Among the ocean’s best filter feeders, one oyster cleans 50 gallons of water per day. Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
We have linked to stories about the environmental services that oysters provide, as well as the environmental activists who leverage those services; today a riff on those topics:
They Knew Little About Oysters. Now They Have a Farm With 2 Million.
Stefanie Bassett and Elizabeth Peeples left their city lives behind to raise mollusks.
The Little Ram Oyster Co., a farm of 2 million oysters on the North Fork of Long Island, started with a Groupon.
To celebrate a friend’s birthday in the summer of 2017, Stefanie Bassett and Elizabeth Peeples joined eight other enthusiasts in Long Island City to learn how to shuck oysters at a discount. The Brooklyn couple, who knew each other from middle school in Columbia, Md., always had a love for the delicacy. But as they laughed with their friends and fumbled with their oyster knives, they also listened intently as an instructor explained the history and magic of the mollusks.
Ms. Bassett and Ms. Peeples prepare oyster cages to be put into the water. Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
“The thing that drew our attention was the positive environmental impact oysters have,” said Ms. Bassett, 42.
Among the ocean’s best filter feeders, one oyster cleans 50 gallons of water per day. New York was once known as “the Big Oyster,” but over-harvesting and poor water quality wiped out the population by the 21st century. The couple learned about efforts to bring them back to the harbor. Continue reading →
Diagram of a test project in Italy in which sea cucumbers cleaned up excrement from farmed mussels. GROSSO ET AL.
A topic that rarely, if ever, has made our pages, the sea cucumber’s moment in the spotlight has arrived:
A sea cucumber near Mindoro Island in the Philippines. IMAGEBROKER / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Are Sea Cucumbers a Cleanup Solution to Fish Farm Pollution?
Seafood farm operators are breeding and deploying sea cucumbers to vacuum up the massive amounts of fish waste that pose a major problem for their industry. It is part of an effort to redesign fish farms with multiple species so that they work more like natural ecosystems.
Sea bass at a fish farm in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Slovenia. WATERFRAME / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
Off the coast of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, an underwater metropolis bustles. Sea turtles glide lazily through the surf while schools of fluorescent yellow butterflyfish weave between basketball-size sea urchins and sharp corals.
But Dave Anderson isn’t distracted by the otherworldly charm of the coral reef — he’s here on a mission. Around 70 feet below the surface, he finds his prize: a red sea cucumber. Continue reading →
When a book like this comes along, take in what the review has to say, maybe read a second opinion, then go find a copy from any of the several independent booksellers offering it:
Deep-Sea Creatures of Bittersweet Orange and Metallic Opaline Green
In “The Bathysphere Book,” Brad Fox chronicles the fascinating Depression-era ocean explorations of William Beebe.
Wildlife Conservation Society Archives
Consider the siphonophore. An inhabitant of the lightless ocean, it looks like a single organism, but is actually a collection of minute creatures, each with its own purpose, working in harmony to move, to eat, to stay alive. They seem impossible but they are real. In 1930 William Beebe was 3,000 feet underwater in a bathysphere, an early deep-sea submersible, when he spotted a huge one: a writhing 20-yard mass whose pale magenta shone impossibly against the absolute blackness of the water. As you can imagine, it made an impression.
Wildlife Conservation Society Archives
“The siphonophore mind, Beebe thought, asks us to rethink our individuality, to consider our epidermis as only one way to measure the extent of our bodies,” writes Brad Fox in “The Bathysphere Book,” a hypnotic new account of Beebe’s Depression-era underwater exploration. “In that light, our furious competition, our back-stabbing and fights over resources, is nonsense. Better we work together, getting closer and closer, more finely attuned to each other’s needs until we are indistinguishable.” Continue reading →
The video is worth a minute of your time, and the short article that follows is as close as we get to nature-related good news these days. Our thanks, as always, to Yale e360:
The newly discovered deep-sea reef in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION
In Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands, where ocean warming has decimated shallow-water reefs, scientists have discovered a healthy, sprawling coral reef hidden deep under the sea.
“This newly discovered reef is potentially an area of global significance,” Michelle Taylor of the University of Essex, co-lead of the expedition, said in a statement. It is “a site we can monitor over time to see how a pristine habitat evolves with our current climate crisis.” Continue reading →
Globally, seaweed production has grown by nearly 75 percent in the past decade.
