Currently browsing author

Mesocosms; environmental laboratories

Studying the biology of the marine environment can prove tricky, there are many factors you must consider when looking at it. The influence of water chemistry, physics, weather can all impact the biology. We can work in the laboratory, and control a number of these. We can determine how much light or nutrients organisms get, which allows us to test specific variables. But there is an “in between” of the lab and the environment, and this is what is known as a mesocosm. Continue reading →

Tiny grazers love to eat their greens

This blog is from a mesocosm experiment (giant (5m by 8m deep) 'bags' placed into environments and filled with natural water) conducted during May 2017 (find more info here). It was written by myself & Sean Anderson (a graduate student at the Skidaway Institute, University of Georgia, USA). Members of the Harvey Lab get really excited about phytoplankton and for good reason. Continue reading →

Polar marine biology

This week the course focused on marine life. How diverse, abundant and adaptable it is. However, there is one region where life has to deal with extra challenges. A changing light system, from 24 hours of sunlight to complete darkness for months, harsh sub-zero conditions and changes to the composition of seawater from the freezing and thawing of ice. This is of course the Polar Regions (Arctic in the north and the Antarctic in the south). Continue reading →

Shedding more light on bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is the emission of light from a biological organism and was wonderfully introduced from a Ted talk by Edith Widder (if you haven’t seen it you can find the link here). The idea of this blog post was to dive deeper into bioluminescence and provide some more information on this amazing and beautiful process. The first question you may have is, “how is the light produced?” and the answer to this is chemistry. Continue reading →

Microplastics and the smart phone revolution

As a final blog post for the MOOC I would like to share my advice for how you can help protect the oceans. The first issue I want to discuss is microplastics. These have been in the news a lot recently, but they are essentially tiny plastic particles which are found in personal hygiene products, such as face washes, toothpaste & body scrubs. The particles are used to exfoliate the dead cells. Continue reading →

Kyle Mayers: What does the ocean mean to me?

As a biologist, to me the ocean means life. Not just the larger organisms we are all familiar with - whales, turtles, sharks - but the microscopic life, the ones which can only be seen with a microscope and drift around in the oceans, the plankton. This is beautifully illustrated with the image below from a single drop of seawater. One concentrated drop of seawater, showing the diversity of life which can be found in the oceans (credit: David Littschwager, littschwager. Continue reading →