Marine Reserves, Oil Spill Fish and Embryo Cannibalism

Written by on May 2, 2013 in Marine Life

Daily Summary

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Photo credit Greg McFall, NOAA.

The Business of Marine Reserves: Achieving Financially Sustainable Ocean Conservation

Check out this interesting post on EDFish, the ocean-themed blog of the Environmental Defense Fund, about the economics of marine reserves. Often, opponents of marine reserves argue that they are expensive to establish and even more expensive to maintain, but many studies have shown that the benefits of marine reserves far outweigh the costs. The problem, however, is that those benefits take a little while to add up and there is no instant gratification.

Health defects found in fish exposed to Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Researchers found that crude oil toxicity sickened a species of fish found in the Gulf of Mexico for more than a year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Gulf killifish embryos exposed to oiled sediments between 2010 and 2011 experienced heart defects, delayed hatching and even reduced hatching success, along with other developmental abnormalities. The researchers note that other species that share the Gulf killifish’s habitat, such as redfish, speckled trout, flounder and blue crabs, may also face similar effects.

Gulf killifish, Fundulus grandis.

Gulf killifish, Fundulus grandis. Photo credit: Noel Burkhead, USGS.

Why Shark Embryos Gobble Each Other Up In Utero

New research reveals why shark embryos cannibalize their siblings in the womb. By studying sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus), a species that is known for embryo cannibalism, researchers discovered that the later in pregnancy, the more likely the remaining embryos were to share a father. This suggests that the embryos from different fathers compete to be born. Cannibalism is not only a way to for embryos to grow bigger and stronger, but it is also a strategy to ensure paternity.

Sand tiger shark, Carcharias taurus.

Sand tiger shark, Carcharias taurus. Photo credit: richard ling via photopin cc.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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