Wednesday, March 31, 2010
This article talks about the bacteria that live on coral reefs, in normal conditions these bacteria produce a mucus layer that protects the corals. This mucus layer prevents the corals from getting infections from bacteria. However, with the increasing temperature of the water the mucus layer breaks down and the good bacteria are replaced with pathogenic (bad) bacteria. This model has also shown that once the water temperatures return to normal the pathogenic bacteria remain on the corals. The mechanism is not quite understood to explain the pathogenic bacteria remaining on the corals when temperatures return to normal. The water temperatures have been increasing over the past years and many steps need to be taken to improve coral reef habitats before they are lost forever.
Good Bacteria Turns Bad
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Microbes are the most numerous of marine organisms, and recent studies are underway to see just how these organisms interact with plastics in the ocean. Plastic pollution is a big problem, because in the environment, it can take thousands of years to break down. Over time, the size of plastic decreases in the ocean because of natural forces wearing on it. The tiny fragments are dangerous because they can absorb toxins that can be ingested by marine animals. Researchers at the University of Sheffield and the Center for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture science are providing evidence that the type of microbes that grow on these plastic fragments significantly varies from the microbial groups that colonize the wider environments. These microbes may be contributing to the breakdown of plastic pollution and toxins in the marine environment. Using DNA experiments, these researchers are finding that plastic is quickly colonized by many species of bacteria that together form a biofilm along the plastic surface. This biofilm is only formed by certain types of marine bacteria. It's going to take more research to fully understand the impact these bacteria have on plastic pollution, but these experiments could offer insight into the impacts of plastic pollution on the global environment.
Picture from: http://www.surfrider.org/kauai/SR_Kauai/RiseAbovePlastics_files/Snapshot%202008-04-14%2016-30-34.jpg
Sunday, March 28, 2010
New Research shows that barnacles, a key food source in fact thrive in strong upwellings. When a strong upwelling is present the barnacle larvae is more likely to be recruited to the rocky walls. When this happens the predators of the barnacles, like hogfish and whelks flock to these strong upwelling zones creating dynamic ecosystems where there were thought to be none.
Several studies have shown that strong upwelling zones aren't good environments for barnacles to live and have shown this before. The new research was done in deeper waters and the research was done by one of the only teams to be working in these waters in the Galapagos Islands.
To learn more click here
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Professor Schwimmer and his student Harrell believe dinosaurs were the main diet and preferred food; these conclusions were drawn based on the jaw size, teeth markings on dinosaur bones, and the evidence found in the fossilized dung. The evidence supporting this are the Deinosuchus teeth marks in the bones of dinosaurs found in many different locations in North America
The dung that was analyzed showed many shell fragments and sand particles; this led to the determination that they live in shallow marine waters. Schwimmer and Harrell recently presented their finding in many locations in the US.
Giant crocodile in the United States
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
For several Centuries, sailors have told stories of so called "milky seas." These 'milky seas' seemed to be glowing a dim white light. According to the log of the S.S. Lima as it sailed off the coast of Somalia 11 years ago, they were surrounded by waters that appeared as a field of snow or clouds in all directions. Scientist have been able to go back and look at satellite pictures at the time of this voyage and were able to find pictures confirming the glowing sea. Scientist say that this glow is caused by bioluminescent bacteria. One might ask how many bioluminescent bacteria would it take to light up the seas? Well if one were to cover the earth in a 4 inch layer of sand and then count all of the individual grains of sand in that layer, thats how many it would take. These glowing seas typically only last a few days are usually found in the Indian Ocean.
Monday, March 22, 2010
These articles can be found on Sciencedaily:
Saturday, March 20, 2010
They discovered that as urchins grow, the collagenous tissue inside, outside, and between their skeletal plates softens. The shell inflates like a balloon. The collagen stretches and expands gaps between the plates from the inside, while containing them from the outside. Eventually, the tissue between the plates is reabsorbed and is replaced by hard shell. This mechanism is similar to the growth of a vertebrate skull. 
