Category: Uncategorized

Rising ocean temperature and its effect on the loggerhead sea turtle population

A. Whitworth \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 45-51.  Download PDF


Rising ocean temperatures are causing detrimental changes in loggerhead nesting sites, producing a gender bias among turtle offspring. Temperature change is discussed in relation to how it has altered gender development and why there is a female bias. The gender bias is a key factor affecting loggerhead survival, and understanding the causes is essential to the species longevity. Determining the effect that prey loss and decreased foraging grounds have will allow species management strategies to be created. Increased frequency of tropical storms is examined in relation to loggerhead population. The overall hypothesis of this paper is that loggerhead sea turtle populations, prey, and nesting grounds are critically sensitive to increasing sea surface temperature. Determining how temperature dependency affects the Loggerhead population, and what can be done to mitigate nest damage are critical to the survival of the species.

Ship-strike reduction rules: Are they enough to allow the North Atlantic Right Whale population in the Gulf of St.Lawrence to recover?

J. Rae \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 38-44. Download PDF


Between June and October 2017, an extreme North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) mortality event occurred in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (GSL). There are only approximately 458 NARWs remaining, and the death of twelve individuals within a five-month period is detrimental to the survival of the population. Following necropsies conducted on NARWs found in the GSL, vessel collisions and fishing entanglements were determined to be the primary causes of death. Removing the risk of fatal collisions by ensuring compliance to ship-strike reduction rules is essential. Strict prevention measures involving entanglements in fishing gear are also crucial to right whale recovery. Lastly, to address the previously mentioned issues and implement the necessary conservation strategies, greater research on NARW habitat is needed to understand how and why right whales are appearing in unprecedented numbers in the GSL. Overall, the paper will aim to support the hypothesis that in order to mitigate risks of human-caused mortality and allow the NARW population to recover, there must be stricter fishing regulations and more habitat research in addition to ship-strike reduction rules in the GSL.

Evolutionary processes of the hydrothermal vent species

M. Prus \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 31-37. Download PDF


In the past 40 years, a large number of species have been discovered around hydrothermal vents. These new discoveries raise questions. For example: how is the process of hydrothermal vent species evolution occurring? These creatures have to adapt to adverse conditions like extreme temperatures and pressure. Most of these animals belong to the same taxonomic groups as species of the sunlit zone. The purpose of this review paper is to compare these two groups of animals in order to determine differences and similarities between their evolutionary processes and to focus on specific traits common for the vent inhabitants only. The severe hydrothermal vent environment resulted in specific morphological features of the vent species. Another very unique phenomenon of these animals is proteins that can function at extremely high temperatures. At the same time, one of the most important studies of the evolution of the hydrothermal vent species is a study of genomes because it can reveal the evolutionary history of species.

Applications of selective breeding, three dimensional printing, and modelling technology in coral reef restoration and resilience

F. Medioli Fitzgerald \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 23-30. Download PDF


The world’s coral reefs support life for over a quarter of all marine species but their existence is in danger due to the effects of global warming which are acidifying and warming the oceans at an alarming rate. If nothing is done, it is predicted that almost all corals will be bleached or destroyed by 2100. The goal of this paper is to assess whether the current coral reef restoration method of Coral Gardening can be combined with new resilience enhancing methods of Assisted Breeding, three-dimensional printing, and three-dimensional modelling technologies in technological symbiosis to create an improved method of restoration that improves the efficiency of coral growth and increases survival rates of corals. Research identifies the flaws with the current methods of restoration and resilience and suggests that the weakness of each method could be improved by the strengths of the other methods. Combining the three methods of coral restoration and resilience will create an updated restoration process that could restore coral reefs faster than the warming planet.

The exploration of ballast water treatment systems to reduce populations of invasive species

T. McMillen \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 17-22. Download PDF


Invasive species are being transported around the globe daily through the use of ballast tanks. Ships utilize ballast tanks to provide stability over long voyages across the ocean. The introduction of invasive species through ballast tanks is costing communities billions of dollars in damages and health related problems. Through this study, five tested systems of ballast water treatment were examined and their respective effectiveness were compared. Treatment methods included the use of hydrocyclones and UV systems, screens, crumb rubber filtration, deoxygenation tactics, and a continuous microwave system. Each of these systems attempted to remove the largest proportions of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and invertebrate larvae from the water source used. After comparing the effectiveness of each system, a continuous microwave unit proved to be the most viable option for ballast water treatment. This system can be used to successfully kill all potential organisms that are transported in a ballast tank in 200 seconds. The use of a microwave system heats the water to a temperature (55°C), where the organisms cannot survive, and effectively eliminates the threat they pose when they are released.

Trophic, biochemical, and behavioural impacts on beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) caused by depleting arctic sea-ice

A. Lewis \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 8-16. Download PDF


Over the last 25 years, the arctic has sustained an 8% decrease in sea-ice cover, and this trend is undoubtedly expected to continue into the next several decades. Belugas, an ice- associated near-threatened arctic cetacean species, share an important relationship with sea-ice. The goal of this review is to examine existing literature to gain a comprehensive understanding of how sea-ice depletion is affecting the ecology of belugas. Impacts of ice cover loss are trophic, biochemical, and behavioural. Trophic effects include increased orca whale predation, redistribution of beluga prey, and increased competition. Biochemical effects involve contaminant biomagnification in beluga whales, vulnerability to pollutant exposure, and stress-induced metabolic toxin overdose. Behavioural effects consist of an inability of belugas to adapt to rapidly changing environments, influences on migration, and the consequences anthropogenic noise impose on beluga communication and stress. Two beluga populations are currently identified as endangered, and impacts caused by sea-ice reduction could put other beluga populations at further risk as well. Due to the fragility of the arctic ecosystem, it is crucial that more effective conservation efforts be put in place to protect all vulnerable species, belugas included.

