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4-eyed success

4 eyed turtle by kienthucdotnetdotvn 300x199 4 eyed success

Photo: kienthuc.net.vn

 The Tennessee Aquarium has had a breakthrough…two sets of baby four-eyed turtles have successfully hatched. The name is a bit misleading, they don’t actually have 4 eyes, they have spots on the back of their heads that look like extra eyes.  Listed on CITES Appendix III, these endangered turtles have been declining due to trade and demand for their shells which are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Aquarium is stepping in to help these little critters out by breeding them to help conserve the species and to place them at other facilities.  MORE

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Where a Reef Nerd’s Mind Wonders – Jellyfish Clouds

5637838967 c65986fc5d copy 300x225 Where a Reef Nerd’s Mind Wonders – Jellyfish CloudsThe past few weeks have been quite interesting for me, to say the least. As a result, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with my head in the clouds, where it often tends to go when I need a mental break. Interestingly enough, even with the fluffy white filling my head, I manage to have reefs on the brain. Staring at the sky the other day I noticed one of my favorite cloud patterns, Altocumulus Mackerel Sky, a stunning formation that heavily resembles the scales of the King Mackerel, from which the clouds get their name. Unsatisfied with the thought that there could only be one, lonely cloud formation that mirrored our oceans, I immediately thought of Jellyfish. They’re ghostly, bulbous mantles and streaming tentacles are definitely “cloudlike”. Well, a quick Google search informed me that, indeed, “Jellyfish Clouds” are a thing. Altocumulus Castelanus, “also known as jellyfish clouds due to their jellyfish-like appearance. These formed around 17,000 ft due to when the rush of moist air comes from the Gulf Stream and gets trapped between layers of dry air. The top of the cloud rises into a jellyfish shape and long tentacles known as “trailing virga” form from rain drops that have evaporated”. Incredible. Next time I find my mind wandering I’ll have to keep an eye out for the scarcely seen fluffy jellyfish of the sky. Also, just for fun, I’m also going to be on the lookout for the super-fun “Mammatus Clouds”. I don’t think meteorologists see enough boobs…
Mackerelskylincolnshire 1 150x150 Where a Reef Nerd’s Mind Wonders – Jellyfish Clouds Narrow barred Spanish mackerel 150x150 Where a Reef Nerd’s Mind Wonders – Jellyfish Clouds 1024px Mammatus clouds regina sk june 2012 150x150 Where a Reef Nerd’s Mind Wonders – Jellyfish Clouds

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Transparent Creatures Under The Sea

article Transparent Creatures Under The Sea
This article highlights a characteristic widely used, and not often studied, by animals in the ocean: transparency. When animals on land can try and camouflage with their surroundings, this usually means shades of brown or green to fit in with surrounding flora and fauna. Its quite different under the sea. Dr. Johnson, a Professor of Biology at Duke is studying transparent creatures. As one can imagine, this is not an easy task to do. The scientists often spend long periods of time underwater doing what appears to be looking at nothing to study deep sea transparency. When there is no where to hide, no reefs or underwater plants, transparency is the way to go for animals looking to avoid being the next meal. MORE

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Mysterious Plankton From Outer Space!

international space station and endeavor docked 300x197 Mysterious Plankton From Outer Space!Space officials and experts were left dumbfounded as to how traces of sea plankton and other various micro organisms were found living on the surface of the International Space Station. It’s unlikely the plankton hitched a ride before the craft was launched, as it’s not found in Baikonur in Kazakhstan, where it initially took flight. Scientists are theorizing they may have been blown there by terrestrial air currents, which makes pretty decent sense to me – I’m guessing alien plankton is unlikely. Russian astronauts Alexander Skvortsov and Olek Artemyev made the discovery during a routine spacewalk. While it may seem a bit jarring the organisms were able to survive with the lack of oxygen and extreme temperatures, sea plankton is actually quite capable of enduring even the harshest conditions. More can be read here and here