After news of the blob coming our way, here is another useful seaweed story in excellent interactive format:
Seaweed Is Having Its Moment in the Sun
It’s being reimagined as a plastic substitute, even as cattle feed. But can seaweed thrive in a warming world?
For centuries, it’s been treasured in kitchens in Asia and neglected almost everywhere else: Those glistening ribbons of seaweed that bend and bloom in cold ocean waves. Continue reading →
A worker removing sargassum with machinery at a resort in Cancun, Mexico, last year. Alonso Cupul/EPA, via Shutterstock
We have seen its beauty and otherwise tended to feature its positive uses, but not all seaweed is created equal; so, our thanks to Livia Albeck-Ripka and Emily Schmall for this news and analysis:
The mass, known as the great Atlantic Sargassum belt, is drifting toward the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists say seaweed is likely to come ashore by summer to create a rotting, stinking, scourge.
For much of the year, an enormous brown blob floats, relatively harmlessly, across the Atlantic Ocean. Its tendrils provide shelter and breeding grounds for fish, crabs and sea turtles. Spanning thousands of miles, it is so large that it can be seen from outer space. Continue reading →
The treaty is meant to serve as a scaffold for future initiatives, and has the power to protect much of the ocean. Photograph by Philip Thurston / Getty
We thank Jeffrey J. Marlow, Assistant Professor of Biology at Boston University, once again; this time for an essay he just posted on the New Yorker’s website. The news in it is not new, but his take on it is:
The open ocean, which is home to millions of species and generates much of the oxygen we breathe, is a mostly lawless place. Nations have jurisdiction over waters near their coasts, but the high seas, which begin two hundred and thirty miles from shore, are a first-come, first-served domain: there’s little to stop someone from exploiting marine resources, whether plants and animals in the water or fossil fuels beneath the seafloor. Forty-three per cent of the planet’s surface is vulnerable to unregulated deep-sea drilling, overfishing, and bioprospecting. Continue reading →
A sunflower sea star found in a kelp forest in waters off the Oregon coast before an invasion of sea urchins. Credit Scott Groth/Scott Groth, via Associated Press
Thanks to Nicholas Bakalar (last seen in these pages seven years ago, we welcome his science reporting work back after so long):
Scientists say that reintroducing the fast-moving predators to the West Coast could help control the spread of sea urchins that are devouring kelp.
The kelp forests off the West Coast are dying, and with their decline, an entire ecosystem of marine plants and animals is at risk. A large starfish with an appetite for sea urchins could come to the rescue. Continue reading →
On this map, exclusive economic zones are shown in white and high seas, or areas beyond national jurisdiction, are shown in light green.
For some historical context it helps to think of the many challenges that commons represent. But here and now, this deal is as important as it gets:
UN member states have forged a landmark deal to guard ocean life, charting a path to create new protected areas in international waters. Continue reading →
A pod of dolphins just outside New York harbor. Carsten Brandt/Getty
Our thanks to Oliver Milman, Mother Jones and the Climate Desk collaboration for this, and we hope the frolicking continues:
“We’ve come a long way.”
Dolphins have been spotted frolicking in New York City’s Bronx River, an encouraging sign of the improving health of a waterway that was for many years befouled as a sewer for industrial waste. Continue reading →
Corals in the waters of the Ras Mohammed National Park in the Red Sea near Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, home to one of the only reefs in the world that can tolerate heat. Sima Diab for The New York Times
Our thanks to Jenny Gross and Vivian Yee reporting from Egypt:
Attendees of the United Nations climate conference took breaks from negotiations to see the corals for themselves.Credit…Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The Red Sea’s Coral Reefs Defy the Climate-Change Odds
As warming waters devastate coral around the world, the sea’s stunningly colorful reefs have been remarkably resilient. But pollution, mass tourism and overfishing put them at risk.
SHARM El SHEIKH, Egypt — The vast majority of the world’s coral reefs are likely to be severely damaged in the coming decades if the planet keeps warming at its current rate. Continue reading →
Scientists fixed bio-logger tags equipped with cameras on tiger sharks in the Bahamas to map the ocean’s seagrass meadows. Photograph: Diego Camejo/Beneath the Waves
We thank Laura Paddison for this underwater news, published in the Guardian, that has implication for climate change mitigation:
New study, carried out using tiger sharks in the Bahamas, extends total known global seagrass coverage by more than 40%
Tiger sharks are notoriously fierce. The huge animals, which can grow to more than 16ft, are ruthless predators and scared of absolutely nothing – recent research found that while other shark species fled coastal waters during strong storms, tiger sharks “didn’t even flinch”.
