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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: marine biology (30)

Port Phillip Taxonomic Toolkit

Author
by Blair
Publish date
15 March 2012
Comments
Comments (5)

Hey check out www.portphillipmarinelife.net.au – the new Port Phillip Taxonomic Toolkit website we launched this week! It's a joint initiative between the Department of Sustainability and Environment, and us at the museum.

Juvenile Scalyfin, jellyfish and biscuit stars in Port Phillip Bay. Left to right: Juvenile Scalyfin, jellyfish and biscuit stars in Port Phillip Bay.
Image: Julian Finn | Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

There is a spectacular gallery of over 2,000 photographs that make it the site to surf if you don't want to get wet this dive season. And if you do get wet, then it's the one place to learn about the cool stuff you've seen underwater.

Have a click around and find your favourite pretty fin or an awesome octopus!

albatross, isopod and Moray Eel from Port Phillip Bay. Left to right: albatross, isopod and moray eel from Port Phillip Bay.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The site has 1,001 species from Port Phillip Bay with more to come in 2012. There are frowning faces of stargazers to picture-perfect blue devils, fish that walk instead of swim, cannibalistic sea cucumbers, and seahorses that eat lunch like sucking a hotdog out of a roll. They're all part of our truly amazing local marine life.

The Port Phillip Taxonomic Toolkit is primarily an identification and information resource for scientists and marine enthusiasts, but the images provide some fun and education for all audiences. There are also interactive menus to identify selected species as well as descriptions of characters that make the animals unique.

The project is funded by the Department of Sustainability and Environment's Seagrass and Reefs Program for Port Phillip Bay and will be completed later this year.

Hydrothermal vents

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
24 January 2012
Comments
Comments (1)

Collection Manager David Staples has recently returned from a six-week voyage with a team of British scientists studying the marine life on seamounts and hydrothermal vents in the southern Indian Ocean.

Hydrothermal vents are associated with active spreading centres of tectonic plate boundaries and are often referred to as black (or white) smokers because of the mineral-rich, super-heated fluids they spew into the water column.

A diverse and unique fauna lives in association with the vents and a short clip of what was seen on one of these vents at about 3km depth can be viewed here. Yeti crabs, sea spiders, scaly-foot gastropods, mussels, worms and shrimp can be seen moving quickly at the periphery of these high temperature plumes.

 

Video used with the kind permission of Dr Jon Copley, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

Links:

Mountain life beneath the sea

Black smoker in Dynamic Earth

2012 EOL Rubenstein Fellow

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
19 January 2012
Comments
Comments (1)

Dr Joanne Taylor has had a busy few months; just before Christmas the book that she co-edited was published, and now she has been selected as a 2012 Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) Rubenstein Fellow!

This prestigious fellowship is awarded by the Smithsonian Institution to support scientists to upload information about the species they study into the EOL. As a Rubenstein Fellow, Jo will be adding over 400 species of squat lobsters to this amazing resource about the world's biodiversity.

In 2009, Jo started a postdoctorate project to produce the first comprehensive book about this group of colourful crustaceans. The resulting book, The Biology of Squat Lobsters, was published by CSIRO last year.

Dr Jo Taylor Dr Jo Taylor in late 2011 with her hot-off-the-press preview copy of her book, The Biology of Squat Lobsters.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Congratulations Jo!

Links:

MV News: New squat lobster species

MV News: Butterflies of the sea

Encyclopedia of Life

The Biology of Squat Lobsters, edited by Gary C B Poore, Shane T Ahyong and Joanne Taylor. CSIRO Publishing, 2011.

New sea cucumber species discovered

Author
by Blair
Publish date
6 December 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

I just found out what you get when you combine a talented underwater photographer, the keen interest of a year 10 student volunteer, and a museum expert: five species new to science!

Cartoon of student, diver, scientist My schematic of this discovery, which also explains why I'm a scientist not a cartoonist.
Image: Blair Patullo
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In the latest Museum Victoria Memoirs there is a report that describes five new marine species, two of them from Victoria. Perhaps not that amazing considering that's partly what museums do – we discover and describe new species – but this report needed the help from two members of the community.

