Ocean-science

Why Should I Care For the Oceans?

We’ve all heard it:

“Why does it matter if we overfish tuna? It tastes so good!”

“If the oceans dried up tomorrow, why would I care? I live 500miles away from any body of water!”

The thing is, without the oceans, we would all be dead. Our planet would probably look like Mars. There would be no freshwater, no food for us to eat, no suitable climate for us to survive.

(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Whether you live by the coast, or only see the ocean once a year on holiday, the ocean has an impact on your life. Every breath you take, every food or drinks you have… is thanks to our oceans. Every single individual and living being on this planet is deeply connected, and extremely dependent upon our seas.

The oceans regulates climate, weather, and temperature. They act as carbon dioxide ‘sinks’ from the atmosphere. They hold 97% of the Earth’s water. They govern our Earth’s chemistry; all the microbes and microscopic organisms at the very bottom of the food chain support our own existence. The oceans are also crucial for our economies, health and security.

(Photo credit: Brian Skerry)

The past generations have been raised with the idea that the ocean is huge (and it is) and resilient, and that we could basically take from or put into the oceans as much as we wanted. Now, we found out that we cant go on this way. This mentality is part of our problem and it needs to change.

While we have made tremendous discoveries about the oceans over the last few decades, we have also caused more destruction to the sea than ever before. Many fisheries stocks are overfished, catastrophic fishing techniques are destroying the habitats and depleting populations, many marine species are on the verge of extinction, coral reefs are dying, pollution run-offs from agricultural farms are creating dead-zones where nothing can grow or live, millions of gallons of oil have devastated the Gulf of Mexico, bigger and faster container ships create noise pollution for marine mammals and endangers them…The list goes on, and on. We have had so much impact that we have actually changed the pH of the oceans! 

Pretty overwhelming, uh? 

So yes, you should care, because if the oceans crash, we as a species are crashing with them. The entire planet Earth will be gone. And if that’s not enough of a wake-up call for you, I don’t know what else could be!

While all the current marine conservation issues appear huge and insurmountable, there is still hope. Each individual can make a difference now. YOU can make better choices about which fish to consume (or not at all!) and ask about the way they were caught or raised, YOU can encourage sustainable fishing practices, YOU can decide not to use fertilizer or pesticides in your backyard, YOU can bring your own reusable bag to the grocery store and stop using plastics, YOU can stop using products with microbeads, YOU can participate in beach clean-ups, YOU can start your own research and discover even more awesome things about the oceans… YOU can spread the word to your skeptic friends! Have people follow in your footsteps; inspire your friends and family. Be the change :) !

(Photo source: Flickr)

“If you want to have an impact on history and help secure a better future for all that you care about, be alive now” - Sylvia Earle

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I did not know that either. That is one HUGE sea turtle.

Lifespan quoted is incorrect. They can live about as long as humans, as a best guess. As for the size, they can weigh up to a ton and be about 6 feet long.

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closely related to sharks but with long, flat bodies and wing-like pectoral fins, mobula rays are ideally suited to swooping through the water - here off the gulf of california - yet seem equally at home in the air, so much so that they have earned the name “flying rays”. mobula rays can reach heights of more than two metres, remaining airborne for several seconds. 

mobula rays are quite elusive and difficult to study, so biologists are not quite sure why they jump out of the water. theories vary from a means of communication, to a mating ritual (though both males and females jump), or as a way to shed themselves of parasites. they could also be jumping as a way of better corralling their pray, as seen with them swimming in a circular formation. 

what is known about mobula rays is that they reach sexual maturity late and their investment in their offspring is more akin to mammals than other fishes, usually producing just a single pup after long pregnancies, all of which makes them extremely vulnerable to commercial fishing, especially as a species that likes to come together in large groups.

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The Okeanos Explorer has discovered a very cute octopus at a depth of 4,290 metres.

This is the deepest an octopus of this particular sub order of octopus has ever been seen. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted this is a completely unsubscribed species and perhaps not belonging to any specific genus. Highlighting how little we still know about the creatures in the depths of our oceans.

