Hakai Magazine

Big animals make big poops, which provide a big nutrient input into the ecosystem. Photo by Christopher Swann/robertharding/Corbis
Big animals make big poops, which provide a big nutrient input into the ecosystem. Photo by Christopher Swann/robertharding/Corbis

Stories from the Seven Seas

A weekly roundup of coastal news.

Authored by

by Colin Schultz

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Hakai Magazine is all about the coast, but other outlets sometimes share our fascination. Every week on Strand we round up our favorite coastal stories from around the web.

How whale poop balanced Earth’s nutrient cycles

by Maddie Stone for Gizmodo

“Every week, it seems, we hear about a new way that humans are screwing up the oceans. Too much plasticToo much sunscreenToo much fishing. Next to these problems, “not enough whale poop” does sounds a bit silly, but I assure you, it’s a serious consequence of human exploitation.”

Mysterious whales seen alive for the first time

by Elizabeth Preston for Discover

“Imagine the surprise, then, of researchers in a boat in the Indian Ocean when they spied some Omura’s whales in the distance. During a survey of marine mammals off Madagascar’s coast, New England Aquarium scientist Salvatore Cerchio and his colleagues saw whales with markings that seemed to match B. omurai. They used biopsy darts to snag tissue samples from 18 of the whales as they swam by. DNA analysis confirmed it: the animals were the elusive Omura’s whales.”

The sushi project: farming fish and rice in California’s fields

by Jacques Leslie for Yale Environment 360

“In 2012 Cal Marsh & Farm Ventures and the scientists joined forces in the Nigiri Project, named after a kind of sushi because both combine rice and fish, to use rice fields to promote salmon restoration. The scientists have since compiled persuasive evidence that salmon benefit greatly by lingering in flooded rice fields, while Johnson has started another enterprise that uses rice fields to grow forage fish for protein.”

The tusks of narwhals are actually teeth that are inside-out

by Lesley Evans Ogden for BBC Earth

“‘The narwhal tusk is ‘essentially built inside out,’ says Nweeia. Unlike our own teeth, it is soft on the outside, and gradually gets hard and dense on the inside.

Nweeia’s team showed that the tusk can sense changes in the salinity of the water, suggesting that it is a giant, antennae-like sensor.”

DNA of ancient children offers clues on how people settled the Americas

by Carl Zimmer for The New York Times

“[T]he researchers reported that they had recovered DNA from two skeletons of children who lived in Alaska 11,500 years ago. The genetic material is not only among the oldest ever found in the Americas, but also the first ancient DNA discovered in Beringia, the region around the Bering Strait where many researchers believe Asians first settled before spreading through North and South America.”

What happens when we punch a hole in the seafloor?

by Andrew David Thaler for Southern Fried Science

“A longtime submariner I know tells the story of a most unusual dive. On this particular plunge, they went down into the briny deep to place what can best be described as a giant manhole cover on the seafloor. There was a hole, and, by all accounts, the sea was draining in to it.”