Observed at a staggering depth of more than 8,000 feet below the surface of the ocean, scientists think they may have found a new species. The small wriggling creature is a snailfish and comes from the family Liparidae. For having been found at the depths of the ocean, the snailfish is unexpectedly cute, more resembling a small minnow than one of the ocean's deep creatures.
What mysterious, gelatinous, clear blob that you might find washed up on a beach looks like a jellyfish but isn’t? Meet the sea salp. It typically lives in deep waters, where its barrel-shaped body glides around the ocean by jet propulsion, sucking in water from a siphon on one end and spitting it back though another. It swims alone for part of its life. But it spends the rest of it with other salps, linked together in chains arranged as wheels, lines or other architectural designs.
A new study using satellite tracking by researchers from Nova Southeastern University's Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI), the University of Rhode Island and other colleagues shows that the fishing mortality rate of the shortfin mako in the western North Atlantic is considerably higher than previously estimated from catches reported by fishermen. These data suggest that this major ocean apex predator is experiencing overfishing, raising serious concerns about whether the current levels of fishery catches in the North Atlantic are sustainable.
It’s not just humans who will be affected by the Great American Eclipse coming on Aug. 21 — expect animals to act strangely too. Anecdotal evidence and a few scientific studies suggest that as the moon moves briefly between the sun and the Earth, causing a deep twilight to fall across the land, large swaths of the animal kingdom will alter their behavior.
ELKO, Nev. -- A fossil found in northeastern Nevada shows a newly discovered fish species that scientists believe looked, and ate, like a shark. The fossil is what remains of a bony, sharp-toothed fish that would have been about six-feet-long (1.83 meters) with long jaws and layers of sharp teeth. The type of jaw and teeth on the fish suggest it would have chomped down on its prey before swallowing it whole, like a shark, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
New research from Swansea University academics has found that our oceans are full of microscopic 'bodysnatchers' that have a significant impact on the ocean's food-web. The research, led by Dr Aditee Mitra and Professor Kevin Flynn from the University's College of Science and published by the Royal Society journal Proceedings B show that predatory microbes which enslave prey to acquire photosynthetic capability are abundant in our oceans. These single-celled planktonic mixotrophs are organisms that combine plant-like and animal-like behaviour within the one cell.
Commercial fishermen may be able to catch more of the profitable fish they want with marine reserves than without them, according to a study in the journal PNAS led by the University of California, Davis. Using marine reserves as a management tool could also help the recently rebounded West Coast groundfish fishery sustain itself, the study notes. Marine reserves are a subset of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Some MPAs allow fishing, but marine reserves are areas of the ocean closed to fishing and other extractive activities.
The loss of Arctic sea ice as a result of global warming could have dramatic and potentially catastrophic effects on the climate of much of the northern hemisphere, according to a new report. Scientists at Yale University and the University of Southampton recently demonstrated that the ongoing loss of sea ice is actively changing one of Earth’s main systems for transporting water — the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). To put it simply, AMOC circulates cold, dense water from the north Atlantic southward and warm, salty water from the tropical Atlantic northward. This system, which includes the Gulf Stream, plays a major role in maintaining the global climate, and its deterioration could have a dramatic impact.
A survey of tens of thousands of marine studies from the last decade reveals current threats to our marine environment. These include: the effects of climate change, marine plastic pollution, conservation, as well as social and economic impacts. It is hoped the method used to obtain this information, which has only just been made possible with advances in computational power, will enable the development of robust policies that ensure the future health of our seas.
Two weeks ago during my stay on the Gulf Coast, I had the opportunity to visit several of COL’s members: Louisiana University Marine Consortium (LUMCON), Louisiana State University (LSU) College of Coast and Environment, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Ocean Science and Technology. I strongly encourage you to look again at [...]
Interpreting relationships between species and their environments is crucial to inform ecosystem-based management (EBM), a priority for NOAA Fisheries. EBM recognizes the diverse interactions within an ecosystem -- including human impacts -- so NOAA Fisheries can consider resource tradeoffs that help protect and sustain productive ecosystems and the services they provide. In the coastal ocean of California -- seabird predators, forage fish on which they feed, and the survival of salmon out-migrating to sea are each of particular interest, and an improved understanding of their interactions could in turn improve the management of the ocean ecosystem.
