Show the ocean some love this month and read on to learn about how plastic moves in the sea, range extensions, and aquafeed!
FEBRUARY 3: RESEARCH SUMMARY - A DEBRIS DILEMMA
It is estimated that 70% of plastic that ends up in the ocean will eventually sink to the seafloor. Once this debris sinks, it can be transported along the bottom of the ocean by deep currents such as underwater avalanches called “turbidity flows.”
A paper published last year by Everblue’s founder Ellie and her collaborators found that these underwater turbidity flows can possibly move sunken debris from the more shallow parts of the deep sea closest to the land (called the “continental shelf”) to the deepest parts of the ocean (called the “abyssal plain.”)
Understanding how plastic moves and behaves once it reaches the ocean can help us to make decisions about how to reduce it at the source or clean it up. Check back tomorrow for our sustainability tip on how you can help reduce marine debris so it never reaches the deep sea!
RESEARCH: Distributions of microplastics and larger anthropogenic debris in Norfolk Canyon, Baltimore Canyon, and the adjacent continental slope (Western North Atlantic Margin, U.S.A.). Jones et al., 2021.
FEBRUARY 4: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - PICK IT UP
Once plastic breaks into small microplastics less than 5 millimeters in size, it is much more likely that it will sink to the bottom of the ocean; microplastics are more easily eaten by fish and could sink through feces, and also have a larger surface area that could become biofouled (have algae and other marine organisms grow on it) and weighed down.
So, one of the easiest ways to make sure microplastics don’t sink to the deep sea is by picking them up when you find them! It’s definitely tedious work, but even taking one handful of microplastics off the coastline will keep them from getting washed back into the ocean and sinking to the ocean floor.
If you pick up plastics in your community, comment on this blog to spread the cleanup love!
FEBRUARY 10: RESEARCH SUMMARY - NEW RECORD JUST DROPPED
Previously, scientists thought a poorly understood species of guitarfish, the Banded Guitarfish (Zapteryx exasperata), could only be found south of Jalama Beach, California. That was until Everblue team member Rachel and her collaborators found one in the Monterey Bay area.
Other species of cartilaginous fish have been seen further north than expected, including other species of guitarfish and Whale Sharks! Young Great White Sharks have also made Monterey Bay their home for part of the year. So, why are all these species moving northward?
Recently, there have been several warm water events off the coast of southern California. Many of these species have a range of temperatures that they prefer and when the water gets too warm, they move to cooler waters.
FEBRUARY 11: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - SNAP AWAY
Did you know that you can help scientists document species ranges using your phone? iNaturalist is a nonprofit organization that can help you identify plants, animals, and fungi you take photos of. These observations can then be shared with millions of researchers to track when and where different organisms are found!
You can download the iNaturalist app on your phone or use the desktop version, it’s completely free to use. Just snap a picture (remember to keep a safe distance if you’re photographing an animal!), upload it, and wait for other users to identify your photo. Just like that, you’ve contributed to science while learning more about the world around you.
FEBRUARY 17: RESEARCH SUMMARY - SLOSH SUPPRESSION
In a research study done this past year, scientists found a way to mitigate sloshing
in closed container aquaculture systems.
These floating fish pens were designed to
be better for the environment; they prevent disease and parasite transfer, stop farmed fish-waste pollution, and protect sharks and marine mammals from entanglement when attracted to fish in open-net farms. But the floating closed pens can be jostled by ocean currents and waves, harming farmed fish health and reproduction. This study showed that using “slosh suppressions blocks,” blocks that reduce free surface area in the closed systems, successfully dissipate sloshing water, lowering the water energy in the pens and thus protecting the farmed fish.
FEBRUARY 18: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - GONE FISHIN’
Did you know that to fish in the United States, you need a fishing license? These licenses allow the US Fish & Wildlife Service to keep tabs on fish populations, identify poachers and overfishers, and provide other vital data scientists use to protect the environment. And what’s even cooler, is that all fishing license profits are funneled by the USFWS straight into conservation and restoration! Head over to their website for more information on fishing licenses in your state!