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Satellites orbiting thousands of miles above the earth’s surface are used to monitor some of the tiniest organisms in the ocean. Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that use the green pigment chlorophyll and the sun’s energy to produce food. NASA satellites can detect this green variation in the ocean’s color, which scientists use to estimate changes in the population of phytoplankton.
The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest ocean basin. At over 59 million square miles, the Pacific is over sixteen times larger than the entire surface area of the United States.
Even though they live in the ocean, dolphins and whales are not fish! They are warm-blooded mammals that breathe air, and feed their calves milk, just like us. In fact, even though they have very smooth skinned bodies, they also have hair. Some shed these hairs when they are born, but others still retain small hairs on their faces.
The ocean plays a huge role in controlling Earth’s climate. Large amounts of energy from the sun are absorbed by the ocean, and that heat gets redistributed around the world by large-scale ocean currents. Changes in these currents are predicted to occur as the earth warms, resulting in changes to both small scale and large scale weather and climate.
Scientists in Canada got a surprise while doing studies on human forensics. To look at how bodies decompose, they tossed pig carcasses into so called "dead zones", areas of low oxygen in the ocean. However, much to their surprise, sharks, lobsters, and other scavengers risked going into these suffocating conditions and ate their experiment!
Photo: ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies After the most widespread and severe coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef, scientists are continuing to watch the health of the reefs closely. In October 2016, 6 months after the high temperature event, scientists have returned to conduct surveys and measure coral survivorship and mortality. They have found that many of the corals that bleached have now died on the northern areas of the Great Barrier Reef and this mortality is compounded by predation from coral-eating invertebrates like snails. Scientists are concerned that... (more)