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Ocean Research

2018:  FEB

February 2017 Issue

Microbes Could Mitigate
Oil Spills in Arctic

The collaborative research project GENICE that partners the University of Calgary with the University of Manitoba has been awarded $10.7 million as part of the Genome Canada 2015 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition.

The research teams will combine their expertise in genomics, microbiology, petroleomics and sea ice physics to investigate the potential for natural microbial communities to mitigate oil spills, as warmer temperatures and melting sea ice usher in more Arctic shipping.

With northern shipping increasing by 166 percent since 2004, and cruise ships and tourism increasing by 500 percent in the past five years, the pressures on the Northwest Passage are rising.

The soon to be completed Churchill Marine Observatory in Churchill, Manitoba, adjacent to Canada’s only Arctic deepwater port, will support the technological, scientific, ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social research needed to guide safe marine transportation and oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic.

Kelp Resilient in
California Heat Wave

After a large-scale marine heat wave in the Pacific Ocean in 2014 produced the greatest temperature anomalies since recordkeeping began in the early 1900s, ocean researchers at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) evaluated the sentinel status of giant kelp forests along the southern California coastline as an indicator of climate change. They expected the kelp, known to be sensitive to temperature increases and the resulting low-nutrient conditions, to respond rapidly to a rise in water temperature.

However, the kelp response turned out to be no different than what they’d seen in the temporal record. The values were low but not necessarily lower than during cool-water years.

The researchers used kelp records from a 34-year time series of satellite data and analyzed kelp biomass from Santa Barbara to San Diego through time and related it to sea surface temperatures. This work may provide some insight into how these kelp forests would respond to future climate warming.

Lockheed Martin Funds
JSU STEM Program

A $75,000 corporate gift to Jackson State University (JSU) will support select students in Jackson Public Schools who will enroll in the Lockheed Martin STEM Academy at JSU for a summer training program. In this intensive four-summer, six-week academy, hands-on experience is a major component, and the target is students in Grades 6 to 8.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. will need 1 million more STEM professionals by 2022.

The JSU program will prepare students for college STEM with math, computer science, problem-solving skills, introduction to engineering, physics and English.

Rovco Secures Funding
For 3D Modeling Tech

ROV services company Rovco has secured Innovate UK funding to carry out extensive research and development activity and perform a full feasibility study into the advancement of underwater 3D modeling technology. Once developed into a real-time inspection system, it has the potential to revolutionize the way energy companies manage and inspect their subsea assets, potentially saving hundreds of millions of pounds in subsea inspection costs each year.

Manganese Nodules for
Octopus Breeding

Biologists discovered a new octopus species at more than 4,000-m depth that guard their eggs, likely for years prior to hatching, and use manganese nodules on the seabed as a breeding ground. The octopus deposits its eggs onto sponges that grow on the manganese nodules. This implies that the industrial extraction of resources in the deep sea must be preceded by thorough investigations of the ecological consequences. The virtually transparent deep-sea octopus was found February 2016 and named Casper by the web community. It became a social media star after being discovered by the U.S. diving robot Deep Discovery, which detected the 10-cm marine creature off Necker Island, Hawaii, at a depth of 4,290 m, taking close-up video and publishing the footage online.

Six months earlier, researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, GEOMAR, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, and Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences filmed and photographed more specimens of this or similar species in the Peru Basin in the Pacific Ocean.

China Gets OSIL
Giant Piston Corer

OSIL has produced a 30m Giant Piston Corer for China’s First Institute of Oceanography (FIO), State Oceanic Administration (SOA). The corer and handling package was supplied to the FIO by JESSN Marine Equipment Co. Ltd. of Ningbo, China.

The Giant Piston Corer is a rugged and reliable system that can take up to 60-m core samples in soft, cohesive sediments and muds.

Western Pacific Biotwang
Baleen Whale Call

A sound in the Marianas Trench notable for its complexity and wide frequency range likely represents the discovery of a new baleen whale call, according to the Oregon State University (OSU) researchers who recorded and analyzed it. Scientists at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center named it the “Western Pacific Biotwang”. Lasting between 2.5 and 3.5 seconds, the five-part call includes deep moans at frequencies as low as 38 Hz and a metallic finale that pushes as high as 8,000 Hz. It was recorded via passive acoustic ocean gliders.

“It’s very distinct, with all these crazy parts,” said researcher Sharon Nieukirk. “The low-frequency moaning part is typical of baleen whales, and it’s that kind of twangy sound that makes it really unique. We don’t find many new baleen whale calls.”

Baleen whale calls are often related to mating and heard mainly during winter, yet this new call was recorded throughout the year. The researchers hope to mount an expedition for further study.

2018:  FEB

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Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.