A family of tourists in Canada’s Steveston Harbor recently got a treat when a friendly-looking sea lion sidled up to them in the water. The adorable animal came up to the edge of the wharf, and the family started feeding it. One young girl sat down to get a better look. That’s when the treat became a shock: the sea lion lunged upward and, in one fluid motion, grabbed a mouthful of the girl’s dress and yanked her down into the water.
One November night each year, beneath the full moon, more than 130 species of corals simultaneously spawn in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Some corals spew plumes of sperm, smoldering like underwater volcanoes. Others produce eggs. But most release both eggs and sperm, packed together in round, buoyant bundles as small as peppercorns and blushed in shades of pink, orange, and yellow.
It’s not an unusual sight out in the ocean: blue whales slurping up clouds of krill. But researchers most often have a boat’s eye view for this event. Now new drone footage from Oregon State University is giving them a whole new perspective on how these massive creatures, the largest animals on the planet, catch their dinner.
Prey animals are capable of defending themselves in an amazing of ways, but when it comes to mounting a sophisticated biological counter-attack, sea urchins have taken it to another level. When attacked by predatory fish, these humble echinoderms release a hostile cloud of tiny jaws that act independently of the urchin itself, attacking the fish and releasing the venom contained within them.
We tend to think of coral reefs as luminous, undersea jungles that pepper the shallow, scuba-friendly tropics. But deeper down, in a region about as bright as Pluto on a sunny day, there lie vast reef ecosystems unknown to science.
There are thousands of ships sailing the seas to catch the fish you eat, and now you can watch them sail the ocean in almost real-time on this interactive map.
The sixth mass extinction—the one that seven billion humans are doing their darnedest to trigger at this very moment—is shaping up to be like nothing our planet has ever seen. That’s the conclusion of a sweeping new analysis, which compared marine fossil records from Earth’s five previous mass extinction events to what’s happening in the oceans right now.