marine mammals Marine Biology Oceanography 

Marine Mammals Need a Voice in the Fishing Industry

Marine mammals such as dolphins, porpoises, and whales are often injured or killed by commercial fishing. New policies are needed to reduce the harm. By Neha Jain (@lifesciexplore) You might feel satisfied with your consumer choice after buying fish with a “dolphin-friendly” label. But you might want to look closer. It is likely that your tuna fishery is not actually friendly to dolphins, because most “sustainable” fishing labels do not consider the welfare of marine mammals, an issue that has long been neglected from fishing policies. The well-being of marine…

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Biology Oceanography SciStarter Blog 

Ocean Conservation and Citizen Science at the Long Beach Scuba Show

by Kristin Butler Each year, the Long Beach Scuba Show brings together divers from around the world for seminars and exhibits on all things scuba, with topics ranging from dive gear to scuba vacations. Though the show mostly showcases the business side of diving, visitors can also learn about nonprofits that use diving to fight cancer, promote ocean conservation, and collect citizen science data. Two of the nonprofits that attended this year’s show in May developed and currently run citizen science projects I wrote about in 2017: Reef Check and…

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Plastic Pollution: An Emerging Threat Beneath Our Feet Biology Environment Health 

Plastic Pollution: An Emerging Threat Beneath Our Feet

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci Tiny plastic particles that can barely be seen by the human eye have made their way from our soil into everyday items we know—from earthworms to honey to the beer that we drink—bringing toxic chemicals with them wherever they go. The saying goes that what we can’t see can’t hurt us. Yet, what if these unseen particles are not only hurting us but also changing the entire course of biological evolution? Researchers in Germany have issued a new warning that these human-generated “microplastics” could potentially be…

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Five Drowned Apostles Oceanography 

Introducing Five New Drowned Apostles

For years, the limestone columns known as the Twelve Apostles have attracted tourists to the southern coast of Australia. These natural formations stand just offshore in Victoria. Suddenly, the Apostles’ numbers have increased. Scientists have discovered five more limestone columns, submerged deep below the waves, and dubbed them the five drowned apostles. The recently discovered sea stacks are about 6 kilometers offshore from Australia’s Great Ocean Road and 50 meters beneath the surface of the water. They were recently revealed during sonar mapping of the seafloor off Victoria’s southern coast. Drowned…

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Photo of coral (Courtesy of Public.Resource.Org via Flickr) Animals Environment 

Copying Coral to Contain Heavy Metal Pollution

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic Copying Coral to Contain Heavy Metal Pollution Coral’s characteristically colorful tentacles, while attracting tourists and SCUBA divers with their unique beauty, are both the animal’s greatest strength and weakness. Although these structures have evolved to efficiently absorb nutrients from the water, they also let in toxic heavy metals like mercury, lead, or cadmium, which industrial manufacturers are pouring into the oceans in increasing quantities. However, scientists may have found a way to reduce heavy metal concentrations in oceans and prevent coral and other animals (including humans) from…

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coral reef Environment 

Recipe for the Perfect Coral Reef

By Tom Evans — @AquaEvans The latest health check on the world’s coral reefs wasn’t all doom and gloom; it’s shown us we have a plan for preservation that works. To understand how humans and corals can co-exist in perfect harmony, an honest assessment of our current relationship had to be done. Dr. Aaron McNeil and his team at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, gauged the health of 832 reefs from all over the world using a measure of biomass per hectare. Biomass is the total mass of organisms…

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Shellfish threatened by climate change: A mussel farm in South India (Photo courtesy of Lucy Turner) Environment Oceanography 

Will Climate Change Take Shellfish Off Menus?

Climate change may dramatically affect the availability of shellfish. As the oceans become warmer and less salty, bacteria could threaten the shellfish. Do you enjoy a tasty shrimp scampi, or perhaps some steamed mussels with lemon? How about a few oysters on the half shell? If so, you won’t be happy to hear that those and other shellfish dishes may soon be harder to come by. Climate change models are predicting rising sea temperatures around the world. In the tropics, rainfall is also predicted to increase, reducing the salt concentration…

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