This Week in Marine Science

Written by on October 18, 2013 in Other News

Other stories worth reading this weekend:

18-foot oarfish discovered off southern California coast
You’ve probably seen this by now, but you have to see the video if you haven’t already. A marine science instructor was enjoying a leisurely snorkel off the coast of Southern California last weekend when she came face to face with an 18-foot long oarfish. After she realized it was dead, she grabbed it by the tail and dragged it back to shore. Oarfish live in the deep ocean so it is rare to see one, dead or alive, and especially rare to find one in such (relatively) good condition.

A Drowned World: Incredible Underwater Images Of Miniature Men And Marine Life
Check out these amazing images from photographer Jason Isley, cofounder and managing director of ScubaZoo. Isley is an accomplished underwater photographer, but these fall into a whole new category. Miniature figurines pose with coral, turtles and fish and it’s pretty awesome. See the full collection here.

Basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus.

Basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus. Photo credit: NOAA.

The basking shark returns to British waters
Basking sharks returned later than they normal do to the UK due to unusually cold waters, but when they did return, it was in great numbers. For a while in the 80s and 90s, the basking sharks didn’t return at all and it was thought they had been fished to extinction and it 1998 it became illegal to hunt them. Check out this great post about the history of basking sharks and some of the mystery that still surrounds them.

Cleaning Up Anacapa with Kurt Lieber and the Ocean Defenders Alliance
In September, MST contributing writer Mike Bear spend a day out at Anacapa Island with Kurt Lieber and the Ocean Defenders Alliance as they removed underwater debris and netting from the bottom of the ocean. Check out this great post about his experience and the great work of the Ocean Defenders Alliance.

Dolphins butchered for shark bait in illegal hunt off the coast of Peru
The Cove might be the most well-known dolphin hunt in the world, but there’s another that should be getting some attention. According to environmentalists, the biggest illegal slaughter of dolphins in the world takes place every year in Peru where hundreds of fishing boats kill dolphins to be used as bait to catch sharks. It’s worth reading about but some of the pictures are a little bloody, so be prepared.

Killer whales.

Killer whales. Photo Credit: Dave Ellifrit, NOAA SWFSC.

Killer whales may have menopause so grandma can look after the kids
Killer whales are one of very few species that continue to live long after they stop reproducing. They stop reproducing only a third of the way through their lives and scientists are unsure why this trait developed. New research reveals that menopause is related to the their social structure. Killer whales live in a matriarchal society where the offspring stay with their mother for their entire life. To determine exactly why menopause developed in the whales, researchers will use information on two populations (550 individuals total) that has been collected over the last 30 years.

Monster waves rearrange deep-water reefs
In addition to eroding shorelines and dunes, big waves from hurricanes also impact deeper waters offshore. New research shows that storm waves like the ones from 2011 Irene or 2012 Sandy are powerful enough to permanently change the artificial reef system just off the Delaware Coast. The Redbird Artificial Reef was created by sinking a collection of old subway cars to create a fish habitat. The waves from Sandy were large enough to crush the subway cars.

Ocean Gets Raw Sewage Overload from Cruise Ships
Critics of the cruising industry often focus on the impact of sewage that ends up in the oceans, and for good reason. Within three miles of shore, cruise ships are only allowed to discharge treated wastewater, but beyond three miles, anything goes. The industry produces an estimated 1 billion gallons of sewage a year. When sewage gets dumped into the ocean, it can have serious impacts on marine life, like suffocation from excess nutrients. Check out the whole post to see which cruise lines are taking steps to reduce their negative impact on the environment.

SeaWorld Float Sparks Macy’s Boycott Effort
The outreach effort led by PETA to cancel the SeaWorld float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has grown over the last week. Saying that the float will “tell millions of Americans that the cruelty of marine mammal captivity is an acceptable form of family entertainment,” the Oceanic Preservation Society is also calling on supporters to express their outrage to Macy’s. But, despite this growing effort, Macy’s shows no sign of changing their plans.

Study links warmer water temperatures to greater levels of mercury in fish
New research reveals that fish will absorb higher levels of methylmercury as water temperatures warm. In warmer waters, killifish eat more because their metabolism increases. By eating more, they are absorbing and storing more and more mercury. The researchers note that this scenario could also happen with larger fish because their metabolic rates will also increase.

Spray from a blue whale's blowhole.

Spray from a blue whale’s blowhole. Photo credit: mdesisto via photopin cc.

Whales Don’t Spray Water Out of Their Blowholes
If you watched Marlin and Dory getting swallowed by a whale in Finding Nemo, you were probably under the impression that whales spray water out of their blowholes. A blowhole is a whale’s ‘nose’ and the spray that comes out of it is warm, used-up air that condenses when it comes in contact with the cool, outside air. Check out this great post to learn more about blowholes.

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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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