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Weekly Ocean News
New research on the echolocation advantages of toothed whales; cutlip minnows use colour to attract mates and more in this week's Ocean News.
Posted on November 25, 2018
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Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Cutlip minnows use their eye for colour to attract mates, according to researchers in Ontario. Males select the most colourful pebbles when building their nests on the river bed, relying on their sensitivity to orange (which is important in recognizing crustaceans, their main source of food). The researchers further noted that due to their reliance on vision, increased turbidity due to runoff or sedimentation may pose a threat to the mating practices of the cutlip minnow. Via Phys.org

 

A swarm of krill, one of the most overlooked and essential of Antarctic marine animals.

Past studies have suggested that ocean acidification will be detrimental to some life stages of krill, an important prey item for marine mammals and seabirds. In a recent controlled study, adult Antarctic krill were found to maintain the pH of their body fluids when living in acidic waters. The adult krill were raised for 46 months in acidic seawater at the projected ocean pH levels up to 300 years from today. Researchers cautioned that adult Antarctic krill may even more vulnerable to ocean acidification when it occurs with other stressors, such as decreasing sea ice and ocean warming. Via Phys.org

Nose size in toothed whales, including dolphins and porpoises, is driven by evolutionary pressure for longer range echolocation, says a study from Denmark’s Aarhus University. A larger nose can make a louder sound and allow these mammals to find prey at greater distances. Toothed whales with larger noses relative to their body size still exist today, possibly due to this adaptation. This is especially noticeable in the sperm whale. The nose of the sperm whale accounts for up one third of its body! Via ScienceDaily

Water Quality and Supply

At the University of Delaware, a study conducted by Professor Xiao-Hai Yan and colleagues found a previously unknown pathway that transfers warmer water directly from the tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean to the Southern Ocean. This increased transfer of warm water to the south has important climate consequences that could affect precipitation levels, sea surface temperatures, salinity and even extreme weather patterns. Via EurekAlert!

This ray lives in Brazil’s Xingu River, where for the first time plastic has been discovered in freshwater fish.

In a recent study carried out in Brazil’s Xingu River, the presence of plastic contaminants have been found for the first time in the bodies of freshwater fish. The main purpose of the study  was to determine the feeding ecology of fish, but it came as a sad surprise to find plastic. Scientists examined the stomach contents of 16 fish species and found plastic particles in 80% of the fish studied. The findings suggest the presence of distinct plastic polymers, used to manufacture items like bags, bottles and fishing gear. This is alarming news as the pollution is spread throughout the Amazon basin, and many of these fish species are consumed by humans. Via The Guardian

Government Initiatives

When consuming sushi, it's important to choose sustainable options. Here, a sushi spread is shown from Just Sushi, one of the three sushi venues that went 100 per cent Ocean Wise this year. Photo credit: Just Sushi.

A new monitoring project by University of California Los Angeles researchers, government regulators and partners has involved the use of DNA barcoding to analyze sushi. Researchers have discovered incorrect labeling of fish in restaurants and even grocery stores due to inaccurate FDA regulations. Reported in this January 2017 study,  investigators were served a different kind of fish than ordered 100 percent of the time, using 43 orders of halibut and 32 orders of red snapper  Aiming to reduce the mislabeling of fish, researchers are working with FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to draft new seafood guidelines. Via ScienceDaily

Energy and Power

Researchers from Spain are using purple bacteria and electric currents to turn sewage and industrial wastes into energy. The metabolic products of purple phototrophic bacteria can change with their environmental conditions, like light intensity, temperature, and nutrients. They can even generate useful hydrogen gas as a metabolic product. An electric potential in the bacteria’s environment can increase carbon capture while they metabolize our waste. This is the first record of a metabolic shift in bacteria caused by an electric current. Via ScienceDaily

 

 


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