Seawalls: Ecological Effects Of Coastal Armoring In Soft Sediment Environments

Ocean Leadership ~

For nearly a century, the O’Shaughnessy seawall has held back the sand and seas of San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. At work even longer: the Galveston seawall, built after America’s deadliest hurricane in 1900 killed thousands in Texas.

(From ScienceDaily / by Julie Cohen) — These are just two examples of how America’s coasts — particularly those with large urban populations — have been armored with humanmade structures.

These structures essentially draw a line in the sand that constrains the ability of the shoreline to respond to changes in sea level and other dynamic coastal processes. While the resulting ecological effects have been studied more in recent years, the research largely has been conducted in specific settings, making it difficult to generalize these effects across ecosystems and structure types.

A new study by a team of UC Santa Barbara marine scientists and colleagues from three coastal sites in the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) network provides a key first step toward generalizing ecological responses to armoring across the wide diversity of coastal settings where these structures are used. The team’s findings appear online and will be published this fall in a special issue of the journal Estuaries and Coasts, “Impacts of Coastal Land Use and Shoreline Armoring on Estuarine Ecosystems.”

Comparing Notes

The type of armoring structure varies widely with the environmental setting, ranging from massive seawalls and revetments along the wave-exposed open coast to smaller bulkheads and humanmade oyster reefs in tidal marshes and estuaries. “The size and shape of these humanmade structures often result in the loss of intertidal habitats,” said lead author Jenifer Dugan, a research biologist at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute. “The extent of that loss is a function of environmental setting, structure type and how far seaward and along the shore the structure extends.”

Scientists from three very different LTER programs were already working on the ecological impact of coastal armoring at their respective sites. At the Santa Barbara Coastal LTER, studies of the effects of seawalls on open coast beaches had revealed significant ecological impacts extending up to birds. The Georgia Coastal Ecosystems (GCE) project conducted studies of the effects of small-scale armoring in salt marshes. Studies at the Virginia Coast Reserve LTER focused on the use of constructed oyster reefs and living shorelines as coastal protection strategies.

“What was novel about this cross-site collaboration was putting these site-specific studies into perspective by making comparisons across a broad range of habitats,” said co-author Merryl Alber, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia and principal investigator of the GCE LTER project.

The collaborative study synthesizes the findings of existing literature examining different types of armoring across a variety of soft sediment ecosystems. The scientists used that data to evaluate a new conceptual model they created during two LTER cross-site workshops.

Read the full story here: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170724133156.htm

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Fulbright Award In Marine Resources, Portuguese Sea And Atmosphere Institute (Aug. 1)

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Scientific collaboration on the modelling of the Portuguese ecosystem dynamics and forecast shifts in the biodiversity or in the ecosystem functioning.

Scientific consultancy on coupled biological-physical modeling, food web dynamics in coastal oceans, phenology and biogeography, biogeochemical cycles and on the food web and energy transfers.

Scientific consultancy to improve the capabilities of the ecosystem monitoring by both new and established tools and approaches for understanding ecosystem health, habitat function, and environmental change, making extensive use of current and past ecological, environmental and socio-economic data.

In addition to being a prestigious academic exchange program, the Fulbright Program is designed to expand and strengthen relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of other nations and to promote international understanding and cooperation. To support this mission, Fulbright Scholars will be asked to give public talks, mentor students, and otherwise engage with the host community, in addition to their primary research or teaching activities.

For more information, click here: https://awards.cies.org/content/fulbright-award-marine-resources-ipma

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MH370 Search Data Published Reveals Ocean Geology, Shipwrecks and Fishing Grounds

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One of the released images shows a three-dimensional view of the sea floor. (Credit: Reuters)

(Click to enlarge) One of the released images shows a three-dimensional view of the sea floor. (Credit: Reuters)

Vivid, detailed maps created during the unsuccessful hunt for MH370 have been published by investigators to shed light on the depths of remote and previously unexplored parts of the ocean.

(From NBC News / by Alastair Jamieson) — The maps reveal the location and scale of under-sea volcanoes, ridges, mountains and shipwrecks found on the floor of the Indian Ocean.

A painstaking two-year search of the sea bed ended in January without finding the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which vanished in March 2014 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board.

But data gathered during surveys of some 46,000 square miles of the waters west of Australia could provide oceanographers and geologists with unprecedented insight.

Among the information released to the public Wednesday by Geoscience Australia is an interactive map of suspected debris from the doomed jet and the location where it was found.

The data also includes three-dimensional models of undersea landforms as well as raw bathymetric survey information. A further tranche of data is due to be published next year.