The physical, biochemical and socioeconomic impacts of blast fishing, cyanide fishing and bottom trawling on coral reefs

M. Dumais \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 1-7.  Download PDF


Coral reefs are in decline worldwide due to anthropogenic stressors including coral bleaching, but also by illegal fishing methods. Illegal fishing methods affect the physical structure of coral reefs, marine trophic webs and fish dependant on reefs. Illegal unreported and unregulated fishing methods (UUI) like blast, cyanide fishing and bottom trawling compromise the 3- dimensional habitat that coral structures provide to other species, induces biological function changes, and reshapes the seafloor composition, thus limiting coral recovery. The global rate at which biodiversity and biomass are lost due to illegal fishing methods remain unknown along with coral’s recovery period. The purpose of this literature review is to increase knowledge and awareness about the main impacts of blast, cyanide fishing and bottom trawling on coral reef habitats, while considering the socioeconomic context. This review aims to point out realistic marine management strategies to effectively reduce illegal fishing. Filling knowledge gaps such as UUI impacts on the marine biodiversity and populations can also improve marine management to regulate harvesting quotas, adapt fisheries management and mitigate species extinction risk. Future research should include statistically studying organisms affected by UUI and tracking species and their population dynamics and fluctuations.


Toxic dinoflagellates: introduction of potentially harmful dinoflagellates due to ballast water in Eastern Canada

Jacqueline Modler \ Oceans First \ Issue 4, 2017, pgs 28-34. Download PDF


Ballast water frequently introduces potentially harmful, non-indigenous dinoflagellates into marine ecosystems, either through water or within ballast sediments. Foreign dinoflagellates contribute to the development of harmful algal blooms, and affect aquaculture and human health due to paralytic shellfish poison (PSP). Eastern Canadian marine ecosystems are becoming increasingly vulnerable due to rising water temperatures, enabling tropical dinoflagellates to survive in an environment that was previously too cold. Ships participating in a coastal ballast exchange have the highest probability of transporting harmful, non-indigenous dinoflagellates. This paper aims to prove that additional methods of control are needed to limit the number of harmful dinoflagellates transported by ballast water. Ballast water exchange, made law in 2006, is an insufficient method to control the introduction of foreign taxa, and when done in coastal waters, could instead increase the number of toxic dinoflagellates brought into marine ecosystems. The implementation of an external Canadian management body is proposed to regulate ballast water exchange and tighten ballast water requirements. Studies in Eastern Canada will be used to examine the magnitude of harmful, non-indigenous dinoflagellates introduced in Eastern Canada. As well, national and international studies will be brought together to examine potential effect of non-indigenous dinoflagellates.

Altered Behaviors of Reef Fish in Bleached Coral Environments and their Imposed Impacts on Reef Fish Populations

Aaron Clausen \ Oceans First, Issue 4, 2017, pgs. 9-15.  Download PDF


For the first time in history atmospheric carbon levels have reached and exceeded 400ppt. This exponential increase in atmospheric carbon has lead to the major changes in the climate that has significantly impacted coral reef health across the wold. Global temperature rise is increasing ocean temperatures, and acidity. These stressors have lead to large scale bleaching of corals. The degradation of these corals has been linked to multiple noteworthy changes in the behaviours of reef fish inhabiting bleached corals. Reef fish are not responding to predator cues as they would in pristine reefs, as the cues related to the presence of a predator are not being detected by reef fish. Despite the loss of camouflage resulting from bleached white coral backgrounds reef fish have been displaying more aggressive behaviour, resulting in increased vulnerability to predators. The settlement preferences of reef fish have been altered, resulting in migration from their bleached environments to healthier reefs. These changes are lowering prey fish populations and influencing change in reef population dynamics. This review will synthesize key findings involving altered behavior of reef fish, and the impacts of these changes on reef populations.

Fibropapilloma in Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles: The Path to Extinction

Natalie Colbourne \ Oceans First, Issue 4, 2017, pgs. 16-22.  Download PDF


Fibropapilloma (FP) tumors have become more severe in Hawaiian green sea turtles since they were first found in 1928. The nitrogen footprint found in foraging grounds, in which sea turtles live and feed, is the main cause of FP in green sea turtles. Nitrogen is converted into arginine, an amino acid that causes tumor formation by algae, that sea turtles consume. Many studies have been conducted on the disease and it has been concluded that the severity of the tumors is higher in turtles with larger carapace (shell length). As well, some studies have shown that where there is nitrogen waste, there is also an increased disease rate, and that these locations are foraging grounds. It was also proven that these locations contain macroalgae with arginine, further proving that there is a direct relationship between where these algae were found and where sea turtles with FP live and feed. Green sea turtles are endangered and it is crucial that we understand FP completely in order to eliminate the disease. This review will explain how nitrogen waste causes severe Fibropapilloma tumors in Hawaiian green sea turtles.