's Archive

What are the oldest living animals in the world?

This item was filled under [ Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life ]


Scientists now believe that some corals can live for up to 5,000 years, making them the longest living animals on Earth.

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What are the Roaring Forties?

This item was filled under [ Basics, Facts, Maritime Transportation, Tides and Currents ]


During the Age of Sail (circa 15th to 19th centuries), these strong prevailing winds propelled ships across the Pacific, often at breakneck speed. Nevertheless, sailing west into heavy seas and strong headwinds could take weeks, especially around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America, making it one of the most treacherous sailing passages in the world. The Roaring Forties take shape as warm air near the equator rises and moves toward the poles. Warm air moving poleward (on both sides of the equator) is the result of nature trying to reduce the temperature difference between the equator and at the poles created by uneven heating from the sun.

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What is the Pineapple Express?

This item was filled under [ Facts, Ocean Observations, Ocean Science ]


Atmospheric rivers are narrow regions in the atmosphere that transport much of the moisture from the tropics to northern latitudes. Atmospheric rivers are part of the Earth's ocean water cycle, and are tied closely to both water supply and flood risks.

A well-known example of a strong atmospheric river is called the "Pineapple Express" because moisture builds up in the tropical Pacific around Hawaii and can wallop the U.S. West Coast with heavy rainfall.

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Are all fish cold-blooded?

This item was filled under [ Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life ]


Not all fish are cold-blooded. In 2015, researchers with the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish. Although not as warm as mammals and birds, the opah circulates heated blood throughout its body, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths from 150 to 1,300 feet below the surface.

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Where do fish go when it freezes outside?

This item was filled under [ Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life ]


Have you ever wondered how fish survive in cold winter weather, or where they go when lakes and ponds freeze over? Like many people, fish tend to be less active in the cold. As cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism dips when temperatures take a dive.

The layer of ice that forms on top of a lake, pond, river, or stream provides some insulation that helps the waterbody retain its heat. Because warm water sinks, freshwater fish often gather in groups near the bottom. Some species, like koi and gobies, may burrow into soft sediments and go dormant like frogs and other amphibians, but most fish simply school in the deepest pools and take a "winter rest."

In this resting state, fishes' hearts slow down, their needs for food and oxygen decrease, and they move about very little. If you've ever gone ice fishing, you know that a long line, a slow, colorful lure, and a hearty portion of patience are often required to land this quiet quarry! Popular ice-fishing species include walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and rainbow trout.

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What is ocean noise?

This item was filled under [ Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life ]


Ocean noise refers to sounds made by human activities that can interfere with or obscure the ability of marine animals to hear natural sounds in the ocean. Many marine organisms rely on their ability to hear for their survival. Sound is the most efficient means of communication underwater and is the primary way that many marine species gather and understand information about their environment. Many aquatic animals use sound to find prey, locate mates and offspring, avoid predators, guide their navigation and locate habitat, and listen and communicate with each other.

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What are the trade winds?

This item was filled under [ Basics, Economy, Facts, Maritime Transportation ]


Known to sailors around the world, the trade winds and associated ocean currents helped early sailing ships from European and African ports make their journeys to the Americas. Likewise, the trade winds also drive sailing vessels from the Americas toward Asia. Even now, commercial ships use "the trades" and the currents the winds produce to hasten their oceanic voyages.

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How are satellites used to observe the ocean?

This item was filled under [ Basics, Economy, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Observations ]


Satellites are amazing tools for observing the Earth and the big blue ocean that covers more than 70 percent of our planet. By remotely sensing from their orbits high above the Earth, satellites provide us much more information than would be possible to obtain solely from the surface.

Using satellites, NOAA researchers closely study the ocean. Information gathered by satellites can tell us about ocean bathymetry, sea surface temperature, ocean color, coral reefs, and sea and lake ice. Scientists also use data collection systems on satellites to relay signals from transmitters on the ground to researchers in the field—used in applications such as measuring tidal heights and the migration of whales. Transmitters on satellites also relay position information from emergency beacons to help save lives when people are in distress on boats, airplanes, or in remote areas.

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What is a sea lamprey?

This item was filled under [ Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Life ]


Among the most primitive of all vertebrate species, the sea lamprey is a parasitic fish native to the northern and western Atlantic Ocean. Due to their similar body shapes, lampreys have sometimes inaccurately been called "lamprey eels," but they are actually more closely related to sharks!

Unlike "bony" fishes like trout, cod, and herring, lampreys lack scales, fins, and gill covers. Like sharks, their skeletons are made of cartilage. They breathe through a distinctive row of seven pairs of tiny gill openings located behind their mouths and eyes.

But the anatomical trait that makes the sea lamprey an efficient killer of lake trout and other bony fishes is its disc-shaped, suction-cup mouth, ringed with sharp, horny teeth, with which it latches on to an unfortunate fish. The lamprey then uses its rough tongue to rasp away the fish's flesh so it can feed on its host's blood and body fluids. One lamprey kills about 40 pounds of fish every year.
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What is an oil seep?

This item was filled under [ Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Observations, Ocean Science ]


Did you know that naturally occurring oil seeps from the seafloor are the largest source of oil entering the world ocean? In fact, they account for nearly half of the oil released into the ocean environment every year. Seeps occur when crude oil leaks from fractures in the seafloor or rises up through seafloor sediments, in much the same way that a freshwater spring brings water to the surface. The waters off of Southern California are home to hundreds of naturally occurring oil and natural gas seeps.

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