The Weight of Thought

Imagine this: Someone moves into your neighborhood and, every 10 seconds, fires off an airgun that’s louder than a jet engine. And it goes on for weeks or months at a time. It’s painful and debilitating, so loud that some of your neighbors go deaf, others die.

If you’re a whale, dolphin or sea turtle living off the Atlantic Coast, the Obama administration has just made that nightmare a reality.

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opened up offshore waters from Delaware to Florida to oil and gas exploration. I’m sure that’s good news for the oil and gas industry (which already gets more than $4 billion in tax credits and subsidies from the U.S. government) but thousands of marine animals will pay a very terrible price.

Warming temperatures could lead to smaller fish in the world’s oceans, according to new research.

Based on a study of more than 600 species from around the globe, researchers from the University of British Columbia found that many fish won’t be able to keep up their body weight as the water warms. The scientists projected that the average maximum body size for the world’s fish could decline by up to 24 percent by 2050.

"We were surprised to see such a large decrease in fish size," the study’s lead author, William Cheung, said in a statement. "Marine fish are generally known to respond to climate change through changing distribution and seasonality. But the unexpectedly big effect that climate change could have on body size suggests that we may be missing a big piece of the puzzle of understanding climate change effects in the ocean."

New Orleans, LA - “The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. “And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees’ fingers point towards BP’s oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

Antarctic vents octopus

A “lost world” of sea creatures was discovered near Antarctica, British scientists announced Wednesday.

Scientists doing their first exploring of deep-sea vents in the Antarctic said it was unlike anything found around other hydrothermal vents — a world populated by new species of anemones, predatory sea stars, and piles of hairy-chested yeti crabs.

It was “almost like a sight from another planet,” said expedition leader Alex Rogers, a professor of zoology at Oxford University. 


Even in the eye-popping world of deep-sea vents, the Antarctic discoveries stand out, with the unfamiliar species of crabs found crowded in piles around the warm waters emanating from the seafloor. Many of the animals found at the vents have never been found at hydrothermal vents in other oceans, Rogers said. “To see these animals in such huge densities was just amazing,” Rogers told LiveScience.

In the dayless world of deep-sea vents, energy comes not from the sun but from the hydrothermal energy generated in the oceanic crust.





ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2011) — A group of 19 scientists from five research organizations have conducted the broadest field study of ocean acidification to date using sensors developed at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

PARIS (AFP) – Pollution and global warming are pushing the world’s oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years, a consortium of scientists warned Monday.

Dying coral reefs, biodiversity ravaged by invasive species, expanding open-water “dead zones,” toxic algae blooms, the massive depletion of big fish stocks — all are accelerating, they said in a report compiled during an April meeting in Oxford of 27 of the world’s top ocean experts.