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Oceans, Volume 5, Issue 1 (March 2024) – 8 articles

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23 pages, 8816 KiB  
Article
Field Test of an Autonomous Observing System Prototype for Measuring Oceanographic Parameters from Ships
by Fernando P. Santos, Teresa L. Rosa, Miguel A. Hinostroza, Roberto Vettor, A. Miguel Piecho-Santos and C. Guedes Soares
Oceans 2024, 5(1), 127-149; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans5010008 - 14 Mar 2024
Viewed by 775
Abstract
A prototype of an autonomous system for the retrieval of oceanographic, wave, and meteorologic data was installed and tested in May 2021 on a Portuguese research vessel navigating on the Atlantic Ocean. The system was designed to be installed in fishing vessels that [...] Read more.
A prototype of an autonomous system for the retrieval of oceanographic, wave, and meteorologic data was installed and tested in May 2021 on a Portuguese research vessel navigating on the Atlantic Ocean. The system was designed to be installed in fishing vessels that could operate as a distributed network of ocean data collection. It consists of an automatic weather station, a ferrybox with a water pumping system, an inertial measurement unit, a GNSS unit, an onboard desktop computer, and a wave estimator algorithm for wave spectra estimation. Among several parameters collected by this system’s sensors are the air temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, sea water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity, chlorophyll-a, roll, pitch, heave, true heading, and geolocation of the ship. This paper’s objectives are the following: (1) describe the autonomous prototype; and (2) present the data obtained during a full-scale trial; (3) discuss the results, advantages, and limitations of the system and future developments. Meteorologic measurements were validated by a second weather station onboard. The estimated wave parameters and wave spectra showed good agreement with forecasted data from the Copernicus database. The results are promising, and the system can be a cost-effective solution for voluntary observing ships. Full article
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18 pages, 2713 KiB  
Article
Continuous Zonal Gradients Characterize Epipelagic Plankton Assemblages and Hydrography in the Subtropical North Atlantic
by Antonio Bode, María Ángeles Louro, Elena Rey and Angel F. Lamas
Oceans 2024, 5(1), 109-126; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans5010007 - 1 Mar 2024
Viewed by 778
Abstract
The subtropical North Atlantic is a key region for understanding climate impact in the ocean. Plankton studies in this region have been generally framed in biogeographic provinces or focused on latitudinal gradients. In this study, we demonstrate the benefits of using empirically constructed [...] Read more.
The subtropical North Atlantic is a key region for understanding climate impact in the ocean. Plankton studies in this region have been generally framed in biogeographic provinces or focused on latitudinal gradients. In this study, we demonstrate the benefits of using empirically constructed continuous gradients versus the use of average values for biogeographical provinces to characterize plankton assemblages along a longitudinal transect at 24.5° N using an unprecedented array of stations including hydrographic observations, abundance of phytoplankton and zooplankton, and plankton size spectra in the epipelagic layer (0–200 m). In addition, the variability of zooplankton assemblages was analyzed using detailed taxonomic identification at selected stations. We found significant gradients in most hydrographic and plankton variables. The former, including surface temperature and salinity, the depth of the upper mixing layer, and the depth of the chlorophyll maximum, displayed non-linear gradients with maximum or minimum values near the center of the transect. In contrast, most plankton variables showed linear zonal gradients. Phytoplankton, microzooplankton (<100 µm), and the slope and the intercept of the size spectra increased (and Trichodesmium decreased) to the west. Total mesozooplankton (>200 µm) did not show any significant zonal pattern, but the taxonomic assemblages were characterized by a gradual replacement of large Calanoids by small-bodied Cyclopoid copepods from east to west. The use of continuous gradients provides more detailed information on the zonal structure of subtropical plankton than the classical approach using discrete areas. Full article
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28 pages, 417 KiB  
Review
Blueprint for Blue Carbon: Lessons from Seychelles for Small Island States
by Michael Bennett, Antaya March, Jeremy Raguain and Pierre Failler
Oceans 2024, 5(1), 81-108; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans5010006 - 21 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1120
Abstract
Blue carbon has been proposed as a nature-based solution for climate change mitigation; however, a limited number of published works and data and knowledge gaps hinder the development of small island developing states’ (SIDS) national blue carbon resources globally. This paper reviews the [...] Read more.
