Biology

Clam lived to be over 500 years old

This makes the otherwise unassuming Arctica islandica clam the longest lived animal species on record, though some corals are probably much older. The clam was initially named Ming by Sunday Times journalists, in reference to the Ming dynasty, during which it was born.

Researchers from Bangor University in North Wales – unaware of the animal’s impressive age – determined the age by drilling through and counting rings on its shell (a technique known as sclerochronology). In the process the clam died.

Staghorn coral
The staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) is a branching, stony coral with cylindrical branches ranging from a few centimetres to over two metres in length and height.

Coral restoration projects show promise in Florida Keys

Reef-building staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) was abundant and widespread throughout the Caribbean and Florida until the late 1970s.  The fast-growing coral formed dense thickets in forereef, backreef, and patch-reef environments to depths over 20 m. 

The ridged cactus coral, relatively uncommon but striking in its beauty, had reproduced in a lab for what the aquarium says is the first time.

Scientific breakthrough could save Florida’s Reefs

The corals were rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA Fisheries after an outbreak of Stony Coral Tissue Loss disease commenced 2014. Previously, little was known about ridged cactus coral reproduction, as no photos, videos, or published studies were ever done on the species' reproductive biology.

Researchers find deep-sea coral gardens off Western Australia

Widely known as a biodiversity hotspot for marine animals, Australia’s Bremer Canyon Marine Park has been found to also host rich, diverse ecosystems within the canyon’s cold waters.

This discovery was made during a scientific expedition after researchers used a deep-sea remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to collect samples of deep-sea corals, associated fauna, seawater and geological samples from the abyssal depths to the continental shelf.

Sorting out the Stingrays

The bluespotted ribbontail ray is easy to distinguish from other small rays with blue spots by its oval shape. This one was found sheltering under a wreck in the Red Sea. Photo by Nigel Marsh.

Gliding slowly over the rocky reef, I was mesmerised, watching all the colourful reef fishes going about their daily activities. I was so entranced that I was startled to look up and find I was on a collision course with a massive stingray. This was the first stingray I had ever seen, and the giant creature terrified me. In the second it took my panicking brain to work out what to do, the stingray suddenly saw me and also got a shock.

An off-axis pupil and the principle of chromatic aberration (where different wavelengths come to focus at different distances behind a lens) can combine to provide “color-blind” animals with a way to distinguish colors.

Hang on… aren’t they colourblind?

One of the greatest puzzles in biology, to me anyway, is how and why cuttlefish are able to put on their dazzling displays of colour to signal other members of their species and camouflage by closely matching the coloration of natural backgrounds considering they are colour blind.

Symbiosis

Candy-striped Shrimps with Crimson Anemone

Marine ecosystems are complex and dynamic places in which species interact in a myriad of ways: they both compete and cooperate for protection, shelter, food and various other resources. For certain species, these interactions may have negative effects (such as competition or predation) or positive ones (in the form of symbiotic relationships).

Electron micrograph of Bacteriophages (vira) in the process of infecting a cell. This is not the virus or bacteriophage in question but a generic photo

A vaccine for corals

White syndrome' is a name given to a number of diseases exhibiting similar symptoms, such as such as white pox, white band and white plague disease. The causes of white syndrome are in many cases unknown. White syndrome has increased in abundance 20-fold in the last five years, with increases on inner, mid-shelf and outer-shelf reefs along the length of the Great Barrier Reef. It also had a major impact on Caribbean reefs. In areas of the Great Barrier Reef surveyed, white syndrome, along with skeletal eroding band, was the most common disease.