Publish by: Ari Friedlaender - Feb 7, 2013
Humpback whales ( Megaptera novaengliae ) are the most abundant baleen whale in the nearshore waters around the Antarctic Peninsula. They, along with millions of penguins, seals, seabirds, and other whales, feed primarily on Antarctic krill ( Euphausia superba ) during summer months. For a large 50-foot humpback whale, there needs to be a significant amount of these tiny, shrimp-like prey available to make the energetically costly act of lunge feeding worth the effort! But very little is known about how these ocean giants maneuver around to locate and feed on these small crustaceans. To learn...
Publish by: Clyde Roper - Jan 22, 2013
I have been at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since 1966, studying and reporting on all kinds of octopuses and squids . But I’ve always had a particular fascination with the mysterious and elusive giant squid . My interest in giant squid began in graduate school when my professor showed me two small, incomplete, stinky specimens—some of the few specimens in the world at that time. We knew virtually nothing about their biology, behavior, habitat: it was all a great mystery. My own search for the giant squid began not long afterwards, when I took the opportunity to dissect...
Publish by: Mark J. Spalding - Jan 15, 2013
2012 marked the 70th anniversary of a series of World War II battles in the Pacific Ocean and on its islands, which are collectively known as the “Pacific theatre.” While the battles are long over, thousands of wrecked boats and planes from many nations still rest on the seafloor. These wreck sites represent a twin legacy: one a memorial gravesite and historical marker, and the other a potential source of pollution from the wrecks into the sea. We call the first “ Underwater Cultural Heritage ”—the wrecks that are part of our collective planetary history. You can find U.S. wrecks from World...
Publish by: Ari Friedlaender - Jan 8, 2013
I have a vivid childhood memory of sitting under the Blue Whale model hanging in the Natural History Museum in London, eating an ice cream and wondering “How in the world did that whale get so big?” These days we are closer to knowing the answer. Over the past several years, a group of researchers have been studying how blue whales eat to better understand how such a big animal can survive on such small food. Blue whales are in a family of whales that have evolved comb-like baleen and large mouths to gulp huge volumes of water and then sieve out tiny prey— small crustaceans called krill or...
Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea 2007 Exploration, NOAA-OE.
Publish by: Andy Solow - Dec 20, 2012
My father once told me that the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who believe that the world is divided into two kinds of people and those who don’t. Wherever you come down on this particular issue, it’s clear that there is a common—if not always healthy—human impulse to classify objects into groups. In biology, this falls to taxonomists, whose job it is to classify living (and once-living) organisms into species, species into genera, genera into families, and so on. They do this not only to satisfy an impulse to classify, but also because it tells us something about the pace...
Publish by: Katrina Lohan - Dec 5, 2012
Marine parasites may be small in size, but they can be present in very high numbers and put together can weigh even more than all the top predators in an estuary or bay ecosystem! They play an important role in keeping their host population from growing out of control—allowing them to exert power over food webs and ecosystem function. High parasite diversity is even an indicator of a healthy ecosystem . What makes parasites fascinating to study is that they have had to evolve complex strategies that allow them to live both inside a host and outside in the environment. Here are a few examples...
Publish by: Caine Delacy - Nov 21, 2012
When we think "Africa," we think of the "Big Five"—lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinos—that crisscross the African Savannah. Few would imagine that there could be more natural beauty on offer. But there is: underwater. The east coast of Africa holds a bounty of life that rivals the land. It is lined with coral reefs, majestic islands, and, under the surface, animals bigger than any of the "Big Five", and none of them are in game parks! This includes some of the biggest animals in the sea: whale sharks, giant manta rays , humpback whales , dolphins, tiger sharks, and all the colors...
Brian Skerry, National Geographic
Publish by: Brian Skerry - Oct 31, 2012
A few years ago, I was in New Zealand photographing a story about the value of marine reserves (a type of marine protected area ). My last location was a place called the Poor Knights Islands , a spectacular group of small, rocky islands off the North Island of New Zealand, which had been fully protected as a no-take zone in the 1980’s. One afternoon I was invited to have tea with an old-time diver named Wade Doak , who was somewhat of a legend in those parts. Over tea, Wade told me that he believed the marine life was better at Poor Knights today than when he was diving there in the 1950’s...
NOAA, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Publish by: Matt Dozier - Oct 24, 2012
In 1872, the United States did something remarkable. We set aside one of our greatest natural treasures, Yellowstone National Park , for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. The logic was simple: this place is truly special, and we have a national responsibility to take care of it. Despite America’s history as a nation inexorably tied to the sea, it would take us another 100 years to accept that the ocean needs the same care and stewardship that we give our national parks on land. Eventually, the warning signs — vanishing coral reefs, declining fisheries, polluted coastlines — became...
Publish by: Nancy Knowlton - Oct 2, 2012
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (or the GBR as it is known to reef aficionados) stretches for more than 2,300 kilometers (over 1,429 miles) and can be seen from outer space. This largest barrier reef in the world is both a national icon and a global treasure that was recognized as a World Heritage site over thirty years ago. Yet a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that large portions of the GBR have been on a trajectory of decline for much of this period. Between 1986 and 2012, over half of the living coral has been lost. If current trends...