In November, ocean scientists from across the stakeholder spectrum – academic institutions; NGOs; the private sector; and federal, state, and local government – gathered in New York City for the first U.S. National Conference on Marine Environmental DNA (eDNA). While most of us are familiar with the DNA that makes up ourselves and the rest of the living world, barring episodes of CSI, we’ve probably thought little about what there is to be learned through DNA left in our environment. But we should think about it, because this eDNA (which includes whole microorganisms as well as fragments of items containing DNA (e.g., tissue)) analysis techniques don’t just help us solve crimes, they may help us secure the future of our ocean.
To quote from the recently released final conference report, “eDNA works. Get going.” How does it work? In short, scientists can analyze a sample of seawater to identify species within that ecosystem (without having to capture and identify them). This can help us understand biodiversity, species presence, relationships, and movement. To echo the report, we need to act now and use these eDNA technologies to better understand our ocean, from ecosystem health to ocean security. COL looks forward to convening our federal, academic, and private sector partners in the ocean science and technology community to rapidly advance these capabilities.
Ancient Carpet Shark Discovered with ‘Spaceship-Shaped’ Teeth
The world of the dinosaurs just got a bit more bizarre with a newly discovered species of freshwater shark whose tiny teeth resemble the alien ships from the popular 1980s video game Galaga. Unlike its gargantuan cousin the megalodon, Galagadon nordquistae was a small shark (approximately 12 to 18 inches long), related to modern-day carpet sharks such as the “whiskered” wobbegong.
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