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The microenvironment and coral polyps

Published 2014-02-10

Boundary layers The viscous properties of seawater affect flow near the surface of coral in a region called the boundary layer. Within the boundary layer there is a reduced rate of exchange with molecules such as nutrients. Molecules in contact with the coral surface remain stationary with respect to the coral itself creating what is referred to as a “no-slip condition”. In addition, the coral surface exerts stress transmitted as eddy diffusion, decreasing the magnitude of mean flow. Boundary layer thickness varies for every individual coral polyp depending on the coral texture and... (more)

New Coral Species found on the Big Island!

Published 2014-02-03

Researchers from Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources recently published an article in Coral Reefs revealing a species of Acropora coral found for the first time on the island of Hawaii. This is especially exciting because Acropora is not typically found in Hawaii, with the most stable resident population found in French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Through genetic sampling, Acropora spp. are thought to originate from Johnston Atoll, which is approximately 900 miles southwest of Hawaii. Acroporia gemmifera is the species... (more)

How do crabs and fish fight infection?

Published 2014-01-27

The major difference between invertebrate and vertebrate immunity is that invertebrates only have an innate immune system while vertebrates possess both innate and adaptive systems. The immune system exists to protect animals from infectious diseases and their toxic products (caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and protists), but also to protect against self-harm (e.g., tumors) and allogeneic conspecifics (i.e., individuals of the same species with a different genetic makeup). Both the innate and adaptive immune system have powerful mechanisms to locate, neutralize and eliminate foreign cells... (more)

How does nutrient enrichment affect coral?

Published 2014-01-20

Nutrient enrichment is often associated with promoting coral reef declines and humans are exacerbating the problem. A recently published review by D’Angela and Wiedenmann in the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability provided an extensive compilation of research demonstrating the affects of anthropogenic nutrient enrichment often associated with coral reef decline, which is summarized here. The coral holobiont (coral and its associative microbiota, fluora and fauna) is responsive to nutrients in the environment. Growth of zooxanthellae (coral’s symbiotic algae) is often... (more)

Biofluorescence is everywhere!

Published 2014-01-14

A study recently published in PLoS One by Sparks et al. explored the variation in biofluorescence across cartilaginous an bony fishes, determining that biofluorescence is widespread and morphologically variable. The researchers examined biofluorescence in 180 species of fish, reconstructing the phylogenies to explore biofluorescence in fish lineages. Biofluorescence is highly variable in marine fishes (e.g., eels, lizardfishes, blennies, scorpionfishes, gobies and flatfishes) that typically seem to camouflage themselves when viewed in sunlight. The scientists also observed distinct variation... (more)

Loss in Europe to prevent deep-sea trawling

Published 2013-12-11

On Tuesday December 10th the European Parliament voted against an outright ban on deep-sea trawling in the oceans, although they did support restrictions in vulnerable habitats. The act of trawling is often related to clearing a forest to catch a squirrel (more appropriate reference for those living on the mainland, but the idea is clear). While most sea life living below 200 meters is unstudied, typically deep-sea organisms are very slow growing and reach maturity at a late age. Therefore, trawling in the deep-sea can have very long lasting effects. Perhaps more of concern is that much of... (more)

Google Maps Street View: Oceans

Published 2013-12-05

Now anyone with access to a computer can dive into the beautiful reefs of Hanauma Bay or Molokini Crator, in addition to numerous other coral reefs around the world, by visiting Google Maps Street View Oceans. With the help of scientists, the Google team used scooters to take continuous photographs to stitch together 360-degree panoramas. This technology is further being used to monitor the health of corals and the creatures that live inside coral reefs. Similar to face recognition software, computers can determine which organisms are living in these ecosystems, and that community may give... (more)

Phosphorescence in the bay

Published 2013-11-22

Over the past week there has been incredible biolumenescence in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. This phenomenon has sparked lots of conversation among Kaneohe residents and caught the interest of local television station KHON. Scientists at HIMB have given a number of responses for why we are seeing this phosphorescence, which is incredibly unusual in this region. Most people seem to agree that this is the result of a cycle of algal blooms that were set off after massive rainstorms, leading to nutrient enriched water from runoff. Most scientists seem to think this is a plankton bloom. Bioluminescence... (more)

Deep Sea Exploration

Published 2013-11-13

Most people are already aware that famous filmmaker James Cameron funded the engineering of the DEEP SEA CHALLENGER, a submersible which he manned during the deepest dive in human history. On that epic journey he explored the deepest place on Earth: the Mariana Trench. At just under 36,000 ft (or 11,000 meters) his description of the sheer emptiness is chilling. However, after their one year anniversary small sediment samples revealed thousands of new species found, and they are likely to find many more. Creating the DEEP SEA CHALLENGER was a feat in itself, engineering a submersible that... (more)

Starfish Wasting Disease: Wasting away

Published 2013-11-07

Starfish across the west coast of North America are literally wasting away (disintegrating into mush) because of a disease known as star wasting disease. Once a starfish is infected, white lesions begin on the arms and work their way inward, which causes the seastar's limbs and central cavity to disintegrate within a few days. Seastar wasting disease is a known endemic disease in tidal marine life, however, there has been a sudden outbreak in seastars beginning in June 2013. The outbreak has reduced seastar numbers up to 95% in certain sites. The syndrome is primarily affecting Pisaster... (more)