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Marine Science News

23 Jan 2024

RRS Sir David Attenborough Begins Research Mission in the Southern Ocean

(Photo: British Antarctic Survey)

Scientists aboard Britain's high-tech polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough are headed to the Weddell Sea to investigate how carbon dioxide moves and transforms in the Southern Ocean.The ship departed Tuesday from Punta Arenas, Chile for the 30-day scientific expedition.As the carbon in the seawater rises to the surface near Antarctica, it interacts with the atmosphere, ice, and microscopic plants and animals, called phytoplankton and zooplankton, near the ocean surface, before descending to the ocean depths.

26 Dec 2023

Shipwrecks Teem with Underwater Life, from Microbes to Sharks

© Erik / Adobe Stock

Humans have sailed the world’s oceans for thousands of years, but they haven’t all reached port. Researchers estimate that there are some three million shipwrecks worldwide, resting in shallow rivers and bays, coastal waters and the deep ocean. Many sank during catastrophes – some during storms or after running aground, others in battle or collisions with other vessels.Shipwrecks like the RMS Titanic, RMS Lusitania and USS Monitor conjure tales of human courage and sacrifice, sunken treasure and unsolved mysteries.

12 Sep 2023

Mounting Evidence Shows Seismic Surveys Can Harm Marine Life

© Sean / Adobe Stock

Woodside Energy last week announced it would start seismic testing for its Scarborough gas project off Australia’s west coast, before reversing the decision in the face of a legal challenge from Traditional Owners.Seismic testing is highly controversial in marine environments. Australia’s federal regulator (the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority) is currently examining a proposal for seismic testing in the Otway Basin in Bass Strait, which conservationists say has attracted more than 30…

05 Sep 2023

Sand Dredging is 'Sterilizing' Ocean Floor, UN Warns

© Alexey Seafarer / Adobe Stock

Around 6 billion tons of marine sand is being dug up each year in a growing practice that a U.N. agency said is unsustainable and can wipe out local marine life irreversibly.Sand is the most exploited natural resource in the world after water but its extraction for use in industries like construction is only loosely governed, prompting the U.N.

15 Aug 2023

Global Conservation Mission Sets Sail from UK in Darwin's Wake

(Photo: Darwin200)

Almost two centuries after Charles Darwin's voyage around the world, environmentalists plan to follow in his footsteps by undertaking a two-year journey across four continents to study endemic wildlife and boost conservation.The group will set sail on board a 105-year-old schooner on Tuesday from the southern English port of Plymouth, from where British naturalist Darwin's own expedition began in 1831, leading him to develop the theory of evolution by natural selection.The 40,000 nautical mile "Darwin200" expedition hopes to anchor in 32 ports, including all the major ports visited by Darwin's

14 Aug 2023

US Coast Guard Cutter Healy, Scientists Deploy Ice Stations

Researchers set up instruments to begin data collection on an ice floe next to USCGC Healy in the Beaufort Sea, Aug. 6, 2023. (Photo: Zane Miagany / U.S. Coast Guard)

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy (WAGB 20) crew and embarked researchers ventured onto a floe of multi-year ice for the first of three multi-instrument ice stations in the Arctic Ocean Basin late July and early August.As the Healy carefully approached and maintained position alongside an ice floe above 77 degrees north, the crew and a team of scientists, working in cooperation with the Office of Naval Research, (ONR) offloaded a diverse collection of equipment on to the floe carefully…

07 Aug 2023

RRS Sir David Attenborough Gearing Up for First Antarctic Science Cruise

(Photo: British Antarctic Survey)

Britain's high-tech polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough is gearing up for its first Antarctic science cruise.Over the coming weeks, the crew and scientists on board the vessel will be carrying out a range of trials to test the ship's science equipment in both deep and shallow water around the Scottish coast. Among the tech to be tested are the vessel's moonpool, coring equipment and the ship’s workboat Erebus, all of which are critical elements of upcoming science missions.Erebus will be put through its paces with new equipment…

09 Jun 2023

North American Lobster Industry Confronts 'Ropeless' Traps After Whale Entanglements

© norrie39 / Adobe Stock

An emerging technology to fish for lobsters virtually ropeless to prevent whale entanglements is exciting conservationists, but getting a frigid reception from harvesters worried it will drive them out of business and upend their way of life.Injuries to endangered North Atlantic Right Whales ensnared in fishing gear have fueled a prominent campaign by environmental groups to pressure the industry to adopt on-demand equipment that only suspends ropes in the water briefly before traps are pulled from the water.The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch…

