Archive for April, 2014

European seafloor survey reveals depth of marine litter problem

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A major new survey of the seafloor has found that even in the deepest ocean depths you can find bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets and other types of human litter. The litter was found throughout the Mediterranean, and all the way from the continental shelf of Europe to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge 2,000 kilometers from land. Litter is a problem in the marine environment as it can be mistaken for food and eaten by some animals or can entangle coral and fish -- a process known as "ghost fishing."...

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Sustainable barnacle-repelling paint could help the shipping industry and the environment

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Barnacles might seem like a given part of a seasoned ship's hull, but they're literally quite a drag and cause a ship to burn more fuel. To prevent these and other hangers-on from slowing ships down, scientists are developing a sustainable paint ingredient from plants that can repel clingy sea critters without killing them....

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Ocean acidity is dissolving shells of tiny snails off U.S. West Coast

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Biologists have found the first evidence that acidity of continental shelf waters off the U.S. West Coast is dissolving the shells of tiny free-swimming marine snails, called pteropods, which provide food for pink salmon, mackerel and herring, according to a new article....

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Australian marine reserves provide safe passageway for endangered species

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The value of Australia's newly established network of marine parks has been highlighted by an international project that used satellites to track the vulnerable flatback sea turtle. In the study, researchers used advanced satellite tracking systems to record the passage of more than 70 flatbacks off the north-west Australian coastline. A high value migratory corridor, more than 1,000 kilometres in length, was pinpointed, with about half the corridor contained within the network of marine reserves....

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Climate change: risks to well-being of nature, people, ways to mitigate exist, experts say

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From food shortages to global weather changes, there are ways to mitigate the risks of climate change, experts say. A new muli-national report outlines what we can expect as the planet continues to change with regard to climate patterns, and offers recommendations that focus on strategies from adaptation to mitigation....

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What lies beneath modern New England? Mountain-building and the end of an ancient ocean

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When and where did the ancient Iapetus Ocean suture (the most fundamental Appalachian structure) form? Is part of New England made up of ancient African-derived rocks? What is the Moretown terrane? A new study finds new evidence for an earlier closing of the Iapetus that is farther west than previous studies have reported....

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Reconstructed ancient ocean reveals secrets about the origin of life

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Researchers have published details about how the first organisms on Earth could have become metabolically active. The results permit scientists to speculate how primitive cells learned to synthesize their organic components -- the molecules that form RNA, lipids and amino acids. The findings also suggest an order for the sequence of events that led to the origin of life....

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Microscopic organism plays a big role in ocean carbon cycling

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Scientists have taken a leap forward in understanding the microscopic underpinnings of the ocean carbon cycle by pinpointing a bacterium that appears to play a dominant role in carbon consumption....

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Some corals adjusting to rising ocean temperatures

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Scientists have revealed how some corals can quickly switch on or off certain genes in order to survive in warmer-than-average tidal waters. To most people, 86-degree Fahrenheit water is pleasant for bathing and swimming. To most sea creatures, however, it's deadly. As climate change heats up ocean temperatures, the future of species such as coral, which provides sustenance and livelihoods to a billion people, is threatened....

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Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity: One species, a few drops of seawater, hundreds of coexisting subpopulations

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The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live in the oceans, forming the base of the marine food chain and occupying a range of ecological niches based on temperature, light and chemical preferences, and interactions with other species. But the full extent and characteristics of diversity within this single species remains a puzzle....

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