Protecting One Fish Could Keep Caribbean Coral Reefs From Disappearing 
by Katie Valentine
Ocean warming poses a major threat to the world’s coal reefs, but with some ocean conservation effort, Caribbean reefs could become far more resilient to this stressor, a new report has found.
The report analyzed thousands of surveys of coral, seaweeds, and grazing fish and sea urchins, and found that the loss of coral grazers such as parrotfish and urchins is one of the most pressing threats facing Caribbean reefs today — so pressing that, if these grazers continue to decline, Caribbean coral reefs could completely disappear in the next 20 years. In fact, the decline of these grazers has driven more degradation of Caribbean coral than ocean warming has over the last 40 years, with 50 percent of Caribbean coral reefs declining since the 1970s…
(read more: TakePart)
photograph by Shutterstock

Protecting One Fish Could Keep Caribbean Coral Reefs From Disappearing 

by Katie Valentine

Ocean warming poses a major threat to the world’s coal reefs, but with some ocean conservation effort, Caribbean reefs could become far more resilient to this stressor, a new report has found.

The report analyzed thousands of surveys of coral, seaweeds, and grazing fish and sea urchins, and found that the loss of coral grazers such as parrotfish and urchins is one of the most pressing threats facing Caribbean reefs today — so pressing that, if these grazers continue to decline, Caribbean coral reefs could completely disappear in the next 20 years. In fact, the decline of these grazers has driven more degradation of Caribbean coral than ocean warming has over the last 40 years, with 50 percent of Caribbean coral reefs declining since the 1970s…

(read more: TakePart)

photograph by Shutterstock

Dying For Fijis Sea Cucumbers

by Amy West

What’s it Worth? Deepening pressure on Fiji’s coral protectors.
Redfish, Greenfish, Blackfish.
Pinkfish, Curryfish, Lollyfish.


They sound like Dr. Seuss characters and certainly look like they should be. Yet these sausage-shaped, rubbery animals stippled in fleshy bumps are not fish at all, but an invertebrate in the group that includes sea stars, sea urchins and sand dollars. Sea cucumbers, referred to as “bêche-de-mer” or “trepang” when sold as dried food, are largely motionless creatures, which is why divers scoop hundreds of them up daily to export to Asia. A single high value individual in Fiji can fetch about $80 US, notes one report.
Sea cucumbers are not a new food craze; the Chinese have eaten them at least since the 1600s and sought this delicacy from Fiji since the early 1800s. Today, the increasing market demand and the push to dive deeper for these invertebrates and start new fisheries in other countries have sent stocks declining worldwide. Some have disappeared locally in Pacific Island nations, and in Fiji, divers are actually dying for them…
(read more: Monga Bay)
photographs by Stacy Jupiter

Scientists zero in on what’s causing starfish die-offs

Starfish are dying by the millions up and down the West Coast, leading scientists to warn of the possibility of localized extinction of some species. As the disease spreads, researchers may be zeroing in on a link between warming waters and the rising starfish body count…

(read more: PBS NewsHour)

Video by Katie Campbell/Earthfix. Laura James also contributed to the video

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Our colleague Chris Mah at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History recently described new species of deep-sea starfish, including one named for MBARI’s ROV Tiburon, which collected the specimen.

Click the link to read more about these new species: http://www.echinoblog.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-hippest-post-you-know-new.html

libutron

libutron:

Pink Spotted Sea Cucumber  

Psolus phantapus (Dendrochirotida - Psolidae) is species of sea cucumber (Class Holothuroidea) widespread in the Arctic and North Atlantic Ocean, on both the European and American side.  This sea cucumber may reach 20 cm length. It has a crown of five pairs of large bushy, orange and white tentacles. Together with the front section of the body, they are covered by red spots.  It is usually found deeper than 20 metres on gravel or muddy habitats. It prefers current exposed location where there are good access to food drifting by. Most of the body is hidden in the ground. It retract its tentacles when disturbed.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: [Top: ©James Stepen Lynott | Locality: A-Frames, Loch Long, UK] - [Bottom: ©Stig Sarre | Locality: Lovoy, Telemark, Norway]

Deep Sea Predation

Okeanos Explorer EX1402L3: Gulf of Mexico 2014 Expedition
April 28, 2014: Sea Urchin

A rare instance of deep-sea predation captured on camera—a sea urchin munches on a Plumarella octocoral. This may be the first time sea urchin predation on coral was captured so close-up using high-definition cameras thanks to the incredible image capabilities of the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle.

Video courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.

mad-as-a-marine-biologist

realmonstrosities:

Sea Cucumber anus is among the world’s most fascinating anus!

Sure they poo through it, but they also breathe through it, feed through it and aggressively cough up toxic organs through it.

Sometimes crabs and fish like to pop in for a visit!

No wonder some of them protect themselves with anal dentata.

scientificillustration

cjohnstonbioart:

Sea Star Locomotion

Selections from the storyboard for an upcoming animation project. I am depicting the anatomy and movements involved in sea star locomotion.

