These are the top blog posts from the Marine Ecology class, BIO376. Congratulations to the authors!
Coral Bleaching: What is it and can anything be done about it?
Coral bleaching is one of the major issues that coral reefs are facing and it has yet to be solved
The corals that build reefs are colorful hermatypic organisms found in waters that are hit by a lot of sunlight (Spalding et al., 2001). They are referred to as hermatypic because of their ability to build reefs, unlike their ahermatypic counterparts. These hermatypic corals live in colonies and collectively deposit a calcium carbonate skeleton (Spalding et al., 2001). It is these calcium carbonate skeletons that build and grow the infamous structures known as coral reefs.
Anthropogenic threats and conservation of mangrove biodiversity
A fisherman of southern Thailand once said "If there are no mangrove forests, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree with no roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea." Mangroves are the most significant and threatened terrestrial plants located at the interface of where land and water meet (McDowell, 2017). Mangroves are woody shrubs that consists of 80 different species such as Avicenniace and Rhizophoracea which are most commonly known as black and red mangrove respectively. They are mostly abundant at muddy shores such as lagoons and estuaries (McMeans, 2020). These muddy sediment habitats are home to numerous species of invertebrates, phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish. The main question to be addressed in this paper will be the threats of anthropogenic activities to the mangrove species in different parts of the world and how it is affecting the associated species that call mangroves home. Furthermore, what conservational measures are being implemented to preserve mangroves?
Impacts of Marine Plastic Pollution on Sea Turtles
Sea turtles have been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth. These air-breathing reptiles are adapted to live in the tropical ocean waters around the world. They can hold their breath for 4-7 hours during which their heart rate decreases to conserve oxygen underwater. This also enables them to dive up to 290m deep in the ocean to find food (Bennett, 2018).
Unlike freshwater turtles, the head and limbs of sea turtles are located outside of the shell and cannot be retracted. Figure 1 shows how the streamlined shell and flippers make sea turtles more hydrodynamic so that they can move easily through their habitat. They are generally not fast swimmers (Bennett, 2018).
Reclaiming Mangroves Lost to Shrimp Culture
Mangrove forest ecosystems are relatively small on a universal scale, constituting only 0.7% of all tropical forest areas on Earth (The Ecologist, 2020). However, size does not determine ecological significance. Mangrove forests provide ecological and socio-economic benefits to nearby human populations, marine species and even to our atmosphere. But these forests and their associated benefits are threatened by the growing aquaculture industry, and in particular, shrimp cultivation. Large-scale rehabilitation efforts are required to restore mangrove forests, reverse anthropogenic impacts and prevent further environmental degradation.
Diatom Dynamicity in the face of Climate Change
Marine ecosystems geographically make up about 71% of the earth’s surface area and are biologically more diverse as compared with terrestrial ecosystems. This incredible diversity is sustained by a complex food web that is dependent on the energy supplied by microscopic single celled eukaryotes called diatoms1. Alongside making up the most diverse group of protists on earth, diatoms are also a unique class of silica-covered phytoplankton that carry out about 20% of all photosynthesis on earth1. In terms of the marine food web alone, diatoms account for 40% of all marine primary production and the circulating particulate carbon that is an important food source for deep-water organisms2. Playing such a crucial role in the global carbon cycle, diatoms are essentially found in waters all over the world, as long as there is sufficient sunlight and nutrients available to carry out photosynthesis1.