Archive for May 2015

DIY Tank Top-to-Tote for Spring Break

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DIY Tank Top-to-Tote for Spring Break.

Posted Thursday, 28 May 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

Restoring Coral Reefs | Ocean Today

Restoring Coral Reefs | Ocean Today.

Transcripción

NARRADOR:

Estos hermosos arrecifes de coral están en serios problemas. Ellos están siendo dañados o destruidos por la contaminación, las enfermedades, el cambio climático, y un gran número de encallamientos de buques.

Los corales cuerno de ciervo y cuerno de alce, se han convertido en especies amenazadas. Estos corales son los bloques de construcción de arrecifes en el Caribe y en los Cayos de la Florida.

Para abordar estos problemas, la NOAA y sus socios iniciaron un esfuerzo de restauración de arrecifes. Con el uso de técnicas innovadoras, como el cultivo de coral bajo el agua y el volver a unir piezas rotas del mismo, estos proyectos trasplantan y restauran miles de colonias de coral en sitios de arrecifes dañados.

Buzos capacitados han obtenido permisos especiales para trabajar en los arrecifes. Estos buzos transplantan nuevas piezas de coral mediante el uso de cemento o masilla epóxica. El objetivo es restaurar a los arrecifes coralinos para permitir que los habitantes naturales tengan una oportunidad de prosperar.

Los científicos han encontrado que los corales que crecen en los viveros son capaces de reproducirse en sus nuevos hogares. Esto significa que el cuerno de ciervo y el cuerno de alce, tienen una oportunidad de recuperarse. También significa que la diversidad genética se puede lograr a lo largo de los arrecifes, permitiendo ecosistemas más fuertes y resistentes en nuestro océano.

Siendo que los corales sanos son una parte vital del medio ambiente marino, la restauración de los arrecifes trae grandes beneficios a las aguas de este lugar y de todo el mundo.

Transcript

NARRATOR:

These beautiful coral reefs are in serious trouble.  They are being damaged or destroyed by pollution, disease, climate change, and a large number of ship groundings.

Staghorn and elkhorn coral have become threatened species.  These corals are the building blocks of reefs in the Caribbean and Florida Keys.

To address these issues, NOAA and its partners started a coral restoration effort.
Using innovative techniques, like underwater coral farming and reattaching broken coral pieces, these projects transplant and restore thousands of coral colonies on damaged reef sites.

Trained scuba divers are given special permission to work on the reefs.
These divers transplant the new pieces of coral by using cement or epoxy putty.
The goal is to restore the coral reef to allow the natural inhabitants a chance to thrive.

Scientists have found that the corals grown in the nurseries are able to reproduce in their new homes.  This means staghorn and elkhorn have a chance for a comeback.   It also means genetic diversity may be achieved along the reefs – allowing for stronger and more resilient ecosystems in our ocean.

Since healthy coral is a vital part of the ocean environment, restoring reefs brings great benefits to the waters here and around the world.

http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/restoringcoralreefs/embed.html

At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

APRIL 1, 2015 — Very little, if any, light from the sun successfully travels to the extreme bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. At these dark depths, the water is cold and the inescapable pressure of thousands of feet of ocean bears down on everything.

Yet life in the deep ocean is incredibly diverse. Here, delicate branches of soft coral are embraced by the curling arms of brittlestars. Slender sea fans, tinged with pink, reach for tiny morsels of food drifting down like snow from above. From minute marine worms to elongated fish, the diversity of the deep ocean is also a hallmark of its health and stability.

However, this picture of health was disrupted on April 20, 2010. Beginning that day and for almost three months after, the Macondo wellhead unleashed an unprecedented amount of oil and natural gas nearly a mile beneath the ocean.

In addition, the response to this oil spill released large amounts of chemical dispersant, both at the source of the leaking oil and on the ocean surface. These actions were meant to break down oil that might have threatened life at the sea surface and on Gulf shores. Nevertheless, the implications for the ocean floor were largely unknown at the time.

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a number of academic and independent scientists along with state and federal agencies, including NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, have been collaborating to study just how this oil spill and response affected the deep ocean and seafloor of the Gulf.

What they found was the footprint of the oil spill on the seafloor, stamped on sickened deep-sea corals and out-of-balance communities of tiny marine invertebrates.

