YMB, Sealife, hammerhead shark

Welcome to the November YMB Blog!

Hello and welcome to the November YMB Blog! We hope you were looking forward to this month’s updates? So for you, this month we have some very exciting marine biology news and yet another YMB Member Article. Additionally, we would like to invite you to the upcoming member-only event taking place in December and remind you that you are invited to enter the first ever YMB Competition. We have already received some very impressive Christmas card designs and are grateful to those of you who have entered the competition so far; the judges have a difficult task ahead.

And remember, we would love you to contribute to the content of this blog as much as possible. Please share your stories, reports, finds and photos with us. Sharing your photos, writing, art work comments or questions with us for use in future blog content and bulletins may earn you an exclusive MBA pin badge! (see picture) email to: ymb@mba.ac.uk or share with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

Latest Marine Biology News

There were some exciting news concerning the ocean being reported over the past few weeks. To mention just a few, I was excited to hear of the landmark international agreement to create the world’s largest marine park in the Southern Ocean’s Ross Sea. This agreement sheds hope on the belief that our common ocean can be protected if humanity works together. Equally exciting was to find out that Adidas is selling 7000 shoes made from ocean waste, with plans to sell much more in 2017. This is human ingenuity being used to its best ability while removing marine life threating plastic from our ocean. And they look good too!

Another recent report brings some hope to ocean life currently under threat – corals. Because coral grows very slowly and in a narrow range of environmental conditions, scientists have repeatedly reported corals as particularly vulnerable to increases in ocean temperature and acidity as a result of climate change. However, this new study used molecular biology techniques to investigate the DNA of corals and found that there might be hope for some species to adapt to change. Find out more here.

On the other hand, not so good news associated to climate change were reported from a 10 year long study of the coast of Australia. The authors of this study found that local kelp forests are disappearing as a result of increased grazing by fish, whose appetite has increased as a result of climate change and warmer waters. Kelp is a large brown seaweed which can grow very big and form forests which, like forests on land, are home to incredible biodiversity, including species of commercial value for humans.

Finally, once more I am excited to report a discovery featuring marine animals playing a key role in helping scientists solve important issues. On this occasion, an active substance that occurs in the Caribbean sea cucumber has proven helpful in treating a rare form of cancer that is on the rise and is very difficult to treat.

Kelp bed. Image Dan Smale

YMB Member Article:Katie’s marine summer adventures

Katie Harris, YMB 10 years of age, spent a summer packed with thrilling adventures, including a visit to the MBA in early September 2016, and then a swim with sharks at SeaLife, Blackpool. Continue reading to find out more.

Katie visits the MBA

Thank you so much, today was awesome learning about all the different species out in the ocean and going to the library.

All off the illustrations in the books were amazing; getting to write my name in the book was a real opportunity that I never thought I would get, and holding Charles Darwin’s book was such a treat. It was also really a huge dream to stroke a shark. I never thought they were so smooth and it was nice to learn about the skates and the cuttlefish. Not forgetting learning about zooplankton and how every ferry and some boats have a machine that catches plankton with a fine net on the back which is studied by the SAHFOS team. Seeing the old microscopes was really interesting, as were the seaweed samples pressed into the books in the herbarium. I never thought there were so many different kinds. Everyone was so friendly and gave me lots of information for my notepad. Mum took lots of pictures too so I can stick them in with the things I have learned.

Katie with Emily at the National Marine Biological Library

Katie and a hammer head shark

Katie swimming with sharks

Snorkelling with sharks was amazing and I have pictures to show you.

The starfish was really cool to hold – it felt really gooey and tickled my hand. Then I was playing with the cownose rays; they were really cute.

Next they had interactive boards which had loads of different sharks. My favourite shark was a hammer head shark. After playing with the boards, I saw the tank and a black tip reef shark that we were going to snorkel with, and then we saw the cage itself – it looked very scary. I had butterflies and was very nervous. Then mum and I had to get our wetsuits on. They were very tight.

I was too scared to go under but mum convinced me to have a look. I was soon touching the bottom of the cage and I was so happy to see the sharks and fish so closely and see what it is like in their tank. Steve, the Aquarist, helped me master my snorkel and after we had finished in the tank and had showered, Alan, the head Aquarist, told Steve to show us the quarantine area as a special treat. We saw seahorses and a ray with a poorly nose from bumping against the tank. He also held a lobster for me to touch and we saw a poorly pollock. After that we went on a behind the scenes tour and we learnt about lots of different fish and crabs etc. I was lucky enough to hold a fake tiger shark jaw and a fossilised baby Megalodon tooth. I have lots of fact files about all the fish we saw that day so I will be writing that in my notebook.

 By: Katie, YMB 10 years old

Upcoming MBA member-only event

The next MBA member-only event is taking place on the 17th December at Mount Batten, Plymouth. In the past few years, the December member event has focused on surveying Corella eumyota, meaning that MBA members are building a temporal data series of abundance and geographical distribution of this invasive sea squirt.

Corella is originally from the Southern hemisphere and was first recorded in the UK in 2004. It is thought that it was introduced through transportation of commercial bivalves. Corella is often found on the undersides of rocks and boulders, as well as pontoons and harbours in sheltered areas. Not all non-native species are considered invasive. Scientists believe Corella has the potential to compete for space and food with native sessile species and may even smother mussel beds as it becomes more abundant and widespread. For these reasons the data collected during the MBA member-only Christmas Corella survey is very important. Please come along if you can (please note anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult).

For more information and to register for the event please visit our Eventbrite page here.

For more information about this and other non-native species, visit this page.

YMB Competition

This is a reminder that you are invited to enter the first ever YMB competition: MBA Christmas 2016 e-Card Design! It is no longer too early to start embracing the Christmas spirit as festive lights are coming to life in cities across the world. We have a fantastic prize on offer. The deadline is approaching fast (30th November) so get better get creative!

The challenge involves using your artistic skills and knowledge of the marine environment to design marine themed Christmas cards. The winner will receive a copy of the Great British Marine Animals by Paul Naylor signed by the author himself! Together with local artists and MBA staff, Paul will also be part of the panel of judges for the shortlisting process. Additionally, the best three designs may be eligible to be used as the MBA’s 2016 Christmas e-cards for members and staff. These designs may also be selected to be used as printed MBA Christmas Cards.

Competition details:

– The card must be size A6 (105 x 148 mm), one sided;

– The design must encompass the marine and Christmas themes;

– Hand drawings/paintings, paper collages, or illustrated graphic designs will be accepted;

– To enter the competition you must be a current YMB member (include your membership number when submitting your entry);

– Design must be original;

– Maximum 2 designs per person;

– The competition will run until 30th November 2016;

– To submit your entry, take a photo (or scan) of your design and send the file to ymb@mba.ac.uk or via we transfer. Alternatively, send via postal address to YMB Project Officer, The Marine Biological Association of the UK, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB, UK;

– See the competition’s Terms and Conditions for full details.

We look forward to receiving your creative designs.

YMB Competition prize

YMB Competition example

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Nov 18, 2016 By elibas