This Week in Marine Science

Written by on January 17, 2014 in Other News

Other stories worth reading this weekend:

9 of our favorite lost-at-sea movies
Check out Mother Nature Network’s list of the best lost-at sea movies, from 1944’s ‘Lifeboat’ to 2012’s ‘Life of Pi’. The list is also another reminder that sharks really do need better PR agents…

Artist verison of Tiktaalik roseae.

Artist verison of Tiktaalik roseae. Photo credit: Nobu Tamura, CC BY-SA 3.0.

An Ancient Fish’s Four-Wheel Drive
Based on fossil evidence, scientists assumed the earliest known species of fish that transitioned to four-legged land-dwellers had used enhanced forward fins to crawl out of shallow waters, only later adapting their rear fins into limbs. Now, a new discovery of well-preserved hindquarters of Tiktaalik roseae, a transitional species that lived 375 million years ago, challenges the front-wheel drive theory. Scientists now suggest that the modification of fins into limbs may have begun as adaptations for life in shallow water, enabling fish to walk on a lake floor.

Australia cannot stop Japanese whaling, expert says
According to an international law expert from the Australia National University, Australia cannot stop the Japanese from whaling in the Southern Ocean. Japan does not recognize Australia’s sovereignty beyond its Exclusive Economic Zone and Australia has no real legal grounds to “enforce the provisions of the whaling convention” in the Southern Ocean. Read the whole article to learn more about the issues surround the current whaling season.

Coral Reefs in Palau Surprisingly Resistant to Naturally Acidified Waters
Researchers studying coral reefs in Palau in 2011 and 2012 found that the water became more acidic as they moved closer to land. However, the corals living in those waters were surprisingly diverse and healthy. These unusual findings are the opposite of what is typically found in more acidic waters and will provide insight into conservation efforts of corals around the world.

School of sardines.

School of sardines. Photo credit: TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) via photopin cc.

Environmentalists fear sardine fishery crash could threaten West Coast ecosystem
The biggest sardine crash in generations is takings a toll on fishermen, marine mammals and seabirds. There have been steep cuts in sardine catch limits, but many fishermen return home empty-handed. The sardine population has dropped by 72 percent since its last peak in 2006 and the numbers are predicted to continue to decline. If the decline is due to natural factors, history shows that the population will bounce back. However, researchers are debating how much of the collapse is due to ocean conditions and how much by overfishing.

Environmentalists sue Navy over sonar use
Environmental organizations seeking to gain more protection for marine mammals from the military’s sonar use have added the Navy to their lawsuit against the federal government. The lawsuit was filed in December against the National Marine Fisheries Service.

New sea anemone species discovered in Antarctica
Using a camera-equipped robot to explore beneath the Ross Ice Shelf off Antarctica, researchers discovered a new species of small sea anemones. Thousands upon thousands of the little anemones were burrowed under the ice shelf with their tentacles protruding into the frigid water” like flowers from a ceiling.” They have been named Edwardsiella andrillae, after the ANDRILL (Antarctic Geological Drilling) Program that made the discovery. For more information, check out this post: ANDRILL team discovers ice-loving sea anemones in Antarctica.

South pole research station.

South pole research station. Photo credit: NOAA.

Pilot program to let U.S. high-school students experience Antarctic science at a Chilean station
Three high school students and a teacher from Wisconsin will have the opportunity to go to a Chilean research station next month for hands-on Antarctic research. The join U.S. and Chilean pilot program is designed to “designed to strengthen the collaborative relationship between national Antarctic programs in the United States and the Republic of Chile.”

Researchers publish the genetic sequence of 1,000 marine viruses
A research team recently published a paper with the genetic sequence of more than 1,000 marine viruses. Understanding marine viruses, the most abundant organisms in the ocean, allows for a better understanding of the biological functioning of the ocean. The information could also be used to identify new substances for medicinal purposes.

Shark Species Thought to Be Extinct Found in Fish Market [Slide Show]
In 2008, for the first time in over a century, a smoothtooth blacktip shark was identified. The problem, however, is that it was seen for sale at a fish market in Kuwait. The smoothtooth blacktip shark was identified as the first and only known specimen of Carcharhinus leiodon back in 1985 after sitting in a museum, unnoticed for more than 80 years. Since the most recent discovery, 47 additional smoothtooth blacktips have been found in fish markets throughout the region. Check out this article (and slideshow) to learn more about this shark which we once thought was extinct.

Whale watchers and orcas near the San Juan Islands in Washington State.

Whale watchers and orcas near the San Juan Islands in Washington State. Photo credit: NOAA.

This Is What Happens When You Feed a Wild Killer Whale
Don’t do it, even if you’re a researcher with a permit to get closer to these wild animals. It’s not just a bad idea, but a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Marine biologist and whale watch tour operator Nancy Black received a $12,500 fine and was sentenced to three years’ probation and 400 hours of community service for “chumming” the water to get orcas closer to her boat.

X-ray inspection for frozen scallops
Before being packaged, frozen scallops are caught, shelled, eviscerated, and washed in Canada or Argentina, then frozen before being shipped across the Atlantic to French seafood packer, Packopale. Packopale has installed a new X-ray inspection system that will detect grit, shell fragments, and contaminants such as steel, aluminum tin, glass, stones, hard rubber, plastic and bone. This new system will give customers even more confidence when purchasing frozen scallops.

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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