A Sickened Seafloor

A part of the world difficult to reach—and therefore difficult to know—the depths of the Gulf of Mexico required a huge collaborative and technological effort to study its inhabitants. Beginning in the fall of 2010, teams of scientists set out on multiple research cruises to collect deep-sea data, armed with specialized equipment, including remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), cameras capable of withstanding the crushing pressure of the deep ocean, and devices that could bore into the ocean bottom and scoop up multiple samples of sediments at a time.

Through these efforts, researchers have uncovered large areas of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor that contain most of the oil spill’s notable deep-sea impacts. One area in particular surrounds the damaged wellhead and stretches to the southwest, following the path of the massive underwater plume of Deepwater Horizon oil. At times, up to 650 feet thick and over a mile wide, the oil plume drifted at depths more than 3,500 feet beneath the ocean surface, leaving traces of its presence on the bottom as it went (Camilli et al. 2010).

The Macondo wellhead sits at the center of a bull’s-eye–shaped pattern of harm on the seafloor, with oil-related impacts lessening in intensity farther from the oil’s source. Further tying this pattern of injury to the Deepwater Horizon spill, a conservative chemical tracer of petroleum turned up in surface seafloor sediments extending 15 miles from the wellhead (Valentine et al. 2014).

Diversity Takes a Nose Dive

Few people ever see the bottom of the deep ocean. So what do these impacted areas actually look like? Starting several months after the leaking well was capped, researchers used ROVs and special cameras to dive down roughly 4,500 feet. They found multiple deep-sea coral colonies showing recent signs of poor health, stress, and tissue damage. On these corals, the polyps, which normally extend frilly tentacles from the corals’ branching arms, were pulled back, and excessive mucus hung from the corals’ skeletons, which also revealed patches of dead tissue. All of these symptoms have been observed in corals experimentally exposed to crude oil (White et al. 2012 PDF).

Many of these coral colonies were partly or entirely coated in a clumpy brown material, which researchers referred to as “floc.” Chemical analysis of this material revealed the presence of petroleum droplets with similar chemical markers to Deepwater Horizon oil. The brittlestars usually associated with these corals also appeared in strange colors and positions. Some entire coral colonies were dead.

Research teams noted these observations only at corals within roughly 16 miles of the wellhead (White et al. 2012 PDF, Fisher et al. 2014). However, many similar coral colonies located further from the spill site showed no poor health effects.

Even one and two years later, deep-sea corals within the footprint of the spill still had not recovered. Hydroids took the place of the brown floc material on affected corals. Relatives of jellies, hydroids are fuzzy, grayish marine invertebrates that are known to encrust unhealthy coral.

Life on and under the sediment at the bottom of the Gulf also suffered, with the diversity of a wide range of marine life dropping across an area roughly three times the size of Manhattan (Montagna et al. 2013). Notably, numbers of tiny, pollution-tolerant nematodes increased in areas of moderate impact but at the expense of the number and types of other species, particularly copepods, small crustaceans at the base of the food chain. These effects were related to the concentration of oil compounds in sediments and to the distance from the Deepwater Horizon spill but not to natural oil seeps.

More sensitive to pollution, fewer types and numbers of crustaceans and mollusks were found in sediments around coral colonies showing impacts. Instead, a few types of segmented marine worms known as polychaetes tended to dominate ocean sediments with higher oil contamination near these corals (Fisher et al. 2014).

A Long Time Coming

Life on the bottom of the ocean moves slowly. Deep-sea corals live for hundreds to thousands of years, and their deaths are rare events. Some of the corals coated in oily brown floc are about 600 years old (Prouty et al. 2014). The observed impacts to life in the deep ocean are tied closely to theDeepwater Horizon oil spill, but the full extent of the harm and the eventual recovery may take years, even decades, to manifest (Fisher and Demopoulos, et al. 2014).

Learn more about the studies supported by the federal government’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which determines the environmental harm due to the oil spill and response and seeks compensation from those responsible in order to restore the affected resources.

Gear / Fins | Sport Diver

Are Split Fins Right For You?

When cruising the depths, do you find yourself nagged by ankle strain when kicking through the water? Does the most minimal fin stroke get your knees and leg muscles barking like a pack of dogs? Do you like the ability to kick into a current or chase a bat ray without getting overly fatigued or cramping up? Are you a big fan of the flutter kick? If so, you might be a candidate for split fins.

