New research and developments, in depth.

A New Global Initiative to End Plastic Waste

GLOBAL PLAYERS INVOLVED IN EVERY PHASE OF THE PLASTICS CHAIN, from production to consumer packaging to waste management, have announced the creation of a nonprofit effort to help end plastic waste in the environment, especially in the oceans. The new Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) is supported by nearly 30 corporations, as diverse as petrochemical manufacturers like ExxonMobil, manufacturers like the Saudi company SABIC and consumer products distributors like Proctor & Gamble. They propose

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These Humpbacks Let Seabirds Bring the Prey

OFF THE COAST OF CANADA’S VANCOUVER ISLAND, HUMPBACK WHALES have developed a new, low-energy approach to collecting their daily 2,500 kg of delectable edibles like herring. Kicking back and remaining stationary, these humpbacks let seabirds bring the prey to them. The scientists who have documented the new behavior have termed it “trap-feeding,” after the plant world’s Venus fly traps. CONVENTIONAL FEEDING TECHNIQUES Humpbacks (Megaptera novaeangliae) are baleen whales – that is, they earn their livings by

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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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Coral Reefs Ring, Scientists Say

CORAL REEFS “RING,” ACCORDING TO NEW RESEARCH. You may not hear it above your bubbles or the cacophony of surges or the clacking of snapping shrimp that contribute to the sounds we hear underwater. But, if listened to properly, the reefs may be able to tell us about their health. IT’S THE BUBBLES More specifically, algae on the reef produces ringing sounds as it goes about its business of photosynthesizing H2O molecules into simple-sugar nutrients

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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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Whale Shark Size And Age: Long Live Whale Sharks!

APPARENTLY IT TAKES TIME TO GROW TO BE THE WORLD’S BIGGEST FISH. A new study of whale shark size and age has indicated that gargantuan fishes can live to the ripe old age of 130 years. Marine biologists at the U.K.-based Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme and Florida’s Nova Southeastern University analyzed a decade’s worth of repetitive, non-invasive underwater measurements of whale sharks in the Maldives to understand whale shark age and growth details. Previous

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The Shark Pup Hatching, from bioGraphic

HERE’S A REMARKABLE PHOTO OF A SHARK PUP HATCHING, published in the terrific science magazine bioGraphic. It’s a small spotted catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula), caught just after its emergence from its egg casing. That’s its name – small spotted catshark – but the little shark has other common names, including lesser spotted dogfish. Recreational diver are not so likely to see one. S. canicula is a bottom-dweller at depths from 30 to 300 feet/10 to 300

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