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Climate Change Outpacing the PETM

Published 2019-02-21

56 million years ago, the planet warmed due to greenhouse gas emissions from methane hydrates, permafrost thawing, and volcanism, during a period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). This event, which occurred over several thousand years, raised global temperatures by 5-8°C and altered marine and terrestrial environments and climate. The PETM is the warmest period on earth since the extinction of dinosaurs approximately 66 million years ago. During the PETM, the poles were almost tropical and did not have ice. The oceans increased in temperature, became more acidic, and... (more)

Megalodon & the Dwarf Lanternshark

Published 2019-02-05

From the 20cm dwarf laternshark to the prehistoric 40-50 feet-long Megalodon, sharks species display wide ranges of shapes and sizes. Stories of “The Meg”, like the 2018 film of the same name, ignite curiosity in how these marine animals can reach such large sizes – and why are there so few large shark species? Researchers at Swansea University, Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, DePaul University, University of Cambridge, and Stony Brook University published a collaborative research article in the journal Evolution, to try to answer these questions. The... (more)

“Wilson”: The Ocean Cleanup Project

Published 2018-12-27

Photo: The Ocean Cleanup Project In October 2018, “Wilson”, or System 001 of the Ocean Cleanup Project, was deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with the purpose of catching and containing floating trash. Quickly after deployment, the team of engineers and developers working on the project noticed that while the barrier was collecting trash, it was also losing it. The barrier system is a 600m long, solar-powered apparatus with a 3m deep skirt, cameras, sensors, and satellite antennas designed to trap floating debris. Now that the system has been tested in the marine... (more)

Highlighting Citizen Science Projects

Published 2018-11-16

Photo: iNaturalist Observation is the foundation of scientifically studying the natural world. Citizen science programs allow anyone who is interested to record observations and learn about the natural world while contributing to research and conservation of important organisms and environments. Here are a few citizen science programs that allow volunteers to participate in data collection and observation of the marine environment. There are many citizen science programs out there, so check out other programs in your local community to learn how you can get involved! 1. iNaturalist:... (more)

Evolution as "survival of the laziest"?

Published 2018-09-18

Photo: University of Kansas Evolution by natural selection is often described as “survival of the fittest”, but a new study suggests that some organisms may have a different evolutionary strategy for success: laziness. In the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers provide evidence that species with lower energy requirements may be less likely to go extinct. In the study, the researchers analyzed the metabolic rates of 299 species of bivalves and gastropods in the Western Atlantic, both extinct and extant. They found that during a 5-million-year period, high... (more)

Are corals becoming more resilient to stress?

Published 2018-08-09

Photo: Ji Hoon Justin Han In a new study, published in the journal PeerJ, scientists replicate a set of experiments from the 1970s to test whether corals on reefs in the Pacific are acclimatizing or adapting to increased thermal stress. Coral reefs around the globe are experiencing more frequent and severe high temperature events, which can lead to a bleaching response, in which corals lose their symbiotic algae. Bleached corals, which appear white after losing their zooxanthellae, can die if the environmental conditions do not improve. In the 1970’s, a set of experiments was... (more)

Discovery of a Manta Ray Nursery

Published 2018-06-28

Photo: G.P. Schmahl / FGBNMS In a new study published in the journal Marine Biology, researchers describe the discovery of a juvenile manta ray nursery area. This area was found off the coast of Texas at NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and is the first nursery habitat for manta rays to be described. Check out the video to learn more! Journal Reference: Joshua D. Stewart, Marissa Nuttall, Emma L. Hickerson, Michelle A. Johnston. Important juvenile manta ray habitat at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Marine... (more)

Stressed fish and bleached anemones

Published 2018-06-01

Photo: NYTimes Hard corals are not the only organisms that bleach in warming ocean conditions. Anemones also host similar photosynthetic algae which convert sunlight into energy, but the relationship between the anemone and the algae can be disrupted during environmental disturbances. When anemones on a coral reef bleach, they may either recover or die if the environmental stress persists. Large anemones are best known for their relationship with clown fish, which use the anemone as a home and a safe place for their eggs. Although the clown fish don’t feed on the anemones, clown fish... (more)

Evolution of the Largest Animal on Earth

Published 2018-04-17

A new study published in the journal Science Advances, reveals new information on the evolutionary history of the largest animal on earth, the blue whale. Researchers at the German Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Geothe University, and the University of Lund in Sweden analyzed the genomes of three whale species: the blue whale, humpback whale, and gray whale. Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are currently listed as endangered on the ICUN Red List and populations are slowly increasing after heavy whaling in the 1900's. The whales can live to approximately 80-90... (more)

How do people view science across the globe?

Published 2018-03-14

Photo: 3M State of Science Index Survey Understanding how people think of and view science is a complicated process. Recently, the company 3M designed a survey (State of Science Index Survey) to investigate how people across the world view the image, impact, and expectations of science now and into the future. The survey was conducted in 14 countries, both in developed and emerging nations, including Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Singapore, South Africa, the UK, and the US. Over 14,000 adults (age 18+) were surveyed (about 1,000 per nation). Questions were asked of subjects over... (more)