Articles

The Marine Science Institute's monthly column, Science and the SeaTM, is an informative and entertaining article that explains many interesting features of the marine environment and the creatures that live there.  Science and the SeaTM articles appear monthly in one of Texas' most widely read fishing magazines, Texas Saltwater Fishing, and the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper. Our article archive is available also on our website.

July 1, 2010

Meet a diminutive shark that snacks on “cookies” made not of flour and sugar, but of tuna or whale.

At 16-22 inches in length, the cookie-cutter shark is one of the smaller denizens of the deep. From above, this little cigar-shaped shark may look harmless, but a peek at the underside of its coneshaped snout reveals a row of fearsome, saw-like lower teeth.

June 1, 2010

If you ever lose your wedding ring on a wet beach, you might want to call on a red knot to help find it.

Red knots are a species of sandpiper found in coastal areas throughout the world. Watch them pop their beaks in and out of the wet sand in search of clams, snails and crustaceans to feed on, and they might appear to be poking around randomly. But scientists believe the red knot uses a more precise method.

May 1, 2010

Here’s a warning to the millions of plankton in Texas Gulf Coast waters: You’re being watched!

A specialized instrument called the Imaging FlowCytobot is on duty, analyzing microscopic organisms in the sea at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.

April 1, 2010

Pass by a sea cucumber in a tide pool, and you may hardly notice this lowly, pickle-shaped creature. But try to make a meal out of one, and you’ll probably never forget it.

March 1, 2010

When a whale dies and sinks to the ocean floor, it sets in motion a new beginning for deep-sea life. Scientists call this a “whale fall,” and it moves through three fascinating stages.

A whale carcass brings a whopping amount of organic matter to a place where food is scarce. Within days, hagfishes, sleeper sharks and scavenging crustaceans arrive to feast on the remaining flesh. This first stage is called the mobile scavenger phase. Depending on the size of the carcass, the bones can be picked clean in a matter of months.

February 1, 2010

The Arctic-dwelling narwhal is undoubtedly best known for its long, lance-like tooth. But this curious looking whale also stands out when it comes to diving.

January 1, 2010

Thanks to a clever farming technique, mussel lovers can relish the fact that their favorite shellfish is not only tasty, but also kind to the environment.

December 1, 2009

Bull sharks are unique among sharks in their ability to live in freshwater habitats for long periods of time. However, dealing with changes in salinity is very taxing on their bodies, prompting scientists to wonder why these sharks venture into fresh water in the first place.

October 30, 2009

Among sharks, great whites are famous for their size, hammerheads for their shape, and makos for their speed. But the bull shark has a remarkable ability its fellow marine sharks do not: It can thrive in fresh water.

October 1, 2009

Most people probably think their encounters with seaweed are limited - being brushed by its slimy blades while swimming in the ocean, or trying a seaweed salad with sushi. But people come in contact with one component of seaweed in their everyday lives. It’s a compound known as algin.

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