Computer models suggest how COVID-19 may disrupt warming oceans

COVID-19 has disrupted much of life as we know it – and the environment is no different. While we may not know the full impact until many years later, scientists suspect that the sudden, drastic decrease in fossil fuel use, especially air travel, will appear as some disruption to our seemingly unstoppable climb in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The primary way humans can slow global warming is to decrease our use of fossil fuels. What would such a world look like? Scientists hope to build models in order to learn and make better predictions from this unexpected experiment.

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The use of albatrosses as a conservation tool

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses an imminent threat to biodiversity in our oceans. Notoriously difficult to track, fishing vessels are able to elude traditional tracking measures. Authors H. Weimerskirch et. al. introduce the concept of the “ocean sentinel”, where sea birds that are naturally attracted to fishing vessels are equipped with bio-loggers. Data from these loggers help locate where, when, and how frequently IUU is occuring.

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As Oceans Change, HABs Invade

Global ocean temperatures are currently rising and have been for decades. Scientists are working to discover how this changing climate affects species around the world, from the very large to the very small. This includes phytoplankton, the microscopic marine algae that live in most bodies of water around the globe and produce half the world’s oxygen. But some of these species are toxic, and can cause harm to human and wildlife alike if they are able to grow out of control. Though a number of studies have been undertaken to try and understand more about these harmful algal blooms, much is still unknown about their growth. A group of scientists were interested in how changing ocean temperatures affected the geographic ranges of harmful algal blooms over time in order to better predict blooms in the future.

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Glimmer of Hope: Seagrasses Starting to Recover in Europe

Seagrasses provide vital habitat and resources for marine ecosystems. Water pollution, disease, and coastal modification have led to a decrease in 30% of seagrasses across Europe. Researchers analyzed over 1,000 studies to understand the trends of seagrasses over nearly 150 years. While overall losses have been great, the last few decades have shown seagrasses are starting to recover – likely due to strategies to decrease water pollution and protect vital habitats.

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Seaweed as far as the eye can see

In the center of the Atlantic Ocean lies the Sargasso Sea. The brown seaweed, Sargassum, gives the Sea its name. However, in the past decade this belt of Sargassum has been exploding. During certain seasons, the Sargassum belt has expanded from West Africa to the Americas. Beached seaweed has led to numerous problems and concerns for much of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Research led by Dr. Mengqiu Wang from the University of South Florida used previous data to determine what makes these seaweeds take over the ocean in order to better predict when these blooms may occur.

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Hidden fish populations protect us from ourselves!

We raise cows, chickens, and pigs on farms, but we still commonly hunt wild populations for one type of animal protein- seafood. Many fish populations are overexploited, but scientists found that despite this, Atlantic flounder populations were in better shape than expected. Why? How can we ensure that this stability continues?

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It’s Not Just About Fish: How Understanding Ecosystem Services Can Lead to Marine Conservation

What is the value of a fish? It’s role in the ecosystem, or the community that relies on the species? A team of scientists from the UK explores these interactions in their recent paper, which details the use of ecosystem services in marine conservation.

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The Five Deeps Expedition: The first attempt to dive to the deepest point in five oceans

The Five Deeps Expedition is led by Victor Vescovo, an American attempting to visit the five deepest areas of the ocean in a manned submersible. In December of 2018, he became the first human to reach the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean. Read on to learn more about this expedition, and keep an eye out for the results of the remaining four dives in 2019!

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Flame retardant sharks?

Flame retardants are found everywhere from your house to your car. Unfortunately, these chemicals can accumulate in the environment, including the ocean. Once in the ocean, flame retardants can make their way into marine organisms. The researchers in this study wanted to determine if flame retardants are transferred from mothers to offspring in sharks.

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