06 Jun 2023

Arctic Ocean Could Be Ice-free In Summer By 2030s, Scientists Say

© Danita Delimont / Adobe Stock

The Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer by the 2030s, even if we do a good job of reducing emissions between now and then. That’s the worrying conclusion of a new study in Nature Communications.Predictions of an ice-free Arctic Ocean have a long and complicated history, and the 2030s is sooner than most scientists had thought possible (though it is later than some had wrongly forecast). What we know for sure is the disappearance of sea ice at the top of the world would not only be an emblematic sign of climate breakdown…

06 Jun 2023

Threat to Whales Complicates US Research into Seaweed for Biofuel

© Tony / Adobe Stock

In Cape Cod Bay, 10-year-old Pilgrim and her calf skim the water's glassy surface alongside the Shearwater research vessel to feed on tiny crustaceans.The two are among the last surviving 340 or so North Atlantic right whales left migrating along the U.S. East Coast – down from 480 right whales in 2010.The biggest threats they face include being struck by passing ships or getting entangled in ropes used for lobster fishing off the U.S. East Coast - scientists have recorded 98 such injuries or deaths of whales since 2017.Now, the whales face another threat as the U.S.

16 May 2023

Florida Researcher Breaks World Record for Living Underwater

Courtesy of Joseph Dituri

University of South Florida (USF) Associate Professor Joseph Dituri has broken the world record for living underwater, previously set at 73 days.Dituri is studying how the human body responds to long-term exposure to pressure from an underwater habitat located at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo where he’s been living since March 1.His 100-square-foot underwater home has subjected him to an isolated and extreme-confined environment. With this new record, Dituri's officially reached uncharted territory for science, and he hopes his research may have far-reaching impacts, even in space.

28 Mar 2023

NOAA, Coast Guard to Collect Data from a Great Lakes Icebreaker

(Photo: NOAA)

This week, NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) scientists worked with the U.S. Coast Guard during ice-breaking in Lake Superior Harbor in Duluth, Minnesota, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Spar. This project is the first set of experiments funded by the newly developed Great Lakes Center of Expertise.Teams from both Coast Guard District 9 and NOAA deployed uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) with multispectral, thermal and LIDAR sensors to collect data while the Spar was breaking ice in the harbor.

13 Jan 2023

What Does Climate Change Mean for Extreme Waves?

© TravisPhotoWorks / Adobe Stock

In 80% of the world, we don’t really know.Across much of the world’s oceans, waves are getting bigger. In the Southern Ocean, where storm-driven swell can propagate halfway across the world to California, the average wave has grown about 20cm in the past 30 years.These changes are part of climate change, and are likely to continue well into the future. If you’re making long-term plans near the sea – like building ships, or constructing flood defenses in coastal cities – you need more detail about how big those waves are going to get.In a study published this week in Science Advances…

12 Jan 2023

Lobsters Versus Right Whales

© karenfoleyphoto / Adobe Stock

Lobsters versus right whales: The latest chapter in a long quest to make fishing more sustainableMaine lobster fishermen received a Christmas gift from Congress at the end of 2022: A six-year delay on new federal regulations designed to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.The rules would have required lobstermen to create new seasonal nonfishing zones and further reduce their use of vertical ropes to retrieve lobster traps from the seafloor. Entanglement…

21 Oct 2022

MBARI to Transfer Research Vessel to Florida Institute of Oceanography

MBARI’s Western Flyer will take on a new life as a sailing classroom for the Florida Institute of Oceanography. (Photo: MBARI)

MBARI revealed plans to grant its 25-year-old research vessel Western Flyer to the University of South Florida where the vessel will begin a new life as a sailing classroom for the university's Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO).“We’re thrilled the Western Flyer will be sailing on to an exciting new chapter at the Florida Institute of Oceanography,” said MBARI President and CEO Chris Scholin. “The ocean plays a vital role in sustaining life on Earth. With the Western Flyer…

19 Aug 2022

New Buoys Aim to Help Protect Whales from Ship Strikes

(Photo: CMA CGM)

A network of acoustic monitoring buoys aims to help protect North Atlantic right whales—one of the world’s most critically endangered species—from ship strikes along the U.S. East Coast.Although North Atlantic right whales are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, serious threats to their survival abound with only approximately 336 of these great whales remaining on the planet. The installment of the buoys aims to aid in right whale’s survival and will fill a critical gap in monitoring along the East Coast.