Blue carbon has been proposed as a nature-based solution for climate change mitigation; however, a limited number of published works and data and knowledge gaps hinder the development of small island developing states’ (SIDS) national blue carbon resources globally. This paper reviews the blue carbon ecosystems of Seychelles as a case study in the context of SIDS, comparing estimations by the Blue Carbon Lab and recent blue carbon (mangrove and seagrass) evaluations submitted to the Seychelles national government. Mangroves (2195 ha, 80% in Aldabra Atoll) and seagrasses (142,065 ha) dominate in Seychelles, with coral reefs having the potential for carbon sequestration (169,000 ha). Seychelles is on track to protecting its blue carbon, but these systems are threatened by rising sea levels, coastal squeeze, erosion, severe storms, and human activities. The importance of carbon inventories, accounting institutions, and continuous monitoring of blue carbon systems is discussed. Blue accounting is necessary for accurate accounting of carbon sequestration and carbon storage, generating carbon credits, and representing impactful reductions in greenhouse gases for NDCs. Challenges and opportunities include policy legislation regarding ownership rights, accreditation and certification for carbon credits, sustainable financing mechanisms like natural asset companies and blue tokens, local engagement for long-term success, and carbon market dynamics following COP27. The restoration and regulation of blue carbon resources for optimal ecosystem services delivery, carbon inventories, and blue carbon policy are recommended development priorities. Blue carbon ecosystems have the potential to contribute to NDCs of SIDS while simultaneously offering sustainable development pathways for local communities through the multiple ecosystem services they provide. Full article
10 pages, 8386 KiB  
Article
Artificial Reef Deployment Reduces Diving Pressure from Natural Reefs—The Case of Introductory Dives in Eilat, Red Sea
by Nadav Shashar, Asa Oren, Re’em Neri, Omer Waizman, Natalie Chernihovsky and Jenny Tynyakov
Oceans 2024, 5(1), 71-80; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans5010005 - 7 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1890
Abstract
Artificial reefs have been suggested as alternative dive sites to mitigate human pressure on natural reefs. Despite the conceptual appeal of artificial reefs, there is a paucity of empirical evidence regarding their effectiveness in achieving this objective. Here, we report that a small [...] Read more.
Artificial reefs have been suggested as alternative dive sites to mitigate human pressure on natural reefs. Despite the conceptual appeal of artificial reefs, there is a paucity of empirical evidence regarding their effectiveness in achieving this objective. Here, we report that a small artificial reef deployed adjacent to a local coral marine protected area caused a shift in the routes taken by introductory dives and nearly eliminated their visitations to the natural fringing reef within the MPA. This behavioral shift among divers persisted for more than a decade following the AR deployment. These findings underscore the efficacy of well-designed and appropriately located artificial reefs as valuable instruments in the conservation of coral reefs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Conservation and Management of Marine Ecosystems)
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23 pages, 4426 KiB  
Article
Baleen–Plastic Interactions Reveal High Risk to All Filter-Feeding Whales from Clogging, Ingestion, and Entanglement
by Alexander J. Werth, Shirel R. Kahane-Rapport, Jean Potvin, Jeremy A. Goldbogen and Matthew S. Savoca
Oceans 2024, 5(1), 48-70; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans5010004 - 1 Feb 2024
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2609
Abstract
Baleen whales are ecosystem sentinels of microplastic pollution. Research indicates that they likely ingest millions of anthropogenic microparticles per day when feeding. Their immense prey consumption and filter-feeding behavior put them at risk. However, the role of baleen, the oral filtering structure of [...] Read more.
Baleen whales are ecosystem sentinels of microplastic pollution. Research indicates that they likely ingest millions of anthropogenic microparticles per day when feeding. Their immense prey consumption and filter-feeding behavior put them at risk. However, the role of baleen, the oral filtering structure of mysticete whales, in this process has not been adequately addressed. Using actual baleen tissue from four whale species (fin, humpback, minke, and North Atlantic right) in flow tank experiments, we tested the capture rate of plastics of varying size, shape, and polymer type, as well as chemical residues leached by degraded plastics, all of which accumulated in the baleen filter. Expanded polystyrene foam was the most readily captured type of plastic, followed by fragments, fibers, nurdles, and spherical microbeads. Nurdle and microbead pellets were captured most readily by right whale baleen, and fragments were captured by humpback baleen. Although not all differences between polymer types were statistically significant, buoyant polymers were most often trapped by baleen. Plastics were captured by baleen sections from all regions of a full baleen rack, but were more readily captured by baleen from dorsal and posterior regions. Baleen–plastic interactions underlie various risks to whales, including filter clogging and damage, which may impede feeding. We posit that plastics pose a higher risk to some whale species due to a combination of factors, including filter porosity, diet, habitat and geographic distribution, and foraging ecology and behavior. Certain whale species in specific marine regions are of the greatest concern due to plastic abundance. It is not feasible to remove all plastic from the sea; most of what is there will continue to break into ever-smaller pieces. We suggest that higher priorities be accorded to lessening humans’ dependence on plastics, restricting entry points of plastics into the ocean, and developing biodegradable alternatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Mammals in a Changing World, 2nd Edition)
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10 pages, 811 KiB  
Article
Effects of Water Temperature and Structural Habitat Complexity on the Routine Swimming Speed and Escape Response of Post-Settlement Stage White Seabream
by Patrícia Vicente, João Almeida, Laura Ribeiro, Sara Castanho, Ana Candeias-Mendes, Pedro Pousão-Ferreira and Ana Margarida Faria
Oceans 2024, 5(1), 38-47; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans5010003 - 12 Jan 2024
Viewed by 909
Abstract
Coastal habitats are increasingly threatened by multiple anthropogenic-related activities, which include ocean warming and loss of structural habitat complexity. These two pressures have the potential to severely affect the structure and function of marine biodiversity. Early life stages of many fish species recruit [...] Read more.
