Category Archives: Marine biology

“Bet you didn’t know water sponges are animals”!!!

SEA SPONGES

ROPE SPONGE2The title quotation, “Bet you didn’t know sponges are animals” is from Dr. Jonathan Bird, on his studies of living sea sponges.
TUBE SPONGESponges live at the bottom of the ocean attached to the surface – never moving.
ENCRUSTING SPONGESSponges look like plants, but are multi-cellular animals.
Sponges are found in the Arctic, Antarctic oceans and the tropics on many coral reefs. These ancient animals have been around for 1/2 billion years.
BARREL SPONGEThe most common is the barrel sponge, some of which can grow larger than a person.
According to Jonathan these sponges are “not as cool as sharks, but still fascinating animals.”

youtube video “Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Sponges!” published on Mar 11, 2014

BASE SPONGEA sponge might not look like much, but these simple animals with no brain or ability to move have lived on Earth for hundreds of millions of years. They can hunt prey and spawn, and Jonathan demonstrates how in this fascinating segment about the biology of sponges!

There are more than 14,000 videos and webisodes on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World’s site and Youtube – all entertaining, amazing and thrilling!

Friday’s ‘Aw… and Wow’ Factor ~ Amazing!

PENGUIN NURSERIES

The following article, “Hey, I think that’s our kid, 3,233rd from the left: Stunning pictures of island where penguins have created the world’s largest crèche” by Emily Allen, was updated 2 June 2011, on http://www.dailymail.co.uk.

I thought you might also enjoy this great Youtube video, “King penguins – Attenborough: LIfe in the Freezer” – BBC, uploaded Mar. 7, 2012. In a fantastic clip from Attenborough’s 1993 series ‘Life in the Freezer’, Sir David demonstrates how inquistive baby penguins are. A great glimpse into the life of king penguins and their parental instincts.

These stunning aerial images of a King Penguin colony in South Georgia show just how extraordinary penguin parenting really is.
In what looks to be the world’s largest crèche, thousands of King Penguins instinctively herd their recently born young into giant huddles to stop them freezing to death.
Parental instinct takes over in the inhospitable climate of the South Atlantic and the chicks with their long, brown, downy coats are made to crowd together to retain their body warmth in the equivalent of bird crèches – visible as brown swathes on our photo.
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Birds of a feather: Thanks to these stunning aerial images we can see penguin parenting in action. The brown swathes are the young penguins herded together.

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P-p-p-peckish? A King Penguin feeds its baby in the colony in South Georgia.

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The young brown penguins are clearly visible in their huddles.

IMAGE4Meanwhile their extraordinary parents waddle down to the shore to bring back dinner for their offspring. The chicks, which take between 10 to 13 months to raise – cannot regulate their body temperature and the parents care for them round the clock for the first three weeks.

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Extraordinary patterns emerge as the brown baby penguins are herded into crèches.

The penguins look after their young around the clock for the first three weeks. They then put the chicks in one of the crèches, returning every two or three days with food. 

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A King Penguin protects a female from another male as the sun sets.

MAPNEW
South Georgia is a British territory close to the Falkland Islands and is one of the main breeding colonies for the birds.

IMAGE9The King Penguin is the second largest species of penguin, weighing up to 35 lbs. The Emperor penguins are the largest. They eat small fish – mainly lantern fish, and squid and repeatedly dive to more than 100 metres to find lunch. A full penguin breeding cycle lasts more than a year and pairs generally breed twice every three years.
There are an estimated 2.23 million pairs of King Penguins with numbers increasing.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1393379/King-Penguin-colony-South-Georgia-Stunning-pictures-worlds-largest-cr-che.html#ixzz2qaj35Ki1

Devastating effect on Canada’s lakes caused by acid rain

BLAME IT ON THE RAINThe following article, “Blame it on the Rain” appeared in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Watercanada magazine, written by Rebecca Taggart.

