Archives for December 2016

Walruses Found Using Birds As Toys For First Time

Ocean Leadership ~

Scientists have observed new interactions between walruses and seabirds, including playing. (Credit: Captain Budd Christman, NOAA Corps)

(Click to enlarge) Scientists have observed new interactions between walruses and seabirds, including playing. (Credit: Captain Budd Christman, NOAA Corps)

What do you get the walrus that has everything?

(From National Geographic / by Jason Bittel)– Don’t waste your money on Furbys and Tickle Me Elmos. According to a new study, what walruses really want to play with are bird carcasses.

It may surprise you to learn that walruses are playful creatures—and you wouldn’t be alone. Compared with more jovial sea lions and seals, even scientists have long thought of the 1.5-ton walrus as the most humorless pinniped. But according to study co-author Andrey Giljov, a zoologist at St. Petersburg University, this prejudice may stem from the fact that walruses are poorly studied.

That’s why Giljov and his fellow zoologist Karina Karenina spent a month in 2015 observing a huge group of walruses on Kolyuchin Island (map) in the Chukchi Sea near Russia. To avoid interfering with the animals’ behavior, the researchers perched atop an icy cliff, braving bitter winds and the risk of falling into the midst of several hundred snoring beach behemoths. (See “Biggest Walrus Gathering Recorded as Sea Ice Shrinks.”)

In the end, the toil was worth it. Giljov and Karenina observed 74 interactions between walruses and seabirds and noted several different kinds of play—the first such observations for this species.

“The reasons why young walruses engage in such behavior are probably the same reasons why all animals begin to play,” says Giljov, whose study appeared recently in the journal acta ethologica. “Play may be important for the development of physical and social skills.”

Researchers have known for some time that young male walruses play-fight on the beach. This is thought to prepare them for competing against rivals when it comes time to breed.

But what’s new about this paper is the way walruses of both sexes appear to use birds as toys.

Sometimes the walruses would sneak up on live birds floating on the water and scare them away. Other times they’d dive down below the birds and rear up out of the water at the last minute, attempting to slash the unsuspecting fowl with their tusks. Glaucous gulls, kittiwakes, tufted puffins—walruses do not seem to care about the species. So long as it was avian and floating, it seemed fair game.

 

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Consortium for Ocean Leadership

NASA Sees Tropical Cyclone 05B Form

An area of tropical low pressure designated System 99B has consolidated and developed into Tropical Cyclone 05B. On Dec. 7 the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Cyclone 05B over the Anadaman and Nicobar Islands. The VIIRS image showed bands of thunderstorms wrapping around the center from the northern to the eastern quadrants over the Anadaman Islands.

ENN: Top Stories

Fish Seek Cooler Waters, Leaving Some Fishermen’s Nets Empty

Catch limits for fishermen are often based on where fish have been most abundant in the past. But they have failed to keep up with geographical changes.
Oceans

False Killer Whale’s Encounter With Longline

Ocean Leadership ~

Researchers and fisherman witnessed how false killer whales in Hawaii took fish off longline hooks. (Credit: Protected Resources Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA)

(Click to enlarge) Researchers and fisherman witnessed how false killer whales in Hawaii took fish off longline hooks. (Credit: Protected Resources Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA)

A team of researchers and fishermen has directly observed for the first time how Hawaiian false killer whales remove fish from longline fishing gear.

(From ScienceDaily)– The team, coordinated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego scientist Aaron Thode, used video and audio recordings to observe false killer whales removing fish from a longline fishing hook, a behavior known as depredation. They gained new insight into a behavior that has caused false killer whales to entangle with fishing gear at rates deemed unsustainable by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

False killer whales dine on popular game fish like yellowfin tuna and mahi-mahi. Their foraging efforts take them to the same open-ocean regions where commercial fishermen set 30-60 kilometer (19-37 mile)-long fishing lines to catch the same fish. This competition for fish has led false killer whales, actually a member of the dolphin family, to occasionally end up as an unintended catch of the fishing operations.

