Deep-sea anglerfish filmed


This video from the USA says about itself:

21 November 2014

Deep-sea anglerfish are strange and elusive creatures that are very rarely observed in their natural habitat. Fewer than half a dozen have ever been captured on film or video by deep diving research vehicles. This little angler, about 9 cm long, is named Melanocetus.

It is also known as the Black Seadevil and it lives in the deep dark waters of the Monterey Canyon. MBARI‘s ROV Doc Ricketts observed this anglerfish for the first time at 600 m on a midwater research expedition in November 2014. We believe that this is the first video footage ever made of this species alive and at depth.

Varied thrush invasion in California


This is a varied thrush video from the USA.

From KPCC in the USA:

‘Invasion’ of rare varied thrush birds in Southern California

Sanden Totten

November 20 2014

A rare and striking bird is showing up in large numbers in Southern California.

It’s called the varied thrush (Ixoreus naevius) and it has deep yellow and black stripes with patches of white on its underside. Normally, this species lives in the Pacific Northwest and travels no further south than San Francisco. For some reason, this year is different.

“It’s turning up in all these parks and just flying overhead and people are seeing it in all these weird places,” said Dan Cooper, an L.A. based biologist and birder watcher. In addition to it’s eye catching color, the varied thrush also has a distinct bird call that sounds almost like a tea kettle whistling.

Dan Cooper’s been carrying his binoculars with him in hopes of spotting the bird during this unusual “invasion,” as he called to it. Kimball Garrett, the ornithology collections manager at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, said in previous years bird watchers would be lucky to see one or two varied thrush around L.A. This year he says there are dozens.

Garrett isn’t sure what’s driving them south. It might be due to a lack of food in their native region, or perhaps a varied thrush baby boom is forcing the population to spread out. Either way, the thrush isn’t expected to upset the ecosystem of native birds. And for birders, it’s a great chance to see a neat bird without traveling north.

New coral, shark discoveries in California


This video from the USA is called Habitat Exploration: Deep-Sea Corals.

From Wildlife Extra:

New coral species discovered off the coast of California

Scientists on a mission led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have made new discovers in waters off California’s coast, including a new species of deep sea coral and a nursery area used by both catsharks and skates.

The research was a result of the first intensive exploration of the areas north of Bodega Head, which took place in September 2014 aboard NOAA’s R/V Fulmar. The team of scientists focused on two main sites: the head waters of Bodega Canyon, and an area known as ‘the Football’ west of Salmon Creek and north of the canyon, so-named for its oval shape.

While investigating in these areas, the researchers discovered a new species of deep sea coral, and a nursery area for both catsharks and skates located in the underwater canyons close to the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries off Sonoma coast.

The team of scientists undertook multiple dives during which they made the discovery of hundreds of skate egg cases on the sea floor, and in bundles on rocks surrounding a catshark nursery area.

Commenting on this finding, deep sea biologist at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Peter Etnoyer said: “This is a highly unusual nursery because rarely, if ever, are shark nurseries in the same area as skate nurseries.”

The significant discovery of the new coral species was made by the second team to embark on the mission, led by California Academy of Sciences’ Gary Williams. His team found corals at around 600 feet deep and confirmed them to be a new species of deep sea coral. “Deep-sea corals and sponges provide valuable refuge for fish and other marine life,” said Maria Brown, Farallones sanctuary superintendent. “Data on these life forms helps determine the extent and ecological importance of deep sea communities and the threats they face. Effective management of these ecosystems requires science-based information on their condition.”

The mission was also significant for being the first time that video surveys were recorded in the area. Previously this region had only been documented through sonar imaging.

“The video surveys from this research mission verified the extent of rocky habitat estimated from sonar data collected several years ago, and the quality of rocky habitat in some areas exceeded expectations.” says US Geological Survey geophysicist Guy Cochrane.

The scientists used small submersibles in their investigations along with other innovate technologies, documenting the marine life that has adapted to survive in offshore waters reaching depths of 1000 feet by filming and photographing it. Prior to this research, scientists knew little about these areas except they were thought to contain nutrient-rich and biologically diverse marine life.

