Articles

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 newsletter of the Texas Chapter of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association , and the Heartland Of America online newspaper. Our article archive is available also on our website.

July 1, 2020

Many people are familiar with the annual growth rings in tree trunks. Most fishes have similar features in their bodies; their bones have alternating bands of dark and translucent tissue that indicate the passage of time. But the skeleton of a shark is made of cartilage, not bone. It turns out that vertebrae of whale sharks have rings like those in fish bones and tree trunks. How long does it take for a new “ring” to grow in whale shark vertebrae? Thanks to the atomic bomb, scientists determined that it takes about one year.

June 1, 2020

Laguna Madre — Mother Lagoon — is one of the saltiest bodies of water on the planet. The narrow lagoon stretches a couple of hundred miles along the coasts of Texas and Mexico, between the mainland and a series of barrier islands.

May 1, 2020

By the late 1960s, many Americans were getting fed up with bad news about the environment. A book early in the decade warned about the dangers of pesticides. An oil spill on the coast of California killed thousands of birds and other creatures. A river in Ohio caught fire. And pictures snapped by an Apollo astronaut showed Earth as a fragile blue ball.

To inform Americans about the problems, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin organized an “environmental sit-in.” It was held on April 22nd, 1970 — the first Earth Day. And an estimated 20 million people took part.

May 1, 2020

By the late 1960s, many Americans were getting fed up with bad news about the environment. A book early in the decade warned about the dangers of pesticides. An oil spill on the coast of California killed thousands of birds and other creatures. A river in Ohio caught fire. And pictures snapped by an Apollo astronaut showed Earth as a fragile blue ball.

To inform Americans about the problems, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin organized an “environmental sit-in.” It was held on April 22nd, 1970 — the first Earth Day. And an estimated 20 million people took part.

April 1, 2020

Anyone who has tried to hitch a ride on a moving train knows it’s all about getting a really good grip. This is exactly what remoras piggybacking on larger fish need to do. Now scientists understand a little better how they do it.

March 1, 2020

The last time you saw a film in 3D, you probably weren’t grabbing for a tasty meal that seemed to hover just in front of you. But that’s exactly what happened when scientists put 3D glasses on cuttlefish and showed them a movie—all in the name of science.

February 11, 2020

You’ve probably heard of mice making their way through a maze, and you may even have seen an octopus navigate one. But did you know that common shore crabs can find their way through mazes as well?

January 1, 2020

Sea turtles use flippers to swim and glide through the water or sometimes crawl across the beach—anything related to moving around. But it turns out that these aquatic reptiles use their flippers in other ways too, including handling food.

December 1, 2019

Most people think of great white sharks as the top predator of the sea, and they are among the largest, most ferocious sharks swimming around. But even white sharks fear another predator—possibly a surprising one. Orcas, commonly called killer whales, may seem friendly when performing tricks at some amusement parks, but just their arrival is enough to send white sharks packing.

November 1, 2019

It’s the question every parent fears: Who is your favorite child? In the case of Magellanic penguins—if their chicks could ask—the answer is the most egalitarian: both of them! Many animals with multiple offspring make tough choices about distributing resources to their brood. Many runts don’t survive because they can’t compete or because their parent must favor those offspring that are most likely to survive and thrive.

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