News

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, people are beginning to understand, at a very personal level, the ways in which infectious diseases can devastate life. But disease outbreaks are not confined to just humans or to life on land. Infectious disease-induced mass mortality events are known to afflict a variety of species, including invertebrates, birds, fish, and both land and aquatic mammals. However, these events in aquatic mammals are understudied compared to their land-dwelling counterparts. I Sanderson and Alexander discovered that infectious disease-induced mass mortality events occurred in 14 percent of marine mammal species between 1955 and 2018. Viruses were responsible for 72 percent of these events and caused 20 times the number of deaths than bacterial outbreaks. Specifically, morbillivirus and influenza A outbreaks were the most commonly recorded. Due to their life cycles, both viruses can infect multiple hosts since they have the potential to be transmitted between various species.

The Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) or boto, already classified as “endangered” since 2018 by the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is now coming under even more serious threat across Brazil and Latin America. An estimated population in the low tens of thousands is thought to exist in the wild, though counting the animals accurately in the Amazon’s murky streams is challenging. Like other river dolphins, the boto communicates with variable whistle tones. Occupying the Amazon and Orinoco river basins, which cut across the northern half of the South American continent, these freshwater mammals were historically abundant, and are protected today by Brazilian law; it is illegal to kill them. But for years, poachers have targeted the dolphins, using their fatty blubber as bait to catch a carnivorous catfish called piracatinga, which is drawn to the scent of rotting flesh.

Ocean currents in the deep sea are creating microplastic hotspots which house around 1.9 million tiny pieces of debris per square metre, scientists have said. Researchers believe these slow-moving currents, which also supply oxygen and nutrients to deep-sea creatures, are directing the flow of plastics towards these areas, resulting in so-called “garbage patches” deep in the ocean.

“….When we think of public health risks, we may not think of the ocean as a factor. Increasingly, however, the health of the ocean is intimately tied to our health. Some may be surprised to read that organisms discovered at extreme depths are used to speed up the detection of COVID-19, and probably, even more to learn that, it is the environment to could give a solution to humankind.….”

In times of uncertainty, the deep sea provides potential solutions. The test being used to diagnose the novel coronavirus—and other pandemics like AIDS and SARS—was developed with the help of an enzyme isolated from a microbe found in marine hydrothermal vents as well as freshwater hot springs.

This is our last day and we are in Punta Carena, one of the most beautiful underwater landscape off the coast of Capri. Today we have deployed the last hydrophone that, together with the other 2 we deployed the past few days, will be recovered by the Carabinieri Nucleo Subacqueo. This is only the first phase of the project sponsored by Triton, called "The Sound of Silence". In a month time we will recover the hydrophone and will analyse the data in Grenoble. We complete the first data collection campaign, which was supported by Rosalba Giugni, chairman of Marevivo Onlus, and this...

We have dived back in the sea today for our "The Sound of Silence" project. Together with the Carabinieri Nucleo Subacqueo, in Naples, we have deployed the hydrophone that Triton gave us, near the Santa Croce Bank. Tomorrow we will go to Capri. This project is managed by the Parc National des Calanques and it aims at collecting audio data from two of the most beautiful cities in the Med: Marseilles and Naples.

"Despite the growing use of eDNA to catalog the presence and absence of species, a reliable link between the abundance of organisms and the quantity of DNA has remained elusive. In their paper, Nichols and Marko demonstrate that this new method tested on coral reefs in Hawaii is a quick and cost-effective way to measure live coral "cover," the amount of a coral reef occupied by living corals. Because corals facilitate the presence of many other species on a reef, coral cover is one of several important measuring sticks that scientists use to characterize the status of a reef, an...

We live in times of struggle against Covid-19 which seems to have declared war on mankind. A frightening pandemic capable of stopping all activity on the planet and stifling the economic development with disastrous consequences. A fatality? There are many scientists who theorize that the imbalance of equilibria in various ecosystems can cause the development of very aggressive viruses which can endanger humanity. Despite lesser media coverage, similar phenomena are taking place in the deep sea and that is causing the extinction of entire species. Particularly, warming seas are causing the death of several gorgonian forests. Beyond the importance of individual beings, forests...