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.
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.
jellyfish,marine biology,conservation,biology,portuguese man of war sea,cornwall,siphonophore,symbiosis,sexual reproduction,behaviour change,marine,climate change,
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.
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.
The image above is 440-480 million year old fossil Trilobite we found in Wales. Trilobites roamed our oceans for over 270 million years before going extinct - in comparison us humans have existed for less than 200,000 years. Finding these incredible impressions makes you wonder what trace will we leave?
Only certain types of fish, including mackeral and tuna, have dangerous levels of mercury and only if you eat them nearly every day. Though the Atlantic Mackeral caught here in Cornwall, contain a lot less Mercury than the Spanish Mackeral eaten elsewhere and are very safe and healthy to eat.
For millions of years shells made of calcium carbonate were all the rage amongst marine life, then a new plucky family known as vertebrates turned marine fashion inside-out by putting skeletons on the inside.
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).