Firstly, a student volunteer spent over 30 hours looking down a microscope studying the species. And by chance, we also received an image from a recreational diver, participating in Reefwatch Victoria, that showed one of the species spawning in the wild. The result is a perfect combination of scientific detail and real life underwater action.

sea cucumber spawning The sea cucumber Paracaudina bacillis spawning at Rye Pier in Port Phillip Bay.
Image: D. McKenzie
Source: D. McKenzie
 

The new species are all sea cucumbers from the genus group Paracaudina. They were previously thought to be the same as the tropical species Paracaudina australis, which this report now confirms is unlikely to live in Victorian waters. These Paracaudina are some of the largest sea cucumber species in Australia.

Links:

P. Mark O'Loughlin, Shari Barmos and Didier VandenSpiegel. The paracaudinid sea cucumbers of Australia and New Zealand (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Molpadida: Caudinidae). Memoirs of Museum Victoria 68 :37-65 (2011) (PDF, 2.86MB)

Reefwatch Victoria

MV Blog: Skeletons of sea cucumbers

MV Blog: Trepang today

Mountain life beneath the sea

Author
by David Staples
Publish date
25 November 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

David helps manage MV's Marine Invertebrates collections. He has specialist knowledge of the pycnogonids, or sea spiders.

So, what am I doing here seemingly in the middle of nowhere, 2000km south-east of Capetown and 1500km south of Madagascar?

I have joined an expedition aboard the 95m British Royal Research Ship ‘James Cook’ with a team of scientists exploring seamounts and hydrothermal vents along the South West Indian Ridge (SWIR). Seamounts are mountains under the sea, while hydrothermal vents are fissures in the Earth’s surface from which water heated by volcanic activity issues.

The Royal Research Ship ‘James Cook’ in calm seas. The Royal Research Ship ‘James Cook’ in calm seas.
Image: David Staples
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The SWIR is the tectonic plate boundary that bisects the ocean between Antarctica and Africa and links the Mid-Atlantic ridge and Central Indian Ridge systems. The Central Indian Ridge runs below Australia (as the South Eastern Indian Ridge) and it is speculated that these ridges and the currents they generate may be migration pathways for seamount and vent fauna between the Atlantic, Indian and ultimately the Pacific Oceans.

Map of research cruise route The proposed route for the research cruise exploring the South West Indian Ridge south of South Africa and Madagascar.
Source: IUCN
 

The main focus of this expedition is to investigate the benthic assemblages on these seamounts using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). The ROV being used is the German ‘Kiel 6000’ which comes with a crew of eight technicians. As its name suggests, this ROV is capable of reaching depths of 6000m.

Remotely Operated Vehicle Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) ‘Kiel 6000’, built by Schilling Robotics, Germany and owned and operated by GEOMAR.
Image: David Staples
Source: Museum Victoria
 

On board are oceanographers, geophysicists and biologists all contributing their expertise. We are presently above the Coral Seamount, the top of which comes to within about 300m of the surface; much shallower than the 750m of ocean typical of the seamounts south of Tasmania. While at greater depths some aspects of the fauna are common to both regions, the abundant and diverse fauna found on the upper reaches of this seamount are quite different. It is rare to be able to study fauna at these shallower depths.

In 1999 two moorings, each carrying packets of whale bones and mango wood logs, were experimentally deployed on this seamount and on the Atlantis Bank in expectation that the bones would be colonised by as yet undescribed specialist organisms, such as polychaetes and bivalves. We located the Coral Seamount mooring on our third dive and part of today’s program has been to collect the bones and wood for later analysis. Collections and data from this region are of great interest internationally but closer to home they provide valuable information for the museum’s own scientists for their research projects.

For those interested in keeping abreast of events, Aurélie Spadone (representing the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is keeping a blog of the expedition.

Octopus on dry land

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
24 November 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

A YouTube video, Octopus Walks on Land at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is doing the rounds at the moment and generating a bit of online discussion about this fascinating behaviour.

Dr Julian Finn filmed a similar event in Broome a few years back where a small, unnamed octopus (Abdopus sp.) crawled between rock pools at low tide. He says that it's not uncommon for intertidal octopuses to roam between pools in hunt of prey such as crabs or fish. They may also flee their tide pool to escape the attention of bigger, hungrier octopuses! In this video, he explains more about these terrestrial adventures.

 

Watch this video with a transcript

Like all cephalopods, octopuses breathe through gills and won't survive for long out of water. Julian has only seen octopuses crawl over dry land where the chance of them being trapped out of water is minimal. In captivity, it's not unknown for octopuses to turn up in strange places after breaking out of their tanks – including one that was found in a staircase!

Links:

MV Blog: Blue-ringed octopus project

MV News: Argonaut buoyancy

MV News: Tool use in Veined Octopus

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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