The Coral Song - by AJ Jenkins

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the new soundtrack to my life. My work with the conservation project Green Fins is all about getting divers to help protect the reef, and reaching out to local communities to do the same. Whilst most divers and dive guides are fairly knowledgeable about the reef, I’ve met plenty of people, tourists and locals alike, who don’t know that coral is alive. 

This is the soundtrack for all my future presentations. And the song that will be in my head for the rest of the week. And I don’t even mind. 

Go ahead. Enjoy. Sing. Share. 

Hear hear! Whales record major life events in their earwax.

Alyssa A. Botelho | New Scientist

Who needs a diary when you’ve got whale earwax? Hormone peaks, ocean pollutants, stress levels – it’s all there.

The plugs, which can weigh 250 grams and be 25 centimetres long, reflect annual migration patterns. During a blue whale’s six-month feeding season, earwax is light-coloured, filled with fat from its rich diet. As it fasts during migration, a darker layer forms. These layers allow scientists to age whales when they’re found dead.

Now, for the first time researchers have used the earwax to study a whale’s exposure to ocean contaminants from birth to death. “This has opened the floodgates for doing some great analysis,” says Sascha Usenko of Baylor University, Waco, Texas. “Now we can look at the impact of ocean contaminants on these organisms historically, which has always been very hard to address.”

Usenko and Stephen Trumble, also at Baylor University, shaved away at a plug from a 12-year-old male blue whale that was killed in a 2007 boating accident off the coast of California. The layers contained varying concentrations of DDT and flame-retardants. Exposure was highest during its first year, probably while the whale was nursing.

The plug also contained traces of hormones, which are broken down by the body and don’t leave records elsewhere. Testosterone levels peaked at 10 years, marking the beginning of sexual maturity, which can be difficult to determine but is important for conservation efforts. And levels of the stress hormone cortisol increased over the whale’s life, possibly because finding food, migrating and mating all got harder.

Usenko says the earwax method means we can look at how exposure to chemicals in the environment alters a whale’s stress levels, and how exposure today is different from exposure say, 50 years ago.

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Photo 1: Giant earplug (Image: Tonya B. Lewis/Baylor University)

Photo 2:The extracted whale earplug (B); a cross-section of the earplug (C); and a cross-section of the earplug magnified 20x to show the different waxy layers. Source: Smithsonian Blog.

Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1311418110

*WARNING* These pictures are so awesome, you may just end up staring at your desktop, forsaking food, water and … well… life. Because Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter. 

commonoctopus asked:

My best friend and I are going to take scuba diving classes at the end of October! I'm so excited! Do you have any advice/suggestions on how to be a good diver?

Diving is so much fun! I kind of look at it like driving. You get good enough to pass your test, but you become a good driver through experience. Don’t stop trying to learn, even once you have your qualification. Watch what other divers, dive masters and instructors do, how they dive and try different things so you develop a diving style you’re comfortable with. Some general tips:

1. Dive with respect for the animals and the environment.

Don’t harass marine life, or treat coral like a stepping stone. Unless it’s a safety issue, you don’t want to be touching anything underwater. 

2. Develop good buoyancy.

Buoyancy is how you control where you are in the water column. You can adjust this with weights and air in your BCD, but good divers can control their buoyancy with their breathing. This takes practice. You have to actively try to improve. 

3. Learn your dive gear

Unfortunately we’re not marine animals anymore, and your dive gear is your life saver. Know what each of the equipment does for you. You are taught it in your courses but if you don’t dive regularly it’s easy to forget. Make sure your hoses are tucked in, so they don’t drag along the bottom causing damage to the substrate and your expensive gear! 

That’s it for starters! Good luck, hope you enjoy it! 

LOSING NEMO

A short 3D animation about the perils of over-fishing today by The Black Fish

Some of us know this information, many of us don’t…either way it’s a fantastic visual representation of a major threat to ocean biodiversity. 

Do you know how your seafood gets on your plate?