New research and developments, in depth.

Manta Ray Socializing: Mantas Just Want to Hang Out

FAR FROM BEING FREE-RANGING LONERS, MANTA RAYS BOND WITH EACH OTHER in relationships that often last for extended periods, according to a five-year study of manta ray socializing in Indonesia. Some mantas form loosely connected groups to hang out with. Not surprisingly, like their human counterparts, female mantas form much tighter friendships with other females than males do among themselves. The males? Well, the boys’ groups were looser and they tend to cruise more. MANTA

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Meet the American Pocket Shark. It Glows. Maybe

POCKET SHARKS ARE SO SINGULAR THAT AS FAR AS THE WORLD KNOWS there are only two known species – and only one specimen of each. The first resides in a museum in Russia. The second, found in the Gulf of Mexico and just identified, has been given a scientific name but it’s probably going to be known as the American pocket shark. If having one specimen each of two species makes them the world’s rarest

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It’s Official: Human Pollution a Big Cause of Reef Loss

BLAME FOR MASSIVE CORAL DIEOFFS ON TROPICAL REEFS has largely centered on seemingly unstoppable ocean warming. But a new study of coral reef pollution focused on the Florida Keys has confirmed another major cause of coral loss – and, one that can be fixed. A review of 30 years bringing together data on rainfall events, man-made pollution and coral health has linked massive coral loss in the Keys to direct man-made pollution from improperly treated

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When Killer Whales Show Up, Great Whites Run Away

A NEW STUDY HAS FOUND THAT WHEN KILLER WHALES ARRIVE IN A FEEDING GROUND, GREAT WHITES SHARKS CLEAR OUT. In a study of great white sharks and killer whales, It turns out that great whites, renowned as the oceans’ apex predators, have apex predators of their own in orcas, or killer whales. Researchers at Monterrey Bay Aquarium and several partner organizations looked at patterns in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off San Francisco, a

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The Conch Republic Has Just Banned Coral-Toxic Sunscreens, and So Should You!

THE EVIDENCE IS CLEAR: THE MOST COMMON CHEMICALS FOUND IN SUNSCREENS, OXYBENZONE AND OCTINOXATE, are damaging to coral reefs and contribute to coral bleaching. The city of Key West in Florida has just joined the state of Hawaii in voting to ban the sale of coral-toxic sunscreens. At stake is the health of their fragile reefs and, obviously, their futures as destinations for millions of divers and other tourists. They’d like to see reef-safe sunscreen

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Eels in Seals’ Noses: No One Knows Why

ONE EEL UP A SEAL’S NOSE IS AN EVENT. FOUR EELS IN SEALS’ NOSES IS A FAD. Like teenagers swallowing detergent pods, Hawaiian monk seals seem to be chasing a trend – stuffing eels inside in their nostrils. At least, that appearance baffles staff at the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, an NOAA agency based in Honolulu. Unknown until recently, the researchers have encountered the eels in seal’s noses phenomenon several times in the past

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The Ultimate Wreck Dive You’ll Never Do

HIDDEN IN THE BLACK SEA FOR MORE THAN 2,400 YEARS, an ancient Greek shipwreck sits tantalizingly intact, awaiting visitors – one mile below the surface. It’s the ultimate wreck dive nobody will do except with ROV’s or manned submersibles. The 75 ft-/23 m-long ship, believed to be a trading vessel dating from about 400 B.C., sits on the bottom tilted towards its starboard side, with its mast still erect, its rowing benches in place, its

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Flower Garden Banks – A Manta Ray Nursery

MANTA RAYS ARE FOUND IN OCEANS WORLDWIDE, BUT MANTA RAY JUVENILES ARE RARELY SEEN. Except, it develops, in the newly recognized manta ray nursery in the Gulf of Mexico’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. When visiting manta specialist Josh Stewart told Flower Gardens staff he had spotted only the second juvenile he had ever seen, their response was: they see them all the time. Apparently, they assumed the smaller mantas were a different species

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A Newly Discovered Coral Reef on America’s Doorstep

A NEWLY DISCOVERED CORAL REEF off the U.S.’s mid-Atlantic coast  stretches for some 85 miles, dense with stony Lophelia pertusa, a branching deep-sea, cold-water coral. A half-mile below the ocean surface, the “new” reef has “mountains” of coral, according to researchers. It’s situated about 160 miles off Charleston, S.C. DEEP SEARCH – A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY The newly discovered coral reef was identified by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies as

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Octopuses on Ecstasy Become Huggy

GIVING THE PARTY DRUG ECSTASY TO OCTOPUSES may sound like a joke from a slacker movie. Some news stories about the research have taken a humorous tack, talking about how octopuses on Ecstasy become huggy. But, in fact, the study has a serious goal and may result in improved understanding of evolution and treatment of human afflictions like post-traumatic stress disorder. IT’S ABOUT THE GENES Johns Hopkins University’s Gül Dölen and Marine Biological Laboratory’s Eric

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