As 2020 comes to a close, many of us are sighing a breath of relief. These past 12 months have been unprecedented for many of us. Although perhaps not as obvious, 2020 has also been a landmark year in ocean news and discovery. On this New Year’s Eve, we’d like to take a minute to highlight some of the findings and advancements that have been made in the field of ocean science during the year of 2020.
Deep Sea Migrations
In March, deep sea fish were discovered, for the very first time, to seasonally migrate. “The work greatly enhances our understanding of how animals move across the deep sea” said Rosanna Milligan, lead author of the study. Full story here.
Descending to Great Depths
In June, the first woman to walk in space also reached the deepest spot in the ocean. Kathy Sullivan became the first person to both walk in space and to descend to the deepest point in the ocean, marking an incredible day for women’s rights, space advancement and ocean discovery. Full story here.
30 New Galapagos Species Discoveries
In August, 30 new deep-sea species were discovered off the Galapagos Islands. The deep-sea experts discovered fragile coral and sponge communities including 10 bamboo corals, four octocorals, one brittle star and 11 sponges, as well as four new species of crustacean known as squat-lobsters. Full story here.
The First Virus Eating Marine Organism
In September, fascinating research found that a floating marine single-cell organism may be one of the first confirmed species to eat viruses. “This could reshape how we think about the entire ocean food web, the network of who-eats-who that connects everything from tiny bacteria to plants to blue whales.” said the team of researchers off the Gulf of Maine who led the study. Full story here.
The Great Megaladon’s True Size
In September, researchers in the United Kingdom uncovered the true size of the famous prehistoric shark, the Megalodon. Using fossils and mathematical computations, experts from the University of Bristol and Swansea University estimated the Megalodon to be up to 52 feet long! Full story here.
Sarawak Swellshark Reproduction & Development
In September, an entirely new reproductive strategy was identified in Sarawak swellsharks. Sarawak swellshark eggs are striking because they’re the only shark eggs that are completely transparent and have an unusual and unique form of development. These textbook-rewriting discoveries have shark researchers buzzing. Read the full story here.
Skyscraper-Sized Coral Reef Discovery
In October, a coral reef taller than New York’s Empire State Building was discovered at the Northern tip of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the first such discovery in 120 years. Read the story here.
Rare Squid Footage
In October, video was captured for the first time of an elusive squid species living off the coast of the Great Barrier Reef. This squid is the only living member of its genus and had never before been observed alive and in its natural habitat. Full story here.
Record Levels of Penguin & Cormorant Populations
In October, study results showed that the population of Galapagos penguins and flightless cormorants, two species endemic to the Galapagos Islands, saw a record increase. The number of cormorants has reached a record number, according to historical data dating back to 1997, while the number of penguins is at the highest since 2006. Read the story here.
InvestEGGator Sea Turtle Eggs
In October, a study was released on InvestEGGator Sea Turtle Eggs – decoy eggs made by a 3D-printer. These eggs were fitted with satellite tags and placed in sea turtle nests on beaches in Costa Rica to track the illegal trade of their eggs. The study identified that a quarter of the fake eggs put among 101 turtle nests on four beaches in Costa Rica were stolen, with some eggs successfully tracked as they moved from thief to trafficker to consumer. Read the story here.
Sea-Level Monitoring from Space
In November, the US and Europe, in collaboration with SpaceX, launched a satellite into space to monitor sea-level measurements. These measurements are important for understanding overall sea level rise due to global warming. Scientists are warning of the risks that sea level rise pose to the world’s coastlines and billions of people. Full story here.
A New Beaked Whale Species
In December, a new whale species was discovered off the coast of Mexico by a team of researchers. The sighted whale did not visually or acoustically match any species that is known to exist. “The discovery of a new species of beaked whale proves how much mystery there is left to discover in the oceans that our captains, crews, and research partners fight to defend,” said Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd. Full story here.
Climate Crisis Coral Sanctuary
In December, scientists discovered a climate crisis refuge for coral reefs off the coast of Kenya and Tanzania. Cool water, from deep channels formed thousands of years ago by glacial runoff from Kilimanjaro and the Usambara mountains, form a climate sanctuary for corals to escape warming waters. “If well protected, this key transboundary marine ecosystem will remain a jewel of biodiversity for the entire east African coast.” said Tim McClanahan, lead researcher of the team of scientists studying this climate sanctuary. Full story here.
Reflecting on the Year 2020
As we wrap up this eventful year, let us reflect not only on the challenges of 2020, but also the remarkable accomplishments that we have made. Together, we can celebrate life below water and work towards a safer and more sustainable world for all living creatures. The Eat Blue™ team looks forward to 2021 and beyond. Happy New Year!