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P.E.I. fishermen surrounded by 'thousands' of jellyfish – CBC.ca

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Just outside the Tryon River on Prince Edward Island, Brian Campbell’s boat motor began to stall as it became surrounded by lion’s mane jellyfish. 

“I’ve never seen that many before,” said Campbell. “They would get caught up in that propeller. There’s quite a few of them — I want to say thousands and thousands.”

Lion’s mane jellyfish can grow to two metres in diameter with tentacles as long as 30 metres, roughly the same length as a blue whale. 

What’s more? They sting.

High concentration of lion’s mane

“Wouldn’t want to be swimming there that day, that’s for sure,” said Campbell, who has been a fisherman for 42 years. 

“It’s all right if you got one or two that sting you. But at that point right there, I think you could probably do some harm … if you get 30 or 40 on you.”

Last Tuesday, Campbell posted on Facebook warning people not to swim in the area. He later added a video of the encounter. 

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Oceanographer Nick Record says the species is common throughout Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine, but this is the first he’s heard of such a large group.

“I’m pretty sure that’s the highest concentration of lion’s mane jellyfish that anyone has reported to me,” said Record, a senior research scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, a non-profit research institution in Maine. 

‘Just giants’

Record said he has noticed a new phenomenon of gigantic lion’s mane jellyfish washing up onshore.

“They’re usually about the size of a dinner plate or smaller,” he said. “The last 18 months or so there’s been a handful, maybe five to 10 instances, where they were like [one and a half to two metres] across — so just giants.”

Nick Record says he receives between 100 and 1,000 reports of jellyfish sightings each year. (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences)

Record has been using citizen reports to track the creatures for about a decade. He said it’s hard to know whether or not  jellyfish are increasing based on the reports, because while more reported sightings could mean more jellyfish, it could also just mean more people are out on the water.

That being said, there are several factors that could impact the population including weather, currents and the food chain. 

“Partly it’s the biology. Jellyfish can reproduce really quickly when conditions are good,” said Record. “Partly it’s the ocean physics.”

‘I couldn’t believe how many there was’

“When I first saw it, I thought maybe somebody hit a seal up there just a little ways away,” said Chad Gallant, a lobster fisherman in North Rustico, P.E.I.

“There was a bunch of pink in the water. I thought it might’ve been blood.”

It wasn’t blood, it was jellyfish. 

Unlike other living organisms, jellyfish can survive and thrive in stressed environments with little oxygen and depleted ecosystems. (Chad Gallant)

These were moon jellyfish, a different species from those Campbell saw.

“We just stopped there,” said Gallant. “I couldn’t believe how many there was.”

Gallant also posted a video on Facebook. 

“It’s not too surprising to me to see a really high abundance of them,” said Record. ” But I’ve never seen a photo where they were that dense before.”

Moon jellyfish are seasonal and feed on zooplankton, according to Record. He said they “don’t generally sting,” but some people have sensitivities or allergic reactions to them. 

“I thought it was kinda cool,” laughed Gallant. “It don’t bother me from going swimming again.” 

Competing with fish for food

Record said there are both pros and cons to seeing groups this large. 

“Some people see jellyfish as a total nuisance and large jellyfish aggregations as an unequivocally bad thing,” he said. “Other people see jellyfish as these amazing, beautiful animals and just want to take photos of them all day.”

They can impact the ecosystem in many ways, too. On one hand, they’re prey for sea turtles. On the other, they compete with fish for food. 

There’s a scientific debate about whether jellyfish are increasing globally or not.— Nick Record, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

“People have tried to get fish stocks to rebound, but because the [jellyfish] are eating the same food that the fish would be eating, it makes it more difficult for fish stocks to come back,” said Record. 

But unlike other living organisms, the jellyfish can survive and thrive in stressed environments with little oxygen and depleted ecosystems. 

More data needed

“There’s a scientific debate about whether jellyfish are increasing globally or not,” said Record. “In order to answer the question about whether there’s a long-term trend, you need decades of data.

“We don’t really have that in Atlantic Canada.” 

According to Record, this citizen reporting program is “really the only long-term survey for jellyfish in our part of the world.” 

In order to track the sea animal, Record has to know where they are. And to know where they are, he needs people to report them. Record said people can send information regarding sightings to jellyfish@bigelow.org.

There’s little doubt the videos taken around P.E.I. show a significant number of jellyfish. However, whether this means their population is climbing, the response isn’t so clear. 

