Weekly Roundup 30
Other stories worth reading this weekend:
For the very first time, scientists have decoded the genome of a coral symbiont, Symbiodinium minutum. Because neither organism can survive on its own, it is vital to know as much as possible about both the coral host and its algae symbiont. Researchers selected Symbiodinium minutum because it has a “reasonably sized genome” (1,500 megabases) that is about half the size of the human genome.
Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography recently discovered a new chemical compound from an ocean microbe that could be used in new treatments for anthrax and other ailments. This discovery supports the idea that the oceans hold many unknown resources that could be used to treat a variety of diseases.
A new re-analysis of data from the deep sea suggests that the rapid warming of deep waters is due to climate change from humane influences. The deep seas are taking in more heat that scientists expected which could explain why there haven’t been more dramatic surface temperature increases. Unfortunately, it’s not that the Earth isn’t warming, it’s just warming in unexpected places.
Would you guess that a tuna is more closely related to a sailfish or a seahorse? In the first-ever comprehensive family tree of “spiny-rayed fish,” researchers were surprised to find that tuna are evolutionarily more closely related to seahorses than sailfish. Read the article to find out what other surprises researchers found. And check out this awesome footage of different fish feeding!
Ever heard of the EXOSUIT? It will forever change the way we explore the oceans. It allows divers to safely and quickly reach a depth of 1,000 feet while allowing the person inside to be able to perform delicate tasks. Jean-Michel Cousteau took the EXOSUIT for a trial run in a tank on Vancouver Island last week. Read about his experience and check back for his first open water dive set to take place in Boston sometime soon!
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey developed a new weight-based approach for monitoring coral growth in an effort to obtain more definitive answers about the status of coral reefs. A weight-based approach to monitoring will help managers because it can detect very small changes in coral. It is also inexpensive and won’t harm any corals in the process.
Researchers have identified a new virus associated with the death of a short-beaked dolphin that was stranded on a beach in San Diego, California in 2010. The virus belongs to the polyomavirus family which is known to causes disease in birds but is only “mild or subclinical” in mammals. The researchers don’t yet know if the virus was specific to dolphins or if it came from another animal host. They will continue to look for other dolphins with the same condition.
Evidence shows that fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are suffering from the effects of pesticides and herbicides from agricultural runoff. Even small amounts of these chemicals can change the way hormones work in fish, causing abnormalities and leading to population declines of some fish.
New findings challenge the widespread belief that phytoplankton are passive drifters in the ocean, unable to swim anywhere on their own. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oxford University have shown that phytoplankton form highly concentrated patches in turbulent waters.
A new report shows that pollution, not fish farming, has the greatest impact on Irish wild salmon stocks. The paper states that there is “no evidence of any negative impact of aquaculture” on local wild salmon stocks. Water quality is a more likely factor that affects the survival of salmon stocks.
Puffins flock home to Maine islands (link no longer active)
Unlike last summer, puffins are finding plenty to eat as they return to several Maine islands this summer. Check out these great photos of the puffins in Maine.
Researchers have long thought that giant insects and other large creatures evolved due to a “suberabundance of oxygen” which would also explain the existence of giant sea creatures. Researchers assumed that giant animals are found in polar seas for the same reason — lots of oxygen in cold waters. New research, however, suggests that these large animals survive in polar oceans despite a low oxygen supply. Larger animals are able to withstand lower oxygen conditions because they can better regulate how much oxygen they take up.
Kelp forests are one of the most productive ecosystems in colder waters but rising carbon dioxide levels are putting these ecosystems in danger. Researchers recently found that reducing nutrient pollution in coastal marine environments protect kelp forests from the damaging effects of CO2.
The vaquita is a tiny porpoise found only in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez and the whole species is on the brink of extinction. In recent years, more vaquitas are dying in fishing nets than are being born. But, the species could be saved if gillnets were banned in the upper Gulf of California.
At the end of last month, U.S. President Obama spoke about his Climate Action Plan and many agree that it represents a “solid step forward” for our oceans. By reducing carbon pollution from power plants and increasing energy efficiency, the U.S. will begin to reduce its negative impact on the ocean.
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.