Sea stars achieve movement through a simple hydraulics system, known as the water vascular system. The sea star draws water in through the madroporite, a filter and siphon located on the top of its body. The water travels through a series of ducts, called canals, to the tube feet that sprout from the underside of the sea stars’ arms.

The tube feet extend and retract via water pressure as the bulbous top part, the ampulla, contracts and relaxes. Muscles located in the podium, the ‘trunk-like’ part of the tube foot, move the tube foot from side to side to aid in walking. The sucker at the bottom of the tube foot uses a glandular secretion to stick to substrate on the ocean floor (or the glass of an aquarium).

The  sea cucumber, Oneirophanta mutabilis, is found on the seafloor at depths ranging from 1,800 - 6,000 m (over 19,000 ft). 
It was first described by the Swedish zoologist Hjalmar Théel in 1879, being one of the many deep sea animals discovered during the Challenger expedition of 1872–1876. The scientists on the Challenger expedition would probably be in awe to see an image like this of this species in its habitat. Modern taxonomists have split the species into two sub-species that are very difficult to distinguished from images alone. Thanks to submersibles like MBARI’s ROVs, we have beautiful images of many deep-sea animals that were originally described based on trawled specimens that were often damaged during collection.
(via: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

The sea cucumber, Oneirophanta mutabilis, is found on the seafloor at depths ranging from 1,800 - 6,000 m (over 19,000 ft).

It was first described by the Swedish zoologist Hjalmar Théel in 1879, being one of the many deep sea animals discovered during the Challenger expedition of 1872–1876. The scientists on the Challenger expedition would probably be in awe to see an image like this of this species in its habitat. Modern taxonomists have split the species into two sub-species that are very difficult to distinguished from images alone. Thanks to submersibles like MBARI’s ROVs, we have beautiful images of many deep-sea animals that were originally described based on trawled specimens that were often damaged during collection.

(via: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
Pretty awesome sea star photo captured during NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer’s 2010 expedition to the Coral Triangle region near Indonesian.  The Coral Triangle is thought to be one of the most diverse and biologically complex marine ecosystems in the world. Although much of the region’s diversity is known, most still remains unknown and undocumented. Without increasing our knowledge of what actually exists within the Coral Triangle, we can’t adequately manage, protect, and conserve this unique ecosystem. Learn more: NOAA Ocean Explorer

Pretty awesome sea star photo captured during NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer’s 2010 expedition to the Coral Triangle region near Indonesian.

The Coral Triangle is thought to be one of the most diverse and biologically complex marine ecosystems in the world. Although much of the region’s diversity is known, most still remains unknown and undocumented. Without increasing our knowledge of what actually exists within the Coral Triangle, we can’t adequately manage, protect, and conserve this unique ecosystem.

Learn more: NOAA Ocean Explorer

Why You Should Care That Sea Cucumbers Are Going Extinct

by Jason G. Goldman

Sea cucumbers are in trouble. Everyone knows about the problems that elephants and rhinos face due to poaching, that dolphins face due to drive hunts, and that sharks face when overzealous governments try to convince their constituents that they’re helping them avoid shark attacks. Sea cucumbers may not be as charismatic as their megafaunal counterparts, but they actually provide an important service for reef ecosystems.

They help to keep the sand in reef lagoons and seagrass beds fresh by turning them over, and by feeding on the dead organic matter that’s mixed in with the sand, the nutrients they excrete can re-enter the biological web by algae and coral. Without the sea cucumbers, that sort of nutrient recycling could not occur. It’s also thought that sea cucumbers help to protect reefs from damage due to ocean acidification. Feeding on reef sand appears to increase the alkalinity of the surrounding seawater.

The problem, according to a study conducted by Steven Purcell and Beth Polidoro, is that sea cucumbers are considered a luxury snack. As they explain at The Conversation, dried-out versions of the tropical species retail between $10 and $600 per kilogram in Hong Kong and on mainland China. There’s actually one species that is sold for $3000 per kilo, dried. Sea cucumbers are thought of as “culinary delicacies,” and often adorn the buffets of festival meals and are served at formal dinners…

(read more: animals.io9)

Brisingids 
… are an order of deep-sea seastars that have between six and 20 long, thin arms surrounding a small disc with a large mouth. Brisingids are suspension feeders, meaning they filter water current through their arms that are upheld in the water. It is not uncommon to observe large aggregations of brisingids in deep-sea habitats, such as cliffs and rock formations, where water current is optimal for feeding. 
This image was captured by ROV Doc Ricketts on a seamount off the coast of Oregon.
(via: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

Brisingids

… are an order of deep-sea seastars that have between six and 20 long, thin arms surrounding a small disc with a large mouth. Brisingids are suspension feeders, meaning they filter water current through their arms that are upheld in the water. It is not uncommon to observe large aggregations of brisingids in deep-sea habitats, such as cliffs and rock formations, where water current is optimal for feeding.

This image was captured by ROV Doc Ricketts on a seamount off the coast of Oregon.

(via: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)