“Surveys of the seafloor in these waters reveal an abundance and diversity of life in new habitats,” commented Danielle Lipski of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. “This work helps inform our knowledge and understanding of the deep sea ecosystems north of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries, areas that are extremely important to the ocean environment.”

Unusual marine animals off California


This video from the USA is called Protecting Pacific Marine Monuments with Sylvia Earle.

By Paul Rogers, of the Bay Area News Group in the USA:

Unusual Pacific Ocean warmth bringing odd species off West Coast

11/02/2014 07:17:28 PM PST

Hawaiian ono swimming off the California coast? Giant sunfish in Alaska? A sea turtle usually at home off the Galapagos Islands floating near San Francisco?

Rare changes in wind patterns this fall have caused the Pacific Ocean off California and the West Coast to warm to historic levels, drawing in a bizarre menagerie of warm-water species. The mysterious phenomena are surprising fishermen and giving marine biologists an aquatic Christmas in November.

Temperatures off the California coast are currently 5 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than historic averages for this time of year — among the warmest autumn conditions of any time in the past 30 years.

“It’s not bathtub temperature,” said Nate Mantua, a research scientist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Santa Cruz, “but it is swimmable on a sunny day.”

In mid-October, it was 65 degrees off the Farallon Islands and in Monterey Bay, and 69 degrees off Point Conception near Santa Barbara. In most years, water temperatures in those areas would be in the high 50s or low 60s.

The last time the ocean off California was this warm was in 1983 and 1997, both strong El Niño years that brought drenching winter rains to the West Coast.

But El Niño isn’t driving this year’s warm-water spike, which began in mid-July, experts say. Nor is climate change.

What’s happening is winds that normally blow from the north, trapping warm water closer to the equator, have slackened since the summer. That’s allowed the warm water to move north.

In most years, the winds also help push ocean surface waters, churning up cold water from down below. That process, called upwelling, isn’t happening as much this year.

“If the wind doesn’t blow, there’s no cooling of the water,” Mantua said. “It’s like the refrigerator fails. The local water warms up from the sun, and is not cooling off.”

Mantua said researchers don’t know why the winds slacked off — or when they will start again.

“It’s a mystery,” he said.

All year, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been forecasting an El Niño, conditions in which warm ocean water at the equator near South America can affect the weather in dramatic ways. But now the water is only slightly warmer than normal at the equator, leading scientists to declare a mild El Niño is on the way. And although strong El Niños often have brought wet winters to California, mild ones have just as often resulted in moderate or dry winters.

For people who study the ocean, this fall has been a wonderland.

“It’s fascinating,” said Eric Sanford, a marine biology professor at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory in Bodega Bay. “To see so many southern species in a single year is really a rare event.”

Sanford, colleague Jackie Sones and other researchers at the Bodega lab, along with scientists at Point Blue Conservation Science, a nonprofit group in Petaluma, have documented more than 100 common dolphins off the Farallon Islands in the past two months. They’re normally seen hundreds of miles away, off Southern California.

ODD DISCOVERIES

The scientists have scooped up a tiny species of ocean snail called the tropical sea butterfly, normally found far to the south. They have documented a Guadalupe fur seal, normally found off Baja California in Mexico; blue buoy barnacles and purple-striped jellyfish, which usually drift off Southern California; and a Guadalupe murrelet, a tiny seabird that frequents Mexico.

In September, a fisherman off San Francisco caught an endangered green sea turtle, an extremely rare find for Northern California, since the species usually lives off Mexico and the Galapagos Islands. He returned it to the sea unharmed.

Similar tales are turning up in Southern California, where fishermen and scientists have found Hawaiian ono, along with tripletail, a fish species commonly found between Costa Rica and Peru, and other warm-water species.

In August and September there were even sightings of skipjack tuna and giant sunfish, or Mola mola, off Alaska.

“They are following the water temperature,” said H.J. Walker, a senior museum scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. “Fish come up against a cold-water barrier normally and turn around. But now they aren’t encountering that, so they are swimming farther north.”

Over the past week, the water temperature at the Scripps pier in La Jolla was 71 degrees. The historic average back to 1916 for late October is 65 degrees.

