This Week (ok month) Deep

Not too long ago NPR did a story about how plastic in the ocean is contaminating Seafood . Many people are familiar with the dangers associated with mercury consumed by potential seafood, but this is another thing we should probably all be aware of.


And for something even more depressing… The Guardian covered a recent study predicting that the deep sea is going to be hit hard by climate change. Many assume that the deepest habitats on earth would be safe from climate change, but that is likely not the case. The study published in Global Change Biology (open access) looks at 50 years (!!) of abundance data for two copepod species from the NE Atlantic and finds they they are not adapting to keep up with changing sea temperatures. These are key food sources in the area, and it looks like the range of the cold water species is dramatically decreasing as the warm water species increases. Many had thought (hoped?) that individual species would adapt to changing temperatures over time, but this study shows that may not be the case.  


Environmental microbiologists are interested in is how microbes move, particularly anything that might enable microbes to move long distances relative to their microscopic size. Anyone interested in climate change is interested in methane from the ocean and how it does or doesn’t make its way to the atmosphere. This article from live science caught my eye because it describes new finding presented at a conference in early december that deal with both of these things. Apparently methane-eating microbes may be riding along on methane bubbles that leave the seafloor as they travel through the water column, and they may be consuming that methane before it reaches the surface. The results are preliminary, but the group doing the research has a webpage describing this “bubble shuttle”


And for fun some - weird fish. Back in November, Australia’s published this list of the 10 weirdest fish in the world. About a month later this list of 10 even weirder fish popped up at the most excellent Southern Fried Science blog. Enjoy!

This Week, Deep

I'm feeling the need for good news this week, so this week is going to be intentionally light on gloom and doom with the exception of one follow up from last week. 

I really like this description of how much better our knowledge of global climate change and climate models have gotten in the 25 years since the IPCC formed. The video at the bottom sums it up very well visually. While there is rarely good news in climate change, I love seeing effective communication about how scientists know what we know.

So ocean goodies from this week... 

1) The Shed Aquarium in Chicago held a celebration to mark 80 years of residence for one Australian Lungfish. They even made him a fish-friendly cake, the description of which is worth a read in itself! Check it outThanks to my dad for emailing me this story.

2) Government agencies in Costa Rica are attempting to regulate their tuna fishery by reining in international fishing. Read more here

3) An exciting fossil discovery (described here)  of the oldest known organism with a face (a 419 million year fish) offers new insights into how animal life may have evolved in the oceans by placing the appearance of jaws earlier than previously thought. Even more interestingly, this fossil shows, for the first time, one animal with skull features from a group of fish thought to have gone extinct along with other features from a lineage of fish that are still around today. This new knowledge may change how scientists reconstruct the history of fish evolution. You can't read the article without a subscription, but you can see a video showing a 3D reconstruction of the skull here.

4) A paper published in PNAS this week tells the story of a Blue Whales life through chemical analyses done to a 10 inch ear wax plug! This sentence from the abstract subs it up pretty well " These unprecedented lifetime profiles (i.e., birth to death) were reconstructed with a 6-mo resolution for a wide range of analytes including cortisol (stress hormone), testosterone (developmental hormone), organic contaminants (e.g., pesticides and flame retardants), and mercury." Read the actual paper here or a decent summary here.  This maybe isn't warm and fuzzy good news, but its pretty cool that researchers figured out how to do this, and it opens up a new line of research that can be done on deceased whales. They mention that this tool can be applied to ear plugs that were collected in the 1950s, which would provide context of how toxin exposure may have changed for these animals over time.

5) This one isn't explicitly marine, but I couldn't help sharing. It hopefully comes as no surprise that nature, and parks in particular, are good for us. But, this has been confirmed with science. Apparently a walk in the woods (or presumably by the ocean) has positive effects on emotional well being that can be measured by EEG in real time. You can learn more here. So, do your self a favor and get out into Nature some time soon.

This Week, Deep

This week I'm a little late, but I do have a few nuggets to share, in no particular order:  

1) The New York Times is teaming up with one of my favorite science communications projects - Creature cast. This article explains the collaboration, and features an awesome video about an incredibly strange sex strategy found in a marine worm (scroll to the bottom to skip right to the spoonworms. 

2) Like hearing about science as its being done from sea? Follow the current Schmidt Ocean Institute cruise to Axial Volcano (one of my field sites) here. They are investigating life beneath the sea floor. I mentioned a similar blog last week, but this site has more information. 

3) The BBC reports here on the new IPCC report on climate change and mentions the role the ocean may be playing in the current slow down in warming that has climate change skeptics all in a tizzy.

4) Curious what we know about radiation and fish following the terrible Fukushima earthquake? Lots of info here

5) A friend of mine who write for the Sick Papes (as in papers) blog, wrote a fun post about an very cool paper in PNAS written by two awesome grad students in my lab. The post is about their paper, which involves using a robotic submarine to put snails in a deep sea blender, as well as what its like to do research as sea. Definitely worth a read! 

6) This one  isn't from this week, but I hope you agree it it worth sharing. It is the story of a recent discovery about a small pufferfish which solved a longstanding mystery about circles on the sea floor. There is also a cool video showing the fish in action here.

And there you have it, this week - er last week - deep!

This Week, Deep

I often come across things during the week that I think would make great posts for 80percentdeep. However, I can't write about it all, so I thought I would start a weekend round up of the 5 or so most compelling "deep" things I found interwebs. I'll try to make this a weekly post (TRY being the operative word), and I will try to have a good mix of news, new discoveries, humor, and the generally awesome. So, here are 5 things for this week.

This week in the deep: 

1) A huge molasses spill in Hawaii causing significant environmental harm. I wrote about this already here.

2) The largest volcano on earth was discovered. That's all. No big deal. Its name is Tamu Massif. Its only about 13,000 feet tall, but it covers about 120,000 square miles. You can read more here.

3) A new study shows that elevated carbon dioxide may cause tiny plankton to bloom, which could wreak havoc on marine food webs. Just another example of how complex carbon cycling is, and how we are still just beginning to understand the implications of climate change. Disclosure: I haven't read the actual study yet, but you can read the news story I read here.

4) For something a bit lighter, I thought I would include a video clip relevent to a paper we are reading this coming week in the Deep Sea Biology class I am TAing at Harvard Extension School. The paper is about how certain Yetti Crabs at hydrothermal vents were found to farm bacteria on their claws my moving them through hydrothermal flow as if they were dancing. This video shows the amazing dancing behavior.

5) This one is old, but I just came across it this week. A group of sperm whales apparently took in a deformed bottle nosed dolphin representing a very rare cross-species bonding! Read more from National Geographic here.

6) Finally, if you're interested in science at sea (and clearly you are if you're actually reading this), there is a group out at Axial Volcano (one of my study sites) off the coast of Washington state. They are using the ROV Jason to investigate hydrothermal vent microbes (among other things) - something I'm particularly fond of. You can follow their blog here.