Oceanus

This magazine provides research, news and features in oceanography, coastal research, marine life, deep-ocean exploration, ocean technology and policy and the ocean's role in climate.

Articles from Vol. 43, No. 2, Fall-Winter

Can We Catch More Fish and Still Preserve the Stock? Mathematical Analyses Offer New Insights into Age-Old Controversies on Fishing Restrictions
Near the town of Webster in southern Massachusetts there is a small lake with a long name: Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. The correct translation, from the original Native American language, refers to Englishmen fishing at a certain...
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Coral Gardens in the Dark Depths: Scientists Seek to Learn More about These Abundant, Fragile, and Now-Threatened Communities
The words "coral reefs" conjure up images of a tropical paradise: shallow, warm, aquamarine waters, bright sunlight, white sand, and colorful, darting fish. But corals also live deep in the sea, in regions where the sun doesn't penetrate and water...
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Discovering Life and Sustaining Habitats
The oceans cover 70 percent of the planet's surface and constitute 99 percent of its living space, and every drop of ocean water holds living things. Without its oceans, Earth would be a rock in space, and life may never have appeared on our planet....
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Do Marine Protected Areas Really Work? Georges Bank Experiment Provides Dues to Longstanding Questions about Closing Areas to Fishing
Closing parts of the ocean to fishing to preserve fish stocks holds great intuitive appeal. Similar resource management tools have been used as far back as the Middle Ages, when European kings and princes controlled access to forests and streams, and...
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Down to the Sea on (Gene) Chips: The Genomics Revolution Is Transforming the Way Scientists Can Study Life in the Oceans
A half-century ago, James Watson and Francis Crick (aided by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins) discovered the double-helical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Other scientists soon showed how DNA--through a triplet code of nucleotide bases...
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How to See What Whales Hear: Biomedical Imaging Reveals New Insights into Marine Mammal Ears
On summer nights, if you sit quietly at the edge of a field or watch the edges of the light pools around street lamps, you will see bats swooping through shadowy darkness in search of moths or other flying prey. They detect and catch their targets...
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In Tiny Ear Bones, the Life Story of a Giant Bluefin Tuna
The Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, is one of the fastest, most powerful and most beautiful offish. It is also the most expensive. Highly prized by sushi connoisseurs, a single giant fish of 1,400 pounds may sell for $40,000. The tuna's...
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Life in the Arctic Ocean: Distinctive Species and Environmental Factors Combine to Create a Unique, Complex Food Web
Capped with a formidable ice and snow cover, plunged into total darkness during the winter, buffeted by blizzard winds, and bitterly cold, the Arctic Ocean is one of the most inaccessible and yet beautiful environments on Earth. Life here endures some...
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Little Things Matter a Lot: Overlooked in the Ocean until the 1970s, Cyanobacteria Are among Earth's Most Important Organisms
When people think of bacteria, they usually think of germs--disease-causing agents that threaten human health. In reality, bacteria make life on Earth possible. One group--the cyanobacteria--has completely transformed Earth's environment through...
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Playing Tag with Whales: Engineers Overcome Nightmarish Specifications to Create a Dream Instrument
The challenge of designing a device to learn what marine mammals do on dives is the stuff of dreams for an electronics engineer. In the spring of 1999, the time was right to build the digital acoustic recording tag, or D-tag--an instrument to record...
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Revealing the Ocean's Invisible Abundance: Scientists Develop New Instruments to Study Microbes at the Center of the Ocean Food Web
Microbes. They are invisible to the naked eye, but they play a critical role in keeping our planet habitable. They are everywhere, in abundant numbers, but are still difficult to find. They come in a multitude of varieties, but too often are difficult...
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Run Deep, but Not Silent: A New Tagging Device Lets Scientists 'Go along for the Ride' into the Underwater World of Whales
Whales are among the most elusive animals that humans have ever hunted. Pursuing whales across the seas and centuries, whalers made careful observations of whale behavior whenever and wherever they surfaced. But sperm whales, for example, spend about...
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Scientists Muster to Help Right Whales: With Time Running out, an Ambitious Research Plan Is Launched for an Endangered Species
It is a sad irony that we have cataloged individual photographs of the remaining North Atlantic right whales and given each of them unique numbers and sometimes names, yet we still know too little about their physiology, behavior, and habitats to take...
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Sensors to Make Sense of the Sea: An Expanding Variety of Sensors Is Changing They Way We Monitor Dynamic Ocean Systems
In science, the key to understanding any situation is careful observations and measurements. The key to observing and measuring, however, is being there--in the moment--and that has always proved challenging for oceanographers. It is difficult and...
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Shedding Light on Light in the Ocean: New Research Is Illuminating an Optically Complex Underwater Environment
Light in the ocean is like light in no other place on Earth. It is a world that is visibly different from our familiar terrestrial world, and one that marine animals, plants, and microbes are adapted to in extraordinary ways. Light behaves very...
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The Deeps of Time in the Depths of the Ocean: Discoveries of Unusual Marine Microbes Are Radically Changing Our Views about the Evolution of Life
At the helm of the Endeavor, James Cook set sail from England in 1768. He rounded Cape Horn in January 1769, entering the vast, unexplored Pacific and Southern Oceans and opening up an entirely new vista on the world. Cook "added a hemisphere" to...
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The Secret Lives of Fish: Scientists Learn to Read the 'Diary' Recorded in the Ear Bones of Fish
The ocean's once-abundant fisheries a resource that helps feed the world and drives multi-billion-dollar economies--are rapidly being depleted. Seventy percent of the ocean's fish are being fished at or above catch limits that would sustain the fish...
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Tracking Fish to Save Them: The Reef Fish Connectivity and Conservation Initiative
For decades, the Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) was one of the most sought-after fish species in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, from the Bahamas to Central America. These large, delicious fish live among coral reefs and have a breeding behavior...
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Voyages into the Antarctic Winter: Pioneering Cruises into the Pack Ice of the Southern Ocean Reveal Secrets of Its Fertile Ecosystem
At the extreme end of the Earth, Antarctica is a vast, rocky continent, mostly ice-covered and barren. Surrounding Antarctica, the Southern Ocean is equally vast, cold, and ice-covered. But unlike the land, it teems with life, ranging from microscopic...
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Whither the North Atlantic Right Whale? Researchers Explore Many Facets of Whales' Lives to Help a Species on the Edge of Extinction
For millions of years, the North Atlantic Ocean has been home to right whales. In winter, they gave birth to calves off the shores of West Africa in the eastern Atlantic and off Florida and Georgia in the western Atlantic. In the spring, they migrated...
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