Posted on April 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Scientists say managing ocean resources requires better monitoring. Bob Berwyn photo.
‘To date, there have been few attempts to track biodiversity broadly in the ocean’
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With the world’s oceans facing serious global warming threats, U.S. researchers say it’s high time to establish a national effort to monitor marine biodiversity.
Humans depend on the ocean for food, medicine, transportation and recreation, yet little is known about how these vast ecosystems spanning 70 percent of the Earth’s surface are functioning and changing. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: biodiversity, Florida Museum of Natural History, marine biology, marine conservation, oceans | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 19, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A rare sea slug may be poised to return to California coastal waters. Photo courtesy Kenneth Kopp.
Marine researchers in California tracking colorful ocean critter
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Four decades after pollution and over-collecting all but wiped out a colorful sea slug in California coastal water, marine researchers at UC Santa Barbara say the species could be staging a comeback.
The vivid blue and gold nudibranch Felimare californiensis was discovered by UC zoologists in 1901, making it a favorite of of UC marine scientists and students. But while it held a special place in their hearts, it lost its place in local waters, which once included La Jolla, Corona del Mar, Malibu, and Santa Barbara, as well as all but the two westernmost Channel Islands. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: California, marine biology, Marine Science Institute, oceans, sea slug, University of California Santa Barbara | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Jurassic-era fossils are offering new climate clues.
Early Jurassic warming nearly wiped out all marine life
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Careful analysis of the marine fossil record from the Early Jurassic era (about 180 million years ago), suggests that warmer global temperatures and lower oxygen levels led to dramatic ecosystem changes, with a near extinction of ocean life.
Those ecosystems later rebouned, but with a completely different species composition, according to Plymouth University (UK) scientists who studied ocean sediments along the North Yorkshire coast.
“Our study of fossil marine ecosystems shows that if global warming is severe enough and lasts long enough it may cause the extinction of marine life, which irreversibly changes the composition of marine ecosystems,” said researchers Richard Twitchett. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate change, global warming, Jurassic, marine biology, Natural Environment Research Council, oceans, Plymouth University | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Corals, rockfish and sponges found at unprecedented depths
Black coral (Antipathes species) with a rosy rockfish in it on “Cochrane Bank,” -95 meters depth, 9.5° Celsius. This coral is two meters across and suspected to be at least 100 years old. The coral had many crabs and juvenile fish living in it. The stems/skeletons of black corals are black, but the living tissue is usually orange or white. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The foggy wave-torn coast of northern California may not seem like a haven for coral at first glance, but NOAA researchers say they’ve recently discovered a treasure trove of new deep sea habitats in the Gulf of Farallones Sanctuary, not far from San Francisco.
The area is a melting pot for deep sea corals, sponges, rockfish, and other species.
A partnership of federal and independent scientists found the rocky reef habitats in October in an area at depths of up to 457 meters, where such corals and sponges had not been seen before. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: biodiversity, black coral, California, California Academy of Sciences, Farallon Islands, Farallones Sanctuary, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, marine biology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, oceans | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Researchers say ocean changes could limit plankton growth in the tropics
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Warming ocean temperatures during the coming decades could result in a significant shift in the distribution of phytoplankton, with as-yet unknown consequences for global climate, according to researchers with Michigan State University.
Starting with what they do know, the scientists said warmer oceans will cause populations of these marine microorganisms to thrive near the poles and shrink in equatorial waters.
“In the tropical oceans, we are predicting a 40 percent drop in potential diversity, the number of strains of phytoplankton,” said MSU biologist Mridul Thomas. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: climate change, global warming, marine biology, oceans, phytoplankton | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 11, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Mapping coral diseases is helping researchers determine the cause. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Ocean warming suspected as key factor in outbreaks
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Mapping the spread of coral diseases in the Caribbean, a pair of Florida researchers has concluded that the outbreaks are stress related — most likely due to increasing ocean temperatures.
Mapping provides clues about the origin of diseases and how rapidly diseases can spread. Health officials have been using similar studies to trace human diseases at least since a deadly cholera outbreak in London in 1854, explained Mote Marine Lab researcher Erinn Muller. (more…)
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: biodiversity, coral diseases, coral reefs, Florida Institute of Technology, global warming, marine biology, Mote Marine Lab | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
‘The oil is not gone yet. This disaster is not over. There are embryos right now that are still getting exposed to that oil.’
Zebrafish. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform after the April 2010 explosion. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster causes very specific and potentially lethal defects in fish, including heart problems and loss of facial cartilage.
The oil also prevents fish from swimming away from danger, probably because of damage to sensory neurons, according to a study published this week in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Biology.
In a controlled lab setting, Dr. Michael Barresi and his students at Smith University in Massachusetts exposed zebrafish (a common freshwater fish often found in aquariums) to concentrations of oil that probably still exist at similar levels in the gulf today, two years after the Macondo Well spewed millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology, oil drilling | Tagged: Deepwater horizon oil spill, developmental defects, Environment, fish, Gulf of Mexico, Macondo oil, marine biology, Oil spill | 5 Comments »
Posted on April 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Herpes strains found to be common in reef ecosystems
Are coral reefs taking a hit from viruses? PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — After finding that bacteria from waste water effluent are a major factor in the elkhorn coral die-off in Florida’s coastal waters, researchers are focusing on other pathogens that may be affecting reefs, including viral disease.
“We have found that nutrient increases from pollution can cause increased levels of viral infection, as do warmer water and physical handling,” said Rebecca Vega-Thurber, an assistant professor of microbiology at Oregon State University. “Now we have to determine if those increases in infection cause actual diseases that are killing the coral.”
One of the surprises from recent research was the predominance in corals of herpes viruses – similar but not identical to the herpes virus that can infect humans. Herpes viruses appear to constitute a majority of the viruses found in corals, and one experiment showed that herpes-like viral sequences were produced in coral tissues after acute episodes of stress. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: biodiversity, coral, coral reefs, Environment, marine biology, Oregon State University | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 7, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
No fatalities in U.S. waters; Florida reports the most attacks
Blue shark. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Shark fatalities worldwide doubled to 12 in 2011, with a number of fatalities in remote areas, far from emergency medical care, according to University of Florida researchers who maintain a shark attack database.
There were 20 shark attacks but no deaths in the U.S., but the deaths in out-of-the-way places may reflect a trend of travelers visiting unusual destinations.
“They … don’t have histories of shark attacks in these regions, so there are not contingency plans in effect like there are in places such as Florida,” said ichthyologist George Burgess, director of the shark attack file housed at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: 2011 shark attacks, Florida shark attacks, marine biology, shark deaths 2011, shark deaths Australia | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 13, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Hydrothermal 'black smoker' vents near the Cayman Islands may offer new clues to the dispersal of deep sea organisms. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Research offers new clues to sea-floor formation, dispersal of deep-ocean organisms
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — British oceanographers and biologists say a group of volcanic vents on the Caribbean seafloor are the deepest discovered to-date, and another field of vents on a nearby submerged mountain suggests that so-called black smoker hydrothermal vents may be much more common than previously believed.
The vents — about three miles deep in a rift in the Cayman Trough, south of the Cayman Islands — may be hotter than 450 °C and are shooting a jet of mineral-laden water more than a kilometre into the ocean above.Despite extreme conditions, the vents are teeming with a new species of shrimp that has a light-sensing organ on its back.
Results of the 2010 expedition were reported this week in the scientific journal Nature Communications. The deep-sea research was led by marine geochemist Doug Connelly at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton and marine biologist Jon Copley of the University of Southampton. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: Caribbean, Geology, Hydrothermal vent, marine biology, National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, Oceanography | 1 Comment »