This Week in Marine Science

Written by on January 31, 2014 in Other News

Other stories worth reading this weekend:

Bloomberg Partners with Oceana to Save the Oceans and Feed the World
Ocean conservation group Oceana, along with two other groups, will receive a $53 million, five-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to restore fish populations in three of the world’s largest fishing nations: Brazil, Chile, and the Philippines. Together, those nations make up seven percent of the world’s fisheries. The “Vibrant Oceans Initiative” focuses on national reforms, local management, and financial incentives for local fishers.


Mother-of-pearl. Photo credit: beggs via photopin cc.

Glass that bends but doesn’t break
Imagine dropping your glass full of water on the floor: it shatters, the water goes everywhere, and it’s a pain to clean up. Now imagine dropping that glass and, instead of breaking, it just bends a little bit. McGill University’s Department of Mechanic Engineering may soon make that a reality. Inspired by the mechanics of natural structures like seashells, McGill engineers have developed a technique to increase the toughness of glass. Mollusk shells are coated in nacre, or mother-of-pearl, which is made up of “microscopic building blocks” that are very strong. By imitating this structure on glass, the researchers were able to increase the toughness of glass slides 200 times.

Is there an ocean beneath our feet?
Not excatly an ocean, but there is a lot of water flowing from Earth’s oceans to the upper mantle. Now, scientists at the University of Liverpool have shown that deep se fault zones could transport much larger amounts of water than previously thought. They have estimated that over Earth’s lifetime, the Japan subduction zone alone could transport the equivalent of up to three and a half times the water of all Earth’s oceans to its mantle. These findings support the theory that large amounts of water is stored deep in the Earth.

Seabirds in Peru.

Seabirds in Peru. Photo credit: Rita Willaert via photopin cc.

One tree likes seabird poop, the next prefers fresh air
Guano (bird poop) is rich in plant nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus and has historically been used in agriculture worldwide. Off the west coast of Peru, seabirds deposit thick layers of guano on the ground that accumulate because of a lack of rain. In these desert conditions where rain and nutrients are lacking, which is why nitrogen fixing trees are more abundant. However, researchers found that on the west coast, non-nitrogen fixing trees are more abundant closer to the sea, which is most likely due to the positive effect of the nutrient-rich guano.

Restoring the Pacific Through International Trade Laws
In this article for the Huffington Post, Cobie Smulders and Alex Muñoz discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement that will govern and guide international trade in the Pacific Ocean. The countries involved in the TPP make up more than a third of the global catch of seafood. The Pacific Ocean is a communal resource but it is severely overfished and that, say Smulders and Muñoz, is a result of fisheries subsidies. Read the whole post to see why they believe the TPP can restore the Pacific Ocean’s fisheries.

Scientists ‘love’ their ancient seabird discovery
Fossils of seabirds that live between 60.5 and 61.6 million years ago were uncovered in Canterbury, New Zealand back in 2009 by amateur fossil collector, Leigh Love. The fossils were discovered near the fossils of the oldest penguin, but they are missing some of the penguin’s key features. Researchers have named the new species Australornis lovei, after its discoverer.

Sea the Future: New Research on Ocean Conditions Will Aid Planners
The Office of Naval Research Global recently announced a grant to the University of Melbourne that is intended to improve understanding of conditions in the Indian Ocean. The project will include confirming data collected by satellites with actual field research, which will greatly improve the Navy’s oceanographic models.

Albino dolphin in Hawaii.

Albino dolphin in Hawaii. Photo credit: Susan Renee via photopin cc.

Taiji Whale Museum On The Albino Dolphin Calf
The albino calf that was captured in the cove was shipped to the Taiji Whale Museum. Tim Zimmermann sent a list of questions to the Whale Museum and, somewhat surprisingly, received detailed answers about the whale’s status from Assistant Director Tetsuya Kirihata. The albino calf is kept in a spare pool at the museum with one other bottlenose dolphin, but she doesn’t interact much with it. Check out the post to learn more about her status.

WHOI CSI Lab Investigates Rare Whales
Earlier this month, a jogger came across what he thought was a stranded dolphin, but what actually turned out to be a rare True’s beaked whale. A few hours later, a smaller whale was found. It turned out to be a 14-foot adult female and a very young male, which is most likely her calf. These deep-diving whales live in the North Atlantic and are rarely seen alive, making this stranding a valuable learning opportunity for researchers. This article discusses what and how researchers learn from necropsies — dissections, CT scans and more.

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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