Acid rain leaves its mark in Canada’s freshwater lakes:

Calcium deficiency is commonly  considered an ailment of the elderly. However, many of Canada’s freshwater lakes are now being diagnosed with a similar condition.
Calcium levels in many of Canada’s freshwater lakes are dropping. Just as it’s necessary for a healthy human body, calcium is also essential for supporting life in aquatic ecosystems. Environment Canada scientists are involved in collaborative research that sheds light on a pattern of calcium loss in our small lakes and wetlands. For almost 30 years, samples were collected from lakes across southeastern Canada to monitor chemical levels in ecosystems sensitive to acid rain. In an assessment of chemical changes from 770 Ontario lakes, researchers noticed a troubling pattern of declining calcium.

MAKING A RECOVERY:  When rain falls on the land or drainage basin surrounding a lake, it washes a small amount of calcium from the soil and drains it into the lake. This natural process has occurred over thousands of years, and accounts for most of the calcium found in lakes.
Acid rain speeds up this process by washing calcium from the soil and into lakes at a much faster rate than regular rain.
BLAME IT ON THE RAIN
Acid rain also increases the acidity of lake waters, which can negatively affect the aquatic species that rely on the lake to survive. Acid rain peaked during the 1970s and 1980s because of increased urban and industrial development throughout eastern North America. Since then, aggressive environmental policies have reduced the harmful emissions that cause acid rain, and have succeeded in reducing its occurrence.

However, those decades of faster calcium leaching due to acid rain have depleted the natural stock of calcium found in the soil of land in lake drainage basins. Now that we are seeing less acid rain, calcium concentrations in some lakes are declining, perhaps to levels that are lower than those before acid rain became a problem.
This means that there may not be enough calcium available for some aquatic species to survive in these lakes. Low calcium levels may also slow the biological recovery of lakes from the higher acidity levels that were also caused by acid rain.
GETTING TO THE CORE OF OUR LAKES: To demonstrate the effects of this problem, research scientists studied Daphnia, a crustacean that lab studies have shown is strongly dependent on sufficient calcium concentrations in lakes.
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Researchers conducted a paleolimnological survey, which involves using a coring device to remove a sample of the lake’s sediment floor. Lying within these sediments are remains of plants and animals that have been preserved over time.

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Based on an analysis of lake sediment cores, scientists found that Daphnia began to decline in the 1970s, showing a strong link with measured declines in lake calcium levels.
Declines in Daphnia and other calcium rich foods have the potential to threaten many other species. Daphnia graze on algae, which regulates their presence in a lake. This affects other animals in the food chain such as fish and birds.

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The results of this research teach an important lesson about the role that each creature plays in an ecosystem. Small lakes and wetlands provide important habitat for many species. The individual roles these species play in our ecosystems demonstrate the interconnectedness of all life forms and illustrate the potential for habitat pollution and other impacts to have complex consequences for ecosystems. WC Rebecca Taggart is with Environment Canada.

Here’s a link to a related and more in-depth article, “Acid rain legacy hurting lakes”
ONTARIO'S PLASTIC LAKE
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2008/11/28/acid_rain_legacy_hurting_lakes.html

Stop Oil Tanker Traffic in B.C.

BC OIL TANKER TRAFFIC
Just ONE Exxon-Valdez-like spill on British Columbia’s coast could devastate thousands of families and a spectacular diversity of life. We shouldn’t take that risk!

Aren’t you tired of Big Oil targeting populated areas with rich flora and fauna and delicate environments as the next hot place to traffic oil? I sure am. It’s almost like they’re targeting areas of the world with the most to lose from an oil spill!

OIL COLLAGE

Send a message to Canada’s and British Columbia’s governments: Don’t traffic oil along B.C.’s coast!

Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, and CN Rail are all chomping at the bit to expand crude oil tanker traffic through B.C.’s coast en route to Asia. It would put a number of salmon rivers – as well as the thousands of people, cultures, and livelihoods that depend on B.C.’s coast – at risk for an oil spill, an event that could devastate the area.

