Tag Archives | marine biology

The Surprising Power of an Electric Eel’s Shock

Doug Letterman (CC BY 2.0)

Doug Letterman (CC BY 2.0)

via The New York Times:

For thousands of years, fishermen knew that certain fish could deliver a painful shock, even though they had no idea how it happened. Only in the late 1700s did naturalists contemplate a bizarre possibility: These fish might release jolts of electricity — the same mysterious substance as in lightning.

That possibility led an Italian physicist named Alessandro Volta in 1800 to build an artificial electric fish. He observed that electric stingrays had dense stacks of muscles, and he wondered if they allowed the animals to store electric charges. To mimic the muscles, he built a stack of metal disks, alternating between copper and zinc.

Volta found that his model could store a huge amount of electricity, which he could unleash as shocks and sparks. Today, much of society runs on updated versions of Volta’s artificial electric fish. We call them batteries.

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Rare Footage of a Black Seadevil (Deep-Sea Anglerfish)

Deep-sea anglerfish are strange and elusive creatures that are very rarely observed in their natural habitat. Fewer than half a dozen have ever been captured on film or video by deep diving research vehicles. This little angler, about 9 cm long, is named Melanocetus. It is also known as the Black Seadevil and it lives in the deep dark waters of the Monterey Canyon. MBARI’s ROV Doc Ricketts observed this anglerfish for the first time at 600 m on a midwater research expedition in November 2014. We believe that this is the first video footage ever made of this species alive and at depth.

h/t Live Science.

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Crustaceans Win Battle Against Being Feminized

Michal Maňas (User:snek01) (CC BY 2.0)

Michal Maňas (User:snek01) (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Male crustaceans can ‘lock down’ their maleness to avoid being completely feminised by seawater contaminated by feminising pollutants, according to scientists.

New research by scientists at the University of Portsmouth has shown that crustaceans turned partially into females retain a core of masculinity, and they may have learned how to do it after evolutionary battles with parasites.

The researchers have also published the entire genetic code for the amphipod crustacean they studied, which they hope will lead to even better understanding of their biology.

The research is published in Environmental Science and Technology.

One of the researchers Dr Alex Ford said: “We’ve known for some time that fish change sex if they’re subjected to even small amounts of oestrogen in the water, but until now we didn’t know what was happening to crustaceans.

“What we found is that once a crustacean has decided to be male, it can lock down its maleness.

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Fish Found To Equal Chimpanzees In Intelligence Test

Who knew that trout were so smart? A new study finds that coral trout actively seek hunting help from moray eels and collaborate to catch their prey, reports Wired:

Certain forms of collaboration are supposed to be so sophisticated that only the smartest creatures—namely humans and perhaps a few close relatives—are capable of them. Yet this exclusive club has a new and unexpected member: a species of fish, a class of animals seldom associated with high-level intelligence.

As demonstrated in a series of experiments published today in Current Biology, coral trout not only solicit the help of moray eels when they hunt, but also pick their hunting partners wisely. They know when they need help, and quickly learn which eels best provide it. It’s a seemingly simple yet surprisingly sophisticated cognitive trick.

Plectropomus leopardus 1

“Prior to our study, chimpanzees and humans were the only species known to possess both of these abilities,” said zoologist Alex Vail of England’s University of Cambridge.

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Massive Serpent Found Off Coast Of Los Angeles

There are monstrous creatures that reside closer to the center of the earth than we do. The Huffington Post writes:

Marine science instructor Jasmine Santana was snorkeling off the coast of Southern California when she spotted something unusual on the sea floor. The curious researcher grabbed the limp marine animal by the tail and dragged it to shore.

The 18-foot oarfish is a significant find for any marine scientist, but, for CIMI researchers, it’s the “discovery of a lifetime.”

Oarfish are rarely seen since the long, bony fish tend to reside in deep-sea waters, only rising to the surface after their deaths. CIMI scientists believe the oarfish found in Catalina recently died of natural causes.

serpent

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Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?

PSM V33 D765 TurritopsisSo there might just be something positive to say about jellyfish after all. Nathaniel reports for the New York Times:

After more than 4,000 years — almost since the dawn of recorded time, when Utnapishtim told Gilgamesh that the secret to immortality lay in a coral found on the ocean floor — man finally discovered eternal life in 1988. He found it, in fact, on the ocean floor. The discovery was made unwittingly by Christian Sommer, a German marine-biology student in his early 20s. He was spending the summer in Rapallo, a small city on the Italian Riviera, where exactly one century earlier Friedrich Nietzsche conceived “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”: “Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally rolls the wheel of being. Everything dies, everything blossoms again. . . .”

Sommer was conducting research on hydrozoans, small invertebrates that, depending on their stage in the life cycle, resemble either a jellyfish or a soft coral.

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Mass Dolphin Deaths In Peru A Mystery

dolphinsEarth’s most intelligent species is dying off in droves. Report from the International Business Times:

Around 877 carcasses of dolphins and porpoises were found on Peruvian beaches in two and half months. Peruvian officials and environmentalists are trying to unravel the mystery behind the phenomenon.

No concrete reasons have been figured out yet but authorities believe that it could possibly be a viral infection that may have killed the dolphins in huge numbers. Environmental groups in the country blame the sound waves generated from oil exploration work carried out by Houston-based BPZ Energy Company between February 8 and April 8 off Northern Peru.

Mass dolphin deaths have been reported globally in recent years, raising concerns about the survival of the species.

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New Shark Species Found In Food Market

Photo: Laurent Bugnion (CC)

Photo: Laurent Bugnion (CC)

Biologists are finding new species constantly, but it took a hungry market and working fishermen to find this new shark species. The National Geographic reports:

It’s unlikely anyone’s ever complained, “Waiter, there’s a new species in my soup.” But the situation isn’t as rare as you might think.

A monkey, a lizard, and an “extinct” bird have all been discovered en route to the dinner plate, and now a new shark species joins their ranks, scientists report.

Fish taxonomists found the previously unknown shark at a market in Taiwan—no big surprise, according to study co-author William White.

“Most fish markets in the region will regularly contain sharks,” White, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Hobart, Australia, said via email.

[Continues at National Geographic]

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