Geaux Tigers Gators Isopods!
A few months ago, Louisiana (as in LSU) sank the Gators (as in UF) en route to a national (college football) championship — congrats! But apparently that wasn’t enough, because Louisiana (as in LUMCON) also literally sank gators last year in a much nobler effort to learn more about what happens to unusual carcasses on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Much like the LSU offense did in the football game in October, giant isopods and other organisms expeditiously devoured the gators. The fate of these gators that were over a mile deep led to some amazing observations and discoveries. Scientists aimed to learn more about how deep sea creatures would respond to new food sources but also discovered a new species of bone-eating worm and have yet to determine what creature (maybe a tiger shark?) took one of the gators, including its harness, without leaving a trace. Research like this, from COL members and others throughout the world, reminds us that there’s still so much left to learn about our ocean — from the coasts to the deep sea — relating to the health and maintenance of ocean ecosystems. I look forward to seeing what exciting new discoveries we make about our ocean in 2020! And no, I am not suggesting that any of my fellow Gator fans toss any tigers into gator ponds somewhere in Florida this year…
Three years ago, parts of coral reefs in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary were killed in a dramatic event. What caused the death of the large and colorful reefs about 100 miles from the Galveston coast – with up to 80 percent mortality in some areas – was a mystery.A team of oceanographers from Texas A&M University believes it has an explanation. Considered some of the healthiest coral reefs remaining in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the reefs at the Flower Garden Banks grow on top of shallow, submerged banks in otherwise deep water. The Texas A&M team’s research, which was recently published in the current issue of Coral Reefs, found that two separate processes caused hypoxia on the reef, leading to the die-off.
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