Epibionts and Sea Turtles

By Grant Voirol, SRC intern Sea turtles are notoriously difficult to study due to their large size and highly migratory behavior. However, a new technique is being utilized to help shed light on their habitat use and migration patterns. When looking at a sea turtle, oftentimes you are not just looking at a sea turtle. What you are looking at is an extensive community of micro and macro organisms that participate in complex interactions (Caine, EA 1986). Attached to the surface of the turtle’s shell are a wide variety of organisms that spend their entire lives traveling the seas with … Continue reading

A Story of Dramatic Conservation Effort: Saving the Vaquita Porpoise (Phocoena sinus) from Extinction

By Chelsea Black, SRC intern It has been clear for several years that the vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) is in danger of extinction, but only recently has the plight of this species received global attention. The vaquita is the most critically endangered marine mammal in the world and is endemic to the northern Gulf of California, Mexico (Rojas-Bracho, Reeves & Jaramillo-Legorreta, 2006). Genetic analyses and population simulations suggest that this species has always maintained a small population size (Rojas-Bracho et al., 2006), but accidental deaths caused by gillnet fishing gear have been the primary reason for their rapid demise (Jaramillo-Legorreta … Continue reading

How Marine Reserves Can Help Preserve Ecosystems by Reducing Bycatch

By Jess Daly, SRC Intern One of the greatest environmental impacts of industrial fisheries is the accidental removal of species in bycatch. Many fisheries have a single target species that they look to catch when they fish. Any other species that pull up in their nets or on their lines are known as bycatch. These fish are often simply discarded since the fisherman will not make money off them, even though they may be of great importance to the ecosystem. Bottom trawling is one type of fishing that involves dropping weighted nets to the bottom of the ocean and dragging … Continue reading

Disrupting a Biological Clock: Ticking Away Towards Further Environmental Contamination

By Casey Dresbach, SRC Intern In an anthropogenic epoch, where industrial growth has become evermore prolific, threats of disturbance continue to change the environment. Some of these disturbances include habitat destruction and pollution, both of which threaten biodiversity and healthy ecosystems worldwide. (Palumbi, 2001; Dudgeon et al., 2006; Sih, Ferrari, & Harris, 2011). Fortunately, organisms may be able to adapt to changes in their environment to cope with this territorial renovation. These adaptations allow for species to persist under conditions that are polluted by destructive contaminants. However, such adaptation can also be associated with unforeseen tradeoffs that can actually pose … Continue reading

An Examination of Intraguild Predation Events Between Sharks and Pinnipeds or Cetaceans, and Their Importance

By Brenna Bales, SRC intern Popular opinion conjectures that sharks are always the dominant predator in their specific environments. The famous, terrorizing shot of the great white shark leaping out of the water with the unsuspecting seal in its jaws is iconic to Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” highlight reel every year, boosting this notion of shark dominance. But what many don’t realize is that the seal is more capable than it may seem in those dramatized, slow-motion clips; In some cases, the role may be reversed. Intraguild predation (IGP) is the killing or consuming of species that are also potential … Continue reading

The Impact and Epidemic of Overexploitation on Chambered Nautilus Populations

By Sianna Raquel Vacca, SRC intern The era of one of the cephalopod’s oldest family members and elusive living fossil, the chambered nautilus, may be coming to an end. This prehistoric species has remained unchanged for over 400 million years and is a native of the tropical, deep-water habitats in the Indo-Pacific region. They are closely related to the other cephalopods such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish and shares various distinguishing characteristics with its’ modern relatives such as jet propulsion (which allows them to attain speeds of about two knots) and the use of their strong beaks to prey on and … Continue reading