Monday, 31 October 2011

The last post.

Apologies for the bluntness of the last post. I realise it kind of came to a bit of an abrupt end. I realised that I was scouring through my lecture notes to try and say something interesting or even to highlight the errors of our ways (as humans) but it was a) winding me up and b) making me realise I really need to get started on a piece of coursework. I may do another post later when time is on my side (or when I've actually done something today) and we'll see how it goes.

The Deep Sea

For our 'Marine Ecosystems' lecture today we were given an overview of the Deep Sea environment, the main threats and what has been done to protect it. I'm actually quite shocked at the amount of management surrounding the deep sea, i.e. very little has been done or is due to be done thus is remains relatively unprotected. I guess this is due to the amount of information that we know about this habitat, we just don't know enough to protect it efficiently. I mean, think of it like this, 87% of the sea is dominated by this 'deep sea'. It is the most widespread habitat yet we only know about 0.0005% of it. I'd say it was shocking but some of these areas are ridiculously deep. Light becomes limited in the mesopelagic zone (also known as the Twilight Zone) which is between 200 and 1000m deep. Then you read the bathypelagic zone (the midnight zone) which is totally pitch black (1000-2000m deep). In both of these zones you do get some bioluminescent organisms though. Then you reach the Abyssopelagic and Hadopelagic zone and suddenly everything is very... sparse. The hadal zone includes those deep ocean trenches that you find and can reach depths up to (and maybe exceeding) 11000m.

Anyway, I've done very little research surrounding the deep sea. I think we may have touched on it a little in the first year of my undergraduate degree but I don't think much time was spent on it. I remember various facts, like the important of food falls or 'ocean snow' in order to provide those living in the deep with food since primary productivity is limited to bacteria whom synthesise organic compounds using chemical energy (chemosynthesis), and that whale carcasses often provide a 'stepping stone' for organisms recolonising to different hydrothermal vents... I recall this much but I never really acknowledged the main threats associated with the anthropogenic exploitation of the deep sea and it was quite shocking!

We were shown comparable sites of... Lophela pertusa for example (photo below) and it was just disgusting how much damage a single trawl can do to hundreds of years of coral reef.

Lophelia pertusa, a stony coral (scleractinian) which produces reefs. Most well known example of a cold water coral, and currently under threat from deep sea trawling (deep sea fisheries). Below is a before and after photo of damage in Norway.

To think that as a result of anthropogenic greed for money and food, hundreds of organisms have lost their habitat.

I found this species very interesting too, I'd never actually seen one before. It is a scaly-foot gastropod Crysomallon squamiferum and has a foot reinforced with scales made of iron and organic materials.

Giant isopod, a perfect example of gigantism.

Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) has been observed at depths of 2200m.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Coastal Squeeze, Humber Estuary.

On Friday we did our first bit of fieldwork for the Ocean and Coastal Processes module that we have to do. We jumped on the coach towards Grimsby and Cleethorpes in order to investigate the effects by comparing both sites. Grimsby docks were created in the 19th century resulting in a two way 'coastal squeeze' with both rising sea levels and a manmade structure. It was actually a very fun day and so good to be out in the open air doing some field work, getting a little muddy and wet along the way (it is all part of the fun).

We had split off into two groups. I didn't fancy getting stuck in the mud (I've done it too many times and I end up falling in, something I didn't want to do) and it was a lovely day (photo opportunity as you shall see later) and so I chose to visit the Cleethorpes site. Here we sampled along a transect across the intertidal zone (1000m in Cleethorpes, 400m in Grimsby). Sampling involved taking four core samples (for infauna) and two sediment samples. This was all simple enough at the strandline (where we started) but as soon as we went into the wetter sand it got increasingly more difficult since it was harder to remove from the cores and we were slowly sinking into the quick-sand like surface.

Standard photo of the muddy wellies

The site at Cleethorpes and the beautiful weather.

I love this photo with the mounds of sands and the pools of water. This was at about 1000m from the strandline.

The sunshine.

Some of the group in action with the infauna core samples.

New start.

I think it gets to the stage where you've finished flickering between this and that and you really need to just settle for one thing, right? I've been using Tumblr for my daily blogging needs (usually involves rambling about my day, reblogging other photos and doing this and that). I decided to create a subblog (of sorts) which is named (rather unoriginal I know) the same as this blog, ocean-defender. Whilst I'll still keep my Tumblr for the random general crap I go on about I thought I'd retrace my steps and rejoin 'blogger'...
... Okay, that's pretty much just rambling again... Ignore me.

I'm 21 years old, a recent graduate of the University of Plymouth where I studied BSc Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology. I obtained a First Class Hons (go me!) and got my dissertation paper 'published' onto the Plymouth Student Scientist (click the link to be sent to the volume it is in). I'm now currently at the University of York studying MSc Marine Environmental Management and loving it.