But recently they have a new role that could help burnish their reputations: marine scientists. Continue reading →
Researchers with a giant sunfish at the marina in Horta in the Azores in December. Atlantic Naturalist
We do not tire of the ocean surprises; this one is of an entirely different magnitude:
Not Just a Big Fish, but Perhaps the Biggest Bony Fish Ever
A sunfish found near the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean weighed as much as an S.U.V. Scientists say it’s a sign that the sea’s largest creatures can live if we let them.
The fish, at more than 6,000 pounds, is about the weight of a Chevrolet Suburban S.U.V. Atlantic Naturalist
It was easy for scientists to have doubts when they were told that the carcass of a colossal fish had been found floating just off the coast of Faial Island in Portugal’s Azores archipelago in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean in December 2021.
People do tend to exaggerate when it comes to the size of fish after all. However, their skepticism lifted the moment they laid eyes on the fish. It was the biggest bony fish they had ever seen. In fact, it might have been the biggest anyone had ever seen. Continue reading →
Another type of gummy squirrel found on an expedition in the CCZ called Psychropotes semperiana. DeepCCZ Project
We have linked to articles concerned about mining deep sea locations for the materials needed in electric vehicle batteries, and other articles featuring deep sea creatures we had no previous knowledge of. Now it is time to combine the two topics more explicitly, and we thank Benji Jones at Vox for this article:
Relicanthus daphneae, an anemone-like organism in the CCZ, stuck on top of the stalk of a dead sea sponge. Its tentacles can extend several feet long. Diva Amon and Craig Smith/University of Hawaiʻi
Note: Data for 2020 is from June 2020 through May 2021; for 2021, it is from June 2021 through May 2022.
Overfishing and potential solutions have received lots of attention in our pages over the years. It is not a new problem. And yet, we now have better metrics for how serious the problem is and who is responsible, currently, for making the problem worse. The screenshot to the left does not capture the full value of the dynamic illustration accompanying this article. Click the image to go to the source:
A Chinese ship fishing for squid off the west coast of South America in July 2021. Isaac Haslam/Sea Shepherd via Associated Press
How China Targets the Global Fish Supply
With its own coastal waters depleted, China has built a global fishing operation unmatched by any other country.
Rich and ecologically diverse, the waters around the Galápagos Islands have attracted local fishermen for centuries. Now, these waters face a much larger, more rapacious hunter: China. Continue reading →
It has been a long time since our last links to a favorite coffee table book publisher. Next month, it could be yours. And inside we see a page with homage to Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka, old favorites:
About the book
Pre-order now. This title will ship from September 8th, 2022.
Experience the force, mystery, and beauty of the ocean and seas through more than 300 images – featuring underwater photography, oceanographic maps and scientific illustrations, as well as paintings, sculptures and popular films.
Oceanography and art collide in this visual celebration of humans’ relationship with the marine world. Continue reading →
A gummy squirrel – Psychropotes longicauda – is a type of sea cucumber. This specimen is 60cm long with red palps, or lips, with which it feeds on sediment on the ocean floor, 5,100m deep
Discoveries still happen, even as the earth burns. Creatures not previously known are being identified 5,000 meters below the surface of the ocean. Some do not even yet have a name:
A spiny sea creature on the ocean floor
Natural History Museum scientists seek to unlock mysteries of deep sea but some fear activity will disturb diversity of the depths
Scientists have found more than 30 potentially new species living at the bottom of the sea. Continue reading →
Sylvia Earle. Illustration by João Fazenda
Yesterday’s post got me looking back at our attention to marine science over the years, making me wonder whether we have given that topic its fair share. Yes, probably, but more is needed. I already knew this name because it has appeared in our pages a few times over the years. But just recently I heard her name from two different people who have had the chance to know her personally. One of them, when I mentioned the name, replied with Her Deepness replacing Sylvia Earle’s given name. Thanks to Dana Goodyear, who had me at puma, but who also knows a thing or two about water, now this:
Do you like to breathe?” This is a question that the marine biologist and deep-sea explorer Sylvia Earle asks frequently. The ocean produces half of the oxygen on Earth. If it dies, humanity can’t survive, so humans better pay attention to it. Continue reading →