This Week in Marine Science

Written by on September 20, 2013 in Other News

Other stories worth reading this weekend:


Iceberg in Antarctica's Ross Sea.

Iceberg in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. Photo credit: Michael Van Woert, NOAA/NESDIS/ORA.

Achilles’ heel of ice shelves is beneath the water, scientists reveal
New research reveals that more ice melts from the underside of submerged ice shelves in Antarctica than previously thought. Ice lost from underneath can account for as much as 90% of ice loss in some areas. These findings are crucial for gaining a better understanding of how ice interacts with the rest of the climate system, particularly the ocean.

Algorithm finds missing phytoplankton in Southern Ocean
NASA satellites may have missed more than 50% of the phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean. Phytoplankton play a vital role in climate change, so knowing the size of the population is crucial to estimating how much carbon the ocean can store. New research led to the development of an algorithm that produces much more accurate estimate of phytoplankton populations which will greatly improve knowledge of the Southern Ocean. For more on the Southern Ocean, check out this post: Tracking microbes in the Southern Ocean.

Freaky ‘Giant’ Shrimp May Threaten US Ecosystem [Video]
These shrimp don’t fit the common definition of the word. Asian tiger shrimp can grow up to a foot-long and they are invading US waters. No one knows how they got here, but they pose serious problems for the US shrimping industry because Asian tiger shrimp are carnivores. They eat crabs, clams and even other fish, which could disrupt local environments. To learn more, read this post: Research is underway to determine if invasive Asian tiger shrimp in U.S. Atlantic waters pose a threat to native species or the environment.

Hawaii Molasses Spill: Better or Worse Than Oil?
Last week, a pipeline carrying molasses leaked as much as 233,000 gallons of molasses into the waters of Honolulu Harbor. The amount is equivalent to more than 5,500 barrels of oil, but thanks to the solubility of molasses, the environmental impact will be less severe than that of an oil spill.

Marine Species Distribution Shifts Reflect Local Climate Conditions
Climate change is shifting where and at what depths many marine species are found. The shifts have occurred at different rates and in different ways than expected. Surveys conducted in nine regions revealed that climate velocity (“the rate and direction that climate shifts in a particular region or landscape”) explains the observed shifts in distribution. For more, check out this post: Movement of marine life follows speed and direction of climate change.

NOAA launches website holding millions of chemical analyses from Deepwater Horizon oil spill
NOAA recently released a comprehensive, quality-controlled dataset that contains millions of chemical analyses and other data on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. It includes data on sediment, tissue, water, and oil, as well as toxicity testing results and other relation information. The dataset is available to anyone.

Plastic bag charge to be introduced in England
Good news for many ocean creatures: fewer plastic bags will be polluting their water. In October 2014, retailers in Scotland will start charging for plastic bags. A plan to start charging for bags in England is set to go into effect after the 2015 election. A charge for single-use bags (plastic or paper) is already in effect in Wales and Northern Ireland. Since implementing the charge in Wales in 2011, the use of plastic bags dropped by about 75%.

Sowerby's beaked whales.

Sowerby’s beaked whales. Photo credit: Chris Vees (priorité maison) via photopin cc.

Rare whale dies after beaching with its baby in shallow waters
In a remote spot in Scotland, a very rare Sowerby’s beaked whale stranded with her calf. Despite efforts to save the mother, she died. Her calf was able to swim back to open water, but experts fear it won’t last long without its mother.

Supporting Innovation in Bycatch Reduction
Earlier this month, NOAA Fisheries awarded 16 grants totaling nearly $2.4 million as a part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program. Bycatch is used to describe any and all non-target species caught while fishing and can include fish, sea turtles and marine mammals. The Program provides funds for the research and development of more effective ways to reduce bycatch in the nation’s fisheries.

Talking Sustainability with a Top Chef
Check out this great interview from Fish Navy Films with former “Top Chef” contestant Jeffrey Jew who is passionate about cooking sustainably.

UCI researchers fabricate new camouflage coating from squid protein
Researchers from UC Irvine’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering have created a “biometic infrared camouflage coating” that was inspired by a squid. The research team successfully produced reflectin, a structural protein essential in the squid’s ability to change color and reflect light. By changing color and reflection, the material can become invisible to infrared cameras.

Undersea mountains provide crucial piece in climate prediction puzzle
New research shows how deep and mid-depth waters mix in the ocean near Antarctica. The sea water mixes dramatically as it rushes over undersea mountains in Drake Passage. These findings will improve climate models which will now be able to produce more accurate long-term climate projections.

Vigo starts bio-bank to store commercial fisheries marine parasite samples
The Marine Research Institute from Vigo, Spain recently launched the first-ever world bio-bank which will collect, store and distribute samples of marine parasites in order to help assess their sanitary and commercial impact on the food chain. Ten different species common in almost all EU fisheries will be included along with others from Asian fisheries. The goal is to improve quality standards, consumer confidence and to help implement food security standards.

Viruses associated with coral epidemic of “white plague”
The “white plague” is affecting more corals than ever before in the Caribbean Sea and before now, researchers were unsure what caused it. New research reveals that the disease is caused by a group of viruses that is responsible for the dramatic increase in white plague seen in recent years. The disease causes rapid tissue loss and affects many species of coral.

Coral affected by white plague.

Coral affected by white plague. Photo credit: Oregon State University 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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