This Week in Marine Science

Written by on January 10, 2014 in Other News

Other stories worth reading this weekend:

Larval squid.

Larval squid. Photo credit: NOAA Ocean Explorer.

Can Squid Abide Ocean’s Lower pH?
When we order some delicious fried calamari, most of us probably aren’t thinking about that squid’s life before it ended up on our plate. But, biologists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explain that if anything happens to squid, the effects will be felt throughout the food chain. Squid use calcium carbonate crystals to make statoliths, which are balance organs that allow the squid to orient themselves when swimming. The researchers wondered how ocean acidification would affect their balance organs. They found that squid raised in high CO2 took longer to develop and were an average of five percent smaller than those raised in normal seawater. They also had misshapen, disorganized statoliths.

Chemical Warfare on Coral Reefs: Suppressing a Competitor Enhances Susceptibility to a Predator
A study of the “chemical warfare” taking place on Fijian coral reefs reveals that one species of seaweed increases its production of noxious anti-coral compounds when its placed in contact with reef-building corals. But, that causes the seaweed to grow more slowly and it becomes more attractive to herbivorous fish (they consume up to 80% more than normal). These findings highlight how competition between corals and seaweeds can alter seaweed physiology, which may have lasting impacts on the entire reef community.

Coral reefs are dissolving into history
Acidity in the ocean has increased by 30% since the early 1900s. Corals are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification, but other valuable species like plankton, algae and shellfish are as well. Check out this great summary of ocean acidification and what we need to do to stop it.

Pilot whale.

Pilot whale. Photo credit: Mr Moss via photopin cc.

Fatal whale stranding in New Zealand
On Monday, a pod of pilot whales stranded in Golden Bay on New Zealand’s South Island. By the time they were discovered, 12 had died and the remaining 27 whales had to be euthanized because their location and the tides made it nearly impossible to refloat them.

Five YachtWorld Heroes Finalists Announced
Dominion Marine Media began recognizing and rewarding individuals that “use their love and respect for boating and the environment to make a difference” since 2011. Founder of the award, Jessica Muffett, said that choosing this year’s YachtWorld Heroes was a challenge because there were so many great nominations. Find out what makes these five people ocean heroes.

GPS Traffic Maps For Leatherback Turtles Show Hotspots to Prevent Accidental Fishing Deaths
The Pacific leatherback sea turtle is one of the most endangered species in the world. One of its biggest sources of mortality is industrial longlines where turtles often accidentally get caught. Managing turtle bycatch is a complicated issue, but a new study shows that the use of GPS technology can help. By tracking the location of turtles with GPS, researchers can predict where fisheries and turtles will interact in order to reduce accidental capture by fishermen.

Blue shark.

Blue shark. Photo credit: NOAA SWFSC.

Greens celebrate shark finning victory
Following 45,300 submissions on the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, the government has decided to ban the practice of shark finning in New Zealand. The first group of sharks will gain protection in October 2014, followed by a second group by October 2015. Blue sharks will be covered by October 2016. Under the ban it will be illegal to catch a shark, kill it, remove its fins and dump the carcass at sea.

Japanese Slaughtering Whales in Ocean Sanctuary
Sea Shepherd has located all five Japanese whaling vessels and has already captured evidence that four whales have been slaughtered allegedly inside a Southern Ocean sanctuary where commercial hunting is prohibited. Since Japan conducts ‘scientific whaling’ they are allowed to continue…for now. Australia has taken Japan to the International Court of Justice to get its whaling program declared illegal, but a ruling won’t come for some time.

Marine bacteria to fight tough infections
New research suggests that marine bacteria could be used to fight tough infections, like resistant staphylococci. Researchers analyzed compounds extracted from marine bacteria collected around the world and became particularly interested in Solonamid B, found in bacteria from the Solomon Islands. The marine compound “inhibits the ability of staphylococci to produce various toxins that break down our blood cells.” Further research will show whether the compound works in animals and humans.

Ocean and Coastal Amateur Photography Contest
Take a look at the 2013 photo contest winners. They’re pretty spectacular. You can also go back to see the 2012, 2011, and 2010 winners.

The red represents the 'dead zone' in the gulf.

The red represents the ‘dead zone’ in the gulf. Image credit: NOAA.

Ocean Dead Zones More Deadly for Marine Life Than Previously Predicted
Dead zones a regions in the ocean with levels of oxygen too low to sustain life and they are becoming more common in many coastal regions. A new study reveals that low pH levels within these regions represent a major threat to marine life. Previous studies focused only on oxygen levels without considering pH levels. The study of bay scallops and hard clams reveals that the combined effects of low oxygen and low pH led to higher rates of death and slower growth than by either factor alone.

Quick-thinking cray diver films rare orca encounter
The video might be upside down, but it’s still pretty amazing. A diver was filming his trip off Matai Bay when he happened to cross paths with an 8m orca and her 1.5m calf. Check it out.

Russian Factory Trawler Nabbed for Illegal Fishing
Senegal successfully seized the Russian trawler, Oleg Naydenov, that had been fishing illegally in its waters. Illegal fishing costs Senegal 120 billion CFA francs ($250 million) a year. The trawler will be heavily fined and the fishing material seized.

Copyright © 2014 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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