Posted on February 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A Secchi disk helps scientists measure the density of plankton. Photo courtesy University of Washington.
Researchers hope to develop a global plankton map to track global warming impacts
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — If you’re planning any ocean boating this year, you could help scientists track how global warming is affecting phytoplankton with new smartphone app. Some scientists fear that the minute organisms at the base of the marine food chain are dwindling, which would have significant consequences for all other marine organisms.
Some studies suggest that phytoplankton populations have already declined by 40 percent in some areas, but there haven’t been enough measurements to get a true global picture. That’s where the new Secchi app may help, according to Dr, Richard Kirby, a researcher at Plymouth University’s Marine Institute.
Secchi disks have long been used to measure phytoplankton density, simply by measuring the depth at which the disk disappears from view. The app enables mariners to report that measurement from wherever they are, and there’s even a Facebook page for seafarers who are participating in the project. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Environment, Food chain, global warming, marine science, oceans, phytoplankton, Secchi app | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 10, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Research team studies role of forage fish in sequestering carbon
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A still-popular first-grade book described the heroic efforts of a small fish to make a big splash. Now, it turns out that Arty’s dream wasn’t all that farfetched.
According to a new study by scientists with Rutgers University and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, forage fish like anchovies can play an important role as a biological pump in the cycle that moves carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the depths of the ocean, where its sequestered without adding to heat-trapping woes of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
Dr. Grace Saba, of Rutgers University, and professor Deborah Steinberg, of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, shifted their focus away from their long-term studies of copepods to looking at anchovies in the Santa Barbara Channel, off the California coast. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: carbon cycle, carbon dioxide, climate, greenhouse gases, marine science, National Science Foundation, oceans, Rutgers University, Virginia Institute of Marine Science | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 17, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
NOAA is reporting a resurgence of marine life in a protected around the Dry Tortugas, off Florida, including this area around Permit Reef. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA..
Marine resources still being degraded and exploited at an unsustainable rate
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Listening to official government sources about the state of the world’s oceans is one thing, with a steady stream of “good” news often highlighting new marine reserves and the recovery of fisheries.
But on the whole, world leaders have made only “pitiful” progress in their promises to protect global oceans from overfishing and other threats, according to the Zoological Society of London, which is hardly a hotbed of radical environmentalism. In fact, there has been little progress in meeting critical conservation goals in the past 20 years, the scientists wrote in a study published June 15 in Science.
The researchers compared goals established at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. At the meeting, 192 countries agreed on targets for protecting vulnerable species and marine habitats and managing fishing sustainably in national waters.
Ten years on, none of these targets have been met, and in some cases the situation is worse than before, said the researchers with the zoological society, hardly known as a hotbed of radical environmentalism. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Earth Summit 2002, Environment, marine science, ocean conservation, Rio+20, unsustainable fisheries, Zoological Society of London | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Demand for forage fish in recent decades has greatly increased for use as fish meal and fish oil to feed farmed fish, pigs, and chickens that people consume on a regular basis. Fish oil is also used in nutritional supplements for humans. PHOTO COURTESY LENFEST FORAGE FISH TASK FORCE.
Better management needed for ‘small but significant species’
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Preserving healthy ocean ecosystems requires cutting back on harvests of herring, anchovy and other small schooling fish that are a vital link in ocean food webs, according to a new report from an international task force.
The so-called forage fish eat plankton and are, in turn, food for bigger fish, as well as penguins, whales, seals, puffins, and dolphins. They are primary food sources for many commercially and recreationally valuable fish found around North America, such as salmon, tuna, striped bass, and cod.
“Traditionally we have been managing fisheries for forage species in a manner that cannot sustain the food webs, or some of the industries, they support,” said Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, who recently led a comprehensive worldwide analysis of the science and management of forage fish populations to date. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: biodiversity, Forage fish, marine science, ocean conservation, ocean fisheries | 4 Comments »
Posted on January 15, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Three humpback whales surrounded by birds in NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Economics, marine science professors team up to offer a market-based solution to whale conservation
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A marine science professor and an economist from California say a market-based approach to whale conservation could help sustain populations of the cetaceans and also help whalers who make their living from killing the marine mammals.
Anti-whaling groups like Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, and the World Wildlife Fund spend at least $25 million per years on a variety of activities intended to end commercial whaling, yet every year, commercial whaling not only continues, but grows.
Instead of spending that money on anti-whaling activities, the groups could use the money on an open whale conservation market to purchase a share of the quotas, thus saving whales directly.