(Ocean Explorer)

How can an octopus be so colorful? 🐙 🌈

Many cephalopods have special cells in their skin tissue called chromatophores, which enable them to change color rapidly. A part of their neuromuscular system, these cells receive signals from the environment than an octopus can use to inform color change. Chromatophores can help octopodes like this one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary blend in with their surroundings or flash a warning to predators! 

(Photo: NURC/UNCW/NOAA)

washingtonpost.com
France becomes the first country to ban plastic plates and cutlery
The ban, to take effect in 2020, is part of a program aimed at making France a model for reducing environmental waste.

Another great step in the right direction to reduce single-use plastics and plastic pollution in the ocean!

11 Electrifying Facts about Jellyfish

Some are longer than a blue whale. Others are barely larger than a grain of sand. One species unleashes one of the most deadly venoms on Earth. Another holds a secret that’s behind some of the greatest breakthroughs in biology. In every way, jellyfish are fascinating creatures and today we’re celebrating them with 11 wild facts!

1. Jellyfish have inhabited the ocean for at least half a billion years, and they’re still flourishing even as the sea changes around them.

2. Jellyfish are soft-bodied sea creatures that aren’t really fish. They’re part of a diverse team of gelatinous zooplankton, zooplankton being animals that drift in the ocean.

3. A noted feature of jellyfish is a translucent bell made of a soft delicate material called mesoglea. Sandwiched between two layers of skin, the mesoglea is more than 95% water held together by protein fibers. The jellyfish can contract and relax their bells to propel themselves. They don’t have a brain or a spinal cord, but a neural net around the bell’s inner margin forms a rudimentary nervous system that can sense the ocean’s currents and the touch of other animals.

4. Jellyfish don’t have typical digestive systems, either. These gelatinous carnivores consume plankton and other small sea creatures through a hole in the underside of their bells.

5. The nutrients that jellyfish consume are absorbed by an inner layer of cells with waste excreted back through their mouths.

6. One species of jellyfish glows green when it’s agitated, mostly thanks to a biofluorescent compound called green fluorescent protein, or GFP. Scientists isolated the gene for GFP and figured out how to insert it into the DNA of other cells. There, it acts like a biochemical beacon, marking genetic modifications, or revealing the path of critical molecules. Scientists have used the glow of GFP to watch cancer cells proliferate, track the development of Alzheimer’s, and illuminate countless other biological processes. Developing the tools and techniques from GFP has netted three scientists a Nobel Prize in 2008, and another three in 2014.

7. The jellyfish’s sting, which helps it capture prey and defend itself, is its most infamous calling card. In the jelly’s epidermis, cells called nematocysts lie coiled like poisonous harpoons. When they’re triggered by contact, they shoot with an explosive force. It exerts over 550 times the pressure of Mike Tyson’s strongest punch to inject venom into the victim. 

8. The venom of one box jellyfish can kill a human in under five minutes, making it one of the most potent venoms of any animal in the world.

9. Jellyfish who may be the most successful organisms on Earth. There are more than 1,000 species of jellyfish, and many others that are often mistaken for them.

10. Ancient fossils prove that jellyfish have inhabited the seas for at least 500 million years, and maybe go back over 700 million. That’s longer than any other multi-organ animal. And as other marine animals are struggling to survive in warmer and more acidic oceans, the jellyfish are thriving, and perhaps getting even more numerous.

11. Some jellyfish can lay as many as 45,000 eggs in a single night. And there’s some jellyfish whose survival strategy almost sounds like science fiction. When the immortal jellyfish is sick, aging, or under stress, its struggling cells can change their identity. The tiny bell and tentacles deteriorate and turn into an immature polyp that spawns brand new clones of the parent.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Jellyfish predate dinosaurs. How have they survived so long? - David Gruber

Animation by Silvia Prietov

What makes octopuses so awesome?

Well, here are just a few things:

Okay, so that’s a lot of awesome right there. But what about this:

Plus, they have some pretty amazing defense mechanisms, from changing color to blend in with their surroundings (or let you know they are angry):

To squeezing themselves into impossibly tiny places. (Did we mention they have no skeleton?)

And a bonus fact: octopuses live in almost all of our national marine sanctuaries!