How marine sponges feed, unusually


This 2017 video is called Mycale grandis marine sponge pumping fluorescein dye (normal speed).

From the University of Hawaii at Manoa:

Unique dietary strategy of a tropical marine sponge

August 14, 2019

Research conducted at the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) on a marine sponge in Kāneʻohe Bay, Oahu revealed a unique feeding strategy, wherein the sponge animal acquires important components of its diet from symbiotic bacteria living within the sponge.

Coral reefs are one of Hawaiʻi’s most important natural resources and support fisheries and the state’s economy. Marine sponges are important components of coral reef ecosystems, but in Hawaiʻi, the Indo-Australian sponge Mycale grandis is an invasive alien species that was only first documented in the islands in the late 1990s. M. grandis is now found in and near major harbors of the Main Hawaiian Islands as well as within Kāneʻohe Bay.

Alien and invasive species are one of the threats to endemic and native species, which are vulnerable due to their evolution in the remote archipelago. M. grandis competes with coral for space on the reef, but unlike coral, which build hard rocky substrate with their skeletons, M. grandis is a soft, non-reef building animal and does not provide the same habitat for other reef organisms.

In a study led by Dr. Joy Leilei Shih for her doctoral research at UH Mānoa, the diet of M. grandis sponges collected from Kāneʻohe Bay was elucidated by using a new application of a technique that relies on naturally occurring stable isotopes to understand the origin of specific compounds in the tissues of plants and animals. In this case, the team tested where amino acids, the building blocks of proteins in tissues, in the sponge came from. Did they originate from food caught and filtered from seawater or were they supplied to the sponge from the microbes living within the sponge itself?

When one organism consumes another, elemental properties in the prey are conserved and leave behind a unique chemical pattern with the predator. By assessing the chemical difference between predator and prey tissues, Shih and colleagues found the diet of sponges did not originate from photosynthesizing microbes (such as seen in corals) and M. grandis feeding did not follow general patterns of other multicellular animals. Instead, the isotopic patterns of the sponge and its symbiotic microbes were not different from one another, indicating the sponge obtains nutrition through the uptake of amino acids originating from their symbiotic microbes.

“While we knew that the symbionts of sponges play an important role in their diet, the mechanism by which it occurred was unknown,” said Shih. “The only way to produce the observed amino acid isotopic pattern, or fingerprint, if you will, is through the direct transfer of amino acids from their symbiotic bacteria.”

“The patterns we detected in M. grandis and its symbionts are very interesting, as they suggest sponges may be actively capturing materials in seawater to support the needs of their microbial community, which in turn supply the sponge with essential tissue building blocks,” said Dr. Chris Wall, a postdoctoral researcher at UH Mānoa and a co-author on the study.

“The symbiosis we see between the sponge and its microbial community is remarkable,” said Shih. “We know that sponges rely on their symbionts for a variety of purposes including chemical defense, metabolite removal, and now we have insight into this well-tuned and efficient feeding strategy and the major role these microbial symbionts play in sponge nutrition. The intimate relationship between sponges and their symbionts developed over their long evolutionary history. Sponges are the oldest multi-cellular animal on earth. That’s why they are so well-adapted and resilient.”

Marine sponges in Hawaiʻi are not well studied. A study by the Smithsonian Institution-organized MarineGEO Hawaiʻi program in 2017 identified 150 previously unseen sponge species in Hawaiʻi, roughly one third of which are new species. Previously, only about 10 sponge species were known to exist in Kāneʻohe Bay. The researchers’ new approach to investigating sponge feeding strategies can be applied to future research on other marine sponges in Hawai’i and elsewhere. Sponges play an important role in the nutrient dynamics of coral reefs, and in the future, sponges may rise to dominate coral reefs as corals decline from direct pressure from human activity and climate change. This work provides new insights into the biology of sponges and shows the importance of marine microbes to the diet of an invasive sponge.

Despite efforts over multiple decades, there are still no cell lines for marine invertebrates. For the first time, scientists have developed a breakthrough in marine invertebrate (sponge) cell culture, demonstrating exceptionally fast cell division and the ability to subculture the cells. This groundbreaking discovery forms the basis for developing marine invertebrate cell models to better understand early animal evolution, determine the role of secondary metabolites, predict the impact of climate change to coral reef community ecology and develop novel medicines: here.

Humpback whales’ Hawaii mating sesason


This 25 June 2019 video says about itself:

Humpback Whales Arrive in Hawaii For Mating Season | Nat Geo Wild

These humpback whales spent the summer months feeding in Alaska and have now arrived in Hawaii, after traveling nearly 3,000 miles.

Hawaii albatross 2014-2018 highlights


This 16 October 2018 video from Hawaii says about itself:

Kauai Albatross Cam Greatest Hits 2014–2018

After 5 years of dedication and hard work, the Kauai Albatross Network (KAN) and the landowner have decided to take the upcoming year off from 24/7 streaming on Kauai’s North Shore.