First Nation communities are banning these projects with the Coastal First Nations and Save the Fraser declarations. Let’s unite with these strong efforts and stand up against oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast!

Please sign the petition by clicking the link below ~

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/333/333/751/?z00m=20630007

Tall Tales in Curacao ~ love dolphins!!!

CURACAO DOLPHINS

The Youtube video, “Curacao Sea Aquarium Park”, published on May 18, 2012 is described as follows: ‘Plan a Curacao Sea Aquarium Park vacation for the entire family. Come and enjoy the daily tours at the aquarium with the sea lion show, get a chance to feed the sharks or just enjoy the exciting dolphin show. For the thrill seekers we have the submarine, Curasub, going to 1,000ft deep or interact with a dolphin up close at Dolphin Academy. And the end of the day you can stay in one of the rooms of the boutique hotel, the Dolphin Suites hotel, which is completely adapted to guests with special needs.’

With many thanks and much admiration, the following is a ‘reblog’ , dated July 22, 2013, from my very favorite blogger, Lesley Carter, of Bucket List Publications.

Tall Tales in Curacao.

I would love to be able to swim with dolphins ~ a lifelong dream of mine, so this trip has to go to the top of my bucket list ~ especially if it can be in this Curacao paradise.

JELLYFISH LAKE ~ PAPUA ~ DELIGHTFUL PARADISE!

JELLYFISH LAKE, PALAU
An enchanting and mesmerizing paradise exists in Palau – judged to be the #1 underwater wonder of the world.

CORAL FISHPalau’s waters host as many as 600 types of coral and 1500 species of  fish.

The following excerpt is from MNN – ‘Where the jellies roam’ (link at end of blog).
JELLYFISH LAKE
Photo: Helen Pippard/IUCNWeb/Flickr
Nestled within a lush forest on the Micronesian island of Eil Malk is one of the world’s most remarkable snorkeling destinations: Jellyfish Lake. The freshwater diving spot, located in Palau’s Rock Islands, is named quite literally for the millions of jellyfish that spend their days bobbing back and forth across the lake’s length.
JELLYFISH STINGSWhile many cnidarians are known for their lethal stings, the two species that live in this lake — MOON JELLYFISHthe moon jellyfish and the golden jellyfish — are harmless, making them perfect swimming companions. Protective stingers were rendered pointless after the gelatinous, glass-like creatures evolved in a closed environment lacking in predators …

‘Diving in Jellyfish Lake’, published on Apr 18, 2013,  Welcome to Jellyfish Lake!  Population: millions!  It’s about as unique as a dive location can get … and our crew can safely swim amongst its cnidarian residents since their stings are harmless to humans.  Time for a little dive in jellyfish soup!

‘Jellyfish Lake’, uploaded on May 8, 2006 - Trip to visit a million stingerless Jelly fish at Jelly fish Lake Palau

link to mnn.com article

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/eco-tourism/blogs/jellyfish-lake-will-stun-you-no-stingers-involved

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE – PLASTIC GREAT LAKES!

GREAT LAKES GARBAGE1

The following excerpts are from WaterCanada, March/April issue
 Message in a Bottle, researchers found warning about plastics in Great Lakes, written by Saul Chernos.

MASONWhen Dr. Sherri Mason and her team cast a net into three Great Lakes last July, scouring for debris, they weren’t sure what to expect. Mason, an associate professor of chemistry with the State University of New York (SUNY), had followed the ongoing saga of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and other giant swirls of litter cluttering the oceans and wondered about the situation closer to home. Might the world’s largest body of fresh water be a significant contributor to an alarming phenomenon that has seen highly durable plastics literally stuff the bellies of birds, fish, and other sea creatures? Anxious about the impact that people living within this enormous inland watershed might be having on aquatic life, Mason secured funding, arranged for a boat, and assembled the resources and expertise needed to draw answers from the lakes’ often-choppy waters.
Although the following YouTube video, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, (uploaded by Good Morning America, July 25, 2011) deals with Ocean polution (garbage patches), the concern of the impact on our great lakes is the same.