In many parts of California, the commercial salmon catch was down, and squid were caught as far north as Eureka, which is unusual.

“Our guys in Santa Barbara are saying there’s almost nothing down there. Just a lot of warm, clear water, a little bit of salmon and not much else,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Federation of Fishermen’s Associations in San Francisco.

DISAPPEARING KRILL

The ocean changes also have affected birds. As ocean upwelling stalled in the summer, less krill and other food rose from the depths. As a result, several species of birds, including common murres, had high rates of egg failure on the Farallon Islands, 27 miles west of San Francisco.

“The krill that is usually present disappeared, and the fish that some of these birds rely on disappeared,” said Jaime Jahncke, California Current Group director of Point Blue in Petaluma.

“Up until July we had an abundance of whales around the Farallons, mostly humpback whales, and some blue whales. And when we went back in September, there was no krill and the whales were nearly absent.”

More common local species are expected to return when waters cool, as they did after the 1983 and 1997 warmings.

“It is an oddball year. But I’m not surprised,” said Joe Welsh, associate curator of collecting for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “These things come and go. There’s a lot to learn out there.”

Owl news update


This is a video from California in the USA about baby western screech owls in a wildlife hospital.

From the Cornell Lab or Ornithology in the USA:

New owl resources!

Have you ever heard something go screech in the night, and wondered what it was? There’s a good chance it was an owl! Not all owls hoot; some shriek, bark, and wail!

For a limited time, you can download free owl sounds from the Cornell Lab’s Macaulay Library. They’re owl yours to do with what you like…use them as your phone’s ringtone, or add them to your Halloween party playlist! Just get them before they disappear into the night.

Can’t get enough owls? Find out which owls in your area you can attract with a nesting box or platform. Enter your region and habitat into our Right Bird, Right House tool, and get free nest box plans and placement tips.

And if you’re wondering why so many Halloween decorations feature owls, consider this: owls are symbols of death in many cultures. Read our Citizen Science Blog post, Myths of the Ghost Bird, to find out how these helpful birds crept into Halloween folklore.

New sea slug discovery in the Netherlands


This video from the USA is called Tiny Nudibranchs of Southern California.

Translated from the Dutch Stichting ANEMOON marine biologists:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

This summer sport divers in the Oosterschelde estuary encountered a new and thus the 58th Dutch sea slug species. This was Aeolidiella sanguinea, for which we propose here as its Dutch name “Verborgen vlokslak” [hidden aeolid nudibranch]. The Dutch name comes from the fact that during the day this slug is inactive, hiding under stones and large shells and is only active at night. As a result, the animals are very difficult to observe for sport divers. This species is identified by the combination of a number of anatomical features and especially the shape of the egg strands.

Bahrain’s marine life threatened?


This video from California in the USa is called “Teething” Baby Whale Uses Humans As Pacifiers, Whale Watching.

From the Daily Tribune in Bahrain:

Environment: Bahrain’s marine life threatened?

Oct 8 2014

If the sight of dumped oil bottles and other waste like plastic bags, fishing lines and diapers at local beaches wasn’t horrifying enough, a recent washed up carcass of a baby whale, at one of the Kingdom’s beaches, is truly a cause of concern for all.

While marine debris has been affecting the beautiful coastlines of the Kingdom for a long time now, it seems human wastage and carelessness are endangering the marine habitat too.

Bahrain Beachcombers (a volunteer group committed towards cleaning the shorelines of the island), Founder, Darren Schneider discovered the remains of the small mammal while going for a swim at the Nurana Island.

The species from which it belonged to, was not determined as it was already in a bloated state. Darren and his girlfriend dragged the carcass of baby whale back into the water so it could float away.

Shocked, he felt that the death of the animal could be related to marine pollution caused by the dumping of waste materials in the sea, which are not biodegradable.

Speaking to DT News, Mr. Schneider said, “As part of our cleaning initiatives, our group managed to collect more than hundreds of oil bottles from the shoreline that were not properly discarded. Some of them even have oil left in them and this can be an alarming health hazard for the marine life, in terms of oil spills and plastic dumped in the sea.”