When the Cornell Lab began working with KAN back in 2012 to (eventually) identify locations and landowners that would work to bring the world of Laysan Albatrosses to the world in 2014, we never could have imagined the reaction from the online community or the amount of effort it would take to have this kind of impact.

Together, in the last 5 years, we have shared the lives of Laysan Albatrosses on the Garden Isle for 30 months (out of the last 72!). Viewers from over 190 countries have tuned in to the livestream 60 million times for a combined 450 million minutes. Our Albatross cam volunteers have posted over 20 thousand tweets and shared over 9000 images from the @AlbatrossCam Twitter account, identified 198 walkers, and interacted with thousands of cam watchers through social media.

From all of us at the Cornell Lab’s Bird Cams project, we wanted to say “Thank You” to our partners at KAN, the cam site landowners, all of our viewers and volunteers, and anyone who has watched and learned along with us over these past 5 years. Enjoy this highlight video of some of our all-time favorite moments from the Kauai Laysan Albatross cam, and please share your own favorite memories in the comments below. Mahalo!

Entangled whale shark saved


This video says about itself:

Watch A Free-Diver Rescue This Entangled Whale Shark | National Geographic

20 August 2018

A Hawaiian family spotted this whale shark while free-diving off the coast of Lanai. First, they were excited about the rare sighting of the 20-foot-long endangered shark. But then, they noticed a heavy rope tightly wrapped around its neck. Biologists Kapua Kawelo and Joby Rohrer decided to help the animal, while their son, 17-year-old Kanehoalani, filmed the rescue.

Hawaiian bird conservation, new study


This video says about itself:

15 March 2018

Many factors are contributing to the decline in Hawaii’s forest bird populations, loss of habitat, climate change.. invasive species, but none more than disease. Avian malaria and avian poxvirus are spread by human introduced mosquitoes. Historically, mosquitoes did not exist on Hawaii and native bird species never developed resistance to mosquito transmitted diseases. Because of this, mosquitoes have devastated many native bird populations.

Join me as I explore what scientists are doing to help reduce mosquito populations, determine avian malaria abundance and determine current and future solutions for malaria such as BTI and wolbachia.

This video also serves as a day in the life of a researcher which explains our research process and shows how we carry out the research in the field.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office:

It’s go time for Hawaiian bird conservation, and luckily there’s a playbook

June 27, 2018

Summary: A new study presents some of the best guidance to date on the priorities and actions that can be taken to help Hawaii’s endemic birds. This article lays out a plan to better guide and empower conservation efforts for Hawaiian birds.

A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications presents some of the best guidance to date on the priorities and actions that can be taken to help Hawaii’s endemic birds. Hawaii’s ecosystems, including its native bird populations, are struggling. Of the 21 species of forest birds left on the islands, almost two thirds (12 species) of are endangered or threatened. The current conservation status of the wildlife and vegetation on the island is almost entirely attributable to humans. The actions needed to stabilize or reverse these trends need stronger support and coordination, however funding and resources are limited. This new paper lays out a plan to better guide and empower conservation efforts for Hawaiian birds.

Eben Paxton of USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center and colleagues synthesized the key points that came out of a collaboration of more than 60 stakeholders in Hawaiian bird conservation. The focus is on actionable research and management approaches that can be employed today. Habitat loss, invasive plants, non-native predators, and introduced diseases were identified as the largest threats to Hawaiian birds. Climate change is projected to exacerbate all threats. Given limited resources, the stakeholders decided on eight main priorities as well as several actions specific to the island of Kauai. In addition to helping Hawaii and its birds directly, the goal of this collaborative report is to make Hawaii a model for other areas of the world, especially islands, that are in need of strong conservation efforts.

Lead author, Eben Paxton comments, “Our challenge in Hawaii is how do we conserve forest birds from multiple threats with just a fraction of the resources needed to fully address all the threats. Our solution was to bring researchers and managers together to share ideas, and as a community, identify priority research and management needs necessary to save these unique species. We believe these priorities will help focus resources where most needed and bring together different organizations to work together for the maximum benefit of the birds.”

“New Technology is being proposed to help stem the tide of extinctions in Hawaiian native birds. Eben Paxton and his co-authors recognize that all the native birds in Hawaii are Conservation Reliant Species and propose utilizing new technologies to assist with the preservation of this unique island avifauna,” adds Charles van Riper III, a ST Research Ecologist and Professor Emeritus, USGS and SNRE, University of Arizona. “This very complete paper also recommends enhancing Citizen Science and captive breeding in the Islands, along with continued monitoring and translocations to unoccupied habitat. The immediate target for this plan are the birds on Kauai — the authors feel that the native avifauna on this island is rapidly approaching extinction, and time will tell how successful this proposed plan is in implementing conservation actions in time to save these unique birds.”

On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, it is possible to stand in a lush tropical forest that doesn’t contain a single native plant. The birds that once dispersed native seeds are almost entirely gone too, leaving a brand-new ecological community composed of introduced plants and birds. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers demonstrate that these novel communities are organized in much the same way as native communities worldwide: here.