Marine Science

Google Earth spies unreported fish traps, study reveals

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 26, 2013   View Article

Fishing traps known as weirs that jut from coastlines may be snaring six times more fish in the Persian Gulf than what is officially reported, according to a new estimate based, in part, on satellite imagery available through Google Earth.

Scientists turned to the Internet search giant’s mapping tool as a way to cross-check catch data reported to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization by six countries in the gulf, a region of the world where marine ecosystems are understudied.

Cold-water fish food not adapting to a warming world, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 21, 2013   View Article

Tiny sea creatures that play a big role in the ocean food chain are unable to adapt to warming oceans, according to a new study that may have profound ramifications for fisheries.

The cold-water plankton lives for one year or less. Researchers examined a 50-year dataset from the North Atlantic to determine how this creature and another plankton that thrives in warmer water fared over half a century.

Deep-sea Internet to detect tsunamis, spy on smugglers, and discover oil

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 15, 2013   View Article

The Internet may soon reach into the depths of the world’s oceans and relay real-time information to smartphones everywhere — about everything from drug-smuggling submarines and the location of untapped oil reserves to the approach of a deadly tsunami.

Arrays of scientific instruments already bob on ocean buoys, hitch rides on sea turtles and lay bolted to seafloors. But they communicate with each other and scientists in myriad and often inefficient ways, explained Tommaso Melodia, an electrical engineer at the University of Buffalo in New York who is leading the development of the deep-sea Internet.

$2 million in prizes offered for better tools to monitor ocean acidification

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 9, 2013   View Article

The tools that scientists use to monitor the acidification of the world’s oceans are expected to get a major upgrade, thanks to a $2 million competition aimed at rewarding innovations that lower the cost and improve the accuracy of chemical sensors.

The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize, unveiled Monday, is the latest multimillion-dollar prize program conducted by the California-based X Prize Foundation. Past prizes have targeted technologies ranging from commercial spaceflight to energy efficient cars— but the latest prize focuses on an even bigger global issue: climate change.

Leaky Fukushima nuclear plant raises seafood poisoning concerns

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 20, 2013   View Article

The 300 tons of radioactive water leaked to date from a storage tank at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan is raising new concerns about the safety of seafood from the region, according to scientists.

Highly contaminated water from the newly reported leak is seeping into the ground, officials with Tokyo Electric Power Company told reporters Tuesday. They do not believe the water has reached the ocean, given the distance of the tank from the harbor. Still, it is likely only a matter of time before it does, said William Burness, an oceanographer at Florida State University, who studies environmental radioactivity.

The concern is that the radioactive water leaking from the storage tanks will eventually end up in the ocean and contaminate the marine environment, in particular fish that people eat, Burnett told NBC News.

As ice melts, life abounds in Antarctic

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 11, 2013   View Article

The collapse of a giant ice shelf in Antarctica has proven a bounty for the sea creatures eking out an existence in the once-dark waters, according to new research that highlights just how quickly some marine life can adapt to a warming world.

The Larsen A ice shelf broke up and collapsed in 1995, exposing the permanently dark seafloor to the fruits of sunlight, which fuels the growth of plankton and sea-ice algae at the surface. The plankton and algae drift to the seafloor when they die.

“This unprecedented source of food appears to be triggering important changes in the seabed biota,” Claudio Richter, a marine scientist with the Alfred Wegner Institute in Germany, told NBC News in an email.

How do oysters spell climate change relief? A-N-T-A-C-I-D

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 12, 2013   View Article

Oyster hatcheries are dropping the equivalent of Tums and other antacids into water to make it easier for naked mollusk larvae to build their shells. The remedy is working, for now, to keep hatcheries in business and oyster bars well stocked with the slimy delicacies, a hatchery scientist said.

Heartburn for the shellfish industry comes from ocean waters turning ever more corrosive as they absorb a fraction of the carbon dioxide humans are pumping into the atmosphere. The acidification, in turn, makes it harder for oyster larvae to build their shells.

The hatcheries’ antacid, sodium carbonate, makes the water less acidic and “raises the amount of carbonate in the water, which is what the shellfish are using,” Benoit Eudeline, the chief hatchery scientist at Taylor Shellfish Company in Quilcene, Wash., told NBC News.

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