Sarasota, Fla. (UPI) Feb 3, 2011
Scientists say an underwater blob of goo off the Florida Panhandle coast isn't oil, but rather a mass of dead plankton, algae and bacteria.
The underwater mass of dead sea life, at least three feet thick and spanning 2/3 of a mile off to the coast, appears to be growing as microscopic algae and bacteria get trapped in it and die, the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune reported Wednesday.
Scientists investigating whether oil from last year's Deepwater Horizon disaster was a factor in the creation of the blob say tests so far have found no sign of oil.
"It seems to be a combination of algae and bacteria," David Hollander of the University of South Florida said, describing the substance as toxic and "extraordinarily sticky."
Researchers say they are not ruling out a possible connection to the oil spill that gummed up that part of the gulf for 30 to 40 days and pumped 186 million to 227 million gallons of crude into the ocean.
"We don't know all the ramifications, the implications of a spill like this," Hollander said.
earlier related report
Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts confirmed that longfin squid can indeed detect sound at low frequencies by the movement of their aqueous environment, ScienceDaily.com reported this week.
"They are detecting themselves moving back and forth with the sound wave," Woods Hole marine biologist T. Aran Mooney says.
He compared a squid in the ocean being jostled by a sound wave to a piece of fruit suspended in Jell-O. "If you jiggle the Jell-O, the whole block of Jell-O is moving with the fruit."
Mooney's team determined that squid can only listen in at low frequencies of up to 500 hertz. Humans, by comparison, can hear frequencies from about 20 to 20,000 hertz.
Squid can probably detect wind, waves and reef sounds, Mooney says, but not the high-frequency sounds emitted by the dolphins and toothed whales that eat them.
Mooney says researchers are working to better understand how the motion-based hearing mechanism of squid works.
"The idea is maybe if these guys do have a primitive sense of hearing, can we use them as a model to understand the foundation of hearing or how hearing is lost," he said, adding the research could ultimately be applicable to human hearing.
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Thailand closes dive spots due to reef damage
Bangkok (AFP) Jan 21, 2011
Thailand has closed a host of popular dive sites to tourists indefinitely to allow coral reefs to recover from widespread bleaching caused by warmer sea temperatures, authorities said Friday. In total 18 areas in seven marine parks are off-limits, according to an order by the Thai National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. "Diving in all the spots is to be halted indefini ... read more
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