Split fins slice through the water with far less resistance than traditional paddle fins. That’s because rather than pushing against the water with brute force, the flexible blades of a split fin, when engaged in an up-tempo flutter kick, actually generate lift along with a jet propulsion effect, similar to a boat’s propeller. The faster the propeller turns, the more propulsion is generated. In other words, with split fins power comes from the speed of a diver’s kick rather than the force of the kick. The result: excellent acceleration and the ability to sustain speeds and cover a lot of ground with minimal effort or leg strain.

Of course, like anything else, there are good split fins and not-so-good split fins, so performance results will vary. Also, due to the principles of the design, the best kick for a split fin is a narrow (inside the body’s slipstream), rapid flutter kick. If that type of kick is not your cup of tea — if you prefer sculling or the frog kicking instead, or if you tend to do a lot of backing up — then a split fin is probably not for you. Clearly, there are distinct differences between splits and paddles. The question is what design approach is right for the type of diving you like to do?

Gear / Fins | Sport Diver.

Okeanos Explorer | Expeditions | NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs

 

Okeanos Explorer | Expeditions | NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs.

Okeanos Explorer | Expeditions | Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs | Dive Highlights

Okeanos Explorer | Expeditions | Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs | Dive Highlights.

At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

A time series of coral showing the progression of typical impacts at a site of coral colonies located less than seven miles from the source of Deepwater Horizon oil. You can see the brown “floc” material present in November 2010 disappears by March 2011 and afterward, is replaced by fuzzy gray hydroids and the coral loses its brittlestar companion. (Credit: Hsing et al. 2013)

Five photos of deep-sea coral showing the progression of impacts over several years.

This coral, covered almost entirely in a clumpy brown material containing petroleum droplets and known as “floc,” shows signs of recent impact less than seven miles from the source of leaking Deepwater Horizon oil. (Credit: White et al. 2012)

Injured deep-sea coral covered in brown material with its associated brittlestar

This is what healthy Paramuricea biscaya colonies, the coral species most heavily impacted within the footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, are supposed to look like. This photo of healthy coral was taken in 2011 during a Natural Resource Damage Assessment research cruise aboard the Holiday Chouest. (NOAA)

Healthy deep-sea coral and brittlestar on dark ocean floor.

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Five Years Later

This is the second in aseries of stories over the coming weeks looking at various topics related to the response, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment science, restoration efforts, and the future of the Gulf of Mexico.

>>>Read Original>>>>

APRIL 1, 2015 — Very little, if any, light from the sun successfully travels to the extreme bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. At these dark depths, the water is cold and the inescapable pressure of thousands of feet of ocean bears down on everything.

Yet life in the deep ocean is incredibly diverse. Here, delicate branches of soft coral are embraced by the curling arms of brittlestars. Slender sea fans, tinged with pink, reach for tiny morsels of food drifting down like snow from above. From minute marine worms to elongated fish, the diversity of the deep ocean is also a hallmark of its health and stability.

However, this picture of health was disrupted on April 20, 2010. Beginning that day and for almost three months after, the Macondo wellhead unleashed an unprecedented amount of oil and natural gas nearly a mile beneath the ocean.

In addition, the response to this oil spill released large amounts of chemical dispersant, both at the source of the leaking oil and on the ocean surface. These actions were meant to break down oil that might have threatened life at the sea surface and on Gulf shores. Nevertheless, the implications for the ocean floor were largely unknown at the time.

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a number of academic and independent scientists along with state and federal agencies, including NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, have been collaborating to study just how this oil spill and response affected the deep ocean and seafloor of the Gulf.

What they found was the footprint of the oil spill on the seafloor, stamped on sickened deep-sea corals and out-of-balance communities of tiny marine invertebrates.

A Sickened Seafloor

A part of the world difficult to reach—and therefore difficult to know—the depths of the Gulf of Mexico required a huge collaborative and technological effort to study its inhabitants. Beginning in the fall of 2010, teams of scientists set out on multiple research cruises to collect deep-sea data, armed with specialized equipment, including remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), cameras capable of withstanding the crushing pressure of the deep ocean, and devices that could bore into the ocean bottom and scoop up multiple samples of sediments at a time.

Through these efforts, researchers have uncovered large areas of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor that contain most of the oil spill’s notable deep-sea impacts. One area in particular surrounds the damaged wellhead and stretches to the southwest, following the path of the massive underwater plume of Deepwater Horizon oil. At times, up to 650 feet thick and over a mile wide, the oil plume drifted at depths more than 3,500 feet beneath the ocean surface, leaving traces of its presence on the bottom as it went (Camilli et al. 2010).

