Archive for February, 2014

‘Shark’s eye’ view: Witnessing the life of a top predator

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Instruments strapped onto and ingested by sharks are revealing novel insights into how one of the most feared and least understood ocean predators swims, eats and lives. Scientists are also piloting a project using instruments ingested by sharks and other top ocean predators, like tuna, to gain new awareness into these animals' feeding habits. The instruments, which use electrical measurements to track ingestion and digestion of prey, can help researchers understand where, when and how much sharks and other predators are eating, and what they are feasting on....

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10,000 years on the Bering Land Bridge: Ancestors of Native Americans paused en route from Asia

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Genetic and environmental evidence indicates that after the ancestors of Native Americans left Asia, they spent 10,000 years on a land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska. Archaeological evidence is lacking because it drowned when sea levels rose....

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Big thaw projected for Antarctic sea ice: Ross Sea will reverse current trend, be largely ice free in summer by 2100

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A new modeling study suggests that a recent observed increase in summer sea-ice cover in Antarctica's Ross Sea is likely short-lived, with the area projected to lose more than half its summer sea ice by 2050 and more than three quarters by 2100. These changes will significantly impact marine life in what is one of the world's most productive and unspoiled marine ecosystems....

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Importance of nutrients for coral reefs highlighted by scientists

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Despite the comparably small footprint that they take on the ocean floor, tropical coral reefs are home to a substantial part of all marine life forms. Coral reefs also provide numerous benefits for human populations, providing food for millions and protecting coastal areas from erosion. Moreover, they are a treasure chest of potential pharmaceuticals and coral reef tourism provides recreation and income for many. Unfortunately, coral reefs are declining at an alarming rate. To promote management activities that can help coral reef survival, an international group of world renowned scientists have addressed the present knowledge about the challenges that coral reefs are facing now and in the future in a new article....

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Working on thinning ice: Custom-designed radar measures Antarctic ice with millimeter accuracy

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A series of radars just deployed on Antarctica will give researchers their first ever day-by-day measurements of the health of one of the ice shelves that surround the frozen continent. The ice shelves around Antarctica can be up to 2 kilometres thick, but preliminary trials show the new radar system can detect changes of as little as a millimetre -- about the amount the Pine Island Glacier melts in just 30 minutes....

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Antarctic circumpolar current carries 20 percent more water than previous estimates

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By analyzing four years of continuous measurements of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current at Drake Passage, the narrowest point in the Southern Ocean, oceanographers have concluded that the current carries 20 percent more water than previous estimates. They also found that the current remains strong all the way to the seafloor....

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Still-fresh remnants of Exxon Valdez oil 25 years after oil spill, found protected by boulders

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Twenty-five years after the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, beaches on the Alaska Peninsula hundreds of kilometers from the incident still harbor small hidden pockets of surprisingly unchanged oil, according to new research....

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Where have all the codfish gone? Research suggests food source loss has contributed

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The mega-decline in cod and other fisheries across the North Atlantic Ocean threatens the livelihood of fishermen and communities in New England and Atlantic Canada. One suspect in the disappearance of cod and other groundfish is the food source for their young: a planktonic copepod crustacean. The first transcriptome for the key North Atlantic copepod Calanus finmarchicus has been published; scientists will use it to decode the genetic instructions that are resulting in population changes....

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Whales, ships more common through Bering Strait

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The Arctic is home to a growing number of whales and ships, and to populations of sub-Arctic whales that are expanding their territory into newly ice-free Arctic waters. A three-year survey of whales in the Bering Strait reveals that many species of whales are using the narrow waterway, while shipping and commercial traffic also increase....

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High Levels of Pollutants Found in Sediment in Guánica Bay

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NOAA researchers measured pollutants in the sediments of Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico, and found these were among the highest concentrations of PCBs, chlordane, chromium and nickel ever measured in the history of NOAA’s National Status & Trends Program. The National Status and Trends Program is a nationwide contaminant monitoring program that began in 1986. These results were released in a NOAA study earlier this month.

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