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Nai'a Guide - Dolphin Tourism App

Published 2013-08-27

Check out the new "Nai'a Guide" app for the iPad! This free app shows Hawaii visitors how to view dolphins in an ecologically-conscious and responsible manner. For example, did you know that dolphins are largely nocturnal, and come into shallow bays to rest during the day? When overly curious swimmers harass dolphins that are trying to rest, it can upset the natural rhythm of the dolphins. Hawaiian spinner dolphins, known locally as nai‘a, are threatened by the continual disruption of their rest in shallow Hawaiian bays. The Nai‘a Guide provides information, maps, photos, audio,... (more)

How does the gov. shutdown affect the oceans?

Published 2013-10-11

While some 'non-essential' entities that are closed due to the government shutdown seem clear-cut (i.e. turning off the Panda cam, while sad, is completely understandable), other closings are not so obvious to those invested in environmental issues. A majority of positions in the EPA and NOAA have been furloughed, which will further cause major halts to permitting and scientific research in the oceans. This in effect may result in a loss of thousands of jobs (specifically associated with commercial fisherman) over the next year, which will in turn influence food availability and economic... (more)

Sea serpents and other tall tales: Oarfish

Published 2013-10-30

Most of you have already heard about the giant 18 and 15 ft Oarfish that washed up on the shores of California in October 2013, but you probably had heard little about them before then. Oarfish are the world’s longest bony fish, and they are likely the reason tall tales and folklore about sea serpents and sea monsters arose. Scientists believe oarfish frequent depths of 1000 meters, and their skin seems to be adapted for high pressures, although on land their skin is easily damaged (oarfish lack scales and instead are covered in a coat of guanine). The recent oarfish found would actually be... (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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)