“It is estimated that only 10 to 15 percent of the world’s oceans have been surveyed with the kind of technology used in the search for MH370, making this remote part of the Indian Ocean among the most thoroughly-mapped regions of the deep ocean on the planet,” Stuart Minchin, chief of Geoscience Australia’s environmental geoscience division, said in a news release.

The information should also give insight to deep-sea fishermen into the region, said Charitha Pattiaratchi, professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia, told Reuters.

“There are the locations of seamounts which will attract a lot of international deep sea fishermen to the area,” Pattiaratchi said.

High-priced fish such as tuna, toothfish, orange roughy, alfonsino and trevally are known to gather near the seamounts, where plankton swirl in the currents.

Australia has not ruled out resuming the search for MH370 but officials have said that would depend on finding “credible new evidence” about the plane’s whereabouts.

“No new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft and the underwater search remains suspended,” Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement Wednesday. 

Read the full story here: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-jet/mh370-search-data-published-reveals-ocean-geology-shipwrecks-fishing-grounds-n784281

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Key To Speeding Up Carbon Sequestration Discovered

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Acidified ocean water can eat away at coral reefs.(Credit: ARC COE for Coral Reef Studies/Marine Photobank/Reuters)

(Click to enlarge) Acidified ocean water can eat away at coral reefs.(Credit: ARC COE for Coral Reef Studies/Marine Photobank/Reuters)

Scientists at Caltech and USC have discovered a way to speed up the slow part of the chemical reaction that ultimately helps Earth to safely lock away, or sequester, carbon dioxide into the ocean.

(From Science Daily) — Simply adding a common enzyme to the mix, the researchers have found, can make that rate-limiting part of the process go 500 times faster.

A paper about the work appears online the week of July 17 ahead of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“While the new paper is about a basic chemical mechanism, the implication is that we might better mimic the natural process that stores carbon dioxide in the ocean,” says lead author Adam Subhas, a Caltech graduate student and Resnick Sustainability Fellow.

The research is a collaboration between the labs of Jess Adkins from Caltech and Will Berelson of USC. The team used isotopic labeling and two methods for measuring isotope ratios in solutions and solids to study calcite — a form of calcium carbonate — dissolving in seawater and measure how fast it occurs at a molecular level.

It all started with a very simple, very basic problem: measuring how long it takes for calcite to dissolve in seawater. “Although a seemingly straightforward problem, the kinetics of the reaction is poorly understood,” says Berelson, professor of earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Calcite is a mineral made of calcium, carbon, and oxygen that is more commonly known as the sedimentary precursor to limestone and marble. In the ocean, calcite is a sediment formed from the shells of organisms, like plankton, that have died and sunk to the seafloor. Calcium carbonate is also the material that makes up coral reefs — the exoskeleton of the coral polyp.

As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen past 400 parts per million — a symbolic benchmark for climate scientists confirming that the effects of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere will be felt for generations to come — the surface oceans have absorbed more and more of that carbon dioxide. This is part of a natural buffering process — the oceans act as a major reservoir of carbon dioxide. At the present time, they hold roughly 50 times as much of the greenhouse gas as the atmosphere.

However, there is a second, slower, buffering process that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is an acid in seawater, just as it is in carbonated sodas (which is part of why they eat away at your tooth enamel). The acidified surface ocean waters will eventually circulate to the deep where they can react with the dead calcium carbonate shells on the sea floor and neutralize the added carbon dioxide. However, this process will take tens of thousands of years to complete and meanwhile, the ever-more acidic surface waters eat away at coral reefs. But how quickly will the coral dissolve?

Read the full story here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170717160045.htm

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Record-Breaking Marine Heatwave Powered By Climate Change Cooks Tasmania’s Fisheries

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At its peak intensity, waters off Tasmania were 2.9°C above expected summertime temperatures. (Credit: Daniel Poloha / Fotolia)

(Click to enlarge) At its peak intensity, waters off Tasmania were 2.9°C above expected summertime temperatures. (Credit: Daniel Poloha / Fotolia)

Climate change was almost certainly responsible for a marine heatwave off Tasmania’s east coast in 2015/16 that lasted 251 days and at its greatest extent was seven times the size of Tasmania, according to a new study published today in Nature Communications.

(From Science Daily) — The marine heatwave reduced the productivity of Tasmanian salmon fisheries, led to a rise in blacklip abalone mortality, sparked an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome and saw new fish species move into Tasmanian waters.

At its peak intensity, waters off Tasmania were 2.9°C above expected summertime temperatures.

Lead author from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (ARCCSS) Dr Eric Oliver said marine heatwave events of this kind were likely to increase in the future because of climate change.

