Thanks to climate change, melting ice in the Arctic has opened new shipping routes that go across the North Pole. One new shortcut is Russia’s Northern Sea Route, a 3,000-mile east-west passage between Europe and Asia.
It’s getting colder now so the ice is refreezing, shutting down the passage for the year. But it’s been a big year: 71 ships made the voyage—compare that to 2010, when only four did.
The recovery of Atlantic puffins in the Northeast U.S. took many years, and now that their populations have rebounded since the late 19th century, citizens and scientists are keeping a close eye on the species to see how climate change will impact their populations.
One way they’re doing this is by keeping track of the fish being carried back to chicks in the puffins’ beaks via webcam. Are they good healthy fish? Are they fish normally found in the area?
It might be hard to believe, but during the Paleozoic era (250-500 million years ago) brachiopods—shelled animals that look like clams but aren’t closely related at all—ruled the seas. There are some 30,000 fossil brachiopod species known, but only around 385 are alive today. They are found in very cold water, in polar regions or in the deep sea, and are rarely seen.
Polar bears will be on the move this month—heading from Arctic tundra where they eat berries in the summer to icy areas that are forming in the colder months. They will stay on the ice for the winter and spring, mating and hunting seals.
Marine phytoplankton, including algae and other microscopic plant-like organisms, help to pull carbon dioxide from the air and trap it in the ocean food web and the seafloor. How will climate change affect their ability to do this job?
When they get larger, Portunus sayi are formidable predators, quick to consume any smaller animal that comes within reach. Fish, other crustaceans, and even smaller members of their own species are not safe from this hungry sargassum swimming crab.
Some of the most otherworldly animals—like those straight from a science fiction story—can be seen in the open ocean at night. By drifting in the blackwater in a scuba suit just under the surface, some 60 to 70 feet below, divers can film some of these bizarre animals. In this video, see a pyrosome, a free-floating colonial tunicate, comb jellies (aka ctenophores) with their sticky tentacles, jellyfish, and siphonophores. Many of these animals are mysterious, with very little known about their biology as they drift through the dark water.
When giant Pacific octopuses lay eggs, they lay a lot at once: thousands upon thousands. The mother often dies after her eggs hatch, so she has to lay many and take good care of them to make sure her line continues.
After mating, the mother will hide in a rock crevice for up to a year, not even eating, while she blows oxygen over her eggs and keeps them clear of algae. Then: they hatch.
This video shows octopus eggs hatching in the wild, and the tiny hatchings that will drift in the current as plankton before just a few make it to adulthood.
No, this photo is not photoshopped: it’s a real life white whale. This amazing photo was taken off the coast of Australia, and this snow-white whale is likely to be Migaloo, a humpback whale first spotted 22 years ago.
Why is he white? Are there other whales like him? How many?