‘We still don’t know enough about the dangers of microplastics’

There is 'large uncertainty' surrounding the risk from microplastics, pieces of plastic less than 5mm wide, says Prof. Bart Koelmans.

by Jonathan O’Callaghan An estimated 5.25 trillion particles of plastic float in Earth’s oceans, threatening not only the health of marine ecosystems and animals, but that of humans in the water we drink and the food we eat. However, research into the extent of the dangers posed by microplastics is still just in its infancy. … Read more

Sponges and corals: Seafloor assessments to help protect against climate change

Little is known about deep ocean environments. But scientists focussing on the depths of the North Atlantic are now learning more about their ecosystems – including the role of vast sea sponge grounds – and how to safeguard them against the effects of climate change and industry. Deep-sea sponges – aquatic invertebrates that spend their … Read more

Biodiversity loss in the oceans can be reversed through habitat restoration

Image credit - Fan mussel (Pinna nobilis) by Arnaud Abadie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Activities such as laying gas pipelines, trawling for fish, drilling for oil, and even burying internet cables in the deep sea, are destroying marine ecosystems. But studies have shown that reintroducing seaweed and corals to these habitats could ward off the worst effects – and recover marine life. Biodiversity loss is considered to be one … Read more

Noisier waters linked to behaviour change, hearing loss in whales

Image Credit - Flickr/spezz CC BY 2.0

Studies investigating whale-watching boats and the inner ears of marine mammals could soon provide new insight into the effects of noisier oceans on cetaceans – dolphins, whales and porpoises – who depend on their hearing for navigating, finding food and communicating underwater. Noise in our oceans is increasing due to human activities such as shipping, … Read more

Sticky tape and simulations help assess microplastic risk

Microplastics are considered the most common form of marine litter.

by Natalie Grover Tiny pieces of plastic, now ubiquitous in the marine environment, have long been a cause of concern for their ability to absorb toxic substances and potentially penetrate the food chain. Now scientists are beginning to understand the level of threat posed to life, by gauging the extent of marine accumulation and tracking … Read more

Scientists explore underwater frontiers with submersible tablet computers

Technology for underwater use could change the way professional divers and researchers work.

A team of experienced science divers has created the world’s first submersible touchscreen for a tablet computer, whose applications are already helping marine scientists, law enforcement, explorers and other professionals toil beneath the waves and could usher in a new era of underwater ICT. It’s part of a new wave of subsea technology, which also … Read more