“We can say with 99 per cent confidence that anthropogenic climate change made this marine heatwave several times more likely, and there’s an increasing probability of such extreme events in the future,” Dr Oliver said.

“This 2015/16 event was the longest and most intense marine heatwave on record off Tasmania.”

The research team led by scientists from ARCCSS and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania, in collaboration with the CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, found the heatwave was driven by a surge of warm water in the East Australian Current, which has been growing stronger and reaching further south in recent decades.

The area off the east coast of Tasmania is already known as a global warming hotspot with temperatures in this region warming at nearly four times the global average rate.

Co-author Associate Professor Neil Holbrook from IMAS said it was vital to monitor and research these marine heatwaves because if identified early it would allow fisheries and aquaculture industries to adapt and manage their resources.

“The evidence shows that the frequency of extreme warming events in the ocean is increasing globally,” Associate Professor Holbrook said.

“In 2015 and 2016 around one quarter of the ocean surface area experienced a marine heatwave that was either the longest or most intense recorded since global satellite-records began in 1982.

“Studying these events plays an important role in helping industries, governments and communities to plan for and adapt to the changes and their growing impacts on our environment and ecosystems,” Associate Professor Holbrook said.

Read the full story here: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170717100443.htm

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This Cave Holds A Spectacular Record Of 5,000 Years Of Tsunamis

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Kerry Sieh and Charles Rubin use fluorescent lights to look for charcoal and shells for radiocarbon dating. (Credit: Earth Observatory of Singapore)

(Click to enlarge) Kerry Sieh and Charles Rubin use fluorescent lights to look for charcoal and shells for radiocarbon dating. (Credit: Earth Observatory of Singapore)

Benjamin Horton remembers being in Southeast Asia just months after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. “They were still dealing with a disaster,” he says. “The roads were in a terrible state.”

(From The Atlantic / by Sarah Zhang) — But in those days, the formerly niche field of tsunami research had taken on new urgency. Horton, who studies sea levels at Rutgers University and Nanyang Technological University, was just one of dozens of researchers who came in search of answers: Had this happened before? Would it happen again?

The answers were certainly not to be found in written records or seismometer data. In the short time such data have existed for the Indian Ocean, no one had ever recorded an earthquake capable of sending such a huge wall of water crashing into the coast. The tsunami in 2004 was so deadly because it was so unexpected.

The answer, if scientists were to find it, would probably be in sand. Tsunamis pick up sand from the depths of the ocean floor, depositing it on land as the waters recede. Low-lying coastal plains are good places to look. So are lagoons or mangrove swamps that trap sand. A number of such sites around the Indian Ocean have allowed scientists to begin piecing together a fragmentary history of Indian Ocean tsunamis. To that, Horton and his colleagues now add an exciting new find: a coastal cave in Indonesia containing layers of sand left by tsunamis all the way back to the Stone Age 7,400 years ago.

“It is really a spectacular site,” says Katrin Monecke, a geoscientist at Wellesley College who was not involved in the study, but who has worked on on other tsunami deposits in Southeast Asia. With this cave discovery, scientists have a whole new place they can look for records of past tsunamis.

Horton knew the cave was special the moment he set foot inside in 2011. His colleague, Patrick Daly, an archeologist at Nanyang, had heard about it from locals. The first thing they noticed is that the opening of the cave did not directly face the ocean—a good sign because that positioning slows the movement of water, allowing sand brought by the tsunami to settle in the cave.

Then they stepped in the dark, second chamber. “The next thing you know we were faced with thousands of bats. We were just drenched in bat pee,” says Horton. These bats turned out to be key. Tsunamis had been inundating this cave for thousands of years, during which time bats were also pooping on the cave floor. A tsunami came. Bats pooped. Tsunami, bat poop, tsunami, bat poop, and so on. So when Horton and Daly dug into the sand in the cave, they saw these perfect layers of sand, separated by dark bands of bat poop. “It was a holy grail moment,” says Horton. “We knew we had found something very, very unique.”

Over several years, Horton and his colleagues dug six major trenches up to six-and-a-half feet deep. They carbon dated the animal shells and charcoal in the sand layers as well as the bat poop itself. They found, in total, records from at least 11 prehistoric tsunamis, separated by highly irregular intervals. In one case, there was a 2,100 year gap between tsunamis. But within the span of a single century around 1300 BCE, there were four tsunamis. “It shows just how far away we are from being able to predict when an earthquake will hit,” says Horton.

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From The Federal Register, Public Meeting: Pacific Fishery Management Council (Aug. 2 & Sept. 6)

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AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Notice; public meeting.

SUMMARY:

The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council) Groundfish Management Team (GMT) will hold two webinars that are open to the public.

