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New Dwarf Cuttlefish at Henry Doorly Zoo!

Dwarf_cuttlefish_(Sepia_bandensis) by the High Fin Sperm Whale

Dwarf cuttlefish. Photo: High Fin Sperm Whale/Wikimedia Commons

 The newest residents at the Henry Doorly Zoo have ten tentacles, swim via jet propulsion, squirt ink at potential danger and are masters of camouflage.  Yes, the zoo has cuttlefish!!Sixteen dwarf cuttlefish are now on display near the giant Pacific octopus exhibit.   These little guys are only 4 inches (10cm) in size when adults (the size of your computer mouse), but they are big on the cuteness scale.  Beware though; they only live for a year so don’t get too attached! Want one? MORE

Wife Swapping: Coral Style

It’s long been a theory of mine that corals exchange zooxanthellae within our aquariums to combat environmental stressors, and a new study proves this theory to be true in controlled systems as well as in the wild. The University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science led the study, which simulated ocean-acidification in controlled tank environments. “Since ‘symbiont shuffling’ occurs in only some cases, we wanted to understand what drives this process and whether it could help corals adjust to climate change,” said Ross Cunning, lead author of the study. Researchers then allowed150604100915_1_900x600 these specimens to recover in different temperatures to gauge which clades of zooxanthellae they adopted, and with a firm theory here, Cunning suggests temperature could be a controlling factor when it comes how and what symbionts are exchanged: “We discovered that partner switching in Caribbean star corals is dependent upon the severity of the bleaching event and the temperature during recovery.” Two similar studies were also conducted in the Coral Reef Futures lab at UM. “Together, these studies suggest that that the rate of warming, timing between bleaching events, and severity of each bleaching event, will play an important role in determining coral survivorship. We need to better understand these changes in order to accurately predict coral reef futures.” add’s Andrew Baker, UM Rosenstiel School associate professor of marine biology and ecology at UM.  Read more here!

Unlocking the Code to Ocean-Acidification

A new study led by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) has presented evidence stating coral reefs may not be as susceptible to ocean-acidification as once was thought. Examining coral reefs from the naturally acidic waters of Palau archipelago, researchers made some valuable findings. “Surprisingly, in Palau where the pH is lowest, we see a coral community that hosts more species and has greater coral cover than in the sites where pH is normal,” states Anne Cohen, co-author of the paper.
panama_coral_bioerosion_750_368613Upon comparing these findings with other naturally acidic reefs around the world, researchers found that the only common thread across these reefs was bio-erosion, and “because we don’t see a correlation between skeletal density and pH” [in the Palau reefs] lead author Hanna Barkley thinks there is something specific to Palau that might unlock the ocean-acidification code. Read more here!  

US Moves Closer to Protecting Coral Reefs In The Mid-Atlantic

Good news in the fight to help protect corals reefs in the USA.  Last week, a critical step was taken to protect coral reefs in the Mid-Atlantic states of the USA. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved an amendment to protect deep sea corals from the impacts of bottom-tending fishing gear in the Mid-Atlantic. The council is responsible for the conservation and management of fishery resources within the federal 200-mile limit of the Atlantic off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.  MORE

Google Maps Underwater Street View Imagery Adds 40 New Locations

reefsIn today’s day and age, there is not much we cant do from behind our computer screens. You can see the whole world at the stroke of a key. Now you can see the underwater world as well. Google Street View allows you to go all over the world, from the comfort of your couch. You can now see some of the most amazing coral reefs in the world. Recently, they added 40 new locations. Google Maps has joined forces with XL Catlin Seaview Survey, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Chagos Conservation Trust to release Street View imagery of more than 40 underwater spots around the World. Divers take SVII cameras on their dives to catch just amazingly breathtaking footage. Some of the locations you can watch include  Bali, the Cook Islands, the Bahamas and the Great Barrier Reefs. Google is focused on conservation and awareness.By adding imagery which shows the state and health of our coral reefs now, we can be more aware of the devastating effect of human impact, like global warming, climate change, over fishing and pollution, just to name a few, on our reefs.  MORE

More Coral Interactions in 20,000 Gallons

Joe Yaiullo’s 20,000 gallon dream aquarium can teach us a lot about aquascaping in our own home aquariums. This quartet of coral has worked out a delicate balance, and each is able to hold its own against its neighbors. 

4 corals hold their own against eachother

4 corals hold their own against each other

 The star of this quartet is the pink and red Echinophyllia, which itself looks like fused chunks of seperate coral colonies. These chalice coral are notorious for spitting out their digestive filaments onto their neighbors at night, devouring them whole. However, the Lithophylon to the right and the Mycedium to the left don’t seem to be experiencing any damage. There is some very minor damage to the green Stylophora from the Mycedium and Exhinophyllia, and I hypothesize that the Stylo is producing chemical defenses against the chalices. I’ve seen similar robustness in Montipora that are in close contact with Echinophyllia. Acropora, however, were easily digested.

Stony Coral Origins: Their Evolution and Diversification (Part 4)

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The anemone-like Corallimorphus profundus. Credit: Reimann-Zürneck & Iken 2003

 Mushroom Corals: Order Corallimorpharia There are only about fifty described species of corallimorpharians, but, despite this limited diversity, they are well-known amongst aquarists. The genera commonly exported are fairly homogenous in resembling anemones that have nearly lost their tentacles, but there are some very anemone-like exceptions—like the “orange ball anemone” Pseudocorynactis. In truth, this group is actually far more closely related to the stony corals, which at first glance seem quite different. How then do we differentiate these three groups?  MORE

Shark Carrying Truck Crashes on Florida Highway


A truly bizarre traffic accident occurred on Wednesday afternoon, when a truck carrying several Sandbar Sharks crashed on I-95 in Volusia County, Florida.  The trailer crashed after a tire became separated from the vehicle near Oak Hill said Florida Highway Patrol officials.  The semi crossed over  the median and stopped at a tree line. MORE

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