Tag Archives | Marine Life

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.

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Land-Sea Ecological Chains of Life Threatened With Extinction Around the World

Manta RayAnd it’s not like we humans aren’t part of such chains. Via ScienceDaily:

Douglas McCauley and Paul DeSalles did not set out to discover one of the longest ecological interaction chains ever documented. But that’s exactly what they and a team of researchers — all current or former Stanford students and faculty — did in a new study published in Scientific Reports.

Their findings shed light on how human disturbance of the natural world may lead to widespread, yet largely invisible, disruptions of ecological interaction chains. This, in turn, highlights the need to build non-traditional alliances — among marine biologists and foresters, for example — to address whole ecosystems across political boundaries.

This past fall, McCauley, a graduate student, and DeSalles, an undergraduate, were in remote Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific tracking manta rays’ movements for a predator-prey interaction study. Swimming with the rays and charting their movements with acoustic tags, McCauley and DeSalles noticed the graceful creatures kept returning to certain islands’ coastlines.

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Radioactive Particles from Japan Detected in California Kelp

Kelp ForestReports Victoria Kim in the LA Times:

Radioactive particles released in the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami were detected in giant kelp along the California coast, according to a recently published study.

Radioactive iodine was found in samples collected from beds of kelp in locations along the coast from Laguna Beach to as far north as Santa Cruz about a month after the explosion, according to the study by two marine biologists at Cal State Long Beach.

The levels, while most likely not harmful to humans, were significantly higher than measurements prior to the explosion and comparable to those found in British Columbia, Canada, and northern Washington state following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, according to the study published in March in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Giant kelp, or Macrocystis pyrifera, is a particularly good measure of radioactive material in the environment because it accumulates iodine, researchers said.

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Fukushima Radiation Moving Steadily Across Pacific

Radiation SpreadVia Common Dreams:

Teams of scientists have already found debris and levels of radiation far off the coast of Japan, one year after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Reports are now suggesting that nuclear radiation has traveled at a steady pace. That contaminated debris and marine life could reach the US coast as soon as one year from now, depending on ocean currents.

Radiation from Fukushima’s nuclear disaster is appearing in concentrated levels in sea creatures and ocean water up to 186 miles off of the coast of Japan. The levels of radiation are ‘hundreds to thousands of times higher than would be expected naturally’ according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Researchers are questioning how the radioactive accumulation on the seafloor will effect the marine ecosystem in the future.

“What this means for the marine environment of the Northwest Pacific over the long term is something that we need to keep our eyes on,” said the WHOI.

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What James Cameron Saw At The Deepest Spot on Earth (Video)

Mariana TrenchMore people have been to the Moon than to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Reports Steve Gorman on the Christian Science Monitor:

Returning from humankind’s first solo dive to the deepest spot in the ocean, filmmaker James Cameron said he saw no obvious signs of life that might inspire creatures in his next “Avatar” movie but was awestruck by the “complete isolation.” The Oscar-winning director and undersea explorer said his record-setting expedition to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 7 miles beneath the surface of the western Pacific, not only capped seven years of painstaking preparation but was the “culmination of a lifelong dream.”

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Welcome to the Acid Sea

Waves on Ocean CoastIs the coming tide an uninhabitable ocean? Reports the AFP via Alternet:

High levels of pollution may be turning the planet’s oceans acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the past 300 million years, with unknown consequences for future sea life, researchers said Thursday.

The acidification may be worse than during four major mass extinctions in history when natural pulses of carbon from asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions caused global temperatures to soar, said the study in the journal Science.

An international team of researchers from the United States, Britain, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands examined hundreds of paleoceanographic studies, including fossils wedged in seafloor sediment from millions of years ago. They found only one time in history that came close to what scientists are seeing today in terms of ocean life die-off — a mysterious period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum about 56 million years ago.

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Earth’s Oceans On Brink Of Mass Extinction In One Generation

cousteau-fish-school_1393_600x450Clear the ocean of all of those pesky fish, and then we can put all sorts of cool things down there. Via the Independent:

The speed and rate of degeneration of the oceans is far faster than anyone has predicted; many of the negative impacts identified are greater than the worst predictions; the first steps to globally significant extinction may have already begun.

The world’s oceans are faced with an unprecedented loss of species comparable to the great mass extinctions of prehistory, a major report suggests today.

The seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted, the report says, because of the cumulative impact of a number of severe individual stresses, ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification, to widespread chemical pollution and gross overfishing.

The coming together of these factors is now threatening the marine environment with a catastrophe “unprecedented in human history”, according to the report, from a panel of leading marine scientists.

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Unknown 55-Foot Creature Washes Ashore In China

55 feet long and smells terrible? Must be my mother-in-law. (rimshot) The Sun reports:

A giant 55 foot ‘sea monster’ has been found washed up on a beach in China. The beast from the deep is so badly decayed it cannot be identified. But according to local reports from Guangdong, in the south-east of the country, it weighed at least 4.5 tons.

People have flocked to see the creature — despite the rotting corpse’s foul stench. It was found tangled in ropes and one theory is fisherman caught it but could not land it as it was so big.

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As Fish Die Off, Jellyfish To Dominate Earth’s Oceans

Nomura-jellyfish-2Around the globe, fish populations are declining while the number of jellyfish is exploding. Climate change may be “turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago, when the ancestors of jellyfish ruled the seas,” writes Yale Environment 360. Bow down to our future gelatinous overlords:

The world’s oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish, apparently caused by overfishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures. Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a “new normal” in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.

The Nomura’s jellyfish is a monster to be reckoned with. It’s the size of a refrigerator and can exceed 450 pounds. For decades the hulking medusa was rarely encountered in its stomping grounds, the Sea of Japan.

Then something changed. Since 2002, the population has exploded six times. In 2005, a particularly bad year, the Sea of Japan brimmed with as many as 20 billion of the bobbing bags of blubber, bludgeoning fisheries with 30 billion yen in losses.

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Blobfish In Danger Of Extinction

blobfish_1565953cOh no! How was it possible to miss this news? Nature’s saddest-looking animal, the blobfish, is in danger of going extinct due to over-fishing. I would sacrifice a hundred rare white timberwolves to save a single blobfish. The Telegraph reported:

Scientists fear the blobfish, which can grow up to 12 inches, is in danger of being wiped out by over-fishing in its south eastern Australian habitat.

The fish, which lives at depths of up to 800m, is rarely seen by humans but it lives at the same depths as other ocean organisms, such as crabs and lobsters and other edible sea creatures.

As a result the fish, which is inedible, is being dragged up with other catches by trawler fishermen.

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