Oysters Can Hear Sounds, and It May Be Important

THE HEADLINE SOUNDS WHIMSICAL – Yes, oysters can ‘hear.’ They probably wish we’d clam up. But the concept is serious. A team  of researchers in France have determined that oysters react to many of the sounds of underwater noise pollution, like the engines of passing ships, wind turbines and pile driving. NOISE LIKELY A THREAT TO MANY FORMS OF MARINE LIFE Underwater noise pollution has long been a concern regarding whales and fishes. It’s been

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Six Ways in Which Algae is Our Friend

ALGAE COMES IN EIGHT GAZILLION DIFFERENT FORMS, from tiny little slimy green stuff to giant kelp, and to most of us it seems obnoxious and a thing to be ignored, if not despised. Except that algae is the foundation of the food chain, a pioneer in the evolution of life, and essential to our existence.  Algae uses sunlight to photosynthesize the carbon dioxide and hydrogen in water into the simple sugars that are nutrients for

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Echoes of The Wall: The Pink Floyd Pistol Shrimp

SCIENTISTS IDENTIFYING A NEW SPECIES OF PISTOL SHRIMP is interesting but not astounding, since discoveries like this continually advance our understanding of the web of life. UNLESS…The researchers name the new species after the iconic prog rock band Pink Floyd. That’s what a team of marine naturalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Brazil did with the newly identified Synalpheus pinkfloydi, which they found in Pacific waters off the coast of Panama. A

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For Sea Spiders, It’s All in the Legs

SEA SPIDERS ARE CREATURES WITH LONG LEGS radiating from tiny central bodies. In a class of marine arthropods called Pycnogonida, they’re found in more than 1,300 species in oceans all over the world LOOKS SIMILAR, WORKS VERY DIFFERENTLY    The only association they have with terrestrial spiders is … a physical appearance of long legs and tiny central bodies. Other than that, they are totally unlike real spiders, or anything else, for that matter. IT’S ALL IN

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Octopuses’ Skin May Be One Big Eye

CEPHALOPODS – OCTOPUSES, SQUIDS AND CUTTLEFISHES – are renowned for their ability to change colors and mimic surroundings like corals and other structures. In 2010, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., began researching the role of molecules called opsins, found in both cephalopod eyes and skin, with the idea that perhaps the animals skins helped them see. CUTTLEFISHES NO, OCTOPUSES YES   Although their research with cuttlefishes and squids failed to prove

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Upside-Down “Upside Down Jellyfish”

TWO DENIZENS OF NOTE IN THE MANGROVE ENVIRONMENT are Cassiopea fronosa and Cassiopea xmanchana, both better known by the common name “Upside Down Jellyfish” (as we pseudo marine naturalist know, they should be called sea jellies but all the sources I.D. them as jellyfishes).           NORMALLY ON THE BOTTOM   Although they can swim, upside down jellies spend most of their time lying on their backs in shallow waters – mostly mangrove

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Six Flower Garden Species I’ve Never Seen Before

EACH TIME, I DIVE FLOWER GARDENS BANKS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY, I APPRECIATE IT MORE.  After my last trip, I realized I had seen at least four fishes and two invertebrates I had never observed anywhere else. They’re presumably present elsewhere – but in 700 dives over 23 years, I’ve never seen them. And I focus on the marine life wherever I dive. 1) REEF SCORPIONFISH   I only found this little guy after the fact in

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Blood Star

BLOOD STARS (HENRICIA SANGUINOLENTA) ARE OFTEN DARK RED, SMALL AND TALKATIVE – well, this one looked like he ought to be, anyway. I always thought that if Pixar made a film featuring this blood star, it should be played by Billy Crystal. I digress. They’re found from the far northern Atlantic to as far south as Cape Hatteras. The book says they’re as big as four inches across. All those I’ve seen, in New England, are

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Mantis Shrimps – Tough, Strong and Hot!

MANTIS SHRIMPS ARE HOT.  Not as hot as sharks and manta rays always are, but in recent years they’ve been experiencing a flurry of attention, from a NatGeo special – “KILLER SHRIMP” (naturally) – to a spate of research looking at their speed of attack, strength and visual acuity. Despite their common nomenclature, mantis shrimps are neither shrimps nor assassins of divers or other human beings. They are highly efficient predators of other marine animals, they’re strong, tough

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The Shrimp’s Tiny Treadmill; No, It Didn’t Cost $3 Million

WHEN MARINE BIOLOGIST DAVID SCHOLNICK WANTED TO CONDUCT RESEARCH on how changes in the oceans might affect the ability of marine organisms to fight infections, he settled on a study involving shrimp and a device that became famous as “The Shrimp’s Tiny Treadmill.” The point was to study shrimp’s ability to remove bacteria from its body, since that could have an impact on bacteria that might end up in seafood. Since shrimp are active creatures

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