“We don’t know yet,” said Record. “It’ll take many years before we can answer that question.” 

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Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks As Waning Moon Meets Venus: What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week – Forbes

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Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy and eclipses. 

What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: August 10-16, 2020

Are you ready to go “shooting star”-spotting? Active since July 17, the Perseid meteor shower can bring as many as 100 “shooting stars” per hour on its peak night. In 2020, that’s Tuesday, August 11 into Wednesday, August 12. 

That’s just the beginning of a great week for stargazing. As the week wears on it becomes one of the best weeks of the year to see the Milky Way in the run-up to August 19’s New Moon. From August 12 the Moon will be rising after midnight, giving you a few hours of dark skies just as the brightest part of our galaxy is arcing overhead. 

With two of summer’s celestial treats in the same week, and some great views of Venus and the Moon to boot, a sparkling seven days of stargazing awaits!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020: Perseid meteor shower peaks

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Easily the most popular meteor shower of the year in the northern hemisphere, tonight is one of the best nights of the year to see “shooting stars.” It’s caused by dust and debris left in Earth’s orbital path by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which last entered the Solar System in 1992 and is due back in July 2126. 

The Perseids can number as many as 100 per hour. Will you see that many? A rising Last Quarter Moon about midnight is going to bleach-out some of the brighter meteors, but there should still be plenty for patient eyes to spot. 

Be outside before midnight. As well as some early “earthgrazers”—long-lasting shooting stars close to the eastern and western horizons—if you’re in a dark place away from light pollution you may also see the Milky Way arcing overhead in the south. 

After midnight, to find shooting stars look at any part of the night sky, and keep looking! However, you’ll need clear skies; if it’s cloudy, you’re not going to see anything.

It’s also worth looking for Perseid meteors on Wednesday, August 12 into Thursday, August 13, and even the night after that. If there’s a clear sky this week, get outside and look up.

Wednesday, August 12 – Saturday, August 22: See the Milky Way

Did you manage to sneak a peak at our galaxy while out watching for Perseids?

The center of our galaxy looks spectacular in August, but the Milky Way is at its best when the Moon is down. That’s from tonight through August 19’s New Moon.

Look generally south, preferably while observing from somewhere away from light pollution and, crucially, somewhere where your view to the southern horizon isn’t going to have the glow from any town or city. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020: Venus as a ‘Morning Star’ and Aldebaran close to the Moon

If you enjoyed seeing Venus dominate as an “Evening Star” for the first half of 2020, now is the best time to appreciate how much it’s now dominating as a pre-dawn “Morning Star.”

Always the brightest object in the night sky aside from the Moon, Venus today reaches its greatest elongation west. 

That means it seems, from our point of view one Earth, to be furthest from the Sun in its current morning apparition, so it appears at its highest point in the pre-dawn night sky. Look above the eastern horizon about three hours before sunrise.

At 45.8° west of the Sun, it’s the highest in the night sky Venus will get during 2020. 

If you’re up early enough to see Venus, do have a look for bright star Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus, which will be a mere 4° from a 34% illuminated Moon. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020: conjunction of a crescent Moon and Venus

This morning Venus will still be rising about three hours before the Sun, together with an 18%-lit crescent Moon (see above) that will seem closer to it the nearer it gets to sunrise.

Constellation of the week: Orion

Look to the east and, if you’re up earlier enough, you can also indulge in some good views of the winter constellations. 

Most notably you’ll see the famous cold weather constellation of Orion rising on its side. Its bright stars, ruddy Betelgeuse and true blue Rigel, should both be just about visible. Between them will the Belt; above will be the constellation of Taurus and bright red star Aldebaran.

Further proof that although the stars change with the seasons, if you get up early enough you can cheat the system! 

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

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NASA’s InSight lander shows what’s beneath Mars’ surface – Digital Trends

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Scientists are learning more about the interior structure of Mars and have found the depths of three boundaries beneath the planet’s surface. “Ultimately it may help us understand planetary formation,” Alan Levander, co-author of the study said in a statement.

This is the first time that these boundaries have been measured directly. Investigating the planet’s interior is complicated because it doesn’t have tectonic plates like Earth does.

“In the absence of plate tectonics on Mars, its early history is mostly preserved compared with Earth,” co-author Sizhuang Deng said in the statement. “The depth estimates of Martian seismic boundaries can provide indications to better understand its past as well as the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets in general.”

