Scientists map global routes of ship-bourne invasive species
byMatt McGrath | BBC News
Scientists have developed the first global model that analyses the routes taken by marine invasive species.
The researchers examined the movements of cargo ships around the world to identify the hot spots where these aquatic aliens might thrive.
Marine species are taken in with ballast water on freighters and wreak havoc in new locations, driving natives to extinction.
The research is published in the Journal Ecology Letters.
There has been a well-documented boom in global shipping over the past 20 years and this has led to growing numbers of species moving via ballast tanks, or by clinging to hulls.
Some ports such as San Francisco and Chesapeake Bay have reportedseveral exotic new species arriving every year. Economic estimates indicate that marine invaders can have huge impacts that last for decades.
Now, scientists from the UK and Germany have developed a model that might help curb these unwanted visitors. They obtained detailed logs from nearly three million voyages that took place in 2007 and 2008.
“Our model combines information such as shipping routes, ship sizes, temperatures and biogeography to come up with local forecasts of invasion probabilities,” said Prof Bernd Blasius from the University of Oldenburg.
While this is a mathematical model, the researchers were able to adjust it by carrying out field observations. They were able to estimate the probability that a species can survive a journey and establish a population in a subsequent port of call.
“It is called ecological roulette,” said Dr Michael Gastner from the University of Bristol.
“The probability of winning from the perspective of the invader is really tiny - but because the number of attempts are now growing with more and bigger ships, you play this roulette so often that you become a likely winner sooner or later,” he added.
The team says that the key hotspots for invasion are Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Panama and Suez canals. Cooler climates like the North Sea are less likely to be troubled, unless ships come from similar waters such as the east coast of the US. They conclude that very long trips are less likely to be a cause for concern.
Mating Nudibranches (Roboastra luteolineata) SMURF PENIS
On a recent dive, we stumbled upon a rather private moment between a couple of simultaneous hermaphrodites, Roboastra luteolineata, doing the mutual penis dance. They were poking around for a while, and had yet to manage mutual fertilization when we (reluctantly) moved on.
Some of you might have found, that after a hundred dives or more, that although you still enjoy reefs, or fish, or the ‘prettiness’ of being underwater, that other aspects of the marine world take your fancy. I have zoomed in on macro life, and relish the challenge of finding tiny critters on a sandy bottom. And for the things that are a bit bigger, behaviour starts to catch your eye…
…who am I kidding? It’s all about the smurf penis.
Are any of you looking for work experience and skill development for marine conservation?
If you’ve done a science degree but haven’t got much work experience, or if you’ve done lots of work experience, but didn’t do a marine science degree, but still want to get into conservation - Zoox might be perfect for you.
Doing the Zoox Experience Programme will give you intensive and unique training on the basics of marine conservation, then you embark on a six-week work experience helping to coordinate a real conservation project on the ground, and carrying out personal conservation projects aimed to develop the skills that you need to fill in on your CV!
This was my dream internship. Now it’s my dream job. Check it out!
This megamouth shark was fished in the Philippines on April 21, 2013. The megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) is an extremely rare species of deepwater shark, so rare that only over 50 sightings have been recorded since its discovery in 1976.
Of the now 56 megamouth sharks recorded worldwide, 11 specimens (20%, most numerous next to Japan) come from the Philippines.
The megamouth is the smallest of only three filter-feeding sharks (the others being whale sharks and basking sharks).
Photo from CJ Fives for Butuan Bay Divers.
“Various processes are known to enhance the ocean’s ability to store carbon. Sperm whales increase the levels of primary production and carbon export to the deep ocean by depositing iron rich faeces into surface waters of the Southern Ocean. The iron rich faeces causes phytoplankton to grow and take up more carbon from the atmosphere. When the phytoplankton dies, it sinks to the deep ocean and takes the atmospheric carbon with it. By reducing the abundance of sperm whales in the Southern Ocean, whaling has resulted in an extra 2 million tonnes of carbon remaining in the atmosphere each year. “
As if sperm whales weren’t cool enough already.
[and everything else, actually]
This week marked an important e-mail milestone for me: I received my 100th request for a job. I do not mean job offers (i.e. people saying “David, we’d like to hire you”), or requests for job advice (i.e. people saying “David, can you point me in the right direction?”). I’d be thrilled to answer any of those e-mails (particularly the job offers). I mean job requests (i.e. people saying “David, please hire me”).
I get all kinds of e-mails from readers, and I’m always happy to answer them. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that applying for a job in this way is incredibly ineffective. I thought I’d take some examples from some of my favorite job request e-mails to explain to you all how not to apply for a job working with sharks.
1) Don’t contact people who obviously aren’t in a position to hire. I’m a 26 year old graduate student living pretty close to the poverty line. The total budget for my research project is likely much less than the value of your car. While I may be the only person working with sharks that you know of offhand, I am not in a position to hire anyone.
2) Learn a little bit about people before you contact them.
I received several e-mails from people hoping to work with me doing things that I don’t do (“I would love to study great white sharks with you”, “I would love to work with you in South Africa”, etc). I too would love to study great white sharks in South Africa, but that’s not what I do. I study sandbar sharks in the United States. Asking to join me on something I don’t do shows that you haven’t thought terribly hard about contacting me, and that would make it less likely for me to want to hire you (even if I was in a position to hire).
