The aquatic world presents the widest diversity of habitats, so it’s no surprise that fishes have come to present the widest diversity of vertebrate species.
From the darkest depths to tropical shores, there are more than 33,000 species of living fishes, accounting for more than half of the extant vertebrate diversity on Earth.
For years, Curator of Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Marine Vertebrate collection, Phil Hastings, has been immersed in the systematics and phylogeny of fishes, their marine biogeography, and the ecology and behavioral evolution of fishes, and takes you on a tour of what makes this most diverse array of animals.
On the surface, it might seem like an ocean without sharks would be a more enjoyable place. But, these predators play a very important role in the ocean ecosystem and they need our protection just like many other ocean dwelling creatures.
Sharks have been at the top of the food chain for hundreds of millions of years, but today their populations are in danger because of human activities, such as overfishing and finning (this is when people catch sharks, remove the fins, and dump the carcass overboard).
Andrew P. Nosal, Ph. D, Birch Aquarium’s new DeLaCour Postdoctoral Fellow for Ecology and Conservation, shares his shark expertise and explains that all sharks are not the evil villains seen in movies, but are essential in maintaining a balanced ocean.
Wildlife conservation is a well established notion within Western culture, but convincing developing nations about its importance can be challenging.
Lisa Ballance, Director of the Marine Mammal and Turtle division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Science Center explains that although the United States has implemented policies like the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, animals don’t understand and abide by geopolitical boundaries.
The mission of the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division is mainly to assess the status and trends of these animals’ health and livelihood within their ecosystem, as well as identify and mitigate threats and educate others on the science of conservation.
Even then scientists were aware of the green house effect created by CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere. Keeling tracked the increasing levels of CO2 for decades, but it didn’t take long for him to link the rising CO2 levels with the burning of fossil fuels. Although it was known that the burning of fossil fuels created CO2, it was widely believed that the ocean absorbed all of that excess carbon dioxide. Keeling was the first person to prove that CO2 was accumulating in the atmosphere, as it still is today.
In this video, Somerville further explains this research and his ideas for how to reduce the emissions causing climate change. If you want more information on climate change and ocean science, check out the “Perspectives on Ocean Science” series.
In spring 2012, the Deep Sea Challenge Expedition, with film director and National Geographic Explorer in Residence James Cameron, conducted submersible operations in the deepest point on Earth, the Mariana Trench.
In “Exploring Beyond the Abyss: The Deep Sea Challenge Expedition,” Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Doug Bartlett, the chief scientist of this headline expedition and a leading expert in microbial life in the planet’s most remote and extreme places, describes what the journey was like and how his research is providing greater insight into how organisms thrive in such extreme depths of the ocean.