by Underwatertimes.com News Service – April 26, 2012 21:08 EST
CLAYTON SOUTH, Victoria — A clear change in salinity has been detected in the world’s oceans, signaling shifts and an acceleration in the global rainfall and evaporation cycle.
In a paper published today in the journal Science, Australian scientists from CSIRO and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, reported changing patterns of salinity in the global ocean during the past 50 years, marking a clear fingerprint of climate change.
Lead author, Dr Paul Durack, said that by looking at observed ocean salinity changes and the relationship between salinity, rainfall and evaporation in climate models, they determined the water cycle has strengthened by four percent from 1950-2000. This is twice the response projected by current generation global climate models. Read more at http://www.underwatertimes.com/news.php?article_id=63845910720
PHUKET MARINE BIOLOGICAL CENTRE RESEARCH BULLETIN No 71 – free online access
A compilation of papers (listed below) covering the major bleaching
event in Thai waters in 2010 has recently been published. The papers
include those considering the physical factors leading to bleaching; the
ecological impacts of the bleaching event and previous bleaching events
dating back to 1991; the incidence of disease following bleaching;
survival of coral recruits post-bleaching and management strategies
employed by the Thai government to mitigate damage to the reefs during
the bleaching period. Papers can be accessed at the following web-site:
LIST OF PAPERS
Note on the occurrence of high sea surface temperatures in the Andaman
Sea, in 2010.
Somkiat Khokiattiwong and Weidong Yu
The record of sea temperature during the 2010 coral bleaching at Phuket,
Thailand – different datasets, different perspectives – unexplained
errors in HadISST 1.1.
Richard P. Dunne
Repeated coral bleaching in the Andaman Sea, Thailand, during the last
Niphon Phongsuwan and Hansa Chansang
Delayed mortality in bleached massive corals on intertidal reef flats
around Phuket, Andaman Sea, Thailand.
Barbara E. Brown and Niphon Phongsuwan
Bleaching susceptibility and growth characteristics of Porites lutea
from the Andaman Sea, South Thailand.
Jani T. I. Tanzil
Observations of coral disease in Porites lutea in the Andaman Sea
following the 2010 bleaching.
Lalita Putchim, Chaimongkol Yamarunpattana and Niphon Phongsuwan
Recovery status of scleractinian corals and associated fauna in the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
J.S. Yogesh Kumar and C. Raghunathan
The 2010 coral bleaching event and its impact on the mushroom coral
fauna of Koh Tao, western Gulf of Thailand.
Bert W. Hoeksema, Jennifer L. Matthews and Thamasik Yeemin
Coral mortality following the 2010 mass bleaching event at Kut Island,
Makamas Sutthacheep, Mathinee Yucharoen, Wanlaya Klinthong, Sittiporn
Pengsakun, Kanwara Sangmanee and Thamasak Yeemin
Impact of the 2010 coral bleaching event on survival of juvenile coral
colonies in the Similan Islands on the Andaman Sea coast of Thailand.
Thamasak Yeemin, Chaipichit Saenghaisuk, Mathinee Yucharoen, Wanlaya
Klinthong and Makamas Sutthacheep
Reef communities after the 2010 mass coral bleaching at Racha Yai Island
in the Andaman Sea and Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand.
Suchana Chavanich, Voranop Viyakarn, Paul Adams, Joel Klammer and Nathan
Thailand’s response plan on the 2010 coral bleaching.
Nalinee Thongtham and Niphon Phongsuwan
A new species of staghorn coral, Acropora sirikitiae sp. nov.
(Scleractinia: Astrocoeniina: Acroporidae) from western Thailand.
Carden C. Wallace, Niphon Phongsuwan and Paul R. Muir
Posted on April 27, 2012 by Bob Berwyn By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Leading scientists from around the world warned that unbridled commerical fishing in newly thawed Arctic waters is likely to result in resource depletion similar to what’s occurred in other areas.
“The ability to fish is not the same as having the scientific information and management regimes needed for a well-managed fishery,” the scientists wrote in an open letter, advocating for research that could help establish good baseline data about marine ecosystems in the Arctic Ocean.
“The science community currently does not have sufficient biological information to understand the presence, abundance, structure, movements, and health of fish stocks and the role they play in the broader ecosystem of the central Arctic Ocean. In the absence of this scientific data and a robust management system, depletion of fishery resources and damage to other components of the ecosystem are likely to result if fisheries commence,” they wrote.