3) Communication medium matters. A famous shark researcher I know (who actually is in a position to hire) told me that he gets between 25 and 100 e-mails a day asking to work with him. It’s pretty easy to delete an e-mail, it’s a lot harder to ignore a ringing phone. Please note that I am not asking you to call me (see advice #1, I can’t hire anyway). However, I use this to point out that how you contact someone matters. We once received a request for a job as a 3-sentence comment on a blog post (it may have actually been on our “about the authors” page, I don’t remember). This is not remotely professional or acceptable. It was several weeks before we noticed this comment, and it didn’t even include any contact information, so we couldn’t get back in touch with the person to direct them to advice #1.
4) I judge you when you use poor grammar in e-mails. If you are applying for an extremely competitive job that requires intelligence, demonstrate that you are intelligent by writing complete sentences and avoiding typos. It’s also important to note that spell check does not identify words that are correctly spelled but not the word you meant to use (i.e. you apply to the Wharton School of Business, not the Wharton School of Bunnies. This is a real example I just heard from a friend who works as an admissions officer for Penn- the applicant was not admitted). Take the time to read your e-mail more than once to make sure it doesn’t make you sound like a fool.
5) Don’t insult the person you are asking for a favor. Someone told me that none of the dolphin labs were hiring, and that sharks were always their second favorite animal. Andrew and I have a mutual acquaintance who asked us for help getting into marine biology graduate school after she failed several times getting into medical school- she wanted to take the “easier route” like us. Even if I was in a position to hire, I wouldn’t hire someone who insulted my career choice the first time we communicated.
6) Learn a little bit about the job you are applying for before applying. Lots of people tell me “they want to work with sharks” and then ask “what exactly do you do?” in the same e-mail. This again tells me that you haven’t thought terribly hard about this career. We like people who are motivated, and it’s hard to be motivated if you don’t even know what you’re applying for.
I hope that this advice helps!
Great question! I’m a bit stumped myself! IPCC is the go-to resource obviously, but since you have specific subjects in mind I’d recommend going through the references (I know, I know - there’s a lot), but they are great starting points. Ctrl or Cmmd+F and a keyword can be your best friend.
Here’s a couple of papers that my Uni housemates wrote - it’s ocean acidication but on physiological factors - they may help too :)
Oh Anon, if you do a masters degree, I doubt you’ll come out of it thinking it’s only a masters!
I don’t plan to get a PhD. I’ve moved from marine biology towards marine conservation which requires a lot more than academic skill (though to be fair a career in academia requires much more than academic skills too). I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’m not aiming for it.
I believe that we’re only scratching the surface of ocean research and protection. As governments and well…everyone starts to recognise the value of the services provided by the sea, employment in the industry is only going to sky rocket. For example, the UK recently passed a marine bill, with a push for more establishments of MPAs around the country. This brings with it work. Work for people to establish baseline data of the marine environment, work for people to outreach to communities and link with the private sector.
It all depends on what type of marine biology you want to do. The sea covers 71% of our planet. There’s a lot to do. As for earning enough - that’s all relative, but I can tell you I don’t have any marine biologist friends living on shacks on a beach. Or if they do, they’ve neglected to invite me!
Travels of Pregnant Great White Sharks Revealed
by Douglas Main
For the first time, migrating great white sharks have been tagged and their movements around the oceans tracked for years, as opposed to the few months they have previously been tracked, according to a researcher.
Scientists used special satellite tags that tracked several sharks from a specific great white population for up to three years off the coast of Mexico. The study found that adult female sharks complete a two-year breeding cycle and avoid male sharks whenever possible, said study author Michael Domeier, a researcher and the president of the Marine Conservation Science Institute.
Published recently in the journal Animal Biotelemetry, the study followed four female great white sharks from their mating grounds off Mexico’s Guadalupe Island until they returned 24 months later, Domeier said. During the first 18 months, the females followed an ambling path through the open ocean, he said.
They then arrived in off Baja California to give birth to shark pups, putting themselves at risk of running into shipping traffic on their voyage along the shore, the study found.
“During the time the females are giving birth along the Baja Peninsula they are exposed to an array of commercial fishing activities that put them at risk,” Domeier told OurAmazingPlanet in an email. “Of course, the baby white sharks are at even more risk since they spend the first years of their life in coastal waters and their small size makes them even more susceptible to capture.”
Once the young sharks are born, the females return to Guadalupe Island to mate again.
The study found a high prevalence of bite marks on the sharks. Male sharks “bite the head, flank or pectoral fin of females during the mating ritual, but certainly these sharks are biting each other out of aggression as well,” Domeier added. “Males may be battling it out for access to females or preferred hunting grounds.”
While the females return to mate every two years, the males only return every other year. When they’re not mating, both males and females may range as far afield as the waters off Hawaii, Domeier said.
The researchers tag the great white sharks by affixing the device to the tip of the animal’s dorsal fin, during which time they are very close to the predators.
“It’s surreal and humbling,” Domeier said. “It is also stressful since the shark’s life is in our hands during the short time it takes us to capture and tag each individual.”
Source: Live Science
Photo Credit: Neil Hammerschlag