Today's Catch

May 7, 2015
Credit:

NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition

Methane gas, trapped deep within the Earth's crust, can slowly leak from cracks in the seafloor known as methane seeps. While we would never consider methane as food, in the deep sea where there is little light or resources, microbes have evolved to turn methane into energy and live off of it . And where there are microbes, there are often other animals—such as tube worms or mussels—that eat...Read more
May 6, 2015
Coral reefs are some of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet that are home to beautiful wildlife and provide food to many people living on the coast. So how do you protect the reefs without cutting off communities from their food source? Instead of creating one big marine protected area to conserve coral reefs, one idea is to protect a series of smaller reef areas. A series of protected...Read more
May 5, 2015
Credit:

© OCEANA Carlos Minguell

Dead man’s fingers ( Alcyonium digitatum ) are soft corals named for their appendage-like appearance when thrown ashore by storms. The finger-like clumps of coral polyps come in various shades of pink, orange, white, grey, or yellow and are found along the northern Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America. View other images of Baltic Sea life in a photo gallery of Oceana’s 2011 expedition .Read more
May 1, 2015
Credit:

Mark Jones

In Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, brown pelicans ( Pelecanus occidentalis ) nest at the top of a mangrove tree. Many other kinds of birds—as well as insects, frogs, snakes, and lizards—live in the canopy of mangroves. More about mangroves can be found in our Mangroves featured story .Read more
Apr 30, 2015
Credit:

Courtesy of David Littschwager/National Geographic Society

Over a 10-year period, NOAA scientists have collected 72,000 seawater samples, and their data show that the ocean is becoming more acidic because of climate change . That small change in acidity is enough to dissolve the shells of animals like this pteropod. In the lab, its shell dissolved in high-acidity seawater in 45 days. And in the wild, pteropod shells have already started dissolving in the...Read more
Apr 28, 2015
Credit:

Steve Garvie, Flickr

An Atlantic puffin ( Fratercula arctica ) carries many sandlances ( Ammodytidae ) in its mouth to take back to its hungry chick. Puffins have spiny tongues that, pressed against the roof of their mouths, help to hold ten or more fish at once without losing any along the way. The two parents of a single chick take turns bringing food back to the nest. It's possible to learn what kinds of fish are...Read more
Apr 27, 2015
Credit:

Owen Sherwood

Ultraviolet light illuminates the growth rings in a cross-section of a 44-year-old deep-sea coral ( Primnoa resedaeformis ) collected off the coast of Newfoundland at about 1,300 feet (400 meters). Similar to tree trunks, cross-sections reveal coral-growth rings that can be used to determine their age—and information about climate . Because coral growth depends on temperature, sunlight, and...Read more
Apr 22, 2015
The small vaquita ( Phocoena sinus ), a type of porpoise, usually only reaches lengths of 5 feet (1.5 meters). They are only found in the Northern part of the Gulf of California off the coast of Mexico, and their population size is estimated to be less than 600 animals. This makes them the most endangered of the marine mammals. But estimating their numbers is a difficult task considering their...Read more
Apr 21, 2015
Credit:

Lori Morris, St. Johns River Water Management District

Johnson's seagrass ( Halophila johnsonii ) is the lone ocean plant species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Its flowing green stalks play an important role in coastal ecosystems, where they act as nursery grounds for small larval fish. They are also food for the endangered West Indian manatee and green sea turtle. See more endangered ocean species in our slideshow .Read more
Apr 20, 2015
Credit:

© Brian Skerry, www.brianskerry.com

A male great hammerhead shark swims in the Bahamas at sunset. Scientists debate the purpose behind these sharks' hammer-shaped heads. A commonly accepted theory is that the shape allows the shark to scan a wider area of the ocean through its sensory organs . Of the eight species of hammerheads, the great hammerhead shark ( Sphyrna mokarran ) is the largest, reaching a maximum length of 20 feet...Read more

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