To observe false killer whales removing fish from hooks, the Alaskan and Hawaiian research team deployed an underwater camera, sound recorder, and vibration detector on long-line fishing gear deployed by fishing vessels off Hawaii. The researchers were interested in learning more about the animals’ behavior, such as what attracts them to the gear, whether they make sounds as they approach, and if they removed bait or the targeted species from the hook. They were also interested in measuring how far away the animals could be heard to provide new information into future passive acoustic surveys of the population.

“This study addresses some important questions about the nature of this depredation, and whether underwater sound can be used to study or possibly alleviate the issue,” said Thode, a researcher with the Scripps Marine Physical Laboratory and lead author of the paper recently published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Read the full article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161222191559.htm

The post False Killer Whale’s Encounter With Longline appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


Consortium for Ocean Leadership

In Memoriam: Graham Shimmield

Ocean Leadership ~

Dr. Graham Shimmield was a leader in connecting ocean science, academia, and industry and will be greatly missed. (Credit: Greta Rybus)

(Click to enlarge) Dr. Graham Shimmield was a leader in connecting ocean science, academia, and industry and will be greatly missed. (Credit: Greta Rybus)

It is with heaviness of heart that we report the passing on December 24, 2016 of our esteemed colleague Dr. Graham Shimmield after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Dr. Shimmield, Executive Director at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, served on the Board of Trustees for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) since 2013 as Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. Dr. Shimmield joined Bigelow in 2008 and helped reshape the laboratory into a world-renowned research facility by increasing the campus, funding, connections, and enhancing its cutting-edge ocean science research. He had vast experience in both the U.K. and the U.S. and published over 70 scientific peer-reviewed journal articles. Dr. Shimmield served on various other boards (e.g. Maine Sea Grant, Maine Maritime Academy) and scientific committees and received many awards, including being named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and receiving the Society for Underwater Technology President’s Award in recognition of his contributions to oceanography. “Graham was a leader in connecting ocean science, academia, and industry, as well as a truly wonderful person.  He will be greatly missed,” said RADM Jon White, President and CEO of COL.

For more information: https://www.bigelow.org/news/articles/2016-12-27.html 

The post In Memoriam: Graham Shimmield appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Four million in Damascus without mains water after springs targeted: U.N.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Four million people in Damascus have been without safe drinking water supplies for more than a week after springs outside the Syrian capital were deliberately targeted, the United Nations said on Thursday.


Reuters: Environment

China warns freezing northern provinces more heavy smog on the way

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China on Thursday warned northern regions to get ready another bout of heavy smog, expected over the New Year, as daytime temperatures hover around freezing.


Reuters: Environment

Opportunity: Call for Nominations: National Academies’ Review of the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (Jan. 20)

Ocean Leadership ~

employment-opportunites-e1433868852278A new ad hoc committee of the National Academies will conduct an independent review of the 2nd State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR-2) draft report, which will be available in early 2017. The Carbon Cycle Interagency Working Group, via the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program, under the auspices the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is leading the development of SOCCR-2 as a product of the Sustained National Climate Assessment. The National Academies committee will conduct this review concurrent with the public review period and will produce a report.

The focus of SOCCR-2 is on the scientific understanding of U.S. and North American carbon cycle stocks and fluxes, in the context of global-scale budgets. The National Academies is seeking individuals to serve on the review committee with expertise in key areas addressed in SOCCR-2, including:

  • carbon cycle and budget for the land (e.g., soil, forests, grasslands, permafrost), water (e.g., oceans, wetlands, estuaries), and atmosphere;
  • carbon cycle dimensions of energy systems, agriculture, forestry, and urban systems;
  • consequences of rising CO2 (e.g., ocean acidification);
  • carbon cycle modeling and future projections; and
  • related social, economic and behavioral sciences.

Deadline to submit nominations: Friday, January 20, 2017.

