A stranded humpback whale carcass in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Humpback whales were among the Alaska marine mammals that showed exposure to algal toxins, according to new research. Photo credit: Kathy Burek-Huntington, Alaska Veterinary and Pathology Services. Biology Environment Zoology 

Algal Toxins Found in Alaskan Marine Mammals

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Harmful algal blooms produce toxins that can be deadly to marine mammals. In the US, such toxins—unheard of 20 years ago—have caused almost half of all unusual marine mammal deaths in the last two decades, particularly among California sea lions. Now, for the first time scientists have discovered algal toxins farther north in Alaskan marine mammals; the mammals’ health can be jeopardized by these toxins. “What really surprised us was finding these toxins so widespread in Alaska, far north of where they have been previously documented…

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Nature Photography Zoology 

Swimming with the Sea Lions

Photographer Max Goldberg continues his tale of photographing whales, sea lions, and other wildlife off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. He has also photographed grizzly bears in Alaska. Hardly anyone got any sleep the night before our fourth day on the National Geographic trip to the coast of Mexico, because we were too excited about the next day’s activities. Before we went to bed, we were briefed on what we were going to do: swim with sea lions. We woke up, had breakfast, and got in the boats for…

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

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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