The Plastic in our Oceans

by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Rebecca Senft The blue, glimmering Pacific Ocean. On his 1997 trip from Hawaii back to the US mainland, Captain Charles Moore expected captivating views of its pristine waters. After all, he’d be sailing across one of the most remote regions of the ocean, one of Earth’s few oases untouched by industrialization. But the waters weren’t pristine. Instead, the captain and … Continue reading The Plastic in our Oceans

Lokiarchaeum: a link to the origin of complex cells

All eukaryotes, such as animals and plants, share the same complexity in their cells. Recently, scientists discovered a species of archaea called Lokiarchaeum that may provide a link to the origin of eukaryotic cells. The DNA of this particular microbe was discovered in sediment samples taken near a hydrothermal vent in the Arctic Ocean. After analyzing the DNA, researchers found that the microbe contains instructions for building cellular compartments and skeletons, all of which are associated with eukaryotic cells. Though the results are very exciting, they are also preliminary. The residual DNA of the Lokiarchaeum suggests that they have a cellular skeleton and special compartments, but there is no way to know for certain until the microbe is cultivated and observed in the lab. Continue reading Lokiarchaeum: a link to the origin of complex cells

Sailing the Seas of Alien Worlds: The fate of oceans on rocky planets

Presented by Laura Schaefer Searching for life in our galaxy means first finding liquid water. Water is found throughout our Solar System in many different forms, but the Earth, because of its balmy temperatures and unique geology, is the only known planet with sailable seas. Astronomers are searching far and wide for other planets that might host liquid water. In their search, they have found … Continue reading Sailing the Seas of Alien Worlds: The fate of oceans on rocky planets

Virus May Be Making Sea Stars Sick

Sea stars are famed for their multiple arms, ability to regenerate limbs, and colorful camouflage. While more than 2,000 species of sea stars inhabit the world’s oceans, millions of these creatures have died from sea star wasting disease (SSWD) within the past 18 months. SSWD begins when a sea star’s arms curl up, and grotesquely concludes when the entire animal disintegrates. Scientists now believe that … Continue reading Virus May Be Making Sea Stars Sick

Increasingly Acidic Oceans Are Dissolving Snail Shells

From Snails Are Dissolving in Pacific Ocean (original article here) Image courtesy of Arctic Exploration 2002, Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, NOAA/OER Recent findings show that CO2 emissions are increasingly acidifying oceans, causing snail shells in the Pacific Ocean to dissolve! This may have far reaching impacts on ocean life, affecting a variety of organisms, especially those within the same food chain. The world’s … Continue reading Increasingly Acidic Oceans Are Dissolving Snail Shells