Fish that fart together stay together.
In an ocean full of clicking shrimp and singing whales, fish are often imagined as the silent actors. Fish use motion, color, and chemicals to communicate, but they lack the iconic mewl of a cat or trill of a bird. Yet in reality, many fish chat constantly to mark their territories or find mates. And all of our noise—from seismic surveys to boat motors—is making it much more difficult for fish to hear one another. Read more in Hakai Magazine.
Much like terrestrial animal farms, fish farms are incubators for disease.
Last summer, more than half a million farmed salmon died from a sea lice outbreak in New Brunswick’s Passamaquoddy Bay. More than 250,000 died directly from the parasites, which attach themselves to the fish and feed on their skin, blood, and mucus, while another 284,000 were euthanized to try to contain the spread.
The outbreak, which affected two sites owned by Gray Group, a bankrupt aquaculture company that still had fish in its pens, was a “catastrophic loss,” says Matthew Abbott, an environmentalist who monitors Passamaquoddy Bay for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. “Both sites were wiped out.” Read more in Hakai Magazine.
Pythons may be setting off a cascade of ecosystem changes.
The huge Burmese pythons that are slowly taking over Florida’s Everglades wetlands are a threat to the mammals that live there. But new research shows the pythons’ influence extends far beyond their own appetites: the snakes are setting off cascading changes to the ecosystem. Read more in Hakai Magazine.
Selfish daughters, not altruistic grandmothers, could explain the evolution of menopause.
Surviving beyond the end of your reproductive life is a rare trait: only female humans, killer whales, and short-finned pilot whales are known to do it. The question is why?
If the purpose of life is to pass on your genes, as evolutionary biologists suggest, then an end to reproductive ability—menopause—really just makes no sense. Read more in Hakai Magazine.
The increasingly urban birds are carrying salmonella.
If you’re golfing in Florida this winter, resist the urge to feed the friendly white ibises congregating around the water hazards—they might just give you salmonella.
The birds, native to Florida’s dwindling wetlands, have been moving to urban golf courses and parks. There they come into close contact with people—even being hand-fed in some cases—and leave their droppings on benches and buildings. Each point of contact has the potential to infect people. Read more in Hakai Magazine.
The odds world governments will finally agree to establish marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean are looking better than ever.
The Southern Ocean around Antarctica is one of the most diverse, fragile, and poorly studied ocean ecosystems on Earth. But as far as marine protection goes, it’s the Wild West. That could soon change, as representatives from 24 countries plus the European Union sit down this week to discuss the establishment of three marine protected areas (MPAs) in the waters off Antarctica. If the proposed protections go through, they will be the first of their kind for Antarctica’s marine environment. Read more in Hakai Magazine.
Rogue waves are rare in nature, but new research is making them perfectly common.
They seem to come from nowhere, walls of water towering above the sea, and then disappear without a trace. Rogue waves can swamp huge ships, lighthouses, or offshore structures without warning, and are among the most terrifying threats facing people at sea.
Rogue waves—waves that are more than twice the height of the surrounding waves—have been blamed for many wrecks. Read more in Hakai Magazine.
A new website uses ship location data to track deep-sea mining exploration.
Mining companies have claimed more than a million square kilometers of ocean around the world and soon—maybe sooner than you think—will begin sending huge robotic diggers to grind up the seafloor and extract gold, copper, manganese, and other metals to feed our growing hunger for raw materials. Read more in Hakai.
Fishers were part of the “Leave” push, but it may not work out as they’d hoped.
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in last week’s “Brexit” referendum will have profound effects on how fisheries are managed in both the UK and the EU. For now, it’s unclear exactly what those effects will be. But most experts agree that leaving the EU will be bad for both fishermen and fish stocks.
“It will be complicated and probably quite disastrous,” says Michel Kaiser, a marine conservation ecologist at Bangor University in Wales. Read more in Hakai.
Shellfish chitin is a starting material ripe for chemical modification.
If you want to work in Mark MacLachlan’s lab, it helps to have a taste for seafood. The chemist, who works at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, is working on turning the discarded shells of shrimp, crabs, and lobsters into advanced materials that could be used in batteries, plastics, or even for growing new organs. And it is up to his students to provide a steady supply of carcasses.
“One of my students buys lobsters and crabs, eats them, and then brings the shells to work,” MacLachlan says. Another has managed to secure a free supply of shells from a seafood restaurant.
MacLachlan is after one particular component of the material that makes up the shells—chitin, a tough substance that is structurally similar to the cellulose in plant cell walls. Read more in Hakai.