a paper in the journal Science by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The paper proved controversial, but since its publication, several studies have backed up the idea that the hiatus didn’t in fact happen. The apparent hiatus has been linked to poor statistical methods, among other factors.
Thirty years ago a mysterious disease wiped out long-spined black sea urchins across the Caribbean, leading to massive algal overgrowth that smothered already overfished coral reefs. Now, marine biologists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) report that smaller sea urchins and parrotfish may be taking the place of the large sea urchins, restoring the balance on degraded reefs.