Marine Life
The Abundant And Diverse Viruses of The Sea
Written by Vincent
  
What is the most abundant biological entity in the oceans?

Viruses, of course! The quantity and diversity of viruses in the seas are staggering. Each milliliter of ocean water contains several million virus particles – a global total of 1030 virions! If lined up end to end, they would stretch 200 million light years into space. Viruses constitute 94% of all nucleic-acid containing particles in the sea and are 15 fold more abundant than bacteria and archaea.

Because viruses kill cells, they have a major impact on ocean ecology. About 1023 virus infections occur each second in the oceans; in surface waters they eliminate 20-40% of prokaryotes daily. Viral lysis converts living organisms into particulate matter that becomes carbon dioxide after respiration and photodegradation. Cell killing by viruses also liberates enough iron to supply the needs of phytoplankton, and leads to the production of dimethyl sulphoxide, a gas that influences the climate of the Earth. Because of these activities, marine viruses have a significant impact on global microbial communities and geothermal cycles.

 
The Bohemian
Written by Ava
  

Freelance writer, photographer and blogger Wendee Holtcamp considers herself a bohemian in every sense of the word--even in the marine sense! She's done some of the unthinkable and in most people's cases, unimaginable--traveled the world, seen several sea turtles, dived with sharks, lived in a one-room log cabin and toured the tropical rainforests of Australia. She also lives to tell about it--and more so, lives to write about it, using her experiences to publish countless articles, blog posts, and even to start writing a memoir. 

Wendee was kind enough to answer some of The Reef Tank's questions for her on her marine experiences (hanging out with sharks and sea turtles, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and experiencing coastal Alaska are just a few of the many amazing things she's done!)

One thing's for sure--her adventures won't be over for a while!

Tell me about your Bohemian Adventures blog. Why do you call yourself a bohemian?

 
Jim Toomey and Sherman's Lagoon
Written by Ava
  

This American syndicate cartoonist is now proud to call himself a marine conservationist, too.  Thanks to the popularity of his syndicated comic strip, Sherman's Lagoon, which features marine animals under the sea trying to get along with each other, Jim Toomey is now educating himself and the rest of the world on the issues facing our marine environment.

In the mean time, his cartoon strip, Sherman's Lagoon, is distributed by King Features Syndicate and now appears in over 250 newspapers in North America and over 30 foreign countries.  That's 250 more newspapers that people will read to get to know more about the dilemmas facing our ocean and marine life (while enjoying a fun cartoon at the same time) and 30 more foreign countries that will be aware of the issues facing our marine world.

In one of our most fun interviews to date, we're proud to have had the chance to interview the creator of this well-recognized comic strip, Jim Toomey, who has plans for scuba diving, is developing a children's book, and is involved in a major grassroots campaign spreading awareness of ocean conservation.

 
Pet Fish in Science Fiction
Written by Peggy
  

As far as pets in science fiction are concerned, fish are pretty low on the popularity list. They don't make very good companions when exploring a newly-discovered planet or help keep you space ship rat free. However, there are a few science fictional characters that do keep an aquarium. Not only are those pet fish educational and entertaining, they tell us something about the personality and interests of their owners.

So here are a few of my favorite science fictional pet fish:

Arthur Dent's Babel Fish

One of the biggest problems in a universe full of intelligent beings is communication. In the Star Trek universe, the solution is a universal translator. In the universe of Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the solution is much wetter, as Arthur Dent finds out when his friend Ford Prefect: rescues him from the destruction of earth and shoves a Babel Fish into his ear:

 
Crabs That Cannot Scratch Their Heads (Taxon of the Week: Parthenopidae)
Written by Christopher Taylor
  

Lift up one arm, and bend your elbow. Reach with your fingers to a point on your back, between your shoulder-blades. Scratch. Not only will that work wonders for any annoying tingle that you might have been feeling, but you have just demonstrated your superior flexibility to an elbow crab.

Crabs of the family Parthenopidae are found in tropical and subtropical coral reefs and shelly sea bottoms. Most species have bodies that are roughly triangular in shape, and often highly ornamented with lumps, bumps and spines (this ornamentation makes them very difficult to see among coral and rocks; it also encourages the growth of algae and other camouflaging organisms on the crab). They also usually have very large and long chelipeds (pincers), which make it easy to see how they got the name of 'elbow crabs'. The merus (the 'upper arm' part of the cheliped) is proportionally much longer than in many other crab families, giving parthenopids a real gorilla-ish look (I found one website that
 
The Uncomfortable Vacation
Written by Jennifer Jacquet
  

Coiba.jpgOne of our favorite marine conservation bloggers, Jennifer Jacquet of Guilty Planet at Scienceblogs, recently took a Panama vacation, which wasn't quite so Panama-riffic (ok, bad play on words, but you get the idea.) Still, it was well worth.  Read on to find out just how much.

I am traveling in Panama (have been for the last couple weeks, hence the sparse blogposts) as a post-dissertation vacation.

I started at Bocas del Toro, which several friends of mine recommended. Despite being somewhat hard to get to, Bocas is overrun with tourism and is thus overrun with overbearing hoteliers and is overpriced (in addition, both bank machines in town went the way of Zimbabwe and were short on cash.) The Caribbean's glory days seem over to me: the coral reefs were part beautiful, part wrecked. There were no big fish to be seen. It might not be a bad idea to pour sugar on Bocas and allow the ants to have their way.

 
Trout Could Help Revive Endangered Fish Species
Written by Ed Yong
  
Getting excited when fish produce sperm would usually get you strange looks. But for Tomoyuki Okutsu and colleagues at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, it's all part of a day's work. They are trying to use one species of fish as surrogate parents for another, a technique that could help to preserve species that are headed for extinction.

Okutsu works on salmonids, a group of fish that includes salmon and trout. Many members of this tasty clan have suffered greatly from over-fishing in the last few decades, and their populations are dwindling their way to extinction.

If stocks fall below a critical level, they may need a jump-start. One strategy is to freeze some eggs to be fertilised artificially, in the way that many human eggs are in fertility clinics. But it's much harder for fish eggs - they are large and have lots of fat, which makes them difficult to freeze effectively.

 
Freediving With a Sea Wolf: Part II
Written by Felix
  

In 1995 I moved to Boston, MA to study - it had been a very long time since my family had been diving - my parents were still living in Bolivia (one of the two landlocked countries in South America).  The winters were absolutely brutal, and all I could do was dream of the warm Caribbean / Atlantic Oceans. 

My roommate at the time was Justin Hull - he was a very big factor in getting my dad and I back to the Bahamas,  initially to do some spearfishing (Justin, we still talk about you to this day about that - thank you).  Justin is originally from Massachusetts but grew up in South Florida. His father was a yacht broker and ocean man - he spent many years sailing the Bahamas and knows the area very well.  One winter while we were talking about fishing, Justin mentioned that in the Abacos one could rent houses, boats, and still catch an abundance of fish...he also said there were still a lot of sharks (little did we know).

In the summer of 1997 my old man, Justin and I went to Green Turtle Cay for some serious spearfishing.  As a side thought, my father brought his trusted Nikonos V, probably thinking he would take some photos of the speared fish.  What we thought was going to be a laid back trip really became the turning point for my father's passions - it was now an obsession.

 


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