The Blog Aquatic » shark http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 22 Aug 2014 01:10:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Ocean Acidification Wrecks Sharks’ Smellovision http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/20/ocean-acidification-wrecks-sharks-smellovision/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/20/ocean-acidification-wrecks-sharks-smellovision/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:06:23 +0000 Sarah Cooley http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9054

Scarier than any movie shark that can smell a drop of blood miles away (they can’t, by the way) is this week’s news about sharks’ sense of smell. A team of Australian and American scientists has just shown that smooth dogfishes (also called dusky smooth-hound sharks) can’t smell food as well after living in ocean acidification conditions expected for the year 2100. These “future” sharks could correctly track food smells only 15% of the time, compared to a 60% accuracy rate for unexposed sharks.  In fact, the acidification-exposed sharks even avoided food smells!

This surprising result is also pretty sobering, when you consider how important sharks’ sense of smell is to nearly everything they do. Sharks have especially large, complex “nose” organs, which help them find food, mates, and predators, as well as find their way around the oceans. Many sharks, including the smooth dogfish, are very active at night and in the deep, dark ocean, so their sense of smell provides critical information about their surroundings. The researchers note that the sharks’ damaged sense of smell is probably due to the same changes in neurotransmitters reported in coral reef clownfish (yes, Nemo) that love the smell of predators in an acidifying ocean.

Despite their mighty reputation, sharks are under threat from overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss. Sharks that also can’t find food or avoid predators will probably not survive long, causing even more trouble for shark populations. They grow and reproduce slowly, too, meaning that sharks that die young aren’t replaced quickly. Scientists still don’t know yet if the smooth dogfish can adapt over several generations to improve their odds against the ocean acidification we will see over the coming decades, but it doesn’t look good.

Smooth dogfishes live along coasts from Maine to Florida, around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and along the southeastern coast of South America. They might benefit somewhat from the actions that East Coast states like Maine and Maryland are taking against ocean acidification, but as species that migrate long distances, our best bet is to cut carbon dioxide emissions globally.

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This Week’s Top Tweets: February 16 – 22 http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/22/this-weeks-top-tweets-february-16-22/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/02/22/this-weeks-top-tweets-february-16-22/#comments Fri, 22 Feb 2013 21:57:58 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4768 We all know that the ocean is one of our original visions of beauty, and the top tweets of this week certainly lend some good reminders of that. From the majestic creatures that rule the ocean ecosystem, to the small animals that make up a colorful underwater community and to the small child that utilizes the power of the ocean to overcome difficult obstacles, we can see why the ocean is hugely important in so many different ways. And for good measure, we’ve also got a tweet that shows how badly our consumption of plastic harms one of the most coveted aspects of our planet. With quite the well-rounded week to look back on, let’s dive right in with number one:

1. An Oceanic Escape

Our most popular tweet of the week was one that illustrates how big of an impact the ocean can have on our lives. A young boy with cerebral palsy named Alex surfs regularly to help strengthen his muscles. The Orange County Register article quoted Alex’s father as saying that when he is in the water, “he’s just totally happy, he never wants to get out. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, how windy it is, how sloppy it is. For some reason, there’s this gravitation to the water.” While a specific example, the description of Alex’s affinity for being in the ocean speaks to many of our own personal experiences with and feelings toward the ocean.

2. Trash Talking with a Pro

This tweet was about pro surfer Mary Osborne‘s experience at the South Atlantic garbage patch. Osborne says that “it’s hard to go back and actually explain to people what we saw…The only way I can really describe it is this plastic soup, this confetti-like soup.” While seeing may be the most tangible way of believing the damage plastics have done to our oceans, she suggests that changes can be made in individual consumer behavior, in terms of purchasing power and recycling. We couldn’t agree more! In fact, we created our mobile app, Rippl, in order to help you make small choices and changes in your daily lifestyle to better the ocean’s health.

3. The Live Humpback Hunt

Our third top tweet links to a video of a humpback whale’s hunt for food, courtesy of the National Geographic “critter cam” team. Cool view, eh?

4. Are Your Shark Senses Tingling?

If you weren’t excited about this tweet, you probably just don’t have a pulse. The video and photo progressions of shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey’s peaceful swim with a great white shark had us on the edge of our seats. Well actually, it wasn’t just a swim, but more of an underwater piggyback ride; Ramsey first maintained a calm composure as to not frighten the shark, then eventually grabbed its dorsal fin and went for a short ride. Amazing!

5. Baja Beauty

Our last on the list of top tweets for the week is a video made by Erick Higuera that showcases the beauty which can be found in the ocean. In the video’s description, Higuera says that “the gruesome and cruel destruction of these creatures is unnecessary, tragic and extremely alarming. It is imperative to act quickly to protect marine species populations that still prevail before it’s too late.” Indeed, our last tweet this week is another shining reminder of why we all need to continue the fight for a healthy ocean.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @OurOcean so that you can get all your ocean-related news as it happens, along with funny and interesting ocean-based content. Until next time, have a great weekend!

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Shark Attack Survivors Fight to Save Sharks http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/15/shark-attack-survivors-fight-to-save-sharks/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/15/shark-attack-survivors-fight-to-save-sharks/#comments Wed, 15 Aug 2012 21:10:42 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2317 tiger shark

Copyright Matthew D. Potenski 2010

Eight years ago, Debbie Salamone was attacked by a shark in the shallow waters of Florida’s Cape Canaveral National Seashore. The shark severed her Achilles tendon and led her to question her two-decade career as an environmental reporter.

After surgery and months of recovery, she came to realize that if she loved the ocean, she had to love everything in it – even sharks.

Sharks play an important role in the ocean ecosystem, Salamone explains. Removing these top predators – whether through overfishing or harmful practices like shark-finning – can have dire consequences that ripple throughout the ecosystem.

“I realized my unique position: Who could better speak up for sharks than myself and people like me?” she says.

Passionate defenders

After joining Pew Environment Group as a shark conservation advocate, Salamone reached out to shark attack survivors all over the world. She gathered a motley crew of willing advocates that include a World Cup soccer player from South Africa, a Wall Street businessman and a surfer from Hawaii.

Some are missing arms, others are missing legs – and one is missing an arm and a leg. But all of them are fiercely devoted to the cause: saving the animals that changed their lives forever.

“It gave us this incredible platform,” Salamone says. “If we can see the value in saving sharks, then surely everyone else can.”

The survivors are using that platform to urge world leaders to develop conservation plans, set shark fishing limits, enact trade protections and create shark sanctuaries.

The fact that people will listen to their message is critical, Salamone says, because most people don’t even know that sharks are in trouble.

“[Fear] is the biggest challenge we face,” she says. “Because people are so afraid, sharks are not the first animals people think of wanting to save. They think that sharks can take care of themselves, but they’re a lot more vulnerable than they look.”

Shark Fight

Salamone is hoping that “Shark Fight,” a TV special about the survivors airing during Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” will help educate people about the plight of sharks.

“This is the perfect show in terms of blending the drama of Shark Week with conservation,” Salamone says. “You’re getting the drama that’s interesting enough to keep people really intrigued so that when those conservation messages come out, they’re being heard.”

For Salamone and her fellow shark attack survivors, it’s an opportunity to turn a traumatic experience into something worthwhile.

“We can leave a legacy, and it’s not a legacy of fear – it’s a legacy of conservation.”

Shark Fight premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel.

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