On Wednesday our Assistant Director of Program Development Jake talked to the Hollywood Hills Saltwater Fishing Science and Social Club at their monthly meeting. Jake gave a brief talk about shark ecology and biology, while also covering the work he did for his masters thesis, which studied the effects of fishing capture stress on sharks. Club members asked lots of great questions, and were able to chat with Jake afterwards about their interactions and experiences with sharks as sport fishermen. Jake's masters research on shark stress physiology was recently published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science (read it here!).
We're always thrilled to have a chance to talk to people who love the ocean as much as we do. Many thanks to the Hollywood Hills Saltwater Fishing Science and Social Club for the invitation!
A recent study in Science included placing cameras on Polar Bears in the Beaufort Sea. While, no, we don’t see a lot of Polar Bears here in South Florida, they featured in our Executive Director Catherine’s dissertation, and we think they’re incredibly cool (and seriously under threat), so we thought we’d discuss this neat new research.
A lot of the challenges polar bears are facing come down to two main issues: habitat and energy budgets. In general, the more inhospitable to life a place is, the more specialized the adaptations are that the animals that live there need to survive. So polar bears need to eat a lot of calories to stay warm (though their blubber layer and specialized fur help). They also need to solve practical problems like getting enough fresh water in a sea ice environment (which they do in two cool ways—by eating mostly seal blubber, which breaks down to provide fresh water, and by having incredibly efficient kidneys). Changes in sea ice and climate are making it harder for polar bears to access (and capture) the seals they depend on for food. A polar bear that’s hunting successfully may catch and eat a seal every day or two—and if they do, they can expect to gain up to 40 pounds in as little as a week and a half. These resources help them survive arctic summers, when sea ice recedes and they no longer have access to seals as a food source. On the other hand, polar bears that aren’t having good hunting success can lose 40 pounds in a week and a half, putting them at risk of starvation (or at least a very lean and difficult summer season).
Polar Bears are one of the clearest examples of how changing climates can directly impact species that people care about--so enjoy this amazing polar bear footage, take a look at the study itself or the great coverage of it in The Atlantic, but also maybe consider supporting an organization that's working to address climate change.
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