For more information and to submit nominations: http://bit.ly/2htyzyA 

The post Opportunity: Call for Nominations: National Academies’ Review of the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (Jan. 20) appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Control Algorithms Could Keep Sensor-Laden Balloons Afloat In Hurricanes For A Week

Ocean Leadership ~

 
Researchers have a new strategy to study hurricane formation: sending in balloons with sensors. (Credit: NOAA/ZUMA/Corbis)

(Click to enlarge) Researchers have a new strategy to study hurricane formation: sending in balloons with sensors.
(Credit: NOAA/ZUMA/Corbis)

Controls engineers at UC San Diego have developed practical strategies for building and coordinating scores of sensor-laden balloons within hurricanes.

(From Phys.org / by Ioana Patringenaru)– Using onboard GPS and cellphone-grade sensors, each drifting balloon becomes part of a “swarm” of robotic vehicles, which can periodically report, via satellite uplink, their position, the local temperature, pressure, humidity and wind velocity.

This new, comparatively low-cost sensing strategy promises to provide much-needed in situ sampling of environmental conditions for a longer range of time and from many vantage points within developing hurricanes. This has the potential to greatly improve efforts to estimate and forecast the intensity and track of future hurricanes in real time.

Current two to five day forecasts of many hurricanes deviate significantly from each other, and from the truth. For example, as Hurricane Matthew churned toward the eastern seaboard in early October of 2016, various news outlets reported “forecasts” like “Hurricane Matthew will probably make landfall somewhere between Charleston and Boston, so everyone brace yourselves.”

“Guidance like this is entirely inadequate for evacuation and emergence response preparations,” said Thomas Bewley, a professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and the paper’s senior author.

Improved forecasts, to be greatly facilitated by improved in situ environmental sampling, are essential to protect property and save lives from such extreme environmental threats, he added.

Read the full article here:  http://phys.org/news/2016-12-algorithms-sensor-laden-balloons-afloat-hurricanes.html#jCp

The post Control Algorithms Could Keep Sensor-Laden Balloons Afloat In Hurricanes For A Week appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


Consortium for Ocean Leadership

New Tag Revolutionizes Whale Research, And Makes Them Partners In Science

Ocean Leadership ~

"Advanced Dive Behavior" (ABD) tags will improve the monitoring of whale behavior over long distances and great depths. (Credit: Flip Nicklen, Minden/Corbis)

(Click to enlarge) “Advanced Dive Behavior” (ABD) tags will improve the monitoring of whale behavior over long distances and great depths. (Credit: Flip Nicklen, Minden/Corbis)

A sophisticated new type of “tag” on whales that can record data every second for hours, days and weeks at a time provides a view of whale behavior, biology and travels never before possible, scientists from Oregon State University reported in a new study.

(From ScienceDaily)– This “Advanced Dive Behavior,” or ADB tag, has allowed researchers to expand their knowledge of whale ecology to areas deep beneath the sea, over thousands of miles of travel, and outline their interaction with the prey they depend upon for food.

It has even turned whales into scientific colleagues to help understand ocean conditions and climate change.

The findings, just published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, showed sperm whales diving all the way to the sea floor, more than 1000 meters deep, and being submerged for up to 75 minutes. It reported baleen whales lunging after their food; provided a basis to better understand whale reactions to undersea noises such as sonar or seismic exploration; and is helping scientists observe how whales react to changes in water temperature.

“The ADB tag is a pretty revolutionary breakthrough,” said Bruce Mate, professor and director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute in the College of Agricultural Sciences. “This provides us a broad picture of whale behavior and ecology that we’ve never had before.

“This technology has even made whales our partners in acquiring data to better understand ocean conditions and climate change,” Mate said. “It gives us vast amounts of new data about water temperatures through space and time, over large distances and in remote locations. We’re learning more about whales, and the whales are helping us to learn more about our own planet.”

Read the full article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161223115823.htm

 

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Consortium for Ocean Leadership