27 February 2015

Collaborator of the Week: Dr. Cornelia E. Nauen

Dr. Cornelia E. Nauen is one of the scientist advocates for ocean restoration, conservation and its sustainable use [3]. She is known for her involvement in policy development and support to various research projects concerning aquatic biodiversity and marine pollution [2]. For 6 years, she worked at the Department of Fisheries of FAO in Rome. In 1985, she joined the Development Directorate General of the European Commission in Brussels. In that function, she oversaw the funding of the first years of FishBase development combined with capacity building in 50 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. In 2000, she moved to the EU's International Science Cooperation [1,2]. 

Today, she is the president of Mundus maris – Sciences and Arts for Sustainability, a non-profit organization aiming to save the ocean [1,3]. The organization promotes critically engaged science, facilitates access of citizens to research results and seeks to combine this with “other ways of making sense of the world” in the arts and traditional knowledge systems. Many activities aim at instilling curiosity and love for the ocean in young people and schools to realize their dreams of healthy oceans and being the architects of their futures [3].

CE Nauen has been a FishBase collaborator from the early days and has published about the importance of FishBase as a shining example of open access knowledge repositories that empower the public [4,5] now followed by SeaLifeBase. In 2013, FishBase and SeaLifeBase databases collaborated with Mundus maris in order to increase public awareness about marine biodiversity and important issues in fisheries [6]. This collaboration helped to develop the knowledge and understanding of different people for the advocacy in fisheries management and regulation. MM Information materials emphasize FishBase and SeaLifeBase.

Mundus maris is currently collaborating with FIN and several other organizations to celebrate World Oceans Day 2015, June 08, through a youth story telling contest and events in different countries on the day itself.

[1] Cornelia E. Nauen. https://be.linkedin.com/pub/cornelia-e-nauen/97/259/480 [Accessed 02/20/2015].
[2] Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability. http://www.hks.harvard.edu/sustsci/ists/TWAS_0202/participants/Nauen_bio.htm [Accessed 02/23/2015].
[3] MM Self presentation. http://www.mundusmaris.org/index.php/en/about/self [Accessed 02/23/2015].
[4] Nauen, C.E. (ed.) in collaboration with C. Bogliotti, N. Fenzl, J. Francis, J. Kakule, K. Kastrissianakis, L. Michael, N. Reeve, D. Reyntjens, V. Shiva, J.H. Spangenberg, 2005. Increasing impact of the EU’s international S&T cooperation for the transition towards sustainable development. Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 26 p.
[5] Nauen, C.E., 2006. Implementing the WSSD decision of restoring marine ecosystems by 2015 – Scientific information support in the public domain. Marine Policy, 30:455-461.
[6] FishBase, SeaLifeBase and Mundus maris: Science and art combined! http://sealifebaseproject.blogspot.com/2013/09/fishbase-sealifebase-and-mundus-maris.html [Accessed 02/23/2015].

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Edited by: Cornelia E. Nauen

23 February 2015

Ocean Giants: Lion’s Mane Jellyfish

The longest known species of jellyfish is the common lion's mane Cyanea capillata found in the northern waters, from the Arctic to the north Atlantic and Pacific.

Lion's mane jellyfish moving sideways (photograph by Herb Segars from www.arkive.org).

The maximum bell diameter and tentacle length were based on an illustrated catalog of a medusae found off the east coast of the United States by Agassiz (1965) where he wrote,

"I measured myself a specimen at Nahant, the disk of which had attained a diameter of seven and a half feet, the tentacles extending to a length of more than one hundred and twenty feet.

But based on a molecular study conducted by Dawson (2005), the medusae recorded by Agassiz was very much distinct from Cyanea capillata and may thus be an undescribed Cyanea sp. [1, 2] Although no other available literature can provide the maximum length it can attain, the proposed argument by Dawson gives speculations that there may be an unidentified jellyfish waiting to be discovered.

To know more about the lion's mane jellyfish, visit SeaLifeBase.

If you have other information on them, you can e-mail us at sealifebase@fin.ph or come be 

[1] McClain CR, Balk MA, Benfield MC, Branch TA, Chen C, Cosgrove J, Dove ADM, Gaskins LC, Helm RR, Hochberg FG, Lee FB, Marshall A, McMurray SE, Schanche C, Stone SN, Thaler AD. 2015. Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafaunaPeerJ 3:e715.

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16 February 2015

Ocean Giants: Giant Barrel Sponge

As the name implies, the giant barrel sponge abundantly found in the Caribbean is the largest known reef-building sponge.

