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New Marine Life Found in Antarctica

Yeti Crabs & Ghost Octopus! Scientists doing their first exploring of deep-sea vents in the Antarctic have uncovered a world unlike anything found around other hydrothermal vents, one populated by new species of anemones, predatory sea stars, and piles of hairy-chested yeti crabs.It was "almost like a sight from another planet," said expedition leader Alex Rogers, a professor of zoology at Oxford University.Even in the eye-popping world of deep-sea vents, the Antarctic discoveries stand out, with the unfamiliar species of crabs found crowded in piles around the warm waters emanating from the seafloor. Many of the animals found at the vents have never been found at hydrothermal vents in other oceans, Rogers said. "To see these animals in such huge densities was just amazing," Rogers told LiveScience.In the dayless world of deep-sea vents, energy comes not from the sun but from the hydrothermal energy generated in the oceanic crust.The yeti crabs seem to cultivate "gardens" of bacteria on their chests, which are covered with hairy tendrils. These bacterial mats almost certainly provides the crabs with sustenance, Rogers said. In turn, predatory seven-armed sea stars stalk the periphery of the vents, snacking on unfortunate crabs."We were absolutely stunned to see the ...

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World-first hybrid shark found off Australia

A potential sign that the predators were adapting to cope with climate change Scientists said on Tuesday that they had discovered the world's first hybrid sharks in Australian waters, a potential sign the predators were adapting to cope with climate change.The mating of the local Australian black-tip shark with its global counterpart, the common black-tip, was an unprecedented discovery with implications for the entire shark world, said lead researcher Jess Morgan."It's very surprising because no one's ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination," Morgan, from the University of Queensland, told AFP."This is evolution in action."Colin Simpfendorfer, a partner in Morgan's research from James Cook University, said initial studies suggested the hybrid species was relatively robust, with a number of generations discovered across 57 specimens.The find was made during cataloguing work off Australia's east coast when Morgan said genetic testing showed certain sharks to be one species when physically they looked to be another.The Australian black-tip is slightly smaller than its common cousin and can only live in tropical waters, but its hybrid offspring have been found 2,000 kilometres down the coast, in cooler seas.It means the Australian black-tip could be ...

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Coast Guard Implements Regulations To Protect Whales

Operation Right Speed Larger vessels sailing along the Atlantic Seaboard are being reminded to slow down for right whales.The Coast Guard has implemented "Operation Right Speed" through April 2012 to ensure the migratory mammals have a safe passage along the Atlantic seaboard.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has implemented regulations that require vessels 65 feet or greater to operate at 10 knots or less in areas where the right whales are known to migrate.The first female right whale of the season was seen this month off Georgia.Right whales are among the most threatened of all the whales worldwide. The global population is estimated in the hundreds.Source: Huffington Post

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Study: San Francisco Bay Oil Spill Damaged Herring

It caused damage to the region's once-plentiful schools of Pacific herring The cargo ship accident that dumped tens of thousands of gallons of thick, tarry ship fuel into San Francisco Bay caused lasting damage to the region's once-plentiful schools of Pacific herring, the bay's only commercially fished species, according to a study released Monday.Herring embryos collected from shorelines left coated in oil starting about 3 months after the November 2007 Cosco Busan spill suffered from unusually high death rates and a range of ailments and deformities associated with exposure to the chemicals in crude oil, the study found."The majority of embryos in samples from oiled sites were dead on examination in the laboratory," wrote the study's authors, who were led by John Incardona, a toxicologist with the fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.By 2010, death rates had returned to normal, but the embryos continued to show heart defects that are a common symptom in herring of oil exposure.The bay's Pacific herring are the largest coastal population in the continental U.S. and a key element of the bay's complex food web, according to the study, which was published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The ...