Coastal habitats are increasingly threatened by multiple anthropogenic-related activities, which include ocean warming and loss of structural habitat complexity. These two pressures have the potential to severely affect the structure and function of marine biodiversity. Early life stages of many fish species recruit to coastal habitats at the end of their pelagic phase, benefiting from access to food, shelter and protection. However, changes in temperature have been shown to influence ecologically relevant behaviours in post-settlement stage fish, and the loss of structural habitat complexity has been related to low recruitment and deleterious behaviours of fish in coastal habitats. Here, we evaluated the individual and interactive effects of prolonged exposure to increasing temperature and changed structural habitat complexity on routine swimming speed and escape response of post-settlement white seabream, Diplodus sargus (Linnaeus, 1758). Fish were reared under different temperatures (control 19 °C; high 22 °C) and structural habitat complexity (low and high) scenarios, in a cross-experimental design, and the routine swimming and escape responses were analyzed after 6 weeks of exposure. Change in temperature did not induce alterations at the behavioural level, but loss of structural habitat complexity increased speed and distance travelled during routine swimming, and responsiveness to a stimulus during the escape response behaviour. The interaction of the two factors did not influence performance. Determining how species are affected by changes in their environment, and the mechanisms that underlie these changes, will be critical to understanding the fish recruitment and populations’ fitness and survival. Full article
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17 pages, 1764 KiB  
Article
Herbivorous Reef Fish Interaction with the Habitat and Physicochemical Variables in Coral Ecosystems in the Mexican Tropical Pacific
by Diana Morales-de-Anda, Amílcar Leví Cupul-Magaña, Consuelo María Aguilar-Betancourt, Gaspar González-Sansón, Fabián Alejandro Rodríguez-Zaragoza and Alma Paola Rodríguez-Troncoso
Oceans 2024, 5(1), 21-37; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans5010002 - 4 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1100
Abstract
Herbivorous fish can mediate spatial competition between algae and corals, which is crucial for coral ecosystems. However, in areas with limited coral coverage like the Mexican tropical Pacific (MTP), this dynamic is not fully understood. This study, using a functional trait approach and [...] Read more.
Herbivorous fish can mediate spatial competition between algae and corals, which is crucial for coral ecosystems. However, in areas with limited coral coverage like the Mexican tropical Pacific (MTP), this dynamic is not fully understood. This study, using a functional trait approach and ordination analysis, explores whether herbivorous reef fish assemblage influences the benthic habitat components or if physicochemical factors define the habitat variability in the MTP’s Cleofas and Marietas insular systems. We analyzed if this relationship persisted across systems and over time, and identified species traits tied to habitat variability. Island comparison analyses between Cleofas and Marietas reveal that both herbivorous reef fish and physicochemical variables shape the habitat. Cleofas had larger mobile herbivorous fish that formed groups related mostly to macroalgae cover. In contrast, temporal analysis of Marietas shows that the habitat is primarily shaped by physicochemical variables with herbivorous fish being mainly small farmer species related to branching corals. Notably, these closely situated insular systems present varied ecosystem mediators, influenced by diverse drivers including fish traits and environmental factors. This study underscores the potential of employing a framework of ecological species traits combined with ordination methods to unravel the distinct site dynamics that contribute to the persistence of coral ecosystems within the MTP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Ecology and Biology)
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20 pages, 2232 KiB  
Article
Contribution to the Knowledge of Cetacean Strandings in Chile between 2015 and 2020
by Mauricio Ulloa, Miguel A. Rivero and Antonio Fernández
Oceans 2024, 5(1), 1-20; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans5010001 - 3 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1292
Abstract
Strandings caused by anthropogenic factors are one of the most worrying threats in relation to the conservation of cetacean species, and in the case of Chile, due to its geography and large extension of the coastline, monitoring and access to these events is [...] Read more.
Strandings caused by anthropogenic factors are one of the most worrying threats in relation to the conservation of cetacean species, and in the case of Chile, due to its geography and large extension of the coastline, monitoring and access to these events is difficult, making their study more complex. Chile has a shortage of specialized scientific forensic research facilities for cetaceans; however, for this study, it was able to collect data recorded from official institutions and sporadic scientific biological sampling oriented to investigate the causes of death or stranding. According to the Chilean government official database, we described that the main causes of unusual mortality events (UME) and mass strandings from 2015 and 2016 were acute poisoning by biotoxins and strandings by multiple possible causes, respectively, while individual strandings would have their causes in anthropogenic activities, such as entanglements in fishing and aquaculture gears and collisions with vessels. The predominant species in mass strandings was the sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis). The geographical area of greatest prominence in mass strandings was the Aysén Region in the Central Patagonia of Chile, while the species mostly involved in individual strandings along the south-central, central, and northern coasts of Chile was the small porpoise (Phocoena spinipinnis). The most common gross pathological findings were advance decay of the carcasses and non-specific wounds of different natures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Mammal Health)
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