AltaSea: Trending – August 10, 2017

August 11, 2017

MARINE SCIENCE

Marine Biologists Study Dolphin Species Diets to Understand Foraging Habits (Phys Org News)

The health of dolphin populations worldwide depends on sustained access to robust food sources.

A new report by UC Santa Barbara researchers and colleagues at UC San Diego and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looks at three different dolphin species, studying what they eat and how they divide ocean resources and space—important information for conservation and management. The team’s findings appear in the journal PLOS ONE.

“We used the principle of ‘you are what you eat’ to unlock some of the secrets of dolphin diet,” said lead author Hillary Young, an assistant professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology (EEMB). “All of the foods that we or any animal eat are incorporated after digestion into body tissues. Most Americans, for example, chemically look like walking corn cobs because the foods we eat contain so much corn syrup.”

On Palmyra, a remote coral reef atoll in the central Pacific, the researchers harmlessly collected tiny, rice-sized skin samples from three species of wild dolphins: spinner dolphins famous for their acrobatic jumps; bottlenose dolphins like those featured in the television show “Flipper”; and the aptly named melon-headed whale. The investigators examined the dolphins’ chemistry to determine what foods they ate and how their diets differed. They concentrated specifically on what could be learned from investigating ratios of stable isotopes.

Nations Will Start Talks to Protect Fish of the High Seas (New York Times)

More than half of the world’s oceans belong to no one, which often makes their riches ripe for plunder.
Now, countries around the world have taken the first step to protect the precious resources of the high seas. In late July, after two years of talks, diplomats at the United Nations recommended starting treaty negotiations to create marine protected areas in waters beyond national jurisdiction — and in turn, begin the high-stakes diplomatic jostling over how much to protect and how to enforce rules.

“The high seas are the biggest reserve of biodiversity on the planet,” Peter Thomson, the ambassador of Fiji and current president of the United Nations General Assembly, said in an interview after the negotiations. “We can’t continue in an ungoverned way if we are concerned about protecting biodiversity and protecting marine life.”

It’s Better to Swim Alone, Yet Together, if You’re a Salp (New York Times)

What mysterious, gelatinous, clear blob that you might find washed up on a beach looks like a jellyfish but isn’t? Meet the sea salp. It typically lives in deep waters, where its barrel-shaped body glides around the ocean by jet propulsion, sucking in water from a siphon on one end and spitting it back though another. It swims alone for part of its life. But it spends the rest of it with other salps, linked together in chains arranged as wheels, lines or other architectural designs.

“They’re totally cool, and totally beautiful to watch underwater,” said Kelly Sutherland, a marine biologist at the University of Oregon.

Over years of watching them swim in chains, she made a surprising discovery. They synchronize their strokes when threatened by predators or strong waves and currents. But while linked together in day-to-day life, each salp in the chain swims at its own asynchronous and uncoordinated pace. Counterintuitively, this helps salps that form linear chains make long nightly journeys more efficiently.

It’s Better to Swim Alone, Yet Together, if You’re a Salp (New York Times)

What mysterious, gelatinous, clear blob that you might find washed up on a beach looks like a jellyfish but isn’t? Meet the sea salp. It typically lives in deep waters, where its barrel-shaped body glides around the ocean by jet propulsion, sucking in water from a siphon on one end and spitting it back though another. It swims alone for part of its life. But it spends the rest of it with other salps, linked together in chains arranged as wheels, lines or other architectural designs.

“They’re totally cool, and totally beautiful to watch underwater,” said Kelly Sutherland, a marine biologist at the University of Oregon.

Over years of watching them swim in chains, she made a surprising discovery. They synchronize their strokes when threatened by predators or strong waves and currents. But while linked together in day-to-day life, each salp in the chain swims at its own asynchronous and uncoordinated pace. Counterintuitively, this helps salps that form linear chains make long nightly journeys more efficiently.

The Uninhabitable Earth (New York Magazine)

If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Doomsday Scenarios Are as Harmful as Climate Change Denial (EcoWatch)

Doomist narratives about climate change are starting to appear in respected, mainstream venues, written by otherwise able and thoughtful journalists. In this vein comes a recent New York Magazine article The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. The New York magazine article paints an overly bleak picture, arguing that climate change could render the Earth uninhabitable by the end of this century.

Such rhetoric is in many ways as pernicious as outright climate change denial, for it leads us down the same path of inaction

SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS

Transforming Microalgae to Reduce Landfill Waste (Purdue University)

Gen3Bio Inc., a Purdue Foundry-affiliated company, is developing a unique process that could more effectively and affordably transform microalgae into bio-based chemicals to maximize the value of Biofeedstock and reduce landfill waste.

