Our regular Science and the SeaTM radio program presents marine science topics in an engaging two-minute story format. Our script writers gather ideas for the radio program from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute's researchers and from our very popular college class, Introduction to Oceanography, which we teach to hundreds of non-science majors at The University of Texas at Austin every year. Our radio programs are distributed at to commercial and public radio stations across the country.
Black corals are different from most coral species. Most coral “skeletons,” for example, are made of calcium carbonate -- the mineral that makes up chalk. The skeleton of a black coral, though, is made of proteins and chitin -- the stuff that makes up insect skeletons. And black coral doesn’t rely on algae to provide most of its food. Instead, it feeds on tiny organisms that drift by on the currents.
And there’s one other difference. In the United States, black corals from Hawaii are the only species that can be legally harvested to make jewelry.
The Himalayan mountains climb miles high, forming a towering fence line across Asia. But they also plunge miles deep -- buried at the bottom of the Bay of Bengal, off the eastern coast of India.
The underwater portion of the Himalayas forms the Bengal Fan -- a roughly cone-shaped bed of sediments that extends far into the Indian Ocean. It’s about 2,000 miles long, 600 miles wide, and up to 10 miles thick. It’s the largest submarine fan in the world.
The lesser weever typically is no more than about five or six inches long. Even so, you don’t want to mess with it. It can give you a painful sting that can smart for hours.
You’ll come across this little guy mainly if you visit the North Sea or the Mediterranean Sea. It lives in shallow coastal waters with sand- or gravel-covered bottoms.
For a lobster, hotter water is a bad thing. So not surprisingly, biologists expect the crustaceans to hop out of a rapidly warming pot of water off the east coast of the United States and Canada.
The Gulf of Maine is heating up faster than 99 percent of the oceans. That’s already having some effects on life in the gulf, and more dramatic effects could be on the way.
If a modern-day Hollywood creature designer worked with a 1940s make-up artist, they might come up with something that’s shaped a little like a bat, walks on the ocean floor, and has gaudy red lips. In other words, they’d make a red-lipped batfish -- an odd critter that lives on reefs around the Galapagos Islands, which are off the Pacific coast of South America.
When many people see a dark shadow passing through the water close to shore, they think of one thing: Jaws. Is it a shark, ready to attack unsuspecting swimmers and surfers?
On the beaches of eastern Australia, it’s probably not. Researchers used drones to shoot video along four beaches. And they found that sharks were a rare sight.
Drones are becoming popular tools for marine scientists. The birds-eye view can help them count animals, study water quality and red tides, and perform many other tasks.
Mangrove forests are some of the most important on the planet. They protect the coastline from storms and provide habitat for fish and other creatures.
Some of the most amazing colors on Earth are seen in icebergs and their parent bodies, glaciers. The intense shades of blue and blue-green make them look like icy confections -- like sno-cones flavored with blueberry or mint syrup.
These masses of ice are colored blue for the same reason as the water in the oceans. Water molecules are just the right size to absorb the longer, redder wavelengths of light. But they allow the shorter, bluer wavelengths to pass through, or to scatter like blue jellybeans dropped on a hardwood floor.
The guitarfish looks a bit like the result of an experiment by a junior mad scientist. The front half is wide and flat, like a sting ray. But the back half is long and tapered, like a shark. Put the two halves together, and look at them from above or below, and the outline resembles a stringed instrument. So the creature is called a guitarfish, although it’s also known as a fiddler ray or a banjo shark.
Tropical cyclones are a fact of life on the islands of southeast Asia. Among other things, they can damage reef systems that attract divers and other tourists, harming local economies. How people and institutions handle that challenge can determine how quickly they recover.
This idea is known as adaptive capacity. It’s the ability to absorb shocks, recover and learn from them, and apply those lessons to make things better.