World Oceans Day: Exploring the many surfaces of marine biology

Today we are excited to celebrate World Oceans Day. This day is a great opportunity to join in the many events going on around the world to recognize the instrumental role oceans play in our lives, the significant contribution oceans play in biodiversity, and the many steps that can be taken to help protect and conserve the ocean.

We publish the latest peer-reviewed findings in marine biology, five days a week, in PeerJ – the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences. Today, we wanted to share a handful of these PeerJ articles and resources from the archive. All PeerJ research is Open Access and ready to be shared with all interested readers. From whale migratory patterns to ocean acidification, from small worm-snails to marine megafauna, we’ve got some fascinating science (plus some pretty cool videos and infographics) to be shared this World Oceans Day!

Have a favorite study or scientific resource you would like to see shared more widely on World Oceans Day? Share with us on social media @thePeerJ and we’ll be sure to retweet.


True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus) in Macaronesia

From the abstract: The True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus, True 1913) is a poorly known member of the Ziphiidae family. This paper (i) reports the first molecular confirmation of the occurrence of the True’s beaked whale at the southern limit of its distribution recorded in the northeast Atlantic: the Azores and Canary Islands (macaronesian ecoregion); (ii) describes a new colouration for this species using evidence from a whale with molecular species confirmation; and (iii) contributes to the sparse worldwide database of live sightings, including the first underwater video recording of this species and close images of a calf.


4th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity – a PeerJ Collection

The World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (WCMB) has become the major focal assembly to share research outcomes, management and policy issues, and discussions on the role of biodiversity in sustaining ocean ecosystems. This year, we hosted the WCMB Conference Collection, which took place in May. The meeting brought together scientists, practitioners, and policy makers to discuss and advance our understanding of the importance and current state of biodiversity in the marine environment. Check out the abstracts, presentations and full manuscripts at the Collection!


Non-native molluscan colonizers on deliberately placed shipwrecks in the Florida Keys, with description of a new species of potentially invasive worm-snail (Gastropoda: Vermetidae)

Artificial reefs created by deliberately sinking ships off the coast of the Florida Keys island chain are providing new habitat for marine invertebrates. This newly developing fouling community includes the previously reported invasive orange tube coral Tubastraea coccinea and the non-native giant foam oyster Hyotissa hyotis.


Largest baleen whale mass mortality during strong El Niño event is likely related to harmful toxic algal bloom

While large mass mortality events (MMEs) are well known for toothed whales, they have been rare in baleen whales due to their less gregarious behavior. Although in most cases the cause of mortality has not been conclusively identified, some baleen whale mortality events have been linked to bio-oceanographic conditions, such as harmful algal blooms (HABs). In Southern Chile, HABs can be triggered by the ocean–atmosphere phenomenon El Niño. The frequency of the strongest El Niño events is increasing due to climate change. In March 2015, by far the largest reported mass mortality of baleen whales took place in a gulf in Southern Chile.


Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna

What are the greatest sizes that the largest marine megafauna obtain? This is a simple question with a difficult and complex answer. Many of the largest-sized species occur in the world’s oceans. For many of these, rarity, remoteness, and quite simply the logistics of measuring these giants has made obtaining accurate size measurements difficult. Here, the authors review and analyze body size for 25 ocean giants ranging across the animal kingdom.


Ship noise extends to frequencies used for echolocation by endangered killer whales

Combining calibrated hydrophone measurements with vessel location data from the Automatic Identification System, we estimate underwater sound pressure levels for 1,582 unique ships that transited the core critical habitat of the endangered Southern Resident killer whales during 28 months between March, 2011, and October, 2013.


Effects of ocean acidification on the dissolution rates of reef-coral skeletons

Ocean acidification threatens the foundation of tropical coral reefs. This study investigated three aspects of ocean acidification: (i) the rates at which perforate and imperforate coral-colony skeletons passively dissolve when pH is 7.8, which is predicted to occur globally by 2100, (ii) the rates of passive dissolution of corals with respect to coral-colony surface areas, and (iii) the comparative rates of a vertical reef-growth model, incorporating passive dissolution rates, and predicted sea-level rise.


To all our marine biologists out there, thanks for making your work Open Access, and thanks for all your dedicated work to progress our understanding of the ocean! For more great marine biology, check out our PeerJ section dedicated to Aquatic Biology.