Researchers in Switzerland have developed a 4-foot-long pollution-tracking robotic water snake. The "Envirobot" comprises several special-purpose modules, which constitute it's eel-like design, according to a press release on the l'cole polytechnique fdrale de Lausanne website. The purpose of the modules are twofold. First, each has a small electric motor that lets the robot swim like a water snake. Secondly, each segment has a unique sensor for gathering different data and measurements. More modules can be added as needed.
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 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 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.
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?
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.
The Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research, and Technology (CIOERT), based at FAU Harbor Branch, recently led a collaborative scientific expedition to Cuba, exploring never-before-studied mesophotic coral reefs from 30 m to 150 m. After nearly a year and half of planning, the research cruise, "Cuba's Twilight Zone Reefs and Their Regional Connectivity," circumnavigated Cuba in just one month.
Oxygen in the seawater is not only vital to most marine organisms, its concentrations also affect the chemistry of the ocean and that of the atmosphere above. In oceanic regions with very little oxygen, for example, large amounts of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, also called laughing gas, are produced via biogeochemical processes and can then be released to the atmosphere. Even though a natural moderate oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) exists along some of the eastern boundaries of the Atlantic Ocean, the Atlantic OMZ, unlike the OMZs of the Indian and Pacific oceans, was not considered to be a region of extremely low oxygen concentrations. New findings by an international research team led by the Kiel Excellence Cluster "Future Ocean" and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, however, now imply that this picture has to be corrected. This study was published in the Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Reports.
For surfers, finding the "sweet spot," the most powerful part of the wave, is part of the thrill and the challenge. Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California postdoctoral researcher Nick Pizzo has found the exact location on the wave where a surfer gains the greatest speed to get the best ride. Published this month online in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Pizzo applied principles of physics at the ocean's surface -- where air and water meet -- to study how energy is transferred from the underlying wave to a particle on the surface, in this case, a surfer.