Sunday, November 28News That Matters

Tag: Oceans and Seas

The Arctic Ocean Was Invaded by Its Neighbor Earlier Than Anyone Thought

The Arctic Ocean Was Invaded by Its Neighbor Earlier Than Anyone Thought

Technology, World
Arctic. Atlantic. Long ago, the two oceans existed in harmony, with warm and salty Atlantic waters gently flowing into the Arctic. The layered nature of the Arctic — sea ice on top, cool freshwater in the middle and warm, salty water at the bottom — helped hold the boundary between the polar ocean and the warmer Atlantic.But everything changed when the larger ocean began flowing faster than the polar ocean could accommodate, weakening the distinction between the layers and transforming Arctic waters into something closer to the Atlantic. This process, called Atlantification, is part of the reason the Arctic is warming faster than any other ocean.“It’s not a new invasion of the Arctic,” said Yueng-Djern Lenn, a physical oceanographer at Bangor University in Wales. “What’s new is that the pr...
Embracing the Swimming Culture After a Move to Australia

Embracing the Swimming Culture After a Move to Australia

Sports
SYDNEY, Australia — The spring sun might have been warm, but the Pacific Ocean off the edge of Sydney felt like an ice tray. I put my head down and tried to breathe in a steady rhythm as I swam faster than usual to warm up, keeping an eye on a couple of swimmers heading in my direction along the rocky coast.When the distance between us shortened, both of them stopped and seemed to be pointing. I picked up my head.“Bull ray,” said one of them, a woman about my age wearing an orange swim cap. I peaked underwater. It was midtide, the water was clear, but all I could see were rocks and sand about 10 feet below.“Where?” I shouted as I resurfaced.“Right there!” She pointed directly at me. “Right under you!” I pushed down deeper on my next dive, and then I saw it: a black blanket of a stingray, w...

Why Was This Ancient Mammoth Tusk Discovered at the Bottom of the Ocean?

Technology
Mammoth tusks that are over 100,000 years old are “extremely rare,” Mr. Mol added, and studying one could give scientists new insights about the Lower Paleolithic, a poorly understood era of Earth’s history.Scientists know that around 200,000 years ago Earth was experiencing a glacial period and our ancestors were migrating out of Africa. But they don’t know exactly how the planet’s changing climate affected mammoths and other large animals during this time. What is also unclear is how arrival to North America altered the genetic diversity of mammoths.“We don’t really know much of anything about what was happening during that time period,” Dr. Fisher said. “We don’t have access to a lot of specimens from this time period and that’s due in large part to the fact that getting access to sedim...
‘Penis Worms’ May Have Been the First Hermits

‘Penis Worms’ May Have Been the First Hermits

Technology
Consider this evolutionary dilemma, faced by the aquatic and squishy: How do you survive in hostile, predator-filled oceans?Squid rely on speed or camouflage. Snails develop complex shells. Hermit crabs borrow those complex shells when other animals aren’t using them, trading them out for bigger models as they grow.This sheltering strategy was believed to have emerged 180 million years ago in the Jurassic Period, when hermit crabs’ ancestors appeared in oceans, said Martin Smith, a paleontologist at the University of Durham in England. But in a study published Monday in Current Biology, Dr. Smith and colleagues suggest that the practice of hiding out in borrowed shells actually dates back hundreds of millions of years earlier, to the dawn of complex ecosystems.The early hermits in question...
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...
Agony and Ecstasy on the Scottish Archipelago of St. Kilda

Agony and Ecstasy on the Scottish Archipelago of St. Kilda

Travel
For the first hour or so, the water was relatively calm. After departing from the small fishing village of Stein on the Isle of Skye, we sped through a strait known as the Little Minch toward the main band of the Outer Hebrides, the thick curl of rocky skerries that hovers like an apostrophe over the northwestern coast of mainland Scotland.But as we pressed onward, traveling west beyond the islands of North Uist and Lewis and Harris, the water suddenly grew rougher. Here, fully exposed in the North Atlantic Ocean, we had no refuge from the swells: Every few seconds, for more than two hours, the hull of our tour boat slammed against the oncoming waves with enough force to rattle my teeth.I looked to my right, across the boat’s narrow aisle, and saw my brother and sister huddled uncomfortabl...

‘Saildrone’ Footage Offers Rare Peek Inside a Category 4 Hurricane

Technology, World
The video looks like it could be b-roll from the 2000 film “The Perfect Storm.”The camera is tossed around by winds topping 120 miles per hour and waves towering to 50 feet, all amid dense clouds.But this isn’t Hollywood. The 28-second clip shot by an unmanned vessel on Thursday was a first-of-its-kind glimpse from inside a major hurricane, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.The 23-foot vessel pierced the eyewall of Hurricane Sam as it barreled through the Atlantic Ocean. Sam, which peaked as a Category 4 storm, was downgraded to a Category 2 storm on Sunday but was still packing winds of up to 100 m.p.h.“This is a truly groundbreaking accomplishment because we’ve shown for the first time that it’s possible to send an uncrewed, remote-controlled vehicl...
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...
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...
‘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...