Pic o’ the week – tiny sea life

A one-centimeter large larval-tube Medusae anemone. It’s already begun fishing for food with its tiny tentacles and its dark stomach indicates it’s finding food.

This image was taken as part of the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year collaboration among more than 2,000 scientists from 80+ nations. The census, which will be released later this year, is the first-ever effort to create a catalog of marine life in our oceans — and thus provide us a baseline of its diversity, distribution, and abundance.

Four of the Census’s 14 studies are focusing on ‘hardest-to-see’ sea creatures — tiny microbes, zooplankton, larvae and burrowers in the sea bed, which together underpin almost all other life on the planet. They’ve discovered an astounding number of new species.

As Dr. John Baross put it, “This is a huge frontier for the next decade.”

Another big benefit for the oceans? “The Census has helped develop a world view,” says Dr. Ann Bucklin, head of the marine zooplankton portion of the census, “and all of us who work in the field have treasured that.”

Photo by Cheryl Clarke-Hopcroft/UAF/CMarZ

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cruises and oceans – high impact

Caribbean countries showed their sea some love this week by banning the dumping of all garbage at sea. As one UN consultant working on the pact said, “It’s a big deal.” And it’s been a long time coming – the ban was established,  for all intents and purposes, in 1993. But it’s taken until 2010 for Caribbean countries to get alternative disposal methods in place.

The effect of the ban will depend on enforcement by each country, so let’s keep a close eye on them.

Out in the Pacific Northwest, the nonprofit reporting group InvestigateWest is planning to take a hard look at the impacts of cruise ships on local ecologies. Some cruise lines are trying to be eco-responsible, and some might be just greenwashing. It’s important to track their practices closely – the amount of waste each ship produces is staggering, according to InvestigateWest:

“More than 230 cruise ships operate around the world, generating millions of gallons of waste water every day.  A typical cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew members generates more than 200,000 gallons of human sewage, one million gallons of waste water, eight tons of garbage and more than 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water each week.”

Photo courtesy NYDiscovery