15 Aug 2022

FerryBox: PONANT Exploration Vessel Collecting Arctic Ocean Data

©PONANT-Mike Louagie

PONANT’s new science-focused exploration vessel has started collecting Arctic Ocean data with -4H-JENA engineering’s FerryBox multi-parameter water measurement system on board.The system is now being used to evaluate the role of global warming and glacial meltwater on the rising level of oxygen in the oceans aboard PONANT’s Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s only luxury icebreaker, a hybrid-electric vessel powered by liquified natural gas.A unique concept with minimal environmental impact due to her green energy and propulsion systems…

01 Jun 2022

4500 Years Old & 180km: World's Largest Known Plant Discovered in Shark Bay

Posidonia australis seagrass meadow in Shark Bay. Photo by Sahira Bell, PhD graduate from UWA.

Largest known plant on earth discovered at Shark Bay, and it's 4,500 years old.Researchers from The University of Western Australia and Flinders University have located what is believed to be the largest plant in the world – an ancient and incredibly resilient seagrass stretching across 180km that is estimated to be at least 4,500 years old.The discovery of the single plant or ‘clone’ of the seagrass Posidonia australis in the shallow, sun-drenched waters of the World Heritage Area of Shark Bay in WA…

08 Apr 2022

The Ship that Found Antarctica’s Endurance Wreck is Vital for Climate Science

(Photo: Saunders Carmichael-Brown / Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust)

It was 1914 when the English explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton set sail on his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard a ship called Endurance. It was an ill-fated journey: the ship got trapped in the ice and eventually crushed by pack ice in 1915. It sank to the bottom of Antarctica’s Weddell Sea. (Shackleton and his entire crew survived the ordeal by escaping in smaller boats.)It was difficult to believe that the Endurance might ever be found. The icy Weddell Sea is inhospitable and the wreck lay in more than 3000 metres of water.

08 Feb 2022

Maersk Vessels Transmit Live Weather Data to Meteorologists

(Photo: A.P. Moller - Maersk)

Container shipping giant A.P. Moller - Maersk said it has teamed up with National Meteorological Service of Germany, Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) to install automated weather stations enabling a portion of its fleet to transmit live data to help forecast weather and climate.In the largest project of its kind, A.P. Moller - Maersk (Maersk) has installed automated weather stations (AWS) on 50 of its vessels creating a pulsating oceanic web of weather and climate observations. All collected data is transmitted live to the National Meteorological Service of Germany…

27 Dec 2021

NOAA Using Sailing Vessel for Ocean Research

The 82- foot long S/V Iris tied up at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) dock, moored next to WHOI’s R/V Armstrong. The Iris departed Woods Hole on December 14, and will spend the next two months deploying approximately 78 Argo floats in the South Atlantic, before finishing its epic voyage back in Brest, France. (Courtesy of Blue Observer)

NOAA and partners have joined together to launch approximately 100 new Argo floats across the Atlantic ocean to collect data that supports ocean, weather and climate research and prediction. These will bolster the international Argo Program, which maintains a global array of about 3,800 floats that measure pressure, temperature and salinity of the upper 2,000 meters (1.2 miles) of the ocean.The French sailing vessel Iris recently arrived in Woods Hole, Mass., after deploying the initial batch of 17 Argo floats across the Atlantic.

24 Dec 2021

Australia’s New Antarctic Icebreaker Begins First Voyage

(Photo: Pete Harmsen / AAD)

Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker RSV Nuyina departed Hobart Thursday on its first voyage south.There are 67 expeditioners and crew onboard for the five week voyage to refuel Casey research station and transport helicopters to Davis station.They will also undertake marine science commissioning including tests of the acoustic instruments mounted on the hull and drop keels, and deploying the CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) sampler.The CTD is the workhorse of oceanography research…

19 Nov 2021

New Report Tracks Sources of Marine Litter

(Photo: GESMAP)

The sources and impact of sea-based marine litter form the focus of a new report by the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), an advisory body to the United Nations sponsored by 10 UN entities. The report outlines the various sources of marine litter and the impact and assesses the current availability of data and identifies knowledge gaps for the main categories of sea-based sources of marine plastic litter. The Working Group was established by GESAMP…