Category Archives: Conservation

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Newly Discovered Algae May Help Coral Survive Hottest Reefs On The Planet

persian-coral-reef Researchers have traveled to the Middle East, to study coral in some of the Worlds hottest coral reefs, to see how they withstand such temperatures. Having lived in the Middle East for many years myself, and doing countless reef dives there, the water was some of the warmest I have ever dove in. Diving in the Middle East in the Summers was like swimming in warm bath water. The scientists went to Abu Dabhi to see how the corals could survive in such high temperatures, where they discovered a new species of algae from the coral samples taken.… More:

The First Direct Observations of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Induced Changes to Earth’s Radiative Budget

Climate change and warming of sea surface temperatures are among the most oft-cited threats to coral reef ecosystems as they currently exist.

Despite the preponderance of scientific work on the issue, many, including even perhaps some in this hobby, deny most if not all of our current understanding of human contributions to global warming. That human contribution is primarily through an increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Since carbon dioxide absorbs and re-emits infrared radiation that would otherwise be lost from Earth to space, in order to maintain a radiative “balance”, or equilibrium, the surface temperature of the Earth must increase. Now, in principle this is not in the least bit controversial. Humans emit carbon dioxide, which has an extremely long residence time in the atmosphere, and the Earth is radiatively imbalanced until a corresponding increase in global mean temperature occurs.

Keeling Curve

However, reminiscent of tetra-ethyl lead and smoking-cancer linkage discussions of times past, many folks remain hard at work to maintain a public perception that correlation is not causation: essentially many  attempts at a “death by a thousand cuts” of logical fallacy. Unfortunately, the momentum of this misinformation lobby has gotten to the point where, to paraphrase Prof. Andrew Dessler’s reaction to the new findings discussed below, it has become necessary to provide something analogous to dropping a rock and watching it fall in order to demonstrate to audiences that gravity is real.

That rock dropped in a monumental way this week in the journal Nature.

Feldman et al. have used Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometry in both the Southern Great Plains and the Northern Slope of Alaska to explicitly detect the impact of rising carbon dioxide on the amount of longwave, infrared radiation that is returned to the Earth’s surface, instead of being lost into space. The instrument utilized is capable of measuring returning infrared radiation that is emitted by individual types of greenhouses gases. In other words, it is capable of distinguishing returning radiation of carbon dioxide from other well known greenhouse gas molecules such as methane and water vapor.

Extended Figure 1 from Feldman et al. [2015]

What was found is that from between 2000-2010, a highly significant trend of increasing carbon dioxide-emitted infrared radiation returned to Earth’s surface, from a 22 ppm increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Additionally, the energy changes documented are highly consistent with previous work estimating the radiative forcing of carbon dioxide. At the end of the day, this should all but silence any skepticism regarding our knowledge that an increase in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere also directly increases the amount of infrared, heat energy being returned to Earth’s surface.… More:

Aquaponics Fast Becoming A Preferred Method of Cannabis Cultivation

Photo by Ryan Griffis. CC by

Photo by Ryan Griffis. CC by

 Aquaponics is pretty simple in concept. Imagine an aquarium that is plumbed into a hydroponic system; fish wastes are mineralized by microbes and ultimately utilized by the plants as nutrients. Technically speaking, even a mangrove propagule stuck in the back of an overflow box is aquaponic. The benefits of this type of cultivation are significant. A major attraction for some growers is the ease with which the highly intensive method can be practiced organically. The taste of aquaponic foods (unlike that of hydroponicially grown foods) is said to be as good as its soil grown counterpart. Because there is no soil, pests are far easier to prevent and control. Aquaponics also dramatically reduces… More:

Early Success with a Halichoeres Wrasse!

