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Analysis and Comment (29)

Young Steller sea lions in Prince William Sound, Alaska. NMFS Permit 14336. Markus Horning

Autopsies from space: who killed the sea lions?

A decade ago, we set out to unravel deep ocean crime scenes we weren’t even sure existed. The crime? Endangered Steller sea lions were rapidly disappearing in parts of Alaska. Their numbers dropped by…
Antarctica has actually been protected from sea ice melt by the ozone hole. Vassil Tzvetanov

The ozone hole leaves a lasting impression on southern climate

Many people think of sunburn and skin cancer when they hear about the ozone hole. But more ultraviolet (UV) radiation isn’t the only problem. The ozone hole has also led to dramatic changes in Southern…
Marine parks need to be big enough to safeguard wide-ranging species, like the sharks being studied here. Manu San Felix/National Geographic Pristine Seas Expedition

Now is our chance to deliver on the 30% ocean protection target

Top scientists, senior government managers, industry representatives, conservationists and even some nations’ presidents are currently in Sydney for the World Parks Congress. This major international meeting…
About 18% of the world’s seagrass stocks have disappeared over 20 years. Richard Unsworth

For the love of cod, let’s save our disappearing seagrass

Seagrass is one of the most important coastal habitats where young ocean-going fish such as Atlantic cod can grow and develop before setting out on the journey of life. But these critically important habitats…
Apollo Bay in Victoria. Australia’s coastal towns are vulnerable to changes in the surrounding seas. ccdoh1/Flickr

Your coastal town’s climate score? There’s a website for that

Australia’s coastal towns, many built around fisheries and tourism, are particularly vulnerable to climate change. South east and south west Australia are marine hotspots — they are warming much faster…
Australia’s Commonwealth marine parks were designed to protect marine life, including important foraging areas for sea birds.

Marine park review looks set to repeat past mistakes

In June 2012 the Labor government announced the “world’s largest” system of marine parks, adding 2.3 million square kilometres and taking the overall size of Australia’s Commonwealth marine reserves to…
Shark Bay is one of Australia’s 19 World Heritage Areas, home to dolphins, dugongs, and sharks. Matthew Fraser

Climate change threatens Western Australia’s iconic Shark Bay

In the summer of 2010-2011 Western Australia experienced an unprecedented heatwave — but not on land. Between December 2010 and April 2011, sea temperatures off the WA coast reached 3C above average, and…
Not the sort of coastal effects you can sweep under the rug. Jian Feng

China’s economic explosion is ravaging its coastal ecosystems

The speed and scale of China’s rapid economic growth has led to widespread degradation of its densely inhabited coastlines, according to an analysis of 60 years of social, economic and environmental data…
Phytoplankon: blooming marvellous. Norman Kuring

Saharan dust feeds the ocean and locks away carbon too

The Saharan dust that clogged air and dirtied cars recently may seem like a nuisance, but in fact contains some essential nutrients – if, that is, you’re phytoplankton. The dust and sand blown from Africa…
Cod: in search of cold waters. August Linnman

Fish may end up in hot water as climate warms the ocean

The rate at which the world has warmed over the past 50 years and is likely to continue to do so in the future poses problems for life on land and in the ocean. Most species have a defined range of temperatures…
While we don’t know much about oceans off north west Australia, we know they’re important. Australian Institute of Marine Science

Marine reserves: finding the balance with oil and gas

How do we get the most out of our marine reserves? The government is in the process of reviewing Australia’s network of marine protected areas. The review focuses on zones that exclude recreational fishers…
Maria Island’s protected waters have given us insight into how species respond to warmer temperatures. Paul Benjamin

Marine reserves help fish resist climate change invaders

Southeast Australia is an ocean warming “hotspot” – a region where temperature at the ocean’s surface is increasing more rapidly than elsewhere. That means this part of Australia is like an outdoor laboratory…
Tiny Japanese skeleton shrimp Caprella mutica, found in concentrations up to 300,000/m2. SAMS

There are no barriers to prevent marine invasive species

Ash dieback, oak processionary moths, waterway minkes and parrakeets in Kew Gardens – there are plenty of species on and even above ground in the UK that didn’t originate in the country. The fifth Annual…
Fishes' future rests in our hands. WorldFish

Putting seas up for sale will not save the world’s fish

The oceans cover almost three-quarters of the planet’s surface, and for many people they represent the last great wilderness. But in fact the seas support many human activities, and have done for millennia…
Bright colourful coral like this may soon disappear. USFWS Pacific

Global warming’s evil twin: ocean acidification

Greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the oceans in regions such as the Baltic by as much as 1.3°C. It is now thought that 90% of the heat added to the climate system by humans has been absorbed in the…
Best served chilled: Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) Uwe Kils/BAS

A view to a krill: warming seas may leave predators hungry

Although it is far from the power stations, roads and flight paths of the populated world, the Southern Ocean is already responding to climate change. Average sea temperatures in some parts have risen…
This eastern shovelnose stingaree was once unheard of in northern Tasmania. Now it is abundant. Peter Last

Marine life spawns sooner as our oceans warm

Warming oceans are affecting the breeding patterns and habitat of marine life, according to a three-year international study published today in Nature Climate Change. This is effectively re-arranging the…
Rubbish in the ocean - marine debris - is a terrible threat to wildlife. Discarded fishing nets are among the worst. AAP Image/Department of the Environment and Heritage/Melbourne Zoo

Ghostnets fish on: marine rubbish threatens northern Australian turtles

Each year around 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is lost or thrown overboard by the fisheries around the world. These “ghostnets” drift through the oceans and can continue fishing for many years. They kill…
Microbial abundances in the sub-seafloor environment are much more variable than thought. giveawayboy

Drastic measures: a revised estimate of Earth’s microbes

A paper released today in the journal PNAS provides a new estimate of microbial abundance, in light of new information, from the sub-seafloor realm (the so-called “deep biosphere”). As such, we now have…
Little penguins are among a number of species that are threatened by climate change. AAP/Rick Stevens

Ocean winners and losers revealed in Marine Report Card

Fish are on the move in Australia’s waters. In southern Australia, scientists, commercial and recreational fishers, divers and beach-goers are reporting the presence of new species. The movement of species…
South Korea says following Japan in their whaling pursuits for “scientific” purposes is not open to moral debate. Flickr.Issac Kohane

Can South Korea justify its plans for ‘scientific’ whaling?

The Australian government has sought urgent high level talks over an announcement by South Korea that it intends to resume whaling for “scientific” reasons. South Korea delegate Park Jeong-Seok has told…
Hard numbers: less than 1% of the world’s oceans are protected but marine scientists think 20% should be off-limits to fishing. AAP/Lloyd Jones

Marine parks: cause for optimism, but devilish details

As a marine scientist, I welcome Senator Burke’s brave decision today to roll out Australia’s marine park system. This puts us on a par with other leading nations like the US and UK who have established…
Networks of nature: a potato cod with striped cleaner wrasse at Osprey Reef, an area in the expanded marine reservations announced today. Flickr/richard ling

Big splash: welcome back to top-shelf marine conservation

Today’s announcement of a national network of marine parks is really a memorable day for Australian nature conservation. The political rhetoric and self-congratulation associated with major events is often…

Research and News (5)

Research Briefs (24)

Warmer oceans could lead to smaller fish

Change in climate, resulting in warmer and less oxygenated oceans, could mean a reduction in the size of fish. Over 600 species…