This Week in Marine Science

Written by on December 6, 2013 in Other News

Other stories worth reading this weekend:

View of Andvord Bay, Antarctica, a fjord hotspot of seafloor abundance and biodiversity.

View of Andvord Bay, Antarctica, a fjord hotspot of seafloor abundance and biodiversity. Photo credit: Rita Willaert via photopin cc.

Antarctic fjords are climate-sensitive hotspots of diversity
Deep inside the subpolar fjords of Antarctica, researchers expected to find “impoverished seafloor communities” similar to ones documented in the Arctic. Instead, they found a surprising abundance and diversity of worms, anemones, sea spiders, jellyfish, sea cucumbers and other species. Above the seafloor, the waters were dense with krill. The researchers suggest the difference in the health of the seafloor communities can be explained by the fact that the subpolar Antarctic is at an earlier state of climate warming than the Arctic. The favorable conditions are likely to change in the near future.

Dispersants Used in Deepwater Horizon Clean Up Less Harmful Than Predicted
Researchers are now saying that dispersants used to clean up oil spills may not be as harmful to fish as previously thought. Research shows that while the dispersant alone is toxic, it isn’t toxic when mixed with oil. However, the researchers note that dispersants still need to be used with caution.

Fishing weir.

Fishing weir. Photo credit: Brian K YYZ via photopin cc.

Google Earth reveals untold fish catches
Researchers used Google Earth images to estimate the number of fishing weirs (large semi-permanent traps) along the Persian Gulf coast. They found that weirs are catching up to six times more fish than what is officially being reported. Without the correct data, fisheries management is ineffective.

Jellyfish May Have Caused Sea Turtle Deaths in Costa Rica
A total of 90 dead marine turtles have been found on the beaches and coastal waters off Guanacaste and researchers believe that high levels of toxicity from animals like jellyfish may be to blame. Aerial missions revealed a large concentration of dead jellyfish which may have released a muscle relaxant and paralyzing substance that rendered the sea turtles unable to swim, causing them to drown.

Large study shows pollution impact on coral reefs – and offers solution
A large, long-term study has confirmed what scientists have long suspected: nutrient pollution from sewage, agriculture and other sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching. Researchers found that the prevalence of disease doubled and the amount of coral bleaching more than tripled when coral was exposed to elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. The good news is that once the injection of pollutants stopped, the corals were able to recover surprisingly quickly.

Ocean Beach Officials Back Ban On Plastic Bags
Ocean Beach officials determined that nearly 500 million single-use plastic bags are handed out in San Diego every year, prompting the Ocean Beach Town Council to pass a resolution supporting a citywide ordinance that severely limits single-use plastic bags. The ban will likely be approved next year.

Right Whale Roller Coaster
Survey flights for the 2013-2014 North Atlantic right whale season could have surprising results. Nobody is sure what will happen with right whales this season but the aerial survey team at the Woods Hole Laboratory of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) can agree that something has changed. Over the past two seasons, there has been a ‘rollercoaster’ of right whale sightings. Between November 2012 and July 2013, there were only 50 right whale sightings, including repeated sightings of individuals. But between November 2011 and July 2012, the survey team recorded 419 sightings. What causes such a difference from year to year? It’s probably due to a number of factors related to changing ocean conditions in the region. To learn more, check out this post: A North Atlantic Mystery: Case of the Missing Whales.


Seahorse. Photo credit: oscar alexander via photopin cc.

Seahorse Heads Have a ‘No Wake Zone’ That’s Made for Catching Prey
Seahorses may just be the slowest swimming fish in the sea, but their heads are perfectly shaped to sneak up and quickly snatch prey. The prey are copepods, tiny marine crustaceans near the base of the food chain, that can swim extremely fast for their small size. Copepods can detect waves in the water produced before an attack which allows them to speed away. Because of the shape of their heads, seahorses can overcome the sensory abilities of the copepods.

Sustainable seafood at 2016 Olympics
The Rio 2016 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games recently announced an agreement to promote Marine Stewardship Council (MCS) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified seafood at the 2016 Rio Games. This means that all of the seafood served to the athletes, officials, press, and at the onsite restaurants will be sustainably caught or responsibly farmed.

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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