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July 2014 Issue

Environmental Factors Affect Toxicity of Pesticides
Four of the most common mosquito pesticides used along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts show little risk to juvenile hard clams and oysters, according to a NOAA study.

However, the study, published in the online journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, also determined that hypoxia and increased acidification actually increased how toxic some of the pesticides were. Such climate variables should be considered when using these pesticides in the coastal zone, the study concluded.

The data could benefit shellfish mariculture operations and environmental resource agencies as they manage the use of mosquito control pesticides near their coastal ecosystems.

Commercial shellfishing has a large economic national impact. NOAA Fisheries estimated that U.S. oyster and hard clam landings for 2010 were worth nearly $118 million and $41 million, respectively.


West Marine Awards Grants for Marine Conservation
West Marine (Watsonville, California) awarded $30,000 in marine conservation grants as part of their BlueFuture initiative. The grants are for projects that enhance marine habitat, engage anglers in data collection and educate anglers about barotrauma.

The 2014 grant recipients are: the Sportfishing Conservancy’s National Marine Sanctuary “Classic” in California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Washington, Massachusetts, Michigan and Hawaii; Washington State’s Puget Sound Anglers; Babylon, New York’s Suffolk Marine Anglers; Covington, Louisiana’s Recreational Fisheries Research Institute’s Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program; the University of North Florida’s Coastal Biology Flagship Program; Florida Sea Grant; Stuart, Florida’s Martin County Artificial Reef Fund; the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project; the University of California, Santa Cruz, Carr Lab; Concord, California’s Water4Fish Inc.; and the Hawaiian Moon Calendar Project.


Activists Petition to Stop Seismic Blast Tests off Jersey Shore
Environmental and animal rights activists launched a petition urging Rutgers University and the U.S. National Science Foundation to stop a series of planned seismic blast tests on the ocean floor off the Jersey Shore this summer. The Care2 petition, launched by Clean Ocean Action and signed by more than 14,000 people, argues that the seismic tests off New Jersey’s coast would hurt critical marine life.

The blasts were planned 15 miles off the Barnegat Bay between June and July and are part of a planned study conducted by Rutgers University, the National Science Foundation, the University of Texas, and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (L-DEO). The sound pulses would occur every 5 seconds, 24 hours a day, for 30 days; louder than a jet engine taking off, which activists say would have a devastating impact on marine life like whales, dolphins, sea turtles and fish. Many have also raised concerns about the blasts’ impact on the tourism and fishing industries.

The petition can be viewed at http://www.care2.com/go/z/NJblasts.

NBC40 News reported in late May that the seismic study was delayed for the time being.


Deep-Sea Animals on Display at Monterey Bay Aquarium
Since April, members of the public have been able to see deep-sea cephalopods for the first time, as part of the Tentacles special exhibition at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a collaborative effort with the aquarium’s partner institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). This exhibit is providing new scientific insights into these animals.

Almost two years in the making, Tentacles required close teamwork between husbandry experts at the aquarium and researchers at MBARI. The first challenge was finding animals to place on exhibit. MBARI’s database of thousands of ROV dives dating back to 1989 was used to look for locations in Monterey Canyon where deep-sea octopuses and squid were most likely to be found. The next challenge was keeping the deep-sea animals alive once they reached the surface. Data on deep-sea oxygen concentrations, water temperature and salinity collected by MBARI’s ROVs were used to figure out what conditions the animals might need on the surface. When it came to deciding what to feed the animals, scientific studies that examined the gut contents of dissected animals were used.

“We’re affecting the ocean faster than we’re learning about it, so we need to take advantage of any opportunity we get to study these animals and their environment,” said Stephanie Bush, a postdoctoral fellow at MBARI and an expert on deep-sea cephalopods.


Polyphosphate More Abundant in Low-Phosphorous Water
Phytoplankton are essential to life on Earth, supplying us with roughly half the oxygen we breathe. Like all other life forms, phytoplankton require phosphorus (P) to carry out critical cellular activity, but in some parts of the ocean, P is in limited supply.

Phytoplankton can alter their biochemical make-up according to the availability of nutrients in the water. When P is abundant in the water, phytoplankton produce and store a form of P called polyphosphate, or poly-P, to use later during times when P is less abundant. The accepted wisdom has been that poly-P would be found stored by micro-organisms in waters where P was abundant and would be scarce in waters depleted of P.

But researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences conducted the most comprehensive survey of poly-P content and distribution in the western North Atlantic and found that instead of low levels of poly-P in the Sargasso Sea where P is scarce, phytoplankton were enriched with poly-P when compared to those in the nutrient-rich waters of the western North Atlantic.

They also found that in low-P environments, poly-P was more readily recycled from sinking particles, retaining it in shallower waters where phytoplankton live and making it available for their use.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


2014:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV
2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC


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