14 posts in Research & Faculty Spotlight

Swordfish as oceanographers? Satellite tags allow research of ocean’s ‘twilight zone’ off Florida

Researchers from the University of Washington are using high-tech tags to record the movements of swordfish — big, deep-water, migratory, open-ocean fish that are poorly studied — and get a window into the ocean depths they inhabit.

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Humpback whale population on the rise after near miss with extinction

A population of humpback whales in the South Atlantic has rebounded from the brink of extinction.
Intense pressure from the whaling industry in the 20th century saw the western South Atlantic population of humpbacks diminish to only 450 whales. It is estimated that 25,000 whales were caught over approximately 12 years in the early 1900s.
Protections were put in place in the 1960s as scientists noticed worldwide that populations were declining. 

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Piranha fish swap old teeth for new simultaneously

With the help of new technologies, a team led by the University of Washington has confirmed that piranhas — and their plant-eating cousins, pacus — do in fact lose and regrow all the teeth on one side of their face multiple times throughout their lives. How they do it may help explain why the fish go to such efforts to replace their teeth.

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Inspired by Northern clingfish, researchers make a better suction cup

The finger-sized Northern clingfish employs one of the best suction cups in the world. A small disk on its belly can attach to wet, slimy, even rough surfaces and hold up to 230 times its own body weight. A University of Washington team inspired by the clingfish’s suction power set out to develop an artificial suction cup that borrows from nature’s design. Their prototype, described in a paper published Sept. 9 in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, actually performed better than the clingfish.

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Mark your Calendars for SAFS’s 2019 Autumn Seminar Series

The School of Aquatic and Fishery Science’s (SAFS) annual Autumn Seminar Series begins next week, Thursday, September 26. Be sure to view the SAFS events page and hit the + to subscribe and have information about each week’s presentation added to your calendar. Presentations will also be recorded and uploaded to the SAFS YouTube channel the following day.

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What motivates people to join — and stick with — citizen science projects?

One of the most established hands-on, outdoor citizen science projects is the University of Washington-based Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, COASST, which trains beachgoers along the West Coast, from California to Alaska, to monitor their local beach for dead birds. With about 4,500 participants in its 21-year history and roughly 800 active participants today, COASST’s long-term success is now the subject of scientific study in its own right. What makes people join citizen science projects, and what motivates people to stick with them over years?

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Deep submersible dives shed light on rarely explored coral reefs

Corals that live in the mesophotic zone

Just beyond where conventional scuba divers can go is an area of the ocean that still is largely unexplored. In waters this deep — about 100 to at least 500 feet below the surface — little to no light breaks through.

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Tiny fishes fuel life on coral reefs

Most bottom-dwelling fish try to avoid predation through hiding or camouflage. This colorful bluebelly blenny fish scans its surroundings with its head sticking out of its hole.

In a paper published May 23 in Science, a team of international researchers from Simon Fraser University, University of Washington and other institutions reveals that the iconic abundance of fishes on reefs is fueled by an unlikely source: tiny, bottom-dwelling reef fishes.

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Exploring Our Watery World at UW’s Aquatic Science Open House

On May 4th, the University of Washington held its second annual Aquatic Science Open House, inviting Seattle-area families, students, and teachers to explore the institution’s marine and freshwater science programs. The event was organized by the Students Explore Aquatic Sciences (SEAS) outreach group based in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS) and the Academic and Recreational Graduate Oceanographers (ARGO) outreach group based in the School of Oceanography. 

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Arsenic-breathing life discovered in the tropical Pacific Ocean

Image of California’s Mono Lake taken from the brown rocky shore

“We’ve known for a long time that there are very low levels of arsenic in the ocean,” said co-author Gabrielle Rocap, a UW professor of oceanography. “But the idea that organisms could be using arsenic to make a living — it’s a whole new metabolism for the open ocean.”

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