What We're Reading 10/21

We’re more than half way through October! Take a break from jumping into crunchy piles of leaves and check out what’s happening in the ocean world. The Future of Animal Observation? Only recently has drone technology become cheap and accessible enough to reach the general public. Drones have made national news, from a drone owner famously landing his device on the White House lawn in 2015 to drones that make much-needed blood deliveries in Rwanda. The scientific community is also capitalizing on this new tech trend by turning drones into an unlikely research tool. Last week, more

What We’re Reading 10/6

A thresher shark was killed after becoming stuck in a gillnet. Credit: Brian Skerry Welcome to October, where there’s a lot going on in ocean news! Protecting Sharks & Rays Just Monday there was news from the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that the silky shark, thresher shark and devil ray have been added to the Appendix II listing , meaning that additional limitations are placed on the trade of the species and fisheries must prove they are sustainable, “meaning they can recover from large-scale fishing, before they can be taken...Read more

What We're Reading - 9/22

A bluefin trevally swims in Hawaii’s Maro Coral Reef, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Credit: ©James D. Watt/Ocean Stock It’s hard to keep up with the latest news on the Internet. We all have information and headlines constantly streaming at us via Facebook, Twitter, email and news sites. We realize the Ocean Portal is a part of that noise. But since we are attempting to stay up-to-date on everything ocean, we thought, why not let you know what we are reading? Here’s our inaugural post. We will plan to give you an idea of what is going on in the ocean-world every two...Read more
Greenland Shark in cold water

In the Eyes of One Shark, Age is Nothing to Fear

Greenland Shark in icy Arctic waters. Credit: Julius Nielson In the freezing waters of the Arctic a toothed leviathan – the Greenland shark - claims an impressive feat. It now holds the record for longest documented lifespan of any vertebrate. The new discovery points to an age of roughly 400 years, meaning that some sharks swimming in today’s Arctic ocean may have shared the waters with explorers like Henry Hudson as he searched for the elusive Northwest Passage in the early 1600s. Little is known about Greenland sharks, and even shark specialists see them as creatures of mystery . Perhaps...Read more

In the Arctic, the Times, They Are a-Changin: You Can Pitch in to Understand How

This 1874 illustration of California gray whales ( Eschrichtius robustus ) shows a group of individuals at the edge of their modern day range in the North Pacific Ocean, blocked from traveling further east into Arctic waters by thick ice barriers. Credit: Plate V from Scammon 1874 ‘California grays among the ice’ Invasive species are often in the news these days, with human-transported organisms popping up in unexpected places. But in this era of climate change, there is a whole new kind of invasive species, those that are taking advantage of changing conditions to expand into areas not...Read more

Why the Littlest Fish Matter a Whole Lot

A tornado of sardines swirls around diver and photographer Erwin Poliakoff in the Philippines. Credit: Erwin Poliakoff Top predators along the California coast are having a rough year. Recently starving sea lions have showed up on California beaches and are clamoring for fish at the mouth of Oregon's Columbia River ; tens of thousands of dead Cassin’s Auklets have washed up on shores from Alaska to California. Although we cannot say precisely why these animals are having such a hard time finding food, we can point to a problem with their food source, forage fish. What exactly are forage fish...Read more

Have We Hit The Chicken Little Point In Ocean Conservation?

Credit: Illustration from "Chicken Little" in the New Barnes Reader vol.1, New York, 1916 The sky is falling! The sky is falling! So cries Chicken Little (or Chicken Licken, or Henny Penny, depending on the telling) in the well-known folk tale . In the story, an acorn falls on Chicken Little’s head, and she takes it as a sign that the sky is falling and the world is coming to an end. She spreads the news—“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”—and causes mass hysteria. In some versions of the story, her prophecy leads to her own demise: in a panicked state, she and her friends are easily...Read more

From Despair to Repair: Protecting Parrotfish Can Help Bring Back Caribbean Coral Reefs

Reef biologists over a certain age are haunted by memories of what glorious places Caribbean reefs once were. In our youth we studied them for all sorts of reasons but scarcely thought about reef conservation. We took the reefs for granted. Today, however, we know that most Caribbean coral reefs will disappear in 20 years if we don't restore the grazing fish that defend the corals from seaweed. This message comes through loud and clear in a new report, " Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012 ," which was released today as the result of a three year joint effort of the Global...Read more

The Great Barrier Reef – Going, Going, Gone???

Video of Storms, Starfish Wiped out Half of Great Barrier Reef Coral Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (or the GBR as it is known to reef aficionados) stretches for more than 2,300 kilometers (over 1,429 miles) and can be seen from outer space. This largest barrier reef in the world is both a national icon and a global treasure that was recognized as a World Heritage site over thirty years ago. Yet a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that large portions of the GBR have been on a trajectory of decline for much of this period. Between 1986 and...Read more

The Great Hermit Crab Migration

A Caribbean hermit crab (Coenobita clypeatus) crawls on the forest floor. Credit: Flickr user Island Conservation Over the last few days, a video of hermit crabs stampeding across the rocky shores of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands has taken the internet by storm. Where are the hermit crabs going, and why? These hermit crabs are Coenobita clypeatus , the Caribbean hermit crab (also known as the soldier crab), which are native to islands throughout the Caribbean region. I typically think of hermit crabs as a marine phenomenon, but the adults of this species live in wet inland areas, hiding...Read more