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Florida’s Reefs Go Digital

 I’ve written about it before here, but Google Map, thanks to Catlin Seaview Survey, is coming to an underwater reef near you. Eventually, our reefs will be documented in the same way as our streets are. This is a remarkable feet in being able to capture and study the health of our Ocean’s reef in a level that was not achievable before this technology. Up until now, the camera’s have focused on underwater reefs outside the United States. I am happy to say that a place near to my heart, the Florida Keys, will be the first American Reef to be photographed and available for underwater viewing. MORE

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BP Oil Spill Continues to Destroy Marine Life

The deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill of 2010 has largely been written off by the media and its perpetrators as “dissipated” or “contained,” yet the affects of releasing millions of gallons of oil into the sea are still wide reaching, says a team of researchers from Penn State University. Charles Fisher, professor of biology at Penn State University framed the issue stating: “The footprint of the impact of the spill on coral communities is both deeper and wider than previous data indicated. “This study very clearly shows that multiple coral communities, up to 22 kilometers from the spill site and at depths over 1800 meters, were impacted by the spill.” Using a remote operated vehicle (ROV) Fisher and his team were able to capture high resolution photo’s of coral communities, finding that the oil had affected marine life further than one had expected from the spill site. tfisher mc297 2 7 2014 BP Oil Spill Continues to Destroy Marine Life “We were looking for coral communities at depths of over 1000 meters that are often smaller than the size of a tennis court,” added Fisher.“We needed high-resolution images of the coral colonies that are scattered across these communities and that range in size from a small houseplant to a small shrub. With the cameras on board the ROV we were able to collect beautiful, high-resolution images of the corals,” said Fisher. “When we compared these images with our example of known oil damage, all the signs were present providing clear evidence in two of the newly discovered coral communities of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.” Read more here.  

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Human Induced Feed Loop is Cause for Coral Decline

A new study performed by a San Diego State University team adds to the conversation about commercial fishing and inhabited islands around the Pacific. Many recent studies have shown how the presence of humans on an island, and in this case the act of commercial fishing along shores, can cause dramatic changes to surrounding reefs. “Corals are fierce competitors for space on the reef,” Add’s lead author Linda Kelly. “In a healthy marine environment, reefs support a vibrant population of corals and other calcifying organisms that continuously build the reef skyward.”Coral algae reef Human Induced Feed Loop is Cause for Coral Decline
Kelly and her team sampled surface water from 22 reefs on 11 atolls just south of Hawaii, sequencing millions of DNA from bacteria, viruses, and protists. What she and her team found was that specific bacteria can determine the amount of coral cover vs the amount of algae cover on a reef. Identifying which microorganisms influence key factors on a reef like metabolic processes will contribute to the techniques and approaches used in reef conservation. 
“How do you create an environment for corals to thrive?” Kelly asked. “In addition to practicing sustainable fishing, one way to rehabilitate a reef would be to transplant corals to the site. This should promote an environment more conducive to coral growth by fostering a beneficial community of microorganisms.” Read more here and get the full publication here!

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Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 2

ozone2 2 Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 2In the first installment of this series, we examined the confirmable uses of ozone gas in the home aquarium. We saw ozone having a positive effect on the nitrogen cycle and doing a great job creating ultra-clear water conditions by breaking up suspended particles. We also examined the biggest myth of using ozone—that it will sterilize your water. It is true that ozone will kill bacteria, but we use ozone at a level far below what is required to kill the majority of bacteria. Today we will look at the most common means of using ozone in the home aquarium and how to select the right system for creating and applying ozone. Ozone is created by intense electrical discharges. In nature, that means lightning bolts. At home, we can also create ozone by using an electrical discharge device (imagine a spark plug and a current jumping the gap as air passes over it). Skimmer injection Ozone is a gas at room temperature, which makes injecting it into your skimmer an ideal application method. A skimmer draws air into its chamber at such an angle as to maximize contact time with the water More: Clearing the Air on Ozone: Part 2

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