DATES:

The GMT webinars will be held Wednesday, August 2, 2017 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. and Wednesday, September 6, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Webinar end times are estimates, meetings will adjourn when business for each day is completed.

ADDRESSES:

The following login instructions will work for any of the webinars in this series. To attend the webinar (1) join the meeting by visiting this link http://www.gotomeeting.com/​online/​webinar/​join-webinar;​ (2) enter the Webinar ID: 740-284-043, and (3) enter your name and email address (required). After logging in to the webinar, please (1) dial this TOLL number (+1) (914) 614-3221 (not a toll-free number); (2) enter the attendee phone audio access code 572-823-832; and (3) then enter your audio phone pin (shown after joining the webinar). NOTE: We have disabled Mic/Speakers as on option and require all participants to use a telephone or cell phone to participate. Technical Information and System Requirements: PC-based attendees are required to use Windows® 7, Vista, or XP; Mac®-based attendees are required to use Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer; Mobile attendees are required to use iPhone®, iPad®, AndroidTM phone or Android tablet (See the GoToMeeting WebinarApps). You may send an email to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at Kris.Kleinschmidt@noaa.gov or contact him at 503-820-2280, extension 411 for technical assistance. A public listening station will also be available at the Pacific Council office.

Council address: Pacific Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, Oregon 97220-1384; telephone: 503-820-2280.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Kelly Ames, Pacific Council, 503-820-2426.

For more information, click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/07/19/2017-15138/pacific-fishery-management-council-public-meeting

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Oil-Exposed Fish Make Dangerous Decisions, Study Finds

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Oil-exposed fish are slow to respond to danger, the study found. (Credit: Jodie  Rummer)

(Click to enlarge) Oil-exposed fish are slow to respond to danger, the study found. (Credit: Jodie Rummer)

Small amounts of oil can cause coral reef fish to engage in risky behaviours, according to a new study.

(From BBC) — Researchers liken the responses of oil-exposed fish to being intoxicated, and say it endangers their lives.

The study found the fish often swim towards open waters, have trouble selecting suitable habitats and are slow to respond to danger.

Pollution impairs their ability to survive in key environments like the Great Barrier Reef, the authors said.

The international study monitored what happened when six species of fish were exposed to oil in their first three weeks of life.

The equivalent of even a few drops of oil in a Olympics-size swimming pool created “dramatic alterations” in behaviour, according to the researchers.

“Our oil-exposed fish were not making good choices,” co-author Dr Jodie Rummer, from James Cook University, told the BBC.

“They were choosing [to settle in] open water or piles of dead coral. These types of choices would make them much more vulnerable to a predator.”

Survival fears

When researchers simulated a predator attack, the fish were sluggish to respond and did not move in the right direction.

“The fun, quirky way that we have described this whole response is like being drunk – you are making poor choices,” said Dr Rummer.

“That is exactly what these fish were doing.”

Dr Rummer said such decision-making could compromise fish populations and the overall health of coral reef systems.

“The effects of the oil concentration lingered because we saw decreased growth rates and also a decrease in survival,” she said.

“It is not like they got used to it – they did not up their tolerance for gin and tonic – they got worse over time.”

Read the full story here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-40628204

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Polar Bears And People: Cataloging Conflict

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Polar bears eat a bearded seal on the sea ice off Spitsbergen, Svalbard. As the Arctic's sea ice dwindles, polar bears are spending more time on land, increasing the possibility of incidents with people. (Credit: AFP/Biosphoto /Gerard Bodineau)

(Click to enlarge) Polar bears eat a bearded seal on the sea ice off Spitsbergen, Svalbard. As the Arctic’s sea ice dwindles, polar bears are spending more time on land, increasing the possibility of incidents with people. (Credit: AFP/Biosphoto /Gerard Bodineau)

ON WILLIAM BARENTS’S second Arctic expedition in 1595, the Dutch navigator’s crew had a deadly encounter.

(From NewsDeeply / by Gloria Dickie) — While searching for diamonds on an islet near Russia’s Vaygach Island three months into the journey, two of his sailors were resting in a wind-protected depression when “a great leane beare came sodainly stealing out, and caught one of them fast by the necke.” The bear killed and devoured both men, despite the crew’s attempt to drive the animal away. The incident, recounted in Dutch officer Gerrit de Veer’s diary, became the first account of a polar bear attacking humans in recorded history.

More than 400 years later, humans now live and work in the Arctic in unprecedented numbers. At the same time, as sea ice diminishes in the Arctic Ocean, polar bears are spending more time on land. This change in behavior has wildlife managers worried that attacks could become more common in the far reaches of the North. No one, however, had been tracking the clashes between polar bears and humans.