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New Zealand Oil Spill: Rescued Little Penguins Released Into Wild

More little penguins tasted freedom after they were cleaned of oil More little penguins tasted freedom last week after they were cleaned of oil from this year's spill in New Zealand.The October spill, which was caused by a grounded cargo ship, left over two thousand oil-covered birds dead and hundreds in rescuers' hands. In late November, 49 penguins rescued from the spill were returned to the wild.In the video, one rescuer told the BBC that although some birds are still undergoing rehabilitation, these are the last of the birds from the Mount Maunganui area to be released. He said, "This is a huge relief to our whole team, to get these birds back out again."The BBC explains that each bird had to pass a blood test and a swimming test before it could be returned the wild.The oil spill, which released about 400 tons of oil near Northern New Zealand, has been called New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster.Brazil is also dealing with the aftermath of a serious environmental disaster. The Brazilian government recently announced that it is seeking $10.6 billion in damages from Chevron for an offshore oil spill in November.Source: Huffington Post

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Fact Checking the 60 Minutes Segment on Gardens of the Queen

GQ is a spectacular reef off of Cuba's south coast 60 Minutesran a really great piece onJardines de la Reina orGardens of the Queen (GQ), last night. GQ is a spectacular reef off of Cuba's south coast with abundant predators including goliath and black grouper and Caribbean reef sharks.The very few remaining Caribbean reefs like GQ with fish communities that are more or less intact are invaluable. They show reef managers, policy makers and the public how spectacular reef fish can be (when we don't eat them) and are essential for science. Despite some inaccuracies about the state of the benthos that I'll outline below, I thought the60 Minutespiece was great for reef conservation in general. Anderson Cooper did a nice (if imperfect) job explaining how reefs are threatened and why that should matter to us. The storytelling, imagery and editing were superb.Now, on to the fact checking.There are a lot of predators at GQ True We have been surveying reefs throughout the Caribbean over the last several years, purposefully looking for reefs with lots of sharks and grouper, and GQ has more than anywhere else we have been. The total fish biomass at GQ is ~600g per square meter, ...

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Fishing in Rena area given all-clear

Seafood can now be taken from areas surrounding the stricken cargo ship Rena Seafood can now be taken from areas surrounding the stricken cargo ship Rena.Tauranga Moana Iwi Customary Fisheries Trust has lifted the rahui or traditional ban on taking seafood in areas that may have been contaminated by oil from the vessel.Cargo vessel Rena ran aground the Astrolabe Reef off the coast of Mt Maunganui on October 5, sparking major clean-up efforts after spilling containers and tonnes of oil into the ocean.Trust chairman Penetaka Dickson said the clean-up efforts and the water quality had made it safe to take seafood again."The community clean-up has been magnificent on a number of levels and iwi would like to express admiration for the hard work and dedication by so many people. It would have been a lot worse without that collective community effort," he said.Mr Dickson said while the rahui is no longer in place, people should exercise good judgement if they are catching fish or collecting shellfish."The advice we have been given is people should engage their senses and smell any seafood they collect and taste a little before deciding whether the kaimoana is safe to eat."If there is any hint ...

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‘Finding Nemo Species’ Threatened By Extinction

One in every six species related to characters in the movie Finding Nemo is threatened by extinction One in every six species related to characters in the movie Finding Nemo is threatened by extinction, according to a new study out today. The authors examined the extinction risk of 1,568 species within 16 families of well-known marine animals represented in the 2003 Academy Award-winning animated film.All species of marine turtles ("Squirt" and "Crush") and more than half of all hammerhead sharks ("Anchor"), mackerel sharks ("Bruce" and "Chum"), and eagle rays ("Mr. Ray") are threatened.Seahorses ("Sheldon") are the most threatened group of bony fish in Finding Nemo, with two in five species at risk of extinction. Clownfish aren't safe now, either, and they certainly weren't in 2003 after the film's release when local RotoRooter dispatch centers received calls from families whose kids flushed the fish after watching the movie.Charisma, in other words, is not enough. Despite a demonstrated need for conservation action, regulation of trade in endangered marine species is severely deficient for those with high economic value, like sharks.Source: Huffington Post

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