28 August 2013

WANTED: Netizen report on COT outbreaks

COT (crown-of-thorns seastar, Acanthaster planci) outbreaks have devastating effects to coral reefs since the 1930s, in some instances, wiping out entire coral reefs.

COT seastars feasting on a small coral table.
Photo taken by Jennifer Selgrath

In 2011, SeaLifeBase Project started to gather COT occurrences, that is, important baseline information that may help in determining the probable cause(es) of such outbreaks. To date, it has 686 occurrences from 166 references, more than 50% of which are identified as outbreak events.

Reported COT occurrences since 1820

So next time you see a COT seastar or a COT outbreak, please e-mail me at m.pan@fin.ph the following details:
  1. Date and name of place where observation was made;
  2. Latitude and longitude of the specific area observed via the GPS capacities of your cellphone (if possible);
  3. Is this observation that of a few indiduals sparsely distributed within the area? Or is this observation that of many seastars gathered in the same area and visibly destroying the reef (that is an outbreak)?
  4. The average number of seastars found in a meter square of the area; and the length and the width of the whole area where this number is observed (if possible);
  5. Length (in cm) and/or number of arms of individual COT (if possible); and
  6. Other remarks on the occurrence or the outbreak
Your observations will be gratefully receive. Many thanks! 

27 August 2013

Picozoa: a new marine phylum

Picozoa a new phylum of marine unicellular heterotrophic eukaryotes, was created to accommodate a new picobiliphyte with no known close eukaryotic relative.

Picomonas judraskeda Seenivasan, Sausen, Medlin and Melkonian, 2013 inhabits surface waters of the German  coast (in the North Sea). It is named after its unique mode of movement which consists of a short fast jump ("ju-"), a slow drag ("-dra-") and an extremely fast and extended movement of the cell away from the original position (skedaddle; "-skeda").

Picomonas cell taken from here
Seenivasan, R.; Sausen, N.; Medlin, L.K.; Melkonian, M. 2013. Picomonas judraskeda gen. et sp. nov.: the first identified member of the Picozoa phylum nov., a widespread group of picoeukaryotes, formerly known as ‘picobiliphytes’. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59565. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059565

23 August 2013

Noises of the ocean

Water conducts noise, and thus, marine life is affected by noise, notably if it reaches “pollution stage”. The illustration here shows how marine mammal feeding and reproduction is affected by such noise. Natural noises like thunder and the tapping of strong rain may affect them, but louder noises caused by cruise and cargo ships as well as smaller vessels affect them even more [1,2,3]. The noise created by submarine vessels have also been linked as a cause of whale mass strandings [4], and military sonar has been shown to affect diving and feeding behaviour of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus). To know more about this article, click here. [5]

To discover marine mammals natural behavior, visit SeaLifeBase.

[1] Hardwood, J. 2001. Marine mammals and their environment in the twenty-first century. Journal of Mammalogy 82(3):630-640.
[2] Wright, et al., 2007. Do marine mammals experience stress related to anthropogenic noise? International Journal of Comparative Psychology 20:274-316.
[3] Erbe, C. 2002. Underwater noise of whale-watching boats and potential effects on killer whales (Orcinus orca), based on an acoustic impact model. Marine Mammal Science 18(2):394-418.
[4] National Geographic. 2013. The big idea. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/01/big-idea/noisy-ocean [Accessed 15/07/2013].
[5] Marine Society Today. 2013. Researchers record whales' reaction to sonar. http://marinesciencetoday.com/2013/07/08/researchers-record-whales-reaction-to-sonar/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MarineScienceToday+%28Marine+Science+Today%29 [Accessed 15/07/2013].

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