Massive Dolphin Die-Off

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I just read an article about a massive dolphin die off here. In Lima Peru a retired fisherman reported around 1,500 dolphins washing up dead on Peru’s northern coast. At first many experts didn’t believe it until they saw it. Experts say the causes could be acoustic impact from testing for oil or perhaps an unknown virus or other pathogen. Dr. Yaipen is one of the experts that has been studding this case, he has examined about 20 dead dolphins. From what he found they all showed middle-ear hemorrhage and fracture of the ear’s periotic bone, lung lesions and bubbles in the blood. To him, that suggests that a major acoustic impact caused injury, but not immediate death. Most of the dolphins were alive when they beached, or had died very recently. Now, the death toll could be as high as 2,800. Peru’s massive dolphin die-off is among the largest ever reported worldwide.

What are some other theories of how these dolphins are dying?

How can we stop this? What can we learn from this?

Anti Shark Slime Weapon

Researchers from Massey University just released footage showing how the hagfish (snot-eel) – defends itself in this article. When the Hag fish is about to be swallowed by it’s predator it sprays a thick slime that clogs it’s aggressor’s gills. Once it releases its snot from 200 pores it causes predators to gag, so they can swim to safety. “We know so very little about the deep sea. Simply dropping cameras into the water at a range of depths in a systematic design not only gives us good quantitative data to model diversity and behavior, it also has a high probability of finding something new,” says Professor Anderson. “Using underwater video cameras, we can actually see fish in their own environment, which is far more informative than what can be learned from the often bedraggled specimens brought to the surface in research trawls.”

What can we learn about the Hagfish’s behaviors?

Should more filming be financed so we can learn more about our Earth?

Watch a video of the hagfish in action:

The Demise of the Sea Otters!

I read this article about the declining population of sea otters in Monterey Bay. During the late 1800s and early 1900s sea otters were nearly hunted to extinction, despite decades of efforts to bring them back they are still in trouble. In 1911 sea otter hunting was banned throughout the world, but even today the otter population in California is just 2,700, down from perhaps as many as 16,000 in the past.

The underlying problem is simply that the otters are running out of food. While they are not starving to death, they are depleting their favorite prey, sea urchins and abalone, and having to spend more time hunting. Poor nutrition is compromising their fitness to survive diseases or other threats, said Dr. Tinker, who runs the United States Geological Survey’s otter research program. “They’re not getting enough food to make it through.” Reports from Dr. Tinker’s team also suggest that otters are particularly vulnerable to sharks.

What would a solution to the sea otter’s problems be?

If there is a solution why do anything about it?

Suction Fun

I read this article about what different kinds of toys octopi prefer.  The scientists gave a set of octopus a choice of three baby toys. A ball, a pair of pliers and key ring type cow. They recommend that you should let an octopus play with the one that has the largest amount of moving parts. When they given the bouncy ball the octopi quickly loose interest in some cases they barely look at it for two seconds.  On the other hand there was a case that one octopus literally played with the cow toy for over two hours, mesmerized. Anderson has came up with the conclusion that the more playtime your octopus gets the better. “Even if the exploration/play times are brief, they still should be given to octopuses for added enrichment, enrichment that is clearly called for in keeping intelligent animals such as octopuses, in both public aquariums and laboratories. ”

I thought that this was a very interesting article. I had heard that octopi were very intelligent, opening jars and such but I never knew that this complex of brains. I think it is cool that for these scientists playing with octopi is their job. I did wonder how old these octopi have to be to develop brains with the capacity of completing tasks and simply playing with human toys.


Decline in Top of the Foodchain Predators

I read this article about the decline in apex predators such as; sharks, tunas, swordfish, and marlins. Over time fishing has led to a 90-per-cent decrease in top predators since the 1950s. The scientists found that it first started in coastal areas of northern countries, then expanded to the open ocean and to the southern hemisphere. The decline in these predators is changing everything about marine ecosystems systems all over the world. There is a high market demand for these fish and with out stricter fishing regulations the problem will only get worse.

Japanese Debris Coming Our Way!

I read this article about Japanese debris floating our way after the devastating tsunami that hit Japan in March. Having dumped millions of tons of debris into the Pacific this was expected. Researcher Nikolai Maximenko built and are testing their new computer model of ocean currents to predict where the debris might end up. It seems a little scary that soon we will have unwanted debris flooding our shores, that could possibly be radioactive. I know it seems like we are safe way up here in Alaska, but knowing from trying to clean the beaches at Kayak Island, there is a lot of junk from all over the world that washes up on our beaches. Debris is expected to fall  on the Midway Islands this winter.

What kind of impact will this have on marine life?

What unexpected dangers will follow with this problem?

Coral Catastrophe

I read a article about coral off Florida dying due to a infection caused by a bacterium found in sewage. Genetic analyses showed that only the strain from human sewage matched the strain found in white pox diseased corals on the reef. It scares me that we humans are unknowingly the cause of this problem. The article says that if we don’t fix this problem we could have a devastating impact on coral reefs all over. The Florida Keys generates more than 3 billion dollars a year for the local economy. “We are killing the goose that lays the golden egg” says Porter. This is the first time that a human disease has been shown to cause population declines of a marine life. “But the good news is that we can solve this problem with advanced wastewater treatment facilities,” like one recently completed in Key West. “This problem is not like hurricanes, which we can’t control. We can do something about this one,” he said. The entire Florida Keys is in the process of upgrading local wastewater treatment plants, and these measures will eliminate this source of the bacterium.

How much do you think that the new wastewater plants will cost to build and operate?

Will dead reefs like this one ever come back to its original health?