 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not alone in the world, and it is somewhat of a misnomer. There are two major garbage patches in the Pacific – one north, one south – and there are two more in the Atlantic, plus a fifth in the Indian Ocean. Each is located within a major gyre, subservient to its currents. ERIKSONMarcus Eriksen, executive director of the 5 Gyres Institute, has visited each of them, studying their effects on aquatic life. From microscopic bead-like molecules to entire cigarette lighters and water bottles, Eriksen has seen it all – and not always floating or captured in his nets. Three years ago, after finding dead birds with plastic extruding from their decomposing chests, he was moved to launch 5 Gyres to confront this emerging but increasingly striking environmental crisis…

LAKESUPERIOR8Most prevalent, however, were particles microscopic in size. The crew also found that volumes tended to increase as they sailed in the direction of the water flow. “That matched our hypothesis,” Mason explains. “Lake Superior is the beginning of the Great Lakes system, and while a huge number of people live along Superior,
LAKEERIE7 Lake Erie has the most people and the water flows in that direction.” Mason says this suggests a cumulative effect, with the lower lakes likely receiving debris from the upper lakes, leading to concern that what goes into Lake Superior and the other lakes eventually makes its way into the Atlantic Ocean. How is this garbage getting into the lakes in the first place? “It’s from us,” Mason points out. “When you see a bag blowing in the breeze, eventually it’s going to make its way into the lake.” Of equal concern is what’s flushed down toilets and drains… The plastic itself isn’t the only problem. Mason says PCBs, persistent organic pollutants, and other chemicals that end up in the water tend to adsorb onto materials such as plastic. So, even if plastic isn’t the actual killer, aquatic creatures could potentially be affected by poisons clinging to the plastic. PHARMACEUTICALSToxins could also work their way up the food chain, ultimately affecting humans. Mason even worries that the microscopic beads from personal care products and other sources might be bypassing local wastewater treatment systems in much the same way pharmaceuticals are escaping, and that they might even be returning through drinking water intakes. Plastics in municipal facilities Municipal officials overseeing water and wastewater systems agree that the issue of plastics in inland water bodies is only recently coming to light.

London, Ontario draws water from LAKEHURON3both Lake Huron and Lake Erie. The city’s managing director for environmental and engineering services, John Braam, says his drinking water plant’s filters are designed to catch particles larger than two microns. This is well below the 333-micron threshold Mason and her crew captured during their expedition, and Braam is confident the city’s drinking water is free of particles larger than two microns. LONDON'S WATEROn the wastewater side, Braam says he doesn’t know of any municipality – his included – which actively measures wastewater treatment plant outflows for particle content. Still, he’s relatively confident his wastewater treatment systems are catching most plastics, along with other the other contents they’re designed to capture. “Through biologically activated mechanical wastewater treatment plants, most plastics ought to be picked up through the screening or settlement processes,” Braam explains, adding that London has membrane filters designed to .04 which would be effective at removing larger icro-sized particles. As well, he points out that micro-plastic fibres from polyester and other synthetic clothing, which can come off in the wash… While the Ministry isn’t doing any research at the moment about plastics in inland waterways, that could soon change.
“News reports have highlighted the issue, and we’re starting to talk to researchers in the field,” Helm says. “We’re looking at the methods we have in-house that could start addressing whether we could measure the plastics and what partners we would work with if we needed to pursue this. Right now we’re working to put together some context to characterise the issue. If you’re finding plastics then the next step is you want to know where they’re coming from.”…  NEW YORK WASTEWATERThis kind of research could soon be underway. Sherri Mason says she’s preparing to sample four municipal wastewater systems in New York State later this year. Regardless of the outcome of this research, however, Mason believes the key to meaningfully improving the situation—for wildlife, ecosystems, and people—is to address the very prevalence of plastics in our lives. “Plastics were originally designed with the best of intentions—to replace natural products that were becoming rare,” she explains. “We make something, put it on the marketplace, and don’t think about its lifecycle and what will happen to it in the end. All the qualities of plastic that make it so wonderful from a business standpoint also make it a concern from an environmental standpoint. It’s lightweight, durable, and now we have so much of it we don’t have a handle on what to do with it. We’ve become a disposable society. We throw it away, but it doesn’t go away. There is no ‘away.”…

LISTEN TO YOUR (PENGUIN) HEART ~ HOW PRECIOUS!!!