Scientists want to use this information to make “sea farms” of sea urchins possible. Only two experimental hatcheries are in use right now: a commercial one in Lubec, Maine, and another developed by the University of New Hampshire. If they are successful, they could “seed” areas overharvested for sea urchins to restore their populations. (Sea urchins are a delicacy in Japan. In 1993, 30 to 40 million pounds were harvested.)
They are still looking into what makes sea urchins reproduce, grow, and thrive. This research is complicated by the fact that it takes sea urchins six years to reach sexual maturity.
Right now they aren’t sure yet if sea urchin sea farms would be economically viable.
 Bowdoin Researchers Seek Methods to Spur Sea Urchin Growth
Thursday, March 18, 2010
It points out how much more there is to learn about common marine organisms, simply because no-one has thought to look.
- Reading the full article will give a more detailed explanation of this oyster decline.
- Picture shows the Intertidal Zone of Tomales Bay in California, the oysters are present on the rocks.
Monday, March 15, 2010
And check out this video on the blue crab fishery in North Carolina:
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Researchers from the university of San Diego have found a sea squirt that may hold the key to curing this disease; the sea squirt Ciona intestinalis. While not actually being able to cure any disease through some magical protein the sea squirt is the humans closest invertebrate relative and shares 80% of its DNA with humans making it an amazing model for DNA studies with its ability to incorporate foreign DNA.
This Sea squirt can exhibit the traits of someone with Alzheimer's disease if given the DNA of someone with the disease to incorporate into themselves. While not being able to cure the disease the sea squirt gives us the next best thing; a model to quickly and effectively study Alzheimer's.
For more information click here
Allomaternal care (maternal care provided by an individual towards offspring other than one’s own) has been demonstrated by numerous species however, more recent observations now include humpback whales.
The NOAA Fisheries Service expedition, which first observed this behavior, was sailing from South America to the Antarctica Peninsula in search of killer whales and recording their hunting tactics. A main component of a killer whale’s diet is Weddell seals. Researchers aboard the vessel, Robert Pitman and John Durban, were shocked as they watched ten killer whales agitate two adult humpback whales. Further observation revealed a Weddell seal swimming between the two humpbacks. However, it could not be proven the humpback whales were truly protecting the seal; oftentimes killer whales will try to antagonize the larger humpbacks to determine if any are sick or weak.
To the expedition’s surprise a week later they witnessed a different pair of humpback whales preventing a killer whale from attacking a seal. As a group of killer whales successfully dislodged the Weddell seal from its ice flow, the helpless seal immediately swam towards the pair of humpbacks (who were swimming nearby). The humpback closest to the seal, rolled on its back and pushed the seal onto its chest (using its flippers). Following the second display of such behavior the researchers concluded humpback whales were indeed exhibiting allomaternal care towards the seals.
*This blog post was derived from the article titled, “Save the Seal” published in Natural History’s November 2009 issue.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Here's a little practice with your knowledge of Atlantic Coast mollusks. How many of the following taxa can you name:
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Scientists follow algae cysts that settle during colder times of the year, in order to monitor the severity of algae blooms. When toxicity levels become to high local fisheries are shut down to protect human health. Alexandrium fundyense is a toxic algae being monitored by the NOAA scientists in the Gulf of Maine. Over the past few years Alexandrium fundyense dormant cysts have been increasing in abundance and producing large blooms. These algae are transported, by winds and currents, a large distance on the New England coast Near the end of 2009 water samples surveyed an abundance of cysts in the water, leading to the prediction of a severe and toxic algae bloom.
Severe Red Tides Predicted for 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I realize this is a little late for our lab practical but I have put together a PowerPoint presentation that has pictures of all the shells that we identified in lab. If you would like me to send you the presentation, I would be more than happy to attach it to an email. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a copy. I'll check my email before I go to bed but if you still want the PowerPoint regardless, I can still send it to you. Just thought I would offer.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The full article gives more insight into the study Witman and his team conducted.
- Image: Barnacles, credit to Jon Witman and Brown University