Two years ago, Shana Goffredi raced to the control room of the R/V Western Flyer, a 117-foot-long research ship in the Gulf of California. Television monitors onboard the vessel displayed what looked like an alien world near the ocean bottom, and Goffredi wanted to get a better look. On screen were thousands of tiny orange tube worms and dozens of other animals, some of which were new to science. The bizarre habitat gleamed in the lights of an underwater robotic probe as it explored the environs of a seafloor spring spewing water at superhot temperatures—known as a hydrothermal vent. What struck Goffredi, a marine biologist at Occidental College, along with the 10 other scientists onboard was how different the life-forms at this site, called the Pescadero Basin, looked from those at a neighboring site.
HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA – While waves that once a year become the monster swells ridden by surfers in the Mavericks surf contest roll toward the harbor of this small fishing town south of San Francisco, oceanographer Tim Janssen sits in an office a block from the sea with a handful of colleagues and two dogs. They’re working on a small sensor-laden device he hopes to deploy by the thousands to gather data on those waves and other ocean conditions. Called the Spotter, the yellow space capsule-shaped float is about the size of a beach ball. Solar panels keep its batteries charged and the data gathered by its sensors is beamed via satellite to scientists’ laptops and smartphones. The Spotter is part of an explosion of new, cheaper tools for oceanographic research, giving scientists access to more real-time data about the ocean.
Arctic sea ice is not merely a passive responder to the climate changes occurring around the world, according to new research. Scientists say the ongoing Arctic ice loss can play an active role in altering one of the planet's largest water circulation systems: the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC).
A team of scientists found something hidden off the coast of Alaska that suggests a significant risk for future tsunamis in the area. The team made the discovery as they were conducting seismic surveys off the Alaskan coast to better understand the regional plate tectonics and subduction. The research, published in Nature Geoscience, provides evidence for an increased tsunami risk in an area previously thought to be low risk for tsunamis. The feature was found by a research team at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. It is similar to the feature that produced the devastating Tohoku tsunami in 2011 off Japan, which killed approximately 20,000 people and caused three nuclear reactors to melt down.
It's become a rite of summer. Every year, a "dead zone" appears in the Gulf of Mexico. It's an area where water doesn't have enough oxygen for fish to survive. And every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) commissions scientists to venture out into the Gulf to measure it. This week, NOAA announced that this year's dead zone is the biggest one ever measured. It covers 8,776 square miles — an area the size of New Jersey. And it's adding fuel to a debate over whether state and federal governments are doing enough to cut pollution that comes from farms.
In 2014, a team of researchers led by a paleobiologist from the University of Missouri found that clams from the Holocene Epoch (that began 11,700 years ago) contained clues about how sea level rise due to climate change could foreshadow a rise in parasitic trematodes, or flatworms. The team cautioned that the rise could lead to outbreaks in human infections if left unchecked. Now, an international team from Mizzou and the Universities of Bologna and Florida has found that rising seas could be detrimental to human health on a much shorter time scale. Findings from their study in northern Italy suggest that parasitic infections could increase in the next century, if history repeats itself.
IN THE SHALLOW, frigid waters of Nunavut’s Ward Hunt Lake, something mysterious lingers at the lake floor. It’s fuzzy, it’s bright orange – and it’s alive. For more than 50 years, scientists from around the world have traveled to Ward Hunt Lake, the northernmost lake in the Canadian Arctic, to study the region or launch expeditions to the North Pole. Until recently, the prevailing notion was that come wintertime, when night casts a long shadow over the island, the waters would freeze up, and the microbial creatures of the deep that inhabit the lake bottom would all but disappear. But surprisingly, a recent study by researchers at Université Laval, Quebec City found just the opposite.
The world saw headlines about one of the largest icebergs ever calved a few weeks ago. But a smaller one on the other end of the globe might have bigger consequences. The chunk of ice, which broke free in the Arctic last week, is more worrisome to climate scientists who are watching one of Earth's largest glaciers shed pieces in a way that stands to raise sea levels.
Last Thursday, I attended the Navy change of command ceremony for the Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, where Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet was relieved by Rear Admiral John Okon. Gallaudet, who will retire at the end of August, is an amazing leader and oceanographer, and I predict we will continue to see [...]
Despite being relatively close together, two recently discovered hydrothermal vent fields in the Gulf of California host very different animal communities. This finding contradicts a common scientific assumption that neighboring vents will share similar animal communities, and suggests that local geology and vent-fluid chemistry are important factors affecting vent communities.
A University of Alaska Fairbanks study looking at the physics of tidewater glaciers has yielded new insights into what drives their retreat-and-advance cycles and the role that climate plays in these cycles. Lead author and UAF geophysics doctoral student Douglas Brinkerhoff said the study in Nature Communications reveals that shifting sediments drive the cycles among tidewater glaciers in temperate climates such as southern Alaska.
