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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.

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

With Every Breath You Take, Thank the Ocean

When was the last time you thought about your breathing? Take a breath right now and think about it. You breathe because you need oxygen, a gas which makes up 21 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. All that oxygen has to come from somewhere. You might already know that it comes from photosynthetic organisms like plants. But did you know that most of the oxygen you breathe comes from organisms in the ocean?

That’s right—more than half of the oxygen you breathe comes from marine photosynthesizers, like phytoplankton and seaweed. Both use carbon dioxide, water and energy from the sun to make food for themselves, releasing oxygen in the process. 

Want to know who to thank? Up top, we have a picture of the giant kelp, a brown algae that grows along coasts in cooler regions around the world. The swirling blue image is of the ocean and was taken from a satellite in space. The light blue areas are where there are high concentrations of chlorophyll, the molecule used by phytoplankton to convert sunlight into energy. Lastly, this zoomed in image of a red algae shows its filamentous hairs, which are only a single cell width across, at 250x zoom. Pretty cool!

The silent slurp of plankton soup sucked by the sea’s super shark. 🐋🦈

This video comes to us from staffer John O'Sullivan on one of his many research trips to the Gulf of California. Working with his Mexican colleagues, John is studying filter-feeding sharks and kin—whale sharks, manta and mobula rays—to see how vulnerable they are to ingesting micro-plastics as they sift sustenance from their watery world.

Just as the largest fish in the ocean feeds on some of its smallest inhabitants, so too do the smallest of actions to reduce plastic in the ocean stand to have a massive impact on the health of the most impressive species living in the ocean.

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!

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Corydoras catfish.These adorable little Cories are apart of the armoured catfish family. They are very docile and friendly fish often featured in tropical aquariums. This is due to their compatible nature with most other fish and their ability to aid in the cleaning process as they are typically bottom feeders.

A few different types:

1. Albino, 2. False Bandit, 3.  Bronze, 4. Sterbai, 5. Panda, 6. Black, 7. Reticulatus, 8. Peppered, 9. Julie

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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)

Prickly Dogfish

This shark might be called a dogfish, but the fuzzy-looking stuff on its body isn’t fur. Instead, it earned the moniker “prickly” for its highly textured, bristly skin. It also has a distinctive body shape, being especially tall from belly to back and sporting not one but two large dorsal fins. Unfortunately for this shark, those protruding fins can get it into trouble: they make it more likely to get caught in nets, especially since its depth range overlaps with that of fishers’ trawls.

Weird Fact of the Day: 
Mouth brooding is a reproductive strategy employed by several families of fish (and some frogs!). The animals hold fertilised eggs in their mouth and incubate them until they hatch. In some cases, the fish will also intermittently shelter the juveniles after they have hatched to protect them from danger.
(Photo belongs to Jim Chambers)

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