Friday, October 22News That Matters

Tag: Fish and Other Marine Life

How Hungry Sea Otters Affect the Sex Lives of Sea Grass

How Hungry Sea Otters Affect the Sex Lives of Sea Grass

Technology
Jane Watson studied sea otters for decades, but it was in the 1990s that the ecologist in British Columbia observed they had a destructive habit. While conservationists were working diligently to restore damaged sea grass meadows elsewhere in the world’s oceans, it seemed ironic that in northern Vancouver Island’s sea grass habitat, which is much healthier than others in the world, the furry floaters would swoop in and dig for clams, dislodging the aquatic vegetation.As she and others examined the sandy bottoms pock marked with clam-digging pits, Dr. Watson anecdotally noted that in places with long-established otter populations, the grass, known also as eelgrass, seemed to flower more frequently.She wondered: Were these disruptive otters influencing plant reproduction? She sat on the idea...
These Worms Left the Ocean Floor and Never Looked Back

These Worms Left the Ocean Floor and Never Looked Back

Technology
The average scale worm trudges along the seafloor like a tiny armored tank. The worm’s overlapping scales shield its backside from predators, while bristled appendages help it scuttle through the mud. This is a good life for a worm, said Katrine Worsaae, a marine zoologist at the University of Copenhagen.“Worms love mud,” Dr. Worsaae said.But some scale worm species have evolved to leave the mud behind and swim up into the water column. Some even live their whole lives suspended in water, never needing to touch the ground. To accomplish this grand liftoff, the worms evolved less muscle mass and elongated appendages that stroke through the water like oars, according to a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.The paper is a collaboration between researchers a...
High-End Design Comes to the Fish Tank

High-End Design Comes to the Fish Tank

LifeStyle
The boom in high-end tank demand has coincided with a shortage in key aquarium building materials like acrylic, said Mr. Tiemens. Grocery stores, restaurants, salons and many other businesses around the globe were using acrylic in massive quantities for sneeze guards during the height of the Covid crisis. Mr. Calabrese said the worst of the delays have passed, but supplies in general are still backed up. The time it takes to build an aquarium has doubled, from roughly three months to six months, he said.Sourcing the fish has also become a challenge. Some remote tropical islands have cut off or have limited trade, said Mr. Calabrese, making some tropical fish difficult to come by. Yellow tangs, the brightly colored saltwater aquarium staple native to Hawaii have shot up in price and gotten ...

Climate Change Is Devastating Coral Reefs Worldwide, Major Report Says

Technology, World
The world lost about 14 percent of its coral reefs in the decade after 2009, mainly because of climate change, according to a sweeping international report on the state of the world’s corals.The report, issued late Monday, underscores the catastrophic consequences of global warming while also offering some hope that some coral reefs can be saved if humans move quickly to rein in greenhouse gases.“Coral reefs are the canary in the coal mine telling us how quickly it can go wrong,” said David Obura, one of the report’s editors and chairman of the coral specialist group for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.The 14 percent decline, he said, was cause for deep concern. “In finance, we worry about half-percent declines and half-percent changes in employment and interest rates.”E...
Swimming in an Uncertain Sea

Swimming in an Uncertain Sea

Travel
In the muffled quiet, a steady inhale-exhale. A shadow, then a flash of silver. Then the elusive subject of fascination makes its silent, gliding approach, emerging in full: the great white shark.When the underwater filmmaker Ron Elliott dives beneath the surface, this suspended moment of magic is what he’s after.I first met Ron more than a decade ago, several years after he had begun documenting the undersea world of the Farallon Islands, the remote, saw-toothed crags some 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco. The Ohlone people called them the Islands of the Dead; 19th-century sailors called them the Devil’s Teeth. The Farallones sit at the western point of Northern California’s “Red Triangle,” where large numbers of great white sharks come to feed on seals and sea lions in the fall an...

