A warm welcome to The Marine Biologist magazine. A full range of material awaits, including brain-eating parasites, entangled cetaceans, trophic cascades, and more.
From the indiscriminate death caused by depleted oxygen, to mortalities of starfish or sharks due to disease, mass strandings of marine animals starkly reveal what is normally hidden, pointing to forces of death and destruction unimaginable on land. With increasing knowledge of our impact on the ocean, we also have to ask to what extent were human activities responsible?
In 2017, hundreds of dead and dying leopard sharks washed up in San Francisco Bay. In our headline article, Joe DeRisi, a renowned researcher in the field of medical metagenomics, explains how they solved the case of the leopard sharks, and gives a fascinating insight into this far-reaching area of environmental research.
Attention has been on the marine environment for all the wrong reasons. As I write this, a lost beluga whale is still in the Thames estuary in southern England, Cuvier’s beaked whales are washing up in unprecedented numbers on the west coast of Scotland, and orcas near industrialized countries face extinction (see PCBs – an unresolved marine mammal problem. The Marine Biologist, 8, 14). The media have been seeking expert comment about Benny the beluga and thanks to MBA members registered on our expert list we were able to respond (and get a mention on a national radio station).
Small island developing states (SIDS) are on the front line of climate chaos (see Too hot in paradise! The Marine Biologist, 6, 26). 25 of the world’s 39 SIDS are in the Commonwealth and have most to gain from cooperatively addressing the problems facing the global ocean. The Commonwealth Blue Charter, ratified in April, is an action-oriented and country-led catalyst for improving ocean health. We learn more from Jeff Ardron, project lead on the Commonwealth Blue Charter for the Commonwealth Secretariat (page 20).
The IPCC special report makes troubling reading. The authors could not be clearer in stating the urgency of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and the report maps out pathways to achieving this. Business leaders have pledged support and it remains for governments to give the right signals. I hope our current crop of leaders can find the greatness to act in the interest of all the inhabitants of this blue planet.
In the first of a series of articles scientists at the start of their careers share their particular marine biological passion. In this edition, we hear about deep-sea ecosystems and the growing threat of mineral extraction. If you have an idea you’d like to discuss we would love to hear from you.