The Macondo wellhead sits at the center of a bull’s-eye–shaped pattern of harm on the seafloor, with oil-related impacts lessening in intensity farther from the oil’s source. Further tying this pattern of injury to the Deepwater Horizon spill, a conservative chemical tracer of petroleum turned up in surface seafloor sediments extending 15 miles from the wellhead (Valentine et al. 2014).

Diversity Takes a Nose Dive

Few people ever see the bottom of the deep ocean. So what do these impacted areas actually look like? Starting several months after the leaking well was capped, researchers used ROVs and special cameras to dive down roughly 4,500 feet. They found multiple deep-sea coral colonies showing recent signs of poor health, stress, and tissue damage. On these corals, the polyps, which normally extend frilly tentacles from the corals’ branching arms, were pulled back, and excessive mucus hung from the corals’ skeletons, which also revealed patches of dead tissue. All of these symptoms have been observed in corals experimentally exposed to crude oil (White et al. 2012 PDF).

Many of these coral colonies were partly or entirely coated in a clumpy brown material, which researchers referred to as “floc.” Chemical analysis of this material revealed the presence of petroleum droplets with similar chemical markers to Deepwater Horizon oil. The brittlestars usually associated with these corals also appeared in strange colors and positions. Some entire coral colonies were dead.

Research teams noted these observations only at corals within roughly 16 miles of the wellhead (White et al. 2012 PDF, Fisher et al. 2014). However, many similar coral colonies located further from the spill site showed no poor health effects.

Even one and two years later, deep-sea corals within the footprint of the spill still had not recovered. Hydroids took the place of the brown floc material on affected corals. Relatives of jellies, hydroids are fuzzy, grayish marine invertebrates that are known to encrust unhealthy coral.

Life on and under the sediment at the bottom of the Gulf also suffered, with the diversity of a wide range of marine life dropping across an area roughly three times the size of Manhattan (Montagna et al. 2013). Notably, numbers of tiny, pollution-tolerant nematodes increased in areas of moderate impact but at the expense of the number and types of other species, particularly copepods, small crustaceans at the base of the food chain. These effects were related to the concentration of oil compounds in sediments and to the distance from the Deepwater Horizon spill but not to natural oil seeps.

Top row, from left,  two types of crustaceans and a mollusk. Bottom row shows three types of marine worms known as polychaetes.

Examples of some of the common but very small marine invertebrates found living on and under the Gulf of Mexico seafloor. The top row shows, from left, two types of crustaceans and a mollusk, which are more sensitive to pollution. The bottom row shows three types of marine worms known as polychaetes, which tended to dominate ocean sediments with higher oil contamination found near corals. (Courtesy of Paul Montagna, Texas A&M University)

More sensitive to pollution, fewer types and numbers of crustaceans and mollusks were found in sediments around coral colonies showing impacts. Instead, a few types of segmented marine worms known as polychaetes tended to dominate ocean sediments with higher oil contamination near these corals (Fisher et al. 2014).

A Long Time Coming

Life on the bottom of the ocean moves slowly. Deep-sea corals live for hundreds to thousands of years, and their deaths are rare events. Some of the corals coated in oily brown floc are about 600 years old (Prouty et al. 2014). The observed impacts to life in the deep ocean are tied closely to theDeepwater Horizon oil spill, but the full extent of the harm and the eventual recovery may take years, even decades, to manifest (Fisher and Demopoulos, et al. 2014).

Learn more about the studies supported by the federal government’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which determines the environmental harm due to the oil spill and response and seeks compensation from those responsible in order to restore the affected resources.

At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

 

One Step Toward Reducing Chemical Disasters: Sharing with Communities Where Those Chemicals Are Located

Dirty label on leaking chemical drum

One Step Toward Reducing Chemical Disasters: Sharing with Communities Where Those Chemicals Are Located.

In the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf Dolphins Found Sick and Dying in Larger Numbers Than Ever Before

A dolphin is observed with oil on its skin on August 5, 2010, in Barataria Bay, La.

In the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf Dolphins Found Sick and Dying in Larger Numbers Than Ever Before.

NOAA satellites help in the rescue of 240 people last year

2014 SARSAT rescues.

NOAA satellites help in the rescue of 240 people last year.

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