Under the current, largely unregulated system, the number of whales harvested annually has doubled since the early 1990s, to about two thousand per year and many populations of large whales have been severely depleted and continue to be threatened by commercial whaling. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: Arizona State University, cap and trade, Environment, Greenpeace, International Whaling Commission, marine science, Summit County News, University of California, whale conservation, whales | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 7, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Since the early days of marine exploration, biologists have been recording the stunning diversity of coral reefs.
Scientists use DNA barcodes to track ‘staggering diversity’ of world’s oceans
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Cataloging species with DNA barcodes helped scientists with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History determine that the biodiversity in the world’s coral reefs has been seriously underestimated.
Coral reefs are some of the most endangered habitats on Earth. Given coral’s rapid decline and global range, DNA barcoding offered the scientists a quick and efficient method for their survey. Present estimates of species diversity in reefs are 600,000 to more than 9 million species worldwide.
“We cannot give a new estimate today, but we may be able to in a few years,”said Laetitia Plaisance, of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and lead author of the survey. ”Given the complexity and extent of the world’s coral reefs, the survey covered only a very limited depth and habitat range,” said Plaisance. “And yet we have so many more species than we ever expected.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, coral reefs, DNA barcoding, Environment, marine science, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Summit County News | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 27, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Over-fishing, changing ocean temps blamed for plummeting numbers as Scripps researchers unveil ‘illusion of plenty
Kelp bass numbers have dropped by 90 percent in the past 30 years. IMAGE COURTESY SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Over-fishing and climate-driven changes in water temperature have combined to cause the collapse of two important recreational fisheries off the southern California coast in the past few decades.
Barred sand bass and kelp bass populations have declined by as much as 90 percent, but the drop has been masked because fishermen are still able to catch the fish in areas where they congregate to spawn, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography postdoctoral researcher Brad Erisman and his colleagues, who examined the health of regional populations of the two species by combining information from fishing records and other data on regional fish populations.
Their findings were published in the most recent edition of the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. The researchers said the total amount, or biomass, of each bass species decreased 90 percent since 1980. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Marine biology, Summit County news | Tagged: California sea bass fisheries collapse, Environment, marine biology, marine science, Recreational fishing, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Southern California, Summit County News | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 10, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Blue ling, one of the deep-sea species being depleted by unsustainable fishing. PHOTO VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.
Researchers say more resources should be devoted to managing and improving near-shore fisheries
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Deep-sea fishing depletes marine biodiversity, causes profound damage on the ocean floor and should be curtailed to preserve marine resources, according to a group of scientists who published a comprehensive online study this week in the journal Marine Policy.
Instead of plundering the depths of the oceans, commercial fisheries should concentrate on near-shore resources in shallower water, the researchers said.
“The deep sea is the world’s worst place to catch fish” said marine ecologist Dr. Elliott Norse, the study’s lead author and president of the Marine Conservation Institute in Bellevue, Washington USA. “Deep-sea fishes are especially vulnerable because they can’t repopulate quickly after being overfished.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, Summit County news, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, deep-sea fishing, Environment, marine science, Oregon State University, overfishing, Summit County News, sustainability, University of British Columbia | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 1, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
The five ocean gyres.
New study sheds light on ingestion rates
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — After a detailed study of marine life in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a group of graduate students from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego found evidence of plastic waste in more than 9 percent of the stomachs of fish collected during their voyage.
They concluded that fish in the intermediate ocean depths of the North Pacific ingest plastic at a rate of roughly 12,000- to 24,000 tons per year, according to a press release from the Scripps Institution.
“About nine percent of examined fishes contained plastic in their stomach. That is an underestimate of the true ingestion rate because a fish may regurgitate or pass a plastic item, or even die from eating it. We didn’t measure those rates, so our nine percent figure is too low by an unknown amount,” said Peter Davison, co-author of the paper that was published June 27 in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: Environment, marine biology, marine science, North Pacific Gyre, Pacific garbage patch, plastic pollution, plastic trash found in fish, Summit County News | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 30, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
The inside of an empty abalone shell. The sea snail could face threats from rising ocean carbon dioxide levels, according to research from the University of British Columbia.
New research give direct evidence that global warming threatens an endangered species
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Already under pressure from poachers, the northern abalone could be pushed to the brink of extinction by rising levels of ocean carbon dioxide, according to a new report from the University of British Columbia.
Northern abalone are prized as an edible delicacy and formed a staple for some coastal tribes, But the slow-growing sea snail has been over-fished to the point that some species are listed as endangered.
The research by university biologists provides some of the first direct experimental evidence that changing sea water chemistry is negatively affecting an endangered species. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, global warming, Summit County news | Tagged: biodiversity, British Columbia Coast, climate change, endangered species, Environment, global warming, marine biology, marine science, Northern abalone, ocean acidification, ocean CO2 levels, Summit County News, University of British Columbia | Leave a Comment »