So, in 2009, following reports from northern communities that bears were spending more time near towns and showing aggressive behavior, the five nations with polar bear populations issued a directive to create a record of human-bear conflicts. Wildlife managers in Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States produced a digital database that tracked injurious or fatal attacks between 1870 and 2014. Their goal was to reveal trends that could help prevent future injuries.

Once the Polar Bear-Human Information Management System (PBHIMS) was complete, researchers analyzed the 73 confirmed historical attacks in which 20 people were killed and 63 injured to see if the circumstances of attacks were changing by decade. They found that nutritionally stressed adult male polar bears were the mostly likely to attack, while defensive attacks by females to protect cubs were rare. The majority of attacks happened at field camps and in towns – a departure from the majority of grizzly and black bear attacks that occur in wilderness areas. And in 38 percent of attacks, human food attractants were present. No attacks occurred near natural attractants, such as whale bone piles.

“The concern is that this is something that will only continue to increase,” says Todd Atwood, a United States Geological Survey wildlife biologist and coauthor of the study that appeared in Wildlife Society Bulletin this month. “The conditions are ripe for human-bear conflict.” In addition to a growing open water season forcing polar bears ashore for longer durations, declining sea ice has also opened up the Arctic to more recreational and industrial human activity, including oil and gas development.

When Atwood and his colleagues looked at whether attacks were increasing or decreasing between 1960 and 2009, no clear trend emerged. But between 2010 and 2014, when the extent of sea ice reached record lows, the greatest number of attacks took place. Moreover, since 2000, 88 percent of attacks have occurred between July and December, when sea ice is at its lowest.

Read the full story here: https://www.newsdeeply.com/arctic/articles/2017/07/17/polar-bears-and-people-cataloging-conflict

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Researchers Revolutionize Vital Conservation Tool With Use Of Gold Nanotechnology And Lasers

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Researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute provide the first-ever reproducible evidence for the successful cryopreservation of zebrafish embryos.

(Click to enlarge) Researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute provide the first-ever reproducible evidence for the successful cryopreservation of zebrafish embryos.

For more than 60 years, researchers have tried to successfully cryopreserve (or freeze) the embryo of zebrafish, a species that is an important medical model for human health.

(From Phys.org) — In a new study, researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) provide the first-ever reproducible evidence for the successful cryopreservation of zebrafish embryos.

The study uses new gold nanotechnology and lasers to warm the embryo—the stumbling block in previous studies. The results have profound implications for human health, wildlife conservation, and aquaculture.

The research is published today in ACS Nano, a leading scientific journal published by the American Chemical Society.

“There’s no doubt that the use of this technology, in this way, marks a paradigm shift for cryopreservation and the conservation of many wildlife species,” said Mary Hagedorn, an SCBI research scientist and paper co-author who has been working on cryopreserving zebrafish embryos since 1992.

“To get anything to work at such cold temperatures, you usually have to get creative. Here we take a unique approach by combining biology with an exciting engineering technology to do what has been impossible previously: to successfully freeze and thaw a fish embryo so that the embryo begins to develop, rather than falls apart,” Hagedorn added.

By freezing sperm, eggs and embryos, conservationists can safeguard at-risk species and their genetic diversity, making it possible to bolster the genetic pool and therefore health of wild populations years—or even centuries—later. Although scientists have successfully cryopreserved the embryos of many mammal species and the sperm of many species of fish, freezing fish embryos proved infinitely more complicated.

Successful cryopreservation of an embryo requires cooling the embryo to a cryogenically stable state, then warming it at a rate faster than it was cooled, and using an antifreeze (or cryoprotectant) to stop the growth of ice crystals, which are like pins in a balloon that pop the membrane and cause the embryo to fall apart. Fish embryos, however, are very large, making it difficult to thaw them quickly and avoid ice crystal development. In addition, because aquatic animals need to survive harsh environments, their embryonic membranes are mostly impenetrable, blocking the cryoprotectants out.

Enter laser gold nanotechnology, a rapidly growing technological field being developed for cryopreservation applications by University of Minnesota Mechanical Engineering John Bischof that was critical for the success of the study and has a wide variety of biomedical applications.

“Lasers have the exciting ability to act like a “light switch” that can turn biological activity on and off within gold nanoparticle laden biomaterials,” said Bischof, senior author of the study. “In this case, by careful engineering and deployment of gold nanoparticles within a cryogenically stored and biological inactive embryo, we can use a laser pulse to quickly warm the embryo back to ambient temperatures and switch biological activity, and therefore life, back on.”

Read the full story here: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-cryopreserve-fish-embryos-life.html

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