Hakai Magazine

Coastal science and societies

Crown-of-thorns starfish numbers are booming in the Pacific, and this is bad news for coral reefs. Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/Reinhard Dirscherl/Look-foto/Corbis
Crown-of-thorns starfish numbers are booming in the Pacific, and this is bad news for coral reefs. Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/Reinhard Dirscherl/Look-foto/Corbis

Stories from the Seven Seas

Sometimes, a booming population isn’t a good thing.

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.

Scientists say a plague of sea stars is devastating Pacific coral reefs

by Darryl Fears for The Washington Post

“‘Traditionally we would never have believed that removing starfish would be the appropriate measure,’ he added. ‘We must stress that we do not like killing any animals, and we do regret killing these starfish. But because coral reef ecosystems are out of balance, and humans are causing imbalances in nutrients that increase the survival of crown-of-thorns larvae, then we see this as the only feasible option.’”

Big Antarctic ice melt scenarios ‘not plausible’

by Jonathan Amos for BBC

“‘The bed of Antarctica is so important for what the ice sheet is doing, and there are parts of it that are just too bumpy and rough or are not sloping in a way that will allow for anything to happen too quickly.

That’s not to say that if things kept going for a few hundred or a thousand years you couldn’t get that kind of dramatic collapse — but we don’t think on the timeframe of a couple of hundred years that the ice can respond that fast.’”

Biotech bid to take shark off the menu and cut the fin trade

by Nicola Davis for The Guardian

“The idea for a ‘shark fin without the shark’ is part of the goal of New Wave Foods to create what Kaehms terms ‘sustainable seafood’ – but this isn’t the company’s only attempt to change what people put on their plates. Using a different technique, the team is working to produce a shrimp substitute from algae and plant proteins, and is hoping to have the product ready for market by early next year. ‘Shrimp is the highest volume consumed seafood in the US, so it just made sense for us to start with something that can make the biggest splash,’ says Kaehms.”

Study adds 37 species to Salish Sea’s fish list, bringing total to 253

by Sandi Doughton for The Seattle Times

“A new analysis published this fall puts the region’s total number of fish species at 253. That includes 37 species never before documented in the Salish Sea — the 6,500-square-mile expanse that includes Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Georgia.

And since the report, ‘Fishes of the Salish Sea: A Compilation and Distributional Analysis,’ was finished, scientists have added another five to the list.

‘We’re working on a sixth right now,’ said Ted Pietsch, emeritus professor of aquatic and fishery science at the University of Washington. ‘Who knows what will happen tomorrow?’”

What a dead blue whale can teach us about life in the ocean, and about ourselves

by Sarah Gilman for Smithsonian Magazine

“‘The 70-foot whale weighs up to 100 tons and is half buried in sand. Money’s scarce, and the assembled tools are puny: There are three machete-like blades mounted on long wooden poles, called flensing knives, ‘a crap-ton’ of kitchen knives, as one graduate student says, some meat hooks, some high-test rope and a chainsaw.

Even so, the crew managed to clear the whale’s right side down to the vertebrae by Friday night with help from a Bobcat mini-excavator and a track loader. Yellow ‘PROTECTED MARINE MAMMAL’ caution tape flutters from driftwood stabbed into the sand around a wide perimeter. Volunteers smear Vicks VapoRub under their noses to hold back the stench—a throatier version of seashore rot that tastes like backwash from a mildew-darkened garbage disposal.”

Researchers just unearthed a lost island in the Aegean

by Olivia Goldhill for Quartz

“Based on archaeological remnants and ceramics in the village, the archaeologists believe they have discovered the lost city of Kane, where the ancient Battle of Arginusae took place. Kane was an ancient city on one of three Arginus islands; the other two islands still exist and are today called the Garip islands.”