EMPEROR PENGUINSPHOTOPAD

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART ~ Mike Rowland, Film by Ruedi & Priska Abbühl Uploaded on Jan 29, 2011

Credit for this beautiful Emperor Penguin film goes to Ruedi & Priska Abbühl… And the Music … All glory goes to composer Mike Rowland from the album “My Elfin Friends,” who is currently compiling a book about the power of healing through music…I have the impression that to penguins, man is a different kind of penguin, unpredictable, occasionally violent, but tolerable company when he sits still and admires Nature and leaves it as he found it. ~Aetopus/AC

ANTARCTICA GLOBE FUZZY BORDER WHERE PENGUINS LIVE: Penguins do not live in the Arctic. They live on the shores of Antarctica and they also live in the south of Australia, New Zealand, America & Africa. The most northerly place that penguins live is on the Galapagos Islands which is near Ecuador in South America. Even though there is ice in Canada and the Arctic, penguins don’t live there or in the northern half of the world.

PENGUIN LIFE CYCLE LARGE IMAGENo other animal other than penguins can draw attention to the environmental damaged caused by oil and gas drilling (fracking and mountaintop removal), my reason for ending this video with the message “NO TO ARCTIC DRILLING!” ~Aetopus/AC
Please see my previous blog, “Fracking Hell ~ A Catastrophe!”                    

Here is a great YouTube video, “Birth and March of Emperor Penguins“, from Nature’s Great Events – In the coldest part of the planet, Emperor Penguins breed and give birth to their young, only to begin a great march toward the coast.

Links:
- PlanetSave: http://www.planetsave.com/
GreenpeaceUSA: http://www.youtube.com/greenpeaceusa

- Mike Rowland website: http://www.mikerowland.co.uk/
iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/mik…
Ambient Classical Mike and Jana Rowland: http://www.ambientclassical.com/

VIDEO ICONCROPPED

CIELAP REPORT ~ “EMERGING CONTAMINANTS”

WHAT MUST WE DO
TO PRESERVE
WHAT CAN WE DO TO PRESERVE THIS???

OUR MOST PRECIOUS RESOURCE???

The following excerpts are taken from a report, “There is No Away: Emerging Contaminants Detected in Water” which was published in the March/April, 2006 edition of Canadian Water Treatment magazine.

CIELAP ICONA report from the Canadian Institute For Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP) released during National Pharmacists Awareness Week emphasizes the need for the Canadian GREAT LAKES MAPgovernment and industry to invest mores resources to research the effects of “emerging contaminants: in Canada’s waterways”.  The report makes 11 recommendations about ways to reduce the amount of, and their effects on, one of Canada‘s most valuable resources.

ANNE MITCHELLAnne Mitchell, executive director of CIELAP, said the release of the report was planned to coincide with the industry’s national convention because there are a number of issues related to increasingDISPOSE DRUGS environmental contamination by pharmaceuticals and personal care products.  She was also careful to commend pharmacist for their efforts in keeping unused and wasted drugs out of the water.

SUSAN HOLTZThe report, There is No Away: Emerging Contaminants Detected in Water, was written by Susan Holtz, a policy consultant to CIELAP who  writes on issues related to sustainable development, water and energy.  CIELAP is a not-for-profit research and educational institute dedicated to environmental law, policy analysis and reform.