Sharks, marine scientists say, are often misunderstood, described as ravenous man-eaters. In reality, sharks are critically important to the health of the world's oceans, yet a quarter of all shark species are threatened with extinction. For more than two decades, Florida International University marine scientist Mike Heithaus has been immersed in the world of sharks and other predators that help the sea maintain a delicately balanced food web. Heithaus' work is focused on predators in the waters of South Florida and across the globe in Shark Bay, Australia.
The seventh season of Game of Thrones may have just premiered, but for catfish of the Gulf of Mexico, every day brings with it the grim possibility of ending up like Ned Stark: unexpectedly beheaded. In a first, marine biologists have discovered that some of the Gulf’s common bottlenose dolphins have a knack for decapitating native marine catfish. Though dolphins usually eat their prey whole, they sometimes get fancy in their meal preparation. Rough-toothed dolphins in the eastern Pacific “filet” mahi-mahi. Dolphins employ division of labor to corral and eat mullet. One 2009 study shows that Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins follow “recipes” for preparing cuttlefish meals.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of fishing vessels. Millions of square miles of ocean. Billions of radio transmissions. The constant stream of data can overwhelm even the most dedicated fisheries managers trying to combat the $23 billion illegal fishing industry. In economically underdeveloped countries, a small team of analysts must pore over the surveillance profiles of thousands of fishing enterprises; often the environmental cops can be as much as six months behind. By the time they see that a vessel in their jurisdiction is acting suspiciously, the ship has sailed.
For nearly a century, the O'Shaughnessy seawall has held back the sand and seas of San Francisco's Ocean Beach. At work even longer: the Galveston seawall, built after America's deadliest hurricane in 1900 killed thousands in Texas. These are just two examples of how America's coasts -- particularly those with large urban populations -- have been armored with humanmade structures.
For a long time, scientists have wondered how a large number of species can live together while competing for a single, limiting resource. Why doesn't a single species that is better at competing for the resource crowd out all the others? According to new findings by Macquarie University, the answer to this question on coral reefs is like a very big game of rock-paper-scissors.
Brace yourself. To human senses, the gelid waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans are beyond chilling. Because sea water is salty, the waters can actually reach temperatures below what we think of as freezing (as low as 28.8 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the usual 32) and remain liquid. Without protective gear, the human body can withstand maybe 15 minutes of these temperatures before succumbing to unconsciousness; 45 minutes before death.
Solutions to climate change, and particularly its effects on the ocean, are needed now more than ever. Coral bleaching caused by climate change is a huge threat to coral reefs. Recent extreme bleaching events have already killed corals worldwide and permanent destruction of reefs is projected within the century if immediate action is not taken. However, genetically engineering a group of microalgae found in corals may enhance their stress tolerance to ocean warming and save coral reefs.
The world's most extensive study of a major storm front striking the coast has revealed a previously unrecognised danger from climate change: as storm patterns fluctuate, waterfront areas once thought safe are likely to be hammered and damaged as never before. The study, led by engineers at University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, was published in the latest issue of Scientific Reports.
The Arctic is a region of growing importance, and most COL members, along with many federal agencies, have extensive ocean science interests in the area. At last week’s 7th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, speakers highlighted the spectrum of national and international issues in the region, from national security [...]
A new species of enormous ocean sunfish was discovered after an intensive search, making it the first species of this type of fish to be identified in 130 years. Despite being the largest bony fish in the world and weighing more than two tons, sunfish are quite elusive, which made the four-year search difficult.
For three years, Tara Djokic, a Ph.D. student at the University of New South Wales Sydney, scoured the forbidding landscape of the Pilbara region of Western Australia looking for clues to how ancient microbes could have produced the abundant stromatolites that were discovered there in the 1970s. Stromatolites are round, multilayered mineral structures that range from the size of golf balls to weather balloons and represent the oldest evidence that there were living organisms on Earth 3.5 billion years ago.
UNDERWATER ROBOTS DO a lot of neat things—take photos of underwater volcanoes, track leopard sharks, and explore shipwrecks—but they could still learn a few things from fish. Especially the rocket-fast, insanely agile tuna. Tuna are built to cruise across oceans, usually at around 2 mph. But they can crank up to 45 mph at the drop of a snack (Michael Phelps races at around 5 or 6 mph, for comparison). And tuna are agile, too, able to whip after fast-turning squids or sardines.
