This Week in Marine Science

Written by on December 13, 2013 in Other News

Other stories worth reading this weekend:

10 crazy undersea creature GIFs
From the Goblin Shark to the Sarcastic Fringehead (yes, that really is its name…) these clips really are crazy. Check it out!

Blind Cavefish Offer Evidence for Alternative Mechanism of Evolutionary Change
The eyeless cavefish, Astyanas mexicanus, has provided scientists with new evidence for a long-debated mechanism of evolution. This blind fish lives in the deep, dark Mexican caves where ‘environmental shock’ prompted the loss of eyes about two or three million years ago. This could have happened when it’s ancestors (with eyes) either colonized the caves or became trapped in them. The fish begin to develop eyes, but then lose them as the embryo matures.


Bonefish. Photo credit: Bemep via photopin cc.

Bonefish Spawning Behavior in the Bahamas Surprises Researchers, Should Aid Conservation
Researchers have documented rarely seen spawning behavior in bonefish, which will aid future conservation efforts. Bonefish are threatened by habitat degradation and overfishing, but they are still highly sought after by recreational anglers. Scientists say they recreational fishing of bonefish is worth hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The new findings highlight the importance of protecting bonefish spawning aggregations. You can see a video of the bonefish school here.

Consequences of Balanced Harvesting of Fish Communities
Balanced Harvesting is a new fishery management technique that is a little controversial. It is an unselective method that involves balancing the fishery with the production of new biomass. It targets small, typically immature fish, which is why it’s controversial — it allows fish to be caught before they’ve had a chance to reproduce and contribute to the next generation. However, a study found that balanced harvesting provides a “slightly larger total protein catch and fewer disturbances to the fish community than a traditional selective fishing pattern.”

Dropping a Laboratory into the Sea
A revolutionary new instrument that can provide early warnings of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and other toxic organisms in the ocean has successfully passed its first long-term test at sea. The Environmental Sample Processors (ESPs) are trash can-sized biology labs that can sample seawater, filter out cells, and break them apart to release their DNA and chemicals. After analyzing the sample, the ESPs transmit information back to scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Taranaki coast.

Taranaki coast. Photo credit: Donna_Rutherford via photopin cc.

Greenpeace opens case against Anadarko
Greenpeace opened a case against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Texan oil giant Anadarko in the High Court in Wellington. Greenpeace alleges that the EPA failed to properly considered whether permission should have been granted to drill for oil in the Taranaki Basin. Anadarko began drilling about 185km off the coast of Raglan about two weeks ago.

Fishing campaigners claim victory as discards to be banned from 2015
The European Parliament approved plans to reform the Common Fisheries Policy that requires fishermen to discard edible fish that they do not have quotas to catch. The practice of throwing the surplus fish back into the sea results in more than a million tons of wasted fish ever year. It will be banned starting in 2015. The reformed CFP encourages the use of fishing practices that reduce bycatch, and will ensure that quotas are set based on what science says is sustainable.

Indian Ocean nations face $100-m loss due to marine pollution
The fishery resources in the Indian Ocean are threatened by the spread of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and marine pollution. The expansion of the HABs over the last 25 years, mostly due to natural causes, has cost the region nearly $100 million a year. The HABs result a decline in tourism, public illness, and a decline in fisheries and related businesses.

Long-term warming and environmental change trends persist in the Arctic in 2013
This week, NOAA released the Arctic Report Card 2013. The report reveals that some parts of the the Arctic had a relatively cool year, but that doesn’t have much of an effect on the long-term warming trend of the last 30 years. The extent of the sea ice in September 2013 was the sixth lowest on record and sea surface temperatures in August were as much as 7°F higher than the long-term average of 1982-2006 in the Barents and Karak Seas. Check out the post to see some other report highlights about the Greenland ice sheet, marine fishes (a new category), and more.

New fisheries could mean more investment opportunities
Markets for fish species not currently commercially fished in South Australian waters could soon open. New State Government fishing regulations will enable permits for “exploratory and developmental fishing activities” to assess the potential of species not currently fished. All proposals will be assessed and strict conditions will be set on new fishing activities. If successful, there may soon be new fisheries and job opportunities

Porites lobata (in the middle).

Porites lobata (in the middle). Photo credit: USFWS Pacific via photopin cc.

Related coral species differ in how they survive climate change effects
Researchers have found that similar-looking coral species differ in the way they survive the effects of climate change — some cope with warmer temperatures better than others. In what looked like one colony of Porites lobata in the Eastern Pacific, researchers were surprised to also find Porites evermanni. These ‘cryptic’ species hide in a common group of corals, but they have different responses to environmental changes and interact with other coral reef organisms differently. In this case, Porites evermanni was less susceptible to bleaching than P. lobata.

Scientists freeze coral sperm to help save Barrier Reef off Queensland from extinction
Over the past 30 years, nearly half the coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef has disappeared. Researchers are now freezing coral sperm to prevent extinction. They collected billions of coral sperm during the annual spawning season and will freeze most, but some will be used to help grow new coral in an effort to replenish the reef.

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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