The letter was released by the Pew Environment Group’s Arctic Ocean campaign, along with maps showing that the loss of permanent sea ice has opened up as much as 40 percent of this pristine region during recent summers, making industrial fishing viable for the first time. Read more at http://summitcountyvoice.com/2012/04/27/scientists-urge-protection-of-arctic-fisheries/
By DAN JOLING, Associated Press. Thursday, April 19, 2012
Three environmental groups are taking aim at how federal agencies approve dispersants to break up oil spills in marine waters.
The groups on Wednesday sued the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard, claiming the agencies have failed to make sure they know how chemicals in dispersants, and the reconstituted oil they target, affect endangered species.
“If chemical dispersants are going to be used after an oil spill, we have to know whether they’ll hurt or kill whales, sea turtles and other wildlife. So far, the EPA has no idea,” said Deirdre McDonnell, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, in announcing the lawsuit filed in San Francisco. “Unprecedented amounts of dispersants were dumped into the sea during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and they’re likely still affecting the Gulf of Mexico, where dead dolphins continue to wash ashore.”
A dispersant approved for the Gulf of Mexico, she said by phone, may have a far different effect on a polar bear off the coast of Alaska.
by Underwatertimes.com News Service – April 26, 2012 19:11 EST
SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The recent rise in sightings of non-native Asian tiger shrimp off the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts has government scientists working to determine the cause of the increase and the possible consequences for native fish and seafood in those waters.
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are working with state agencies from North Carolina to Texas to look into how this transplanted species from Indo-Pacific, Asian and Australian waters reached U.S. waters, and what the increase in sightings means for native species. Read more at http://www.underwatertimes.com/news.php?article_id=10017893564
Learn more about Asian Tiger Shrimp at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=1209 and Nonindigenous Aquatic Species at http://nas.er.usgs.gov/
Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:50 AM ET
Content provided by Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience
Tiny sharks about the size of a human hand have a superpower of sorts: their bellies glow, according to new research that also showed these smalleye pygmy sharks use the glow to hide from predators lurking below.
Scientists had proposed the smalleye pygmy shark (Squaliolus aliae) sported light-emitting organs called photophores for use in camouflage, but that was never really tested, said study researcher Julien Claes of the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium. “It wasn’t even known if these organs were really functional, able to produce light,” Claes added.
The small shark, which reaches a maximum length of just 8.7 inches (22 centimeters), lives well below the water surface in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans. The new research, detailed this week in The Journal of Experimental Biology, suggests their glowing bellies (a type of bioluminescence) would replace the downwelling light from the sun, or the moon and stars, that is otherwise absorbed by their bodies.
Wildlife and Wetlands Two Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster
As the two-year mark of the Deepwater Horizon blowout approaches, the National Wildlife Federation issued a new report today examining the health of the Gulf’s wildlife and wetlands. Impacts from the Gulf oil disaster will be unfolding for years, if not decades, and many species of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico will need the combined efforts of scientists, policymakers and regulators to recover.
A Degraded Gulf Of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Two Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster (pdf) was written by National Wildlife Federation Senior Scientist Dr. Doug Inkley. The report is also available as an interactive graphic at www.nwf.org/OilSpill
Major highlights include:
The poor health in dolphins in the most heavily oiled areas and the spike in dolphin deaths suggest possible ecosystem-wide effects of the oil.
The Gulf’s already-endangered sea turtle population has been dealt a severe blow by the oil disaster. Already strained bluefin tuna, deep sea coral, Gulf wetlands and coastal habitats were also impacted.
“It’s important to remember what we don’t yet know. Previous catastrophes like the Exxon Valdez have shown that impacts of oil disasters last many years or even decades,” Inkley said. “Little action has been taken to address the long-term species threats and wetlands habitat degradation exacerbated by the oil disaster. Much more needs to be done to ensure a complete recovery.”
Other oil disasters have taken years to reveal their full effects, and often recovery remains incomplete after decades.
“It will be critical to monitor these key species in the months and years ahead, especially given the unknown impacts of weathered and ‘dispersed’ oil remaining in the Gulf,” said Dr. George Crozier, retired director of Dauphin Island Sea Lab. “This disaster hit an ecosystem already weakened by years of wetlands degradation, including coastal areas around the Mississippi River Delta losing a football field worth of land every hour.”
The April 20, 2010 blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and the Macondo well would eventually release nearly 206 million gallons of oil, providing a new setback to a Gulf ecosystem already struggling with years of wetlands degradation and the destructive power of Hurricane Katrina.
