On the Air: August 31, 2014
The oceans are getting more acidic as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The picture on that high-def TV in your den refreshes every sixtieth of a second or faster – a rate that allows your brain to see the sequence of pictures as smooth motion. But if the rate gets too fast, the brain can’t put it together – all you see is a blur.

In Print: September 1, 2014
Left: a boneworm on a fish bone. Credit: Greg Rouse. Right: shipworms burrowed into a piece of wood. Credit: Christina Bienhold, MPI for Marine Microbiology.

For almost any object in the sea, there’s a creature who will feed on it – even if it’s a whale skeleton or a shipwreck. Though not related to one another, boneworms and shipworms share the remarkable ability to locate their meals in the vast ocean. Boneworms consume the bones of mammals, fish, reptiles and other animals, while shipworms – actually a type of mollusk – use their tiny shells to burrow into the wood of wrecked ships, trees adrift, or other wooden structures in the sea. Despite having neither stomachs nor mouths, both boneworms and shipworms have symbiotic bacteria in their gut that release nutrients from the bones or wood which these “worms” absorb as food.