The Marine Science Institute's monthly column, Science and the SeaTM, is an informative and entertaining article that explains many interesting features of the marine environment and the creatures that live there. Science and the SeaTM articles appear monthly in one of Texas' most widely read fishing magazines, Texas Saltwater Fishing, the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper, the Flour Bluff News, and the Island Moon newspaper. Our article archive is available also on our website.
Researchers in the Gulf of Maine have illuminated the role whales play in recycling nutrients in the ocean − and the secret is in the poop.
As demand for seafood grows, so does concern about the impact of fish farms on the marine environment. One
aquaculture practice tries to soften this impact by turning farm waste into more profit.
It’s called integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, or IMTA. The system starts with fish or shrimp and integrates
them, or farms them alongside, other marine species such as kelp or filter-feeding shellfish. The “multitrophic” part of IMTA means the organisms involved are from different trophic levels, or places on the food chain of the marine ecosystem.
Watch a jellyfish floating in the sea, and you might assume the animal is simply drifting along haphazardly. But some species of box jellyfish can guide themselves through complex habitats.
The box jellyfish is unique from other jellies in that it controls the direction in which it swims, like a fish. It can also make 180-degree turns and dodge underwater objects in its path.
Also known as a lancelet, amphioxus is a small, fishlike invertebrate about 2-3 inches long. Common in shallow marine waters, it burrows in the sand and filters nutrients from the water. What makes this humble creature so intriguing to scientists is its unique status as the closest living invertebrate relative of backboned animals.
Mouth gaping wide, a massive grouper cruises a coral reef, and approaches a tiny shrimp. As the predator gets closer, the shrimp doesn’t flee… it swims right in!
Meet a diminutive shark that snacks on “cookies” made not of flour and sugar, but of tuna or whale.
At 16-22 inches in length, the cookie-cutter shark is one of the smaller denizens of the deep. From above, this little cigar-shaped shark may look harmless, but a peek at the underside of its coneshaped snout reveals a row of fearsome, saw-like lower teeth.
Red knots are a species of sandpiper found in coastal areas throughout the world. Watch them pop their beaks in and out of the wet sand in search of clams, snails and crustaceans to feed on, and they might appear to be poking around randomly. But scientists believe the red knot uses a more precise method.
Here’s a warning to the millions of plankton in Texas Gulf Coast waters: You’re being watched!
A specialized instrument called the Imaging FlowCytobot is on duty, analyzing microscopic organisms in the sea at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.