Coral life in new film


This video about coral is called Slow Life.

From Wildlife Extra:

The incredible life of coral captured on film

April 2014: Coral as you have never seen before. Film maker Daniel Stoupin has produced a stunning film that captures the secret life of corals, sponges and other marine life in minute, microscopic, detail. filmed under high magnification ‘Slow Life’ illustrates their magical colourful world and transforms your perception.

For far from being the motionless creatures perceived by many, the film actually reveals them as live, graceful, blossoming, sea creatures that operate in a very different timescale to our own.

“‘Slow’ marine life is particularly mysterious. As colorful, bizarre-looking, and environmentally important as we know corals and sponges are, their simple day-to-day life is hidden. Time lapse cinematography reveals a whole different world full of hypnotic motion and my idea was to make coral reef life more spectacular and thus closer to our awareness,” says Daniel in the text that accompanies the film. “I had a bigger picture in my mind for my clip. But after many months of processing hundreds of thousands of photos and trying to capture various elements of coral and sponge behaviour I realized that I have to take it one step at a time. For now, the clip just focuses on beauty of microscopic reef ‘landscapes.’”

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Coral reef discovery in Iraqi waters


This video is called ♥♥ Coral Reef Fish (3 hours).

From Nature:

Discovery of a living coral reef in the coastal waters of Iraq

Thomas Pohl, Sameh W. Al-Muqdadi, Malik H. Ali, Nadia Al-Mudaffar Fawzi, Hermann Ehrlich & Broder Merkel

06 March 2014

Until now, it has been well-established that coral complex in the Arabian/Persian Gulf only exist in the coastal regions of Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates and it was thought that there are no coral reefs in Iraq.

However, here for the first time we show the existence of a living 28 km2 large coral reef in this country. These corals are adapted to one of the most extreme coral-bearing environments on earth: the seawater temperature in this area ranges between 14 and 34°C. The discovery of the unique coral reef oasis in the turbid coastal waters of Iraq will stimulate the interest of governmental agencies, environmental organizations, as well as of the international scientific community working on the fundamental understanding of coral marine ecosystems and global climate today.

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Good whale news from Japan


This video is called Humpback Whales – BBC documentary excerpt.

After bad news from Japan about taxpayer-funded killing of whales … and good news about Japanese demonstrating against whaling … now some more good news.

From Wildlife Extra:

Japan saves humpback breeding grounds

March 2014: It’s good news for humpbacks as Japan has designated the Kerama Islands and surrounding waters in Okinawa Prefecture as the country’s 31st national park and the first in three decades. These waters are also famed as a breeding ground for whales, including humpbacks who migrate to the tropical waters for mating between December and April every year.

The designated area includes 30 islets and reefs, and covers 3,520 hectares of dry land and 94,750 hectares of ocean. It lies 35 kilometres west of Okinawa Main Island and is famous for its rich aquatic environment. It is home to 248 species of coral.

A report in the Japan Times says that the ministry will also designate surrounding waters shallower than 30 metres as a marine park and will strictly restrict development within them, such as the extraction of sand. It also plans to build coral restoration facilities to counter the damage done in the past.

Blue whales and many other marine animals will receive important new safeguards by Chile’s declaration of two new marine protected areas (MPAs) along its southern coast: here.

March 2014: The future of Japan’s whaling activities in the Antarctic could be reviewed as the International Court of Justice in The Hague has announced that it will deliver its preliminary judgment in the case between Australia and Japan at the end of the month: here.

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Do British children know marine animals?


This video from India is called Reef Life of the Andaman (full marine biology documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Survey reveals some children struggle to identify turtles, rays and even penguins

British children are struggling to identify some of the most common sea life, according to research commissioned by the National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham, with some as old as 12 unable to correctly name a turtle.

The research was carried out to establish the extent of children’s knowledge of marine life. More than 500 youngsters between the ages of five and 12 were shown images of various species of sea life including a ray, turtle, otter, seahorse, octopus, jellyfish, penguin, clown fish, crab and starfish.

Overall, boys performed slightly better than girls of the same age, and children in the Midlands, East Anglia, Scotland and Wales were the best performers by region. Those in Northern Ireland, the North East and London had the highest number of incorrect answers.

Almost all of those surveyed correctly identified the starfish and the seahorse, but there was some confusion when it came to deciding on the octopus and jellyfish, with almost a third of eight year olds wrongly naming the octopus, and more than a quarter of nine year olds believing a jellyfish was called a glow fish.

Surprisingly, almost half of seven to nine year olds were unable to recognise a ray, with some thinking it was a shark, and 20 per cent couldn’t distinguish a green sea turtle from a tortoise.

