Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags , , , , Leave a comment on Bodega Bay lab at forefront of effort to save rare abalone species

Bodega Bay lab at forefront of effort to save rare abalone species

The stacks of white, water-filled troughs in a small building at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory offer a bright spot in a landscape of often-grim news about California’s marine environment.
Roughly 2,000 tiny white abalone almost a year into life here represent the promise that an all-but-extinct sea mollusk might survive.

The product of a 4-year-old program that began with 18 wild white abalone plucked from the ocean depths near the Channel Islands 15 years ago, these small shellfish — from pencil-point- to almond-sized — are proof that captive breeding can work. Already, descendant abalone produced over three spawning seasons in affiliated science labs across the state are nearly equal in number to those believed to remain in the wild, where they are scattered so widely they no longer reproduce.

But with greater success in the lab each season, and a new round of spawning planned in early March, scientists in the program say they are just a few years away from beginning to test the survival of the young abalone out at sea, in hopes of eventually restoring some portion of the wild population.

“We may not bring it back anywhere close to what it was,” said Gary Cherr, director of the Bodega Marine Lab and principal investigator for the white abalone captive breeding program. “But if we can establish some self-sustaining populations up and down the coast … that would be a first. That would be really remarkable.”

Read more via Bodega Bay lab at forefront of effort to | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on New ocean study shows alarming pattern in ice age oxygen loss

New ocean study shows alarming pattern in ice age oxygen loss

New research on sea floor core samples collected from across the planet shows oxygen levels in the world’s oceans plummeted as the last ice age came to an end, a discovery that sheds light on the speed and extent to which modern-day climate change could alter global marine environments with potentially staggering results.
The study, made public this week by UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, suggests expansive low-oxygen zones that characterized world oceans during a period of melting ice sheets 10,000 to 17,000 years ago could be predictive of a trend already underway, potentially leading to mass die-offs of marine species and drastically disrupted food systems.
“The potential for our oceans to look very, very different in 100 to 150 years is real,” lead researcher Sarah Moffitt, a postdoctoral scholar at the marine lab, said in a statement unveiling the work.
The study was based on analyses of 36 sedimentary cores drilled from sites along the continental edges in the Pacific and Indian oceans. The meters-long plugs of sediment serve as records of geochemical and biological changes within ocean layers.
They revealed extreme, rapid oxygen loss in every region, occurring in some cases over 100 years or less but persisting for thousands of years, Moffitt said.
As with the current period of climate change, the deglaciation period was a time of increasing temperatures, surging levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising sea levels, Moffitt said.
Read more via New ocean study shows alarming pattern in ice | The Press Democrat.