Archive for the ‘Ocean Life’ Category

What causes a sea turtle to be born male or female?

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In most species, gender is determined during fertilization. However, the sex of most turtles, alligators, and crocodiles is determined after fertilization. The temperature of the developing eggs is what decides whether the offspring will be male or female. This is called temperature-dependent sex determination, or TSD.

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What are the oldest living animals in the world?

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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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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?

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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 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 coral spawning?

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Once a year, on cues from the lunar cycle and the water temperature, entire colonies of coral reefs simultaneously release their tiny eggs and sperm, called gametes, into the ocean. The phenomenon brings to mind an underwater blizzard with billions of colorful flakes cascading in white, yellow, red, and orange.

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What is marine telemetry?

This item was filled under Ecosystems, Facts, Ocean Life, Ocean Science


Marine telemetry interprets into data the movements and behavior of animals as they move through oceans, coastal rivers, estuaries, and the Great Lakes. Telemetry devices, called tags, are affixed to a wide range of marine species, from tiny salmon smolts to giant 150-ton whales. Tags are attached to the outside of an animal with clips, straps, or glue, and are sometimes surgically inserted in an animal's body.

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What are microplastics?

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Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics.”

As an emerging field of study, not a lot is known about microplastics and their impacts yet. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is leading efforts within NOAA to research this topic. Standardized field methods for collecting sediment, sand, and surface-water microplastic samples have been developed and continue to undergo testing. Eventually, field and laboratory protocols will allow for global comparisons of the amount of microplastics released into the environment, which is the first step in determining the final distribution, impacts, and fate of this debris.

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How does land-based pollution threaten coral reefs?

This item was filled under Basics, Ecosystems, Facts, Health, Ocean Life


Impacts from land-based sources of pollution—including coastal development, deforestation, agricultural runoff, and oil and chemical spills—can impede coral growth and reproduction, disrupt overall ecological function, and cause disease and mortality in sensitive species. It is now well accepted that many serious coral reef ecosystem stressors originate from land-based sources, most notably toxicants, sediments, and nutrients.

Within the U.S., there are numerous locations where coral reef ecosystems are highly impacted by watershed alteration, runoff, and coastal development. On U.S. islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, significant changes in the drainage basins due to agriculture, deforestation, grazing of feral animals, fires, road building, and urbanization have increased the volume of land-based pollution released to adjacent coral reef ecosystems.

Many of these issues are made worse because of the geographic and climatic characteristics found in tropical island areas. Together they create unique management challenges.

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