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The data was collected using NASA’s InSight lander, which uses an instrument called a seismometer to measure vibrations coming from within Mars. It detects marsquakes, in which seismic waves pass through the planet, which can be used to infer details about the density and the composition of the planet beneath the surface.

“The traditional way to investigate structures beneath Earth is to analyze earthquake signals using dense networks of seismic stations,” Deng said in the statement. “Mars is much less tectonically active, which means it will have far fewer marsquake events compared with Earth. Moreover, with only one seismic station on Mars, we cannot employ methods that rely on seismic networks.”

An artist’s impression of Mars’ inner structure. The topmost layer is the crust, and beneath it is the mantle, which rests on a solid inner core.
An artist’s impression of Mars’ inner structure. The topmost layer is the crust, and beneath it is the mantle, which rests on a solid inner core. NASA/JPL-Caltech

The team found three boundaries within the inner structure of Mars: A divide between the crust and the mantle, located 22 miles beneath the surface, a transition within the mantle from an area where magnesium iron silicates form a mineral called olivine to one where they form wadsleyite, which is found between 690 miles and 727 miles beneath the surface, and the divide between the mantel and the core, which is located between 945 miles and 994 miles beneath the surface.

This information reveals more not only about how the planet exists now, but could also be used to investigate how Mars developed over time.

The findings are published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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THIS WEEK @NASA: First Commercial Crew Flight to Space Station Safely Splashes Down – SpaceCoastDaily.com

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Latest Happenings around NASA

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ABOVE VIDEO: A safe splashdown for an historic test flight, a major milestone for a future mission, and remembering a champion for Earth Science … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

First Commercial Crew Flight to Space Station Safely Splashes Down

SpaceX Mission Control:
(Sound of capsule hitting water) “Splashdown! As you can see on your screen, we have visual confirmation for splashdown!”

On Aug. 2, the SpaceX Endeavour Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, safely returning our Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken from an historic test mission to the International Space Station, and marking a new era in human spaceflight.

Jim Bridenstine/NASA Administrator:
“This is really an amazing day, but we also need to remember that this is just the beginning. The future is very bright, but it’s going to require these public/private partnerships which we have now proven can be very, very successful.”

Gwynne Shotwell/SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer:
“We are starting the journey of bringing people regularly to and from low-Earth orbit and on to the Moon and then ultimately on to Mars.”

Behnken and Hurley’s 62-day stay onboard the space station was very busy. They spent more than 100 hours working with science investigations, and participated in four spacewalks, which saw Behnken and fellow NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy tie the record for most spacewalks by a U.S. astronaut.

Douglas Hurley/NASA Astronaut:
“To see those two work out on the International Space Station, you’re not going to see anything like that again. It was just amazing to be part of that.”

The splashdown of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission was the first with American astronauts since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project 45 years ago. Review of the mission and spacecraft could pave the way for NASA to certify SpaceX’s systems for regular crewed flights to the space station, including Crew-1, the first rotational mission later this year.

Robert Behnken/NASA Astronaut:
“I think this kind of comes full circle. It took years to get here; we brought the capability back to America, and we came home safely to our families. And it took a lot of people a lot of time to make that happen.”

NASA’s Lucy Mission Passes Critical Mission Milestone

Our Lucy mission has been cleared to proceed with assembly and testing in preparation for its targeted launch in 2021. Lucy will be the first mission to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. For more, go to: nasa.gov/lucy.

NASA Remembers Distinguished Earth Scientist Mike Freilich

NASA joins the entire science community in mourning the loss of Mike Freilich, former director of the agency’s Earth Science Division. In a statement, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine noted that Freilich’s deep expertise and innate love of science helped us expand the ways we observe our home planet. Earlier this year NASA joined several agencies and international partners to rename a mission after him. The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission will gather critical information about the oceans for which he had such an abiding passion.

NASA Provides Data on Isaias

This image was taken by our Terra satellite on Aug. 3, about 9 hours and 40 minutes before the eye of Hurricane Isaias made landfall in southern North Carolina, packing maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. NASA satellites provided forecasters with rainfall rates, cloud top temperatures, and other data as the huge storm made its way up the U.S. East Coast.

NASA Monitors California’s Apple Fire From Space

An instrument aboard the International Space Station that measures the temperature of plants as they run out of water, produced this temperature map showing the Apple wildfire burning just east of Los Angeles. The fire had consumed about 4,000 acres at the time the image was captured. In just two days, that number grew to more than 26,000 acres.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA

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