Benjamin Horton remembers being in Southeast Asia just months after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. “They were still dealing with a disaster,” he says. “The roads were in a terrible state.” But in those days, the formerly niche field of tsunami research had taken on new urgency. Horton, who studies sea levels at Rutgers University and Nanyang Technological University, was just one of dozens of researchers who came in search of answers: Had this happened before? Would it happen again?
Climate change was almost certainly responsible for a marine heatwave off Tasmania's east coast in 2015/16 that lasted 251 days and at its greatest extent was seven times the size of Tasmania, according to a new study published today in Nature Communications. The marine heatwave reduced the productivity of Tasmanian salmon fisheries, led to a rise in blacklip abalone mortality, sparked an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome and saw new fish species move into Tasmanian waters.
ON WILLIAM BARENTS’S second Arctic expedition in 1595, the Dutch navigator’s crew had a deadly encounter. While searching for diamonds on an islet near Russia’s Vaygach Island three months into the journey, two of his sailors were resting in a wind-protected depression when “a great leane beare came sodainly stealing out, and caught one of them fast by the necke.” The bear killed and devoured both men, despite the crew’s attempt to drive the animal away. The incident, recounted in Dutch officer Gerrit de Veer’s diary, became the first account of a polar bear attacking humans in recorded history.
Small amounts of oil can cause coral reef fish to engage in risky behaviours, according to a new study. Researchers liken the responses of oil-exposed fish to being intoxicated, and say it endangers their lives. The study found the fish often swim towards open waters, have trouble selecting suitable habitats and are slow to respond to danger.
Scientists at Caltech and USC have discovered a way to speed up the slow part of the chemical reaction that ultimately helps Earth to safely lock away, or sequester, carbon dioxide into the ocean. Simply adding a common enzyme to the mix, the researchers have found, can make that rate-limiting part of the process go 500 times faster. A paper about the work appears online the week of July 17 ahead of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Vivid, detailed maps created during the unsuccessful hunt for MH370 have been published by investigators to shed light on the depths of remote and previously unexplored parts of the ocean. The maps reveal the location and scale of under-sea volcanoes, ridges, mountains and shipwrecks found on the floor of the Indian Ocean. A painstaking two-year search of the sea bed ended in January without finding the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board.
(Click to enlarge) WHOI and the University of Delaware Ocean Drilling Program. (Courtesy of the Ocean Drilling Program) For months now America's climate denying president, Donald Trump, has been maneuvering to open up the Arctic to oil drilling, in another act of defiance against his predecessor, Barack Obama. Back in April, Trump signed an executive order to extend offshore [...]
(Click to enlarge) The part of the icberg which lies underwater can be scouring the seafloor. (Credit: AWeith/Wikicommons) On Monday, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft warned that environmental response organizations are not prepared to address a large oil spill in the Arctic. (From The Marine Executive) --- He drew on his experience [...]
Humpback whales are skilled acrobats, emotive singers and the most ambitious migrators of all mammals. They are also incredibly creative foragers, capable of trying new approaches to catching a meal. Now, a study has found that these titans of innovation have learned to feed on salmon released from man-made hatcheries in southeast Alaska. “This is a new source of prey, as far as we can tell,” said Ellen Chenoweth, a doctoral candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and lead author of the study, published on Tuesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Using a combination of fossils and chemical markers, scientists have tracked how a period of globally low ocean-oxygen turned an Early Jurassic marine ecosystem into a stressed community inhabited by only a few species. The research was led by Rowan Martindale, an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences, and published in print in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoeconology on July 15. The study was co-authored by Martin Aberhan, a curator at the Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science at the Natural History Museum in Berlin, Germany.
While the waters of the North Atlantic and South Pacific tend to have what hard corals need to survive, the North Pacific doesn't, and it has been thought that deep-sea coral reefs were a near impossibility in that part of the ocean. But researchers at Florida State University and Texas A&M University have discovered a few reefs in the North Pacific that don't seem to be following the rules. Their findings were recently published in Scientific Reports.
The remote Arctic tundra may seem like the last place on Earth human pollution should be causing a problem — yet it’s filled with mercury contamination. That mercury leaks from the soil into rivers and ultimately the Arctic Ocean, contaminating the fish and other sea life that native communities rely on for survival.
For more than 60 years, researchers have tried to successfully cryopreserve (or freeze) the embryo of zebrafish, a species that is an important medical model for human health. In a new study, researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) provide the first-ever reproducible evidence for the successful cryopreservation of zebrafish embryos.