Shark-bait tourism

Three hours off the coast of South Australia, in the remote and rugged Neptune Islands, white sharks gather. These apex predators are drawn to these offshore islands near Port Lincoln by fur seals, thousands of which form breeding colonies in the islands’ rocky coves. And, in turn, humans are drawn to the Neptunes to dive … Continue reading Shark-bait tourism

Anthropocene: the musical

Since the (first) Industrial Revolution, the soundscape of the ocean has been undergoing a drastic revolution too. No longer do whale calls or pounding surf dominate – instead, sounds generated by human activity ring through the water, from fishing, shipping and resource exploration, to infrastructure development and more. An international team of scientists has now … Continue reading Anthropocene: the musical

Climate change could make sexier fish

Of all the impacts climate change could have on marine life, scientists have discovered that some fish adapt by developing bigger gonads to make more sperm and eggs. Investing in reproduction could help ensure the survival of their lineage. But it only occurred in one of four species – common fish that have been identified … Continue reading Climate change could make sexier fish

Sea sponge with quite a story to tell

By Emily S Wong, UNSW, Australia Many human traits, such as height and disease susceptibility, depend on genes that are encoded in our DNA. These genes are switched on and off and further fine-tuned by important but hard-to-find regions in the genome. A particularly important class of these regions are known as enhancers, which boost … Continue reading Sea sponge with quite a story to tell

Keeping track of moving marine life

Each week Cosmos takes a look at projects and news about citizen science in Australia. This week, we talk to Gretta Pecl, founder of Redmap Australia. Have you ever looked at something and thought “you don’t belong here”? If it’s a marine creature that you’ve spotted looking out of place, you may want to report … Continue reading Keeping track of moving marine life

When sea anemones behave like plants

The number of tentacles, or arms, that a sea anemone has depends on how much food it has eaten, researchers have discovered. It may be their genetic code that determines how many legs humans have, fins fish have, and wings insects have, but for predatory marine animals of the order Actiniaria, it’s all about consumption. … Continue reading When sea anemones behave like plants

Life in the sediment is very low energy

Micro-organisms buried in ocean sediment can survive on less energy than has ever been shown to support any form of life on Earth, according to new research. An international team led by Queen Mary University of London constructed models that divide the oceans into hundreds of thousands of individual grid cells, creating a picture of … Continue reading Life in the sediment is very low energy

Angelfish are clever breeders

Natural hybridisation isn’t uncommon among marine life. Two different species often mate and produce hybrid offspring.  However, a new study has found that, among coral reef species at least, angelfish (Pomacanthidae) are the most enthusiastic; 48% of them – 42 species in all – can have viable offspring with different angelfish species. And it’s not … Continue reading Angelfish are clever breeders

These fish are full of surprises

Deep-sea anglerfishes are not only incredibly ugly, with bizarre ways of reproducing and luring prey; they have now sent scientists into a spin with seemingly law-defying immune adaptations that could have implications for humans. It’s to do with the way tiny males permanently attach themselves to larger females, fusing tissues and blood circulation to feed … Continue reading These fish are full of surprises

How some marine species navigate

The way marine animals navigate has long fascinated scientists. Now, two new tracking studies have highlighted some complicated logistics.  In the first, Australian researchers found that green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) pull off their impressive navigation feats with only a rough map to guide them to their target location. Published in the journal Current Biology, … Continue reading How some marine species navigate

Digging deep into jellyfish genomes

A hard look at soft jellyfish has revealed more than a few surprises. When biologists from Hong Kong, the US and Canada decoded the genomes of two species common in Asian waters, they identified genes that encode sesquiterpenoid hormones, previously thought only to be contained in arthropods. These hormones are important in regulating metamorphosis in … Continue reading Digging deep into jellyfish genomes