Here we look at a menagrie of topics related to the biology of underwater life – from the miracles of microbes, to how parasites and symbionts evolve and work together in the Man of War. We ask questions like how do organisms fit on to the tree of life and why do they vary so much. Within each of these discussions of Marine Biology we use a spectrum of interdisciplinary perspectives to understand the evolution of global biogeochemical systems and relate them back to current environmental and social issues facing the planet and Cornwall.

Shipwrecks: Underwater Islands of Biodiversity

Cornwall, a spear of rough-hewn granite thrusting out into the Atlantic, is unsurprisingly abundant in wrecks which contribute to the rich marine world around Cornwall’s coast. From the RMS Mulheim and Ben Asdale wrecked on the coast, to Shipwrecks sunk purposely like the Scylla off Rame Head all Cornwalls Wreck function as islands of biodiversity.


The Sharks of Cornwall

Basking Sharks are the second largest fish in the ocean - enormous enigmatic sharks who glide along our coastline with a great dark triangular fin jutting out above the waves. Gentle giants - over 12 metres in length - basking sharks only eat the tiniest planktonic creatures at the surface, swimming with a gaping mouth open to filter out their microscopic meals. Surprising little is known about their habits.

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The Arctic Ocean: The hardest place to live is about to get even tougher

Bleak, freezing, inhospitable: its hard to overstate how harsh Arctic climate is for a near-hairless ape from Africa. Hidden in darkness for half a year and blinded by 24 hour light for the other half - It was one of the last places humans settled. The Vikings who tried to live their failed and to this day few Europeans live there, only the native Inuit peoples have mastered this ice-scape.


Why do Corals Prefer to Eat Plastic

A study in 2017, trying to understand why and how microplastics are getting in the marine food chain, found that when coral were offered plastic, sand and bacteria-covered plastic + sand they actually preferred the naked-plastic. They even retained the plastic for longer compared to the other food. They suspect that some types of plastic contain chemicals which stimulate the corals - which are tiny animals related to jellyfish - to feed. Or in other words, plastic is tasty for corals.


Miraculous Microbes: Cancer Fighting Bacteria and Alluring Yeast

Lets start with the virus. Viruses are often seen as the evil bad guys, trying to thwart life at every turn - their name comes from the Latin vīrus referring to poison and other noxious liquids. In reality however viruses actually do a lot for us and our world and despite being often defined as ‘disease-causing agents’ (as bacteria first were).