Monthly Archives: July 2018

Southern Ocean Retrospectives and Perspectives

Maggie Amsler, Department of Biology University of Alabama at Birmingham

I recently sailed away from Antarctica on almost the shortest day of the year, plying north through the Southern Ocean to the port city of Punta Arenas, Chile and ultimately flying home to Alabama where I touched down on the longest day (and hottest?!) of the year in Alabama. The four-day transit featured relatively calm seas most of the time, even in the notorious Drake Passage. Island-lifestyle enthusiast Jimmy Buffett would term my relocation a “change in latitude” and as a career polar marine biologist, I have made this drastic hemispheric shift for each of my 27 expeditions to Antarctica. According to my back of the envelope scribbles, I have had the privilege of spending approximately eight years of my life beside, on, in and even above the Southern Ocean.…

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Spitsbergen Beneath the Surface

By Courtney Mattison for Mission Blue

Imagine rolling backwards off an inflatable boat into icy Arctic waters… on purpose. Enveloped in protective gear, you stay mostly dry as the cold sinks into your body and you descend into the frigid depths below.
“The first thing that hits you is just the shock of the cold,” says Dr. Helena Reinardy, Associate Professor of Ecotoxicology at The University Centre Svalbard (UNIS) and member of the Longyearbyen Dive Club. She continues, “You think, I’ve got to get out right now!… But then you very quickly get used to it.”
Beneath the waves, you find yourself immersed in planktonic life, including some surprisingly large zooplankton—pulsing golden green jellies the size of marbles, skittering shrimplike amphipods and graceful sea angels (Clione limacina).…

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Critically Endangered Goliath Groupers, Hope for Sharks and the State of Our Corals

By: Angela Smith, Shark Team One

The world spoke and Florida state conservation managers listened regarding the fate of the goliath grouper in Florida waters! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted on April 26 to save the goliath grouper instead of opening up a potentially devasting fish and kill lottery on these iconic fish. Goliath groupers are critically endangered worldwide so the decision to not allow catch and kill was highly important for their continued recovery in Florida. These fish are classic apex predators, large, rare and only a few individuals occur on any given reef, so they are very important to the ecosystem.
Goliath groupers do not have federal endangered species protection status yet, so the issue to catch and kill goliaths could come up again, but for the foreseeable future the fate of the goliath grouper is safe and the Coastal Southeast Florida Hope Spot community was a driving force in their protection.…

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Ocean Stories: Data from the Twilight Zone

By Mae Dorricott

With my face glued to the car window, mouth agape, making “ooos” and “aahhhs”, I kept my colleagues Vaughn and Kayem well amused as they drove myself and Sonia through the stunning scenery of Pohnpei to Nihco Marine Park. This place was to be our base and home for Sonia’s annual expedition to explore the twilight zone of Pohnpei and sister atoll’s reefs.

I was invited along on the expedition by Dr. Sonia Rowley, one out of three people to win the David Attenborough Award for field work. She is well deserving of this award as her research in the twilight zone takes her to depths of 140 m, the area of the reef where light begins to dwindle away.…

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New Report Dives Deep Into the Myeik Archipelago

From our partners at Fauna & Flora International

The Myeik Archipelago along Myanmar’s southern coastline harbours hidden secrets including coral reefs teeming with life, abundant mangroves and seagrass beds, and unspoiled beaches. It is home to rare and threatened marine species, including hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles and shark species such as scalloped hammerhead and whale sharks, and supports numerous fishing communities. However, this once pristine archipelago has slowly been degraded by a raft of local pressures including overfishing, illegal fishing practices, increased runoff from coastal developments and forest clearing, and population growth.
The Myeik Archipelago was nominated as a Mission Blue Hope Spot because of its diversity of species and habitats. Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has recently been named as the Champion of the Myeik Archipelago Hope Spot as a result of our long-standing involvement at the site.…

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Stories From the Ice

By Courtney Mattison for Mission Blue

If you’ve never experienced an iceberg before, you might assume that they are silent, bobbing solitarily in the ocean. In reality icebergs can be loud, crackling and popping, crunching and even rolling into one another. When a glacier expands and “calves,” it makes an explosive “bang” as a giant chunk falls off into the water, forming a new iceberg.
Ride an inflatable Zodiac among them and the sounds grow, emanating from tiny air bubbles trapped thousands of years ago and then suddenly released into the air around you. Floating ice such as this and sea ice—ice formed directly from frozen seawater—provides platforms for seals and seabirds to rest, sunbathe and catch fish. Polar bears, the Arctic’s top natural predator, rely on sea ice to hunt seals.…

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