This Week in Marine Science

Written by on September 27, 2013 in Other News

Other stories worth reading this weekend:

A green city works to save a blue planet
When you think of Boulder, Colorado, you probably think about mountains, not the ocean. But Boulder was recently recognized as an “honorary coastal community” by NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary. This distinction was given in response to the creation of the Colorado Ocean Coalition, the first community-centered ocean organization in the U.S. created by an inland group. This recognition serves to validate the Colorado Ocean Coalition’s efforts and will hopefully encourage other inland groups to promote ocean conservation.

Brilliant Photos of the Bobtail Squid
The bobtail squid has bioluminescent bacteria on its underbelly that reacts to light, making it a particularly interesting creature to photograph, even if it is only two inches long. Photographer Todd Bretl captured some amazing images of this creature.

Polar bear.

Polar bear. Photo credit: Kathy Crane, NOAA.

Climate Change: Polar Bears Change to Diet with Higher Contaminant Loads
Over the last 30 years, polar bears have replaced high Arctic ring seals with sub-Arctic harp and hooded seals in their diet. A new study reveals that this change is exposing the polar bears to more contaminants. Soon, polar bears may lose access to the sub-Arctic seals (harp and hooded) as well because they depend on ice to give birth to their cubs.

Deep sea ecosystem may take decades to recover from Deepwater Horizon spill
A new paper suggests that the deep-sea soft-bottom ecosystems in the immediate area of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will take decades to recover from the impacts. The researchers note that typically, pollution from offshore drilling sites can be found within 300-600 yards from the site. At the Deepwater Horizon site, it extended nearly two miles from the wellhead and impacts could be identified more than ten miles away.

The Gorgeous Shapes of Sea Butterflies
It’s the big, cute animals that typically get our attention for environmental issues, but polar bears, sea turtles and seals aren’t the only creatures suffering from climate change. With that in mind, artist Cornelia Kavanagh sculpted a series of large versions of tiny sea snails that can barely be seen with the human eye. These sea butterflies are at risk from ocean acidification which is slowly disintegrating their hard shells. By making these tiny creatures visible, the artist hopes to bring attention to a less popular issue.

Monster Machines: This Mini-Sub Brings The Deep Ocean’s Treasures Within Reach
The OceanGate company has been developing a new, affordable manned submersible called the Cyclops. It’s a five-person submarine that can dive as deep as 3,000 meters, which is especially impressive considering it has the largest glass ‘viewport’ of any underwater glass structure. OceanGate plans to rent these vehicles out for only US$35,000 a day — much less than the other available submersibles today.

New information sharing systems to track fishing vessels in the Pacific
The Forum Fisheries Agency is developing a new information system that will allow Pacific nations to work together to track fishing vessels in their water. The data would be used primarily to combat illegal fishing, but could also benefit the fishing industry by helping vessels decide where to go on a daily or monthly basis.

Coral in the Seychelles.

Coral in the Seychelles. Photo credit: Olivier Roux via photopin cc.

Nursing Indian Ocean coral reefs back to life
The Indian Ocean is home to about 15 percent of the world’s coral reefs, but they are facing increasing danger from climate change and warming waters. In the Seychelles, a new project is underway to transplant healthy coral onto dying reefs. The healthy coral samples were originally collected from a nearby reef that had recovered from a bleaching event in 1998. Because they recovered from such stress, researchers hope they will be able to resist any future bleaching events, making the reef much stronger.

Op-Ed: Bad PR and lies for new Qatar dolphin facility
In preparation for the opening of a new dolphin aquarium in Souq Waqif, Qatar, the company announced that its new marine mammal show was being sponsored by the National Geographic Society. They were lying. But that’s not the worst part about Qatar Dolphin Discovery & Research (QDD). After National Geographic announced their name was used without permission, QDD responded on Facebook with “perhaps the worst PR ever noted.” You have to read some of the QDD posts to believe it.

Scientists find early facial features on ancient fish
Researchers discovered an ancient fish with a very human-like face. The newly discovered species, Entelognathus primordialis, was an armored fish that swam in the seas nearly 420 million years ago. One of the researchers explains that “This is like finding the nose of a space shuttle in a hay wagon from the Middle Ages.” It had a flat forehead, small eyes, and a jaw like a humans.

Seven Large Dolphins Die in Brazil, 30 Beach Themselves
A pod of 30 dolphins beached themselves on Upanema beach in Brazil this weekend. Local fishermen and volunteers helped to get the dolphins back to the water and all but seven made it. The cause of the beaching is still unknown

Stronger winds explain puzzling growth of sea ice in Antarctica
Despite warmer air and oceans, there is more sea ice in Antarctica now than in the 1970s. We may even see a record high this year. But, contrary to what global warming skeptics say, this isn’t a sign that the planet isn’t warming. A new study reveals that 80 percent of the increase in sea ice is actually due to the strong westerly winds in the South Pole–winds that have gotten stronger since the 1970s. In addition to bringing cold air, the winds also shove ice together, which leads to thicker, longer-lasting ice.

World’s biggest tuna company calls for Pacific fishing limits
That’s a headline you don’t hear very often. At the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Tuna Conference in the Solomon Islands, Tri Marine International, the world’s biggest tuna company, called for government action to manage tuna stocks and promote sustainable fishing in the Pacific. Tri Marine is expanding its use of environmentally friendly pole and line fishing and fishing without Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), siting a growing market for sustainable tuna.

And, of course, the Cookie Monster sponge.

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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