“It is essential for Congress to pass the RESTORE Act to reinvest penalties and fines to restoring the Gulf,” said David Muth, state director of NWF’s Mississippi River Delta program. “Without legislation to direct fines and penalties from the oil disaster to restoring the Gulf Coast’s wetlands and coastal ecosystems and a comprehensive Gulf Coast restoration program, the outlook for Gulf recovery will remain uncertain.”
Note: the images in the galleries below will beg the question “what sponge is that”. Long ago I learnt that sponge taxonomy was a dark art. As I did not collect tissue specimens for microscopic examination it is not reasonable to expect colleagues to provide accurate names for the sponges shown below based on images alone – so – all names are “indicative”. That said I am deeply indebted to the following people for their time and assistance in field work and / or providing information for this article: Prof Bette Willis, (James Cook University), Dr Christine Schönberg (Australian Institute of Marine Science), Dr John Hooper (Queensland Museum), Dr Rachel Pears (GBRMPA), Dr Klaus Ruetzler (Smithsonian Institution), Lizard Island Research Station and photographer Phil Woodhead.
A new study has increased hope that some coral species will be able
to survive gradual ocean acidification. According to new research
published in the journal, Nature Climate Change, a team of
international scientists have identified a specific internal
mechanism that could permit some coral species and their symbiotic
algae to offset the unfavorable effects of an acidic ocean. In
addition, this research has given hope that coral reefs will also be
able to survive rising levels of ocean acidification.
Besides being associated with allegedly raising the planet’s natural
temperature, carbon dioxide is turning the world’s oceans more
acidic. The research team from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence
for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS), at the University of Western
Australia (UWA) and France’s Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de
l’Environnement states in their report that carbon dioxide is being
released at rates that were thought to extinguish some levels of life
The team also states in their report that research has supported that
some marine organisms, which internally form calcium carbonate
skeletons, have an in-built mechanism to cope with ocean
acidification. Professor Malcolm McCulloch of CoECRS and UWA states
that most coral species appear to have the inner ability to buffer
rising acidity of seawater and still build solid skeletons. “Marine
organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons generally produce it
in one of two forms, known as aragonite and calcite,” said McCulloch.
“Our research broadly suggests that those with skeletons made of
aragonite have the coping mechanism – while those that follow the
calcite pathway generally do less well under more acidic conditions.”
Despite the groundbreaking research, McCulloch also suggests that
there is a small case of concern. The research team states in the
report that coralline algae-the glue that sticks coral reefs
together-appears to be vulnerable to rising acidification levels.
Another cause of concern is that a large class of plankton, which is
a significant tenet in the marine food web, is equally as vulnerable
to the acidification as the coralline algae.
McCulloch said that the rising levels of carbon dioxide not only
acidify the Earth’s oceans, but also raise the ocean’s temperatures.
In turn, McCulloch states that warming oceans may increase the rates
of coral growth, especially in corals now living in cooler waters.
However, he said that a big question is to see whether or not corals
can adapt to the current rate of global warming. “This is crucial
since, if corals are bleached by the sudden arrival of hot ocean
water and lose the symbiotic algae which are their main source of
energy, they will still die,” said McCulloch. “It’s a more
complicated picture, but broadly it means that there are going to be
winners and losers in the oceans as its chemistry is modified by
human activities – this could have the effect of altering major ocean
ecosystems on which both we and a large part of marine life depend.”
For more information, please visit:
ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2012) — Picky females play a critical role in the survival and diversity of species, according to a Nature study by researchers from the University of British Columbia and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria.
To date, biodiversity theories have focused on the role played by adaptations to the environment: the species best equipped to cope with a habitat would win out, while others would gradually go extinct. The new study presents the first theoretical model demonstrating that selective mating alone can promote the long-term coexistence of species — such as frogs, crickets, grasshoppers and fish — that share the same ecological adaptations and readily interbreed.
“The focus on ecological adaptation has failed to explain much of the biodiversity we see right before our eyes,” says the study’s first author Leithen M’Gonigle, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, who developed this work while a PhD candidate at UBC.
“Our model shows that species can stably coexist in the same habitat as long as two simple conditions are met. First, the distribution of resources they use must not be uniform, so that groups of females with different mate preferences can occupy different resource hotspots. Second, females must pay a cost for being choosy, through reduced survival or fecundity,” says M’Gonigle.