In many languages other than English, like German, Dutch, Spanish and French, the children would not have gotten bad notes for this; as in those languages, the word for “turtle” is the same as the word for “tortoise”.

Most unexpectedly, though, many children struggled to recognise a penguin, with a fifth of seven year olds opting to call it a puffin or even a Pingu – the friendly television character penguin. Understandably, a fictional character also influenced five year olds to identify the instantly recognisable orange, white and black striped clown fish as Nemo.

James Robson, curator at The National SEA LIFE Centre in Birmingham, said: “The results of the survey are really interesting – and very surprising! We chose to use some of the most well-known animals at the centre in the survey and, whilst some aren’t straightforward to identify, we didn’t think others like the turtle or ray would cause so much confusion. It shows just how important the educational aspects of The National SEA LIFE Centre and other animal-focused attractions really are.

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Atlantic deep sea corals, new study


This video is called Octocoral.

From Wildlife Extra:

Atlantic coral gardens attract greater protection

December 2013: Deep sea octocorals are an important element of the marine environment, providing shelter and hunting grounds for shrimps and a wide variety of fish species. Being soft animals that lack a stony skeleton they are particularly vulnerable to damage from fishing gear and drift nets.

A recent paper on the Gulf of Maine in the US, where a century of commercial fishing was thought to have cleared the area of this type of seafloor fauna, has revealed that impressive gardens of yellow and purple colonies of octocorals still flourish in pockets where the topography of the seabed has protected them.

The team that produced the paper for publication in the Biodiversity journal employed sophisticated video and still photography equipment to observe and measure the octocoral polyps at a depth of 200 to 250m. The researchers revealed: “We found areas with steep and vertical rock faces had the highest densities of octocorals… compared to areas with less vertical relief.”

Also observed in association with these corals were pandalid shrimps, Atlantic cod, cusk, pollock, silver hake and Acadian redfish.

The report concluded with a recommendation that these isolated and rare octocoral garden communities deserve a greater focus of conservation. National laws and international agreements now require the protection of vulnerable species such as deep-sea corals and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management is currently developing a deep-sea coral amendment which will freeze the footprint of the fishing industry and conserve current coral hotspots, which this report will have helped to identify.

Cold water coral: here.

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Curaçao coral reefs and sponges


This video is called Caribbean Coral Reefs.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) on Wednesday 20 November 2013:

Coral reefs around the world are naturally surrounded by nutrient depleted waters. One might suspect a lack of nutrients would prohibit their growth; however, coral reefs are amongst the most biodiversity-rich marine ecosystems in the world. Charles Darwin observed this during his voyage on the Beagle in the 19th century, but only now has that phenomenon, aptly called ‘Darwin’s Paradox’, been explained.

A team of researchers has recently looked into the role of sponges on the coral reefs around Curaçao and found some surprising results. By recycling vast amounts of organic matter, it is the sponges that keep the reef alive. Bacteria have the reputation to be ‘nature’s recyclers’, but on coral reefs they are not abundant enough to serve as the recyclers of the whole reef community. Sponges were found to be bigger recyclers than bacteria and to produce nearly as many nutrients as all the primary producers, corals and algae, in a tropical reef combined.

By feeding the sponges isotope-labelled sugars, and by tracing these molecules on their journey, they found that the sugars were quickly shed to the seabed in dead cells (detritus). Within two days, the same molecules were present in snails and other lower organisms that feed on the sediment containing dead sponge cells. These organisms are in turn eaten by larger animals, and so the cycle continues.

Apart from the speed, it was the sheer volume of food turnover which took the researchers by surprise; nearly tenfold the amount that is recycled by bacteria. To illustrate this, the sponge Halisarca caerulea takes up two-thirds of its body weight in dissolved organic matter every day, but barely grows in size because old cells are continuously shed to the seabed.

Recognising this newly discovered role of sponges for these threatened and fragile ecosystems will hopefully aid coral reef conservation efforts worldwide.

Read the entire article in BioNews.

Three shipwrecks were removed from coral reefs in the Pacific. How long will it take the reefs to recover? Here.

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Save coral reefs


This video from the USA says about itself:

5 Sep 2013

Coral reefs are in trouble and efforts are underway to save them.

November 2013: Coral may play an important role in regulating local climate, according to science journal Nature. Marine scientists have found that the coral animal – not just its algal symbiont – makes an important sulphur-based molecule which may assist it in many ways, from offing it cellular protection in times of heat stress to local climate cooling by encouraging clouds to form: here.

3D-printed artificial reefs bring back sea life in Persian Gulf: here.