“There’s been a huge movement toward greener, renewable products for the sake of the environment and that includes biofuels and biochemicals,” said Kelvin Okamoto, founder of Gen3Bio. “Conventional biofuels are derived from sugars of crops, which can take a considerable amount of land and water to produce. Algae have a low carbon footprint, is renewable and can be accessed in large quantities, so overall it is very environmentally friendly. It’s a great alternative to meet the expected demand for bio-based products in the future.”

Okamoto earned his Bachelor of Science and Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University and Cornell University, respectively. Through his company, Okamoto is scaling up and commercializing an effective, efficient and low-cost algae extraction method to lyse open the algae cells by using a mix of commercially available enzymes. Lysing open the cells releases and separates the fats, sugars and proteins within the cells. The different chemical components can be sold or further converted into bio-based chemicals, biofuels and bioplastics. The technology was developed at the University of Toledo.

Madagascar: No more fish? Farm Seaweed Instead (DW.com)

The collapse of fisheries, decline of coral reefs and drought are all hitting Madagascar hard. But fishermen are coping with scarce and stressed resources in the Indian Ocean by coming up with new alternatives.

Today, life in Tampolove – a small village in the south of Madagascar – has changed for fisherman Lahy and his family. “Resources are rare,” he said. For 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of fish per day, fisherman can earn $1 (.87 euros). “On lucky days, a catch goes up to 20 kilograms,” Lahy explained.

Fishermen have seen fish stocks dwindle over the course of their lifetimes. Fish stocks around the world are being put at risk by climate change, overexploitation, pollution and habitat destruction. In Madagascar, this is particularly worrying, as fishing contributes more than 7 percent of the national gross domestic product – and is the backbone of the economy in rural areas.

In the face of looming food insecurity, Madagascar’s fishers are getting creative in their quest for alternatives.

EDUCATION

How Safe is Tuna? Important to Know Where It Was Caught (LA Times)

Tuna caught in industrialized areas of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans have 36 times more pollutants than those fished in remote parts of the West Pacific, scientists from Scripps Oceanography have found.

The researchers tracked concentrations of toxins in tuna around the world and found that the location of fish, as much as its species, can affect how safe it is to eat.

“The pollutant levels in seafood — and tuna in our case — can be heavily determined by the location where it was caught,” said lead author Sascha Nicklisch, a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. “It is important to know the origin of catch of the fish, to know the amount of pollutants in your fish.”

Researchers said they hoped the study would help advance understanding of how toxins enter our food supply through seafood and how to manage fisheries to reduce that risk.

Zebrafish Could Hold Key to Early Brain Development (Brisbane Times)

University of Queensland researchers have turned off the lights in a room full of Zebrafish larvae and found being kept in the dark hinders their “lightbulb” moments.

Zebrafish larvae were chosen for the neurological study due to their quick development (they can go from a single cell to catching prey in five days) and their transparent skin to help investigate the origins of spontaneous neural activity in the form of new thoughts that did not rely on stimuli.

Queensland Brain Institute professor Geoffrey Goodhill said it was not clear what role spontaneous neural activity – the firing of neurons in the brain – played, but said one theory suggested the activity helped “tune the system up” for future stimulation.

COMMUNITY

CicLAvia – San Pedro Meets Wilmington: August 12, 2017

On Sunday, August 13, San Pedro and Wilmington will host the country’s largest open streets event! Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners and skaters to use as a recreational space.

  • CicLAvia is FREE!
  • CicLAvia lasts from 9 AM until 4 PM
  • CicLAvia closes streets to car traffic and opens them for people to walk, skate, bike, play, and explore parts of Los Angeles.
  • CicLAvia is not a race! There’s no starting point or finish line – begin where you like and enjoy the day your way.

LA Fleet Week: September 1-4

LA Fleet Week is a free, public event at America’s #1 port, featuring guided ship tours (reservations are highly suggested and equal front-of-the-line privileges), ship-viewing tours, military exhibits, aerial demonstrations, live music and entertainment, educational programs, food, and fireworks, from September 1-4, 2017 (Labor Day Weekend) at various locations along the LA Waterfront, including the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal, Battleship IOWA, and Downtown Harbor in San Pedro, a harbor community located in the City of Los Angeles at the foot of the Harbor Freeway (I-110).

Hosted by the Port of Los Angeles, LA Fleet Week event partners include the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Coast Guard, Bob Hope USO, and Battleship IOWA.

Fleet Week is an annual patriotic tradition where active military ships recently deployed in overseas operations dock in a major U.S. city for one week. Popular Fleet Week destinations include San Diego, San Francisco and New York. 2016 was the first time Los Angeles hosted an official Fleet Week event.

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