Figure 1. Halichoeres melanurus egg on a 1 mm SedgewickRafter cell. Here at the Tropical Aquaculture Lab we’re very fortunate to have the opportunity to work in a field we’re truly passionate about. That passion inspires me to not only work on captive breeding of marine species here at work, but to also explore other fish by working from home. I’m pleased to announce that the first project I’ve taken on as an at-home aquaculturist resulted in the successful captive rearing of the melanurus wrasse, Halichoeres melanurus, using only cultured prey items. Although only a few fish were brought through metamorphosis, survival should be higher when larvae are raised in the controlled environment of a dedicated facility as opposed to the chaos of a household living room. I strongly believe this fish, and others in this genus, will have significant commercial potential. We now have broodstock at the Tropical Aquaculture Lab because of this early success. The work done so far will stand as strong supportive evidence to move forward with other wrasses as well.

Red Seadragon Is Spectacular New Species

A paper in the Royal Society Open Science has announced the discovery of a new species of seadragon. The Ruby Seadragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) is named for its incredible bright-red coloring and was first noticed after a male was caught during a biodiversity trawling survey in 2007. At first, scientists thought it was a weedy seadragon, but DNA analysis revealed it to be a completely new species. In addition to DNA research, the team also took a CT scan of one of the specimens. “[The] scan gave us 5,000 X-ray slices that we were able to assemble into a rotating 3-D model of the new seadragon,” said lead author Josefin Stiller. “We could then see several features of the skeleton that were distinct from the other two species, corroborating the genetic evidence.” The scientists believe the new seadragon has gone un-noticed for so long because it is found in deeper waters off the coast. The deeper water habitat may also explain its darker, red color

First Aquarium Partnership Between United States and Cuba

cubaThe Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida is looking to collaborate with The National Aquarium of Havana to come together to help protect coral reefs. The Florida Aquarium has delivered a memorandum of understanding for joint research to the National Aquarium of Havana. This would be the first partnership between Cuban and American Aquariums. The Aquarium’s goals are purely environmental, specifically to help stop decay of coral reefs. The National Aquarium of Havana has conducted extensive research on species of coral health which are not available in the U.S, and the combined research can aid to help save our coral reefs. The decline of coral reefs is a World wide problem, and it is great to see World wide initiative to try and combat it. The Florida Aquarium hopes to send representatives to Cuba in November. MOREMore:

New, Weird, Cool Japanese Zoanthids Described

Photo by Robert Howie. CC by 2.0

Photo by Robert Howie. CC by 2.0

 Zoantharia is an order of anthozoans that, for the most part, look very similar to one another. Taxonomists are still trying to sort them all out. Many members of the suborder Brachycnemina could be missed due to their cryptic nature or simply because some are so scarce. We last reported on the discovery of a new brachycnemic zoantharian about a year and a half ago. Now, two more species have recently been described by researchers from the University of the Ryukyus, the Japan Agency for Marine Science and Technology and Tropical Biosphere Research Center. Brachycnemic zoantharians occur in shallow waters in tropical and subtropical regions. Mainly zooxanthellate, they are common on coral reefs. At present, the suborder includes the three families Zoanthidae, Neozoanthidae and Sphenopidae. Only one genus of the family Sphenopidae, Palythoa, can be found in the Ryukyu Archipelago of southwestern Japan. Sphenopus and Palythoa are the two genera of the family. Sphenopus is azooxanthellate and is solitary. It occupies soft-sediment substrates, typically without firmly attaching to a hard surface. Palythoa is typically colonial and zooxanthellate (like most other brachycnemic zoantharians). It lives firmly attached to hard reef surfaces. Recently, new members of the genus Palythoa have been discovered in the Ryukuyus. They are a bit unusual. … More:

Dive in with Citizen Science!

Rockfish by Tewy

Photo: Tewy

 A scientific course for all levels of divers, what a good idea!  Rendezvous Dive Adventures staff and staff from The Seattle Aquarium have teamed up to offer this training.   Shawn Larson (Curator of Research) and Jeff Christiansen (Dive Safety Officer) will be on site to teach you the survey and diving techniques. The main focus is rock fish surveys, but the principles and methods can be used for many other survey subjects.… More:

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