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Chapman R.W.,South Carolina Department of Natural Resources | Chapman R.W.,Medical University of South Carolina | Chapman R.W.,College of Charleston | Chapman R.W.,Hollings Marine Laboratory | And 18 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2011

Understanding the mechanisms by which organisms adapt to environmental conditions is a fundamental question for ecology and evolution. In this study, we evaluate changes in gene expression of a marine mollusc, the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, associated with the physico-chemical conditions and the levels of metals and other contaminants in their environment. The results indicate that transcript signatures can effectively disentangle the complex interactive gene expression responses to the environment and are also capable of disentangling the complex dynamic effects of environmental factors on gene expression. In this context, the mapping of environment to gene and gene to environment is reciprocal and mutually reinforcing. In general, the response of transcripts to the environment is driven by major factors known to affect oyster physiology such as temperature, pH, salinity, and dissolved oxygen, with pollutant levels playing a relatively small role, at least within the range of concentrations found in the studied oyster habitats. Further, the two environmental factors that dominate these effects (temperature and pH) interact in a dynamic and nonlinear fashion to impact gene expression. Transcriptomic data obtained in our study provide insights into the mechanisms of physiological responses to temperature and pH in oysters that are consistent with the known effects of these factors on physiological functions of ectotherms and indicate important linkages between transcriptomics and physiological outcomes. Should these linkages hold in further studies and in other organisms, they may provide a novel integrated approach for assessing the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification and anthropogenic contaminants on aquatic organisms via relatively inexpensive microarray platforms. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

News Article | March 23, 2016
Site: http://motherboard.vice.com/

Of all the environments on our planet, the deep ocean is still pretty much unknown. Scientists like to say that we’ve mapped more of the Moon than we have of our ocean floor. But there’s a growing need to monitor the ocean’s abyss, which is warming in response to climate change, just like everywhere else, creating consequences we can’t fully predict. On Tuesday, a meeting of scientists from around the world—including Canada, the US, and France—kicked off in Yokohama, Japan to discuss Argo, a global array of roughly 3,000 free-floating ocean probes that measure changes in temperature and salinity. These battery-powered devices can dip down 2,000 meters (1.25 miles), and versions of them have been drifting through the oceans for over a decade, gathering data. Now, scientists hope to deploy a heftier version of the probe, Deep Argo, that could reach an astonishing 6,000m down. That’s over 19,600 feet, a place so inhospitable—there’s few nutrients, extreme pressure, and no sunlight that deep—that not many creatures can survive there. With enough Deep Argos moving through the water, scientists would have a way to monitor places they’ve never really managed to reach. A researcher works on Deep SOLO, part of the Deep Argo program. Image: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego Before Argo, the best thing oceanographers had to go on was surveys done by ship, said Denis Gilbert, the past director of Argo Canada, who’s based at the Institut Maurice-Lamontagne in Mont-Joli, Quebec. But those aren’t repeated often enough to be very useful. (Another creative scheme involved gluing satellite tags onto elephant seals, to pick up data about ocean conditions while they swim.) “Argo has changed the standards of global monitoring for the oceans,” Gilbert said. In the southern hemisphere, floats collect more data—every single year—than what was gathered in over six decades of oceanography, before the program came into being. Argo floats help scientists learn about ocean currents, too, because they travel by riding them, Gregory Johnson, a Seattle-based oceanographer with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, told me. According to him, floats sink to a depth of 1,000m, then drift along for nearly two weeks before lowering to 2,000m, and come back up. “As they rise, they collect data on temperature, salinity, and pressure,” he said. “They surface and phone home,” transmitting data back to centers in Monterey, Calif. and Brest, France. Within 24 hours of transmission, the data is ready for anyone to use. Unlike the Argo floats, which are aluminum and cylinder-shaped, Deep Argo prototypes are glass spheres designed to withstand the deep ocean’s crushing pressures. Johnson calls the glass sphere a “venerable oceanographic flotation device,” stuffed full of scientific instruments. A few have already been deployed, but scientists like Johnson hope to see many more. “We’d need about 1,200 globally,” he estimated. According to a report in Nature, the NOAA is spending about $1 million annually to get Deep Argo off the ground. With a network of robotic Deep Argo probes diving down to 6,000m, scientists will be able to measure “almost 99 per cent of the ocean volume,” Johnson said—basically everything short of what’s inside the deepest ocean trenches. (The deepest point on Earth, at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, is over 10,000m below the surface.) Once the meeting in Yokohama wraps up, on Thursday, we can hope they’ll be more news about Deep Argo. It’s critical. As our planet warms up, our oceans act like a giant sponge, absorbing more than 90 per cent of the excess heat, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What happens in the deep ocean, still the most mysterious and little-understood of all environments, will affect us deeply.

News Article
Site: http://cen.acs.org/news/ln.html

A new competition will award up to $7 million to advance autonomous, fast, and high-resolution exploration of the deep ocean, organizers announced on Dec. 14 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. Shell is providing $6 million for seafloor mapping and imaging, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is contributing a $1 million “bonus” for detecting chemical and . . .

The whale, which National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration program specialist Justin Viezbicke said was about 10 meters, or 33 feet long, and weighed some 55,000 pounds (25,000 kg), first caught rescuers' attention earlier this week off Santa Barbara. NOAA's rescue team began untangling the whale but it fled before it could be freed. It later turned up again off Orange County, more than 100 miles to the south, where rescuers pulled about 100 feet of line and buoys off before it fled again. On Saturday it was spotted off San Diego, where a SeaWorld crew and area lifeguards worked with the NOAA to try to cut it free. "The SeaWorld crew got off as much gear as it was possible, but there's still gear stuck in the whale's mouth and lines coming out of either side," Viezbicke said. Nonetheless he said the whale appeared healthy despite the remaining gear and lines. "The gear is used in cooler water" to the north, Viezbicke said. "We did recover the gear with registry information so we should be able to track it to the owner." Humpback whales are baleen feeders, which strain huge amounts of ocean water through their baleen plates to capture zooplankton, crustaceans and small fish. NOAA's Long Beach team has responded to about 50 entanglements since January.

News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

A dolphin jumps from the water off the coast of Leucadia, California after sun set December 13, 2013. Jim Milbury, the West Coast spokesman for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said that necropsies were being performed and that an investigation was underway. The dolphins, apparently part of a population of 323 remaining California common bottle nose dolphins, were found on Oct. 21 at Imperial Beach and the Silver Strand, less than 10 miles apart. Navy officials confirmed that ships were using mid-frequency sonar in the area "for a little over an hour" as part of a training exercise on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. The ships are part of the Silver Strand Training Complex, according to Lieutenant Julie Holland. The Navy won federal permission to train with mid-frequency sonar, which sends out a loud ping underwater, in December 2013 despite environmentalists' concerns over the harmful effects of such sonar on underwater mammals that rely on their hearing, including whales and dolphins. "A single ping can permanently deafen a marine mammal 100 meters (yards) away," said David Henkin, an environmental attorney. The investigation comes as part of a September settlement with the environmental group, Earth Justice. The group sued the agency for giving the Navy a permit to conduct training exercises using mid frequency sonar and explosives in areas where ocean mammals could be injured or killed. The settlement includes the requirement that the National Marine Fisheries arm of the agency investigate deaths and notify the public of the deaths and investigations. "The fisheries calculate the maximum acceptable death rate caused by humans in this population at 2.4 per year before the population is threatened, so these two deaths are significant," Henkin said. "Before the settlement, there was no obligation to investigate or report the deaths." NOAA had six months to evaluate whether or not the permit for the Navy should be modified after the investigation, he said.

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