In writing her  report, Holtz examined the issued of “emerging USGEOLOGICAL SURVEYcontaminants” – a term that originated in a U.S. Geological Survey report.  It refers to the  presence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (collectively know as PPCPs) and endocrine-disrupting substances (EDSl) in the Canadian water system.  Holtz warns that the contaminants entering surface, ground and drinking water can have serious environmental and health consequences.  One of the biggest concerns is the issue of resistance to antibiotics and hormonal imbalances due to higher concentrations of EDS.  Of major concern, she says, if the increased use of antibiotics for both the human and animal population.  In Canada, there were 326.2 million prescriptions filled from July 2001 to August 2002.

EMERGING CONTAMINANTS

In farming, Holtz notes that antibiotics are no longer being used singularly to treat sick animals; they’re also being used in the form of hormones, growth promoters and for illness prevention.  In her research, she determined the increased use of drugs in veterinary medicine, farming practices and aquaculture has decreased the effectiveness of the use of antibiotics.  The use of hormones in both animals and humans has had a negative effect on reproduction, causing the feminization of fish, wiping out an entire talhead minnow population in Ontario.  EDSs have also contributed to deformities in fish, birds and wildlife…Building on study results conducted in the U.S. and Europe, Holtz says it’s time for Canada to get more involved in the issue of contaminants in water.  She says the Canadian government and Canadian organizations don’t have enough information “even to develop a strategy that can effectively” determine the effects of contaminants in water… 
Here are a few YouTube videos relevant to this article:

~ Pharmaceuticals ~

~ Disposing of your Medications ~

~ Pharmaceutical Products In Our Water PSA ~

In addition to research, Holtz said a focus on human behaviour and providing more information to the public in order to encourage better choices are also important elements of social change.

PHENOMENAL ~ WORLD’S HIGHEST TIDES ~ CANADA

BAY OF FUNDY2 RESIZED

The Bay of Fundy tides are so dramatic that they are considered the highest tides in the world – a phenomenon that occurs nowhere else on the planet.  200 billion tons of water flow every single day!!!

Bay of Fundy | Tides | New Brunswick, Canada“, uploaded Jun 4, 2009.  Come to the Bay of Fundy and watch the highest tides in the world and then, six hours later at low tide, you can walk on the ocean floor.  In July 2009, the Bay of Fundy was named as a finalist for the New 7 Wonders of Nature contest that ended in November 2011.  It was not chosen as a wonder.  The highest water level ever recorded in the Bay of Fundy system occurred at the head of the Minas Basin on the night of October 4–5, 1869 during a tropical cyclone named the “Saxby Gale”.  The water level of 21.6 meters (70.9 feet) resulted from the combination of high winds, abnormally low atmospheric pressure, and a spring tide.

From wikipedia.org:  The Bay of Fundy… is a bay on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine.  Some sources believe the name “Fundy” is a corruption of the French word “Fendu”, meaning “split”, while others believe it comes from the Portuguese fondo, meaning “funnel”.      The bay was also named Baie Française (French Bay) by explorer/cartographer Samuel de Champlain during a 1604 expedition led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts which resulted in a failed settlement attempt on St. Croix Island.

Bay of Fundy: Canada’s New7Wonders of Nature Finalist, uploaded on Aug 6, 2010

BAY OF FUNDYThe Bay of Fundy, rivaled by Ungava Bay in northern Quebec, King Sound in Western Australia, Gulf of Khambhat in India, and the Severn Estuary in the UK, it has one of the highest vertical tidal ranges in the world.  The Guinness Book of World Records (1975) declared that Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia has the highest tides in the world:“The Natural World, Greatest Tides:  The greatest tides in the world occur in the Bay of Fundy…. Burntcoat Head in the Minas Basin, Nova Scotia, has the greatest mean spring range with 14.5 metres (47.5 feet) and an extreme range of 16.3 metres (53.5 feet).”

In the following YouTube video you’ll see both high and low tides featured as the camera captures the panoramic expanse – ‘An afternoon over the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada. Featuring Cape Split, lighthouses, and the highest tides in the world, published on Aug 17, 2012.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Fundy