The giant barrel sponge Xestospongia muta (photo by Dr. Joseph Pawlik) [1].

The largest known individual had a base diameter of 2.5 m which served as a scuba attraction off CuraƧao back in the 1980s [2]. Based on growth models, the estimated age of this sponge was more or less 2,300 years. It was compared to the oldest known redwood tree Sequoia semipervirens (2,000 years old) and thus was named the “redwood of the reef” [3]. 

The  vast size of the barrel sponge translates to a tremendous filtering capacity, a substantial source of inorganic nutrients and also an association with many important prokaryotic and eukaryotic symbionts. The role of sponges is invaluable as they greatly contribute to the productivity of reef communities [4]. To illustrate, below is a short introductory video on sponge biology by Dr. Joseph Pawlik.

To know more about the giant barrel sponge, visit SeaLifeBase.

If you have other information on them, which you wish to include in our information system, please e-mail us at sealifebase@fin.ph or join us as a collaborator.

[1] McMurray, S., and J. Pawlik. 2009. Caribbean barrel sponges. Coral Reef Science Made Accessible. Accessed on 06/02/2015 at http://www.coralscience.org/main/articles/climate-a-ecology-16/caribbean-sponges
[2] Nagelkerken, I., L. Aerts, and L. Pors. 2000. Barrel sponge bows out. Reef Encounter 28:14–15.
[3] McMurray, S.E., J.E. Blum, and J.R. Pawlik. 2008. Redwood of the reef: growth and age of the giant barrel sponge Xestospongia muta in the Florida Keys. Marine Biology 155:159–171.
[4] Bertin, M., and M. Callahan. 2008. Distribution, abundance and volume of Xestospongia muta at selected Sites in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In Proc 11th Int Coral Reef Symp (Vol. 2, pp. 686-690).

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05 February 2015

A Boon for Our Oceans

Photo from www.arkive.org

Peter Benchley said, “If man doesn’t learn to treat the oceans...man will become extinct”.

Our oceans provide many things for our survival, including food, medicine, recreation and the oxygen we breathe [1]. For decades, man abused and exploited these vast resources to the limit [1]. And now, we see several problems crop up, such as ocean acidification, habitat loss, overfishing, all leading to the extinction of species on which we depend. If this persists, what will mankind’s fate be?

It is not all gloom and doom, though. On January 24, 2015, members of the United Nations agreed to an agreement for the protection of the high seas, with more than 286,000 citizens from 111 different countries signing the petition [2].  

So, what are we waiting for? Let us join in and save our oceans!

As Gandalf said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”.

[1] Help secure a living ocean,food, and prosperity-propose a new agreement for high seas protection.   http://www.change.org/p/ban-ki-moon-help-secure-a-living-ocean-food-and-prosperity-propose-a-new-agreement-for-high-seas-protection [Accessed 30 January 2015].

[2] Good news for the ocean. http://www.change.org/p/ban-ki-moon-help-secure-a-living-ocean-food-and-prosperity-propose-a-new-agreement-for-high-seas-protection/update [Accessed 30 January 2015].

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04 February 2015

Borrowing from jellies’ book of tricks: Batesian Mimicry, a leptocephali scheme for predator avoidance

Anguilliform larvae mimicking gelatinous zooplankton (Frame grabbed from video at Australian.museum.net.au)

Nobody wants to be a part someone’s diet but nature dictates that animals face the dynamics of predator-prey relationships. Animals use various schemes to defend and protect themselves from enemies and predators and Batesian mimicry is one of the morphological strategies utilized by invertebrate and vertebrate species in the ocean. It is an adaptation of a usually harmless species where it mimics a dangerous organism to avoid predation. Researchers hypothesized that this is used by leptocephali, the transparent larvae of eels and their close relatives. In times of danger or trouble, these organisms coil their laterally compressed jelly-like bodies making a resemblance to gelatinous zooplankton such as jellyfish, ctenophores, siphonophores, and salps. These gelatinous zooplankton are usually avoided by other marine species due to their stinging defenses or low food value. Therefore, mimicking their round-shaped appearance gives the leptocephali a great escape strategy from their own predators. However, further observations will be needed to confirm this batesian mimicry by these organisms.

To watch videos of  leptocephalus curling behavior, visit Australian.museum.net.au.

Miller, M.J., M.D. Norman, K. Tsukamoto, and J.K. Finn. 2013. Evidence of mimicry of gelatinous zooplankton by anguilliform leptocephali for predator avoidance. Marine and Freshwater Behavior and Physiology, 2013. Vol. 45, No. 6, 375-384. 

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