Protected Too Late: U.S. Officials Report More Than 20 Extinctions

Technology, World
Freshwater mussels are among the most imperiled groups in North America, but scientists don’t know enough about the eight species on the list to say for sure why they disappeared. The extinctions are likely connected to the reservoirs that humans built over the last 100 years, federal biologists said, essentially turning the mussels’ rivers into lakes.Did the change in habitat affect some aspect of their carefully choreographed life cycle? Were the filter feeders also injured by sediment or pollution in the water?Freshwater mussels rely on adaptations developed over untold years of evolution. Females lure in fish with an appendage that looks like a minnow, crayfish, snail, insect or worm, depending on the species. The mussels then squirt out their larvae, which attach to the fish, forcing ...

This Fjord Shows Even Small Populations Create Giant Microfiber Pollution

LifeStyle
Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago chilling halfway between the Nordic country and the North Pole, is known as much for its rugged beauty as its remoteness. From the village of Longyearbyen, visitors and roughly 2,400 residents can appreciate the stark terrain around the fjord known as Adventfjorden.But the beauty of this Arctic inlet conceals messier, microscopic secrets.“People see this nice, clean, white landscape,” said Claudia Halsband, a marine ecologist in Tromso, Norway, “but that’s only part of the story.”The fjord has a sizable problem with subtle trash — namely microfibers, a squiggly subset of microplastics that slough off synthetic fabrics. Microfibers are turning up everywhere, and among researchers, there’s growing recognition that sewage is helping to spread them, said Peter...
Dancers From the Deep Sea Shine on the U.N. for Climate Week

Dancers From the Deep Sea Shine on the U.N. for Climate Week

Technology, World
A little-known but crucial agent of carbon removal from the atmosphere — the siphonophore, which lives in what’s known as the twilight zone of the sea — will be highlighted during U.N. Climate Week in a video projection from a Danish arts collective.The siphonophore is a bizarrely beautiful creature. Like a coral reef, it is composed of individual parts, known as zooids, which perform specialized functions. “Some are digesters, some are swimmers, some are reproducers,” Heidi Sosik, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said. “But they all get together. It is an interesting metaphor for humanity to think about.”Next week, Sept. 21-24, in a light projection more than 500 feet high on the entire northern facade of the U.N. Secretariat building, a siphonophore will pe...
A Swirling Vortex Is No Match for This Deep-Sea Sponge

A Swirling Vortex Is No Match for This Deep-Sea Sponge

Technology
At the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, cylindrical clusters of the glass sponge Euplectella aspergillum jut upward like skyscrapers in the deep sea. Some house tiny shrimp, to whom an 11-inch sponge is essentially a high-rise. And the sponge’s glass skeleton is certainly a feat of architecture, comprising a geometric latticework that gives the sponge the illusion of being wrapped in lace. Yet it is enduringly sturdy, able to stay rooted in the sea floor and weather currents without snapping or splintering.Such structural superpowers leave many scientists eager to unravel whatever secrets this crystalline sponge contains. The answers could solve engineering problems, such as how to design a tall building that will not collapse in harsh winds. A study published Wednesday in the Journal of the R...
‘Spaceship-Shaped’ Fossil Reveals Hungry Predator of Ancient Oceans

‘Spaceship-Shaped’ Fossil Reveals Hungry Predator of Ancient Oceans

Technology
Some 506 million years ago, a predator swept over the silt bottoms of the Cambrian ocean. Its rake-like feeding arms sifted through the murk it raised, funneling soft-bodied worms into a puckering, circular mouth.In 2018, a team of paleontologists from the Royal Ontario Museum discovered the preserved shell of that ancient hunter during a fossil hunting expedition in the Canadian Rockies. On Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the team identified the 19-inch animal, which they named Titanokorys gainesi, as one of the earliest-known large predators on Earth.“At a time when most animals were the size of your little finger, this would have been a very large predator and probably near the top of the food chain,” said Joe Moysiuk, a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto an...