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Senate Report Calls for Greater Protection of GBR

A recent federal assessment made on The Great Barrier Reef has scientists and communities alike shaking their heads. The effects of land use water entering the surrounding reef waters, among other human induced threats, is eliminating the chance for recovery. “You have to make a quantifiable link between what is happening in the catchments and what’s happening in the Great Barrier Reef, where there’s been a decline in biodiversity,” said Alana Grech, from Macquarie University. great barrier reef diver 615 Senate Report Calls for Greater Protection of GBRPhoto courtesy of Natgeo.The assessment drew on many facts stating researchers had “identified overwhelming evidence that a range of threats are continuing to affect inshore habitats along the developed coast, and the species that use these habitats.” With improvements being stifled by new dreading permits, and massive port development projects in Queensland, the reef is taking hits from all sides. The Governments report concludes stating their “One-Stop Shop will streamline environmental assessment and approval processes by removing duplication between the Australian Government and states and territories. Importantly, this will be achieved while maintaining high environmental standards.” Read more here.… More:

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Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention

Ever wonder where that vividly white sand on the beach comes from? Underwater giants produce the sand themselves through biological methods of metabolism. Yep thats right its technically fish poop. One of the largest producers of sand is the Parrotfish which ingests calcium carbonate skeletons of coral (sometimes with living polyps) and excretes them back out in the form of tiny sand grains that wash up onto beaches. These fish are the topic of a recent study highlighting how the both the positive and negative influences of such endangered species can be key factors in the success of an ecosystem. Bumphead Stiefel Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention

Douglas McCauly of the University at Santa Barbara explains his time in the field for this study: “We actually swam alongside Bumphead Parrotfish for close to six hours at a time, taking detailed data on what they ate and where they went. These large parrotfish crunch off entire pieces of reef and audibly grind them up into sand in their pharyngeal mill — specialized teeth in the back of their throat. You know Bumpheads are near when you begin noticing branches lopped off stony corals and golf-like divot scars marking the reef.

bite ENH Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention“Most species do things to ecosystems that we would construe as both positive and negative. This viewpoint is ecologically misleading,” he states. “Endangered species are no different from their more abundant counterparts.” This dichotomy of influence is why McCauly and his team are pushing for a higher level of protection for endangered and threatened species adding: “We can, in fact, strengthen the integrity of the field of conservation biology by being rigidly objective about the observations we make in nature — even if this means reporting occasionally that rare species can damage ecosystems,” he added. “If anything, better understanding the full complement of ways that at-risk species use and affect their environment empowers us to more effectively protect them.” Read more here.… More:

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Blue Tang Aggregation, Acanthurus coeruleus

6bf1Blue Tangs 457x303 Blue Tang Aggregation, Acanthurus coeruleusHi friends, Here’s a colorful photo of a big school of Blue Tangs cruising through the reef with a single goatfish (yellow fish) trying hard to blend in. I really had quite a laugh underwater watching this single goatfish, it’s like he always wanted to be a blue tang and figured they wouldn’t even notice if he hung out with them. We see these large groups called “aggregations” on the reef here every single day and I still never seem to get tired of it, they are just so beautiful. Adult blue tangs have three social modes: territorial, wandering, and schooling. Territorial adults defend their home rage from other members of the species MOREMore:

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Drones Used to Combat Illegal Fishing in Belize

On the forefront of technological reef research the country of Belize has assigned drones to combat illegal fishing throughout marine protected areas, in what may be the first use of drones for conservation. “Belize has been a leader in the establishment of marine protected areas, including the world-famous Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, but fishing regulations are difficult to enforce on the open sea,” said Julio Maaz, Communities Fisheries Coordinator for WCS’s Marine Program in Belize. “Drones offer a means of improving the rate of detection of illegal activities at a fraction of the cost required for patrol vessels.” 140722152432 large Drones Used to Combat Illegal Fishing in Belize The unmanned aerial drones will begin a new monitoring program that is a partnership between the Wildlife Conservation Society who provided the technical expertise, and the Belize Fisheries Department. “This exciting new enforcement tool will help the government and local communities protect their most valuable assets — the fisheries and coral reefs of Belize’s coastal waters,” said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Executive Director of WCS Marine Conservation. “The world’s oceans are in dire need of low cost innovations for improving the cost efficiency and effectiveness of enforcement efforts. This represents an exciting pilot program for Belize, the wider Caribbean, and nearshore marine parks and fisheries around the world.” Read more here!More:

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Mozambique Channel Lends insight into Bleaching Events

In an ongoing effort to understand the effects of ocean warming scientists have made yet another breakthrough in determining which reefs are more susceptible to increases in temperature. Tracking patterns of decline and measuring recovery rates of reefs throughout 291 sites, and thousands of miles of ocean over a 7 year span, scientists found that the Mozambique Channel offered the most insight into future events as its treasure trove of diversity withstood the massive warming and bleaching events of El Nino. Doctor Caleb McClennen, Director of the WCS Marine Program said this to support their findings: “The remaining coral diversity of the Mozambique Channel presents us with an opportunity to safeguard these remaining ecosystems for posterity.”

71516 web Mozambique Channel Lends insight into Bleaching Events“Determining which reef systems possess a measure of resistance to climate change requires knowing how they have survived the many recent climatic disturbances. The Western Indian Ocean provides us with a variety of responses to disturbances that we can examine and distinguish environmental variation, resilience, adaptation, and other factors for a more informed view of management priorities and solutions to the climate crisis.” said Tim McClanahan, WCS’s Senior Conservation Scientist and lead author of the paper. Read more here!… More:

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Massive Glass Aquarium Cracks at Downtown Disney

Well it’s happened again. The T-Rex Cafe (part of Downtown Disney) in Buena Vista Florida had its dinner guests surprised as a massive saltwater tank burst Monday afternoon sending thousands of gallons of water onto the floor, leaving its fish high and dry. There were no reports of any injured guests and details on the break and the status of the fish are yet to be released.     … More:

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Overview of Sponges

Futuyma 2009 293x300 Overview of Sponges

Source: Futuyma, 2009

 Although commonly regarded as the most primitive multicellular animal group, sponges – members of the phylum: Porifera, are both diverse and interesting. Currently, this phylum is described as consisting almost completely of 3 distinct classes: Demospongea, Calcarea, and Hexactinellida. Roughly 95% of living sponge species fall into the class: Demospongea. This group of sponges has spicules – small skeletal structures that are composed of spongin – a soft, spongy protein, and/or SiO2 – the solid chemical compound that forms glass and quartz. If you see a “spongy-looking” creature in your reef aquarium, chances are it is a Demosponge. 
Demosponge 300x243 Overview of Sponges

Demospongea

 The next group, Calcarea, is thought to include around 3% of living sponge species. This group features sponges that have a skeleton composed of rigid… More:
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Reef Threads Podcast #157

reefthreads1 Reef Threads Podcast #157http://cdn.wso.net/reefthreads/podcasts/rt157.mp3
It’s Regular Guy Week, this time with Elliott, a hobbyist from the Phoenix, AZ area and owner of a 900-gal. display and an overall amazing system. We had a great time talking with Elliott about his system and hobby experiences. Download the podcast here, or subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Also, follow us on Twitter at reefthreads.—Gary and Christine Elliott’s video Below are some images Gary made when he visited Elliott. More: Reef Threads Podcast #157More:

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