Member Highlight: Ecosystem Cascades Affecting Salmon

2017-08-07T11:50:02+00:00 August 7, 2017|

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.

Sharks Revealed As The Great Protectors Of Seagrass

2017-07-27T16:40:52+00:00 July 27, 2017|

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.

Seawalls: Ecological Effects Of Coastal Armoring In Soft Sediment Environments

2017-07-26T15:38:28+00:00 July 26, 2017|

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.

Shifting Storms To Bring Extreme Waves, Seaside Damage To Once Placid Areas

2017-07-24T17:18:31+00:00 July 24, 2017|

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.

Record-Breaking Marine Heatwave Powered By Climate Change Cooks Tasmania’s Fisheries

2017-07-21T08:35:30+00:00 July 21, 2017|

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.

Polar Bears And People: Cataloging Conflict

2017-07-20T16:26:21+00:00 July 20, 2017|

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.

Mississippi Mud May Hold Hope For Louisiana Coast

2017-07-17T09:01:09+00:00 July 17, 2017|

Many studies say capturing Mississippi River sand through diversions is key to rebuilding Louisiana's vanishing coast. But a new study in the open-access journal Earth Surface Dynamics of an old levee breach, or crevasse, along Bayou Lafourche indicates that mud, the most plentiful sediment type carried by the river, may be the most powerful tool in building land.

Extreme Coastal Sea Levels More Likely To Occur, New Data, Advanced Modeling Techniques Suggest

2017-07-12T10:49:18+00:00 July 12, 2017|

Improving projections for how much ocean levels may change in the future and what that means for coastal communities has vexed researchers studying sea level rise for years, but a new international study that incorporates extreme events may have just given researchers and coastal planners what they need. The study, published in Nature Communications uses newly available data and advanced models to improve global predictions when it comes to extreme sea levels. The results suggest that extreme sea levels will likely occur more frequently than previously predicted, particularly in the west coast regions of the U.S. and in large parts of Europe and Australia.

Seagrass Meadows—Critical Habitats For Juvenile Fish And Dugongs In The Johor Islands

2017-07-11T17:27:44+00:00 July 11, 2017|

Scientists at University of Malaya, Malaysia, have found that the seagrass meadows in Johor harbor three times more juvenile fish than coral reefs. They also found that the dugong herds there prefer certain types of meadows over others. Seagrass, the world's oldest living thing, is a marine flowering plant that forms vast underwater meadows throughout all the oceans of the world, except in the Antarctic. These flowering plants first appeared in fossil records 100 million years ago and are the key to the survival of our seas, by providing oxygen, filtering out pollutants and bacteria, and capturing large stores of carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate warming.

Surveying Sea Floor Animals For Offshore Renewable Energy

2017-07-10T12:46:15+00:00 July 10, 2017|

There is growing interest in developing offshore wind and wave energy facilities in the Pacific Northwest. But not much is known about the sediment and animal life along the sea floor in the region. That presents a problem for renewable energy companies because they need to consider environmental implications before constructing facilities in the ocean.

Member Highlight: The Beach Time Capsule

2017-06-29T09:32:55+00:00 June 29, 2017|

And to think it was all right there in her garage. A load of boxes pulled from biologist Dale Straughan's home yielded a veritable treasure trove for UC Santa Barbara researchers studying the impact of climate change on coastal biodiversity in California.

Mysterious Sea Pickles Invading West Coast In Bizarre Bloom

2017-06-23T13:56:13+00:00 June 23, 2017|

Mysterious creatures called sea pickles are showing up in large numbers on the West Coast. These organisms are actually conglomerations of zooids—small, multicellular organisms—which come together into tubular shapes that in this case stretch from about 6 inches to 2 feet long, according to EarthFix, an offshoot of Oregon Public Broadcasting. Normally these animals, also known as pyrosomes, are found in tropical waters, and they also are bioluminescent, meaning they produce light. (Pyrosome is derived from the Greek pyro for “fire” and soma for “body.”) Not very well-studied, they can stretch up to 60 feet long, and look something like a living wind sock.

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