Global Coral Bleaching Event, NOAA Environment Oceanography 

Coral Bleaching: Reefs Continue to Suffer

By Kate Stone Waters are warming in the Caribbean, threatening coral reefs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, scientists report. As record-high ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists have confirmed that the same stressful conditions are impacting the Caribbean and may last into 2016, prompting the declaration of the third global coral bleaching event ever on record. What is Happening to the Coral Reefs? “Last year’s bleaching at Lisianski Atoll was the worst our scientists have seen,” says Randy…

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Biology Paleontology Videos 

The Tiniest Fossils of All

This episode of the Shelf Life video series explores the fossils of tiny marine organisms known as foraminifera. That name is a mouthful, so even scientists often shorten it to forams. These single-cell organisms still live in Earth’s oceans today. The fossilized shells left behind by their foram forefathers serve as tiny time capsules for climate data from bygone eras. Finding Clues in Fossils Ammonite fossils also contain clues to past climates. Ammonites are a group of ancient mollusks related to modern animals like nautiluses, which most closely resemble squid and…

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Oysters, clams, and mussels in Oregon and Washington are showing the effects of ocean acidification (Oregon State University) Environment Oceanography 

Ocean Acidification Threatens Shellfish

By Kate Stone Coastal communities in fifteen U.S. states that depend on the $1 billion shellfish industry (primarily oysters and clams) are in trouble. The shellfish supplies in these areas are at risk from the increasing threat of ocean acidification, according to a new study from Oregon State University. Previously, the Pacific Northwest was most frequently cited as the region with vulnerable shellfish populations, say the researchers. Now they have identified many more coastal areas where the problem exists, ranging from Chesapeake Bay to the bayous of Louisiana. “Ocean acidification…

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Whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea, received new protection that may reduce their risk of being caught in fishing nets. (Dave Witting/NOAA Fisheries) Animals Biology Oceanography 

Whale Sharks Get International Protection

By Kate Stone Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean. But despite their intimidating size — up to 40,000 pounds and 40 feet long — the creatures are so mellow that humans often swim alongside them. Now, an international coalition has agreed on regulations that may help protect whale sharks in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) from the dangers of commercial tuna fishing. Fishermen have learned that whale sharks are so large that they naturally attract tuna and other fish seeking a hiding place. To take advantage of…

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Harlequin filefish can disguise their smell to confuse predators (Tane Sinclair-Taylor) Animals Biology 

Harlequin Filefish Uses Smell to Fool Predators

By Kate Stone Researchers have found an ingenious coral-eating fish that can change its smell to hide from predators. It’s the harlequin filefish, and it camouflages its scent to smell like the coral it’s eating. In other words, it manages to smell like its own food, and not like something else’s. “By feeding on corals, the harlequin filefish ends up smelling enough like its food that predators have a hard time distinguishing it from the surrounding coral habitat,” explains Rohan Brooker from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef…

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Small spotted catshark (Hans Hillewaert) Animals Oceanography 

Sharks May Have Personalities

Do sharks have social personality traits? According to a new study, they do. Some sharks act more gregarious and have strong social connections. Others are more solitary and prefer to remain inconspicuous. A team from the University of Exeter and the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) has been studying the behavior of spotted catsharks and have reported evidence of personalities. Personalities are known to exist in many animals, and are usually defined by individual characteristics such as how exploratory, bold or aggressive an individual is. Darren Croft, of the…

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