Bioluminescent organisms can create their own light! There are many weird and wonderful bioluminescent creatures in the ocean. Some emit light as a predatory tactic, like the anglerfish, which has a light-emitting photophore that protrudes from the top of its head. The anglerfish has a symbiotic relationship with bioluminescent bacteria that collect on the photophore and help lure prey towards the fish’s mouth. This is helpful in the darkness of the deep sea where food is scarce and hard to find.
Other organisms use bioluminescence to defend themselves. Dinoflagellates are a type of phytoplankton that flash a blue-green light when they get agitated by waves or predators at nighttime. This light can startle and distract the phytoplankton’s predators, or it can act as a burglar alarm that attracts bigger predators to come to the feeding site. Sperm whales are known to linger around places with lots of these bioluminescent organisms because their glowing alerts the whale that there is prey in the area.
Next time you are by the ocean at nighttime, try splashing around in the water and see if these dinoflagellates will light up for you!
A gyre is the circular rotation of water within a basin that is driven by the wind. There are three different cells of wind that blow across each hemisphere of the Earth. In the Northern Hemisphere wind blows from east to west at the equator, pushing surface water to the northwest. As it rises and makes its way to about 30 degrees latitude, the wind shifts directions and blows from west to east, changing the path of the surface water to turn back down towards the southeast. This continuing pattern results in a slow clockwise rotation of water across the entire Pacific Ocean. This same phenomenon repeats itself in all 5 gyres found around the globe with the direction of rotation depending on the hemisphere: the North Atlantic gyre, the South Atlantic Gyre, the North Pacific Gyre, the South Pacific Gyre, and the Indian Ocean Gyre.
The constant circulation combined with the Coriolis effect has a tendency to draw water towards the center of the gyre, almost like the rotation in your toilet, almost. Essentially pulling garbage and anything floating in the water towards the middle. All of the garbage simply floats around breaking into smaller and smaller pieces, but never goes away. However, gyres also extremely important to help spread eggs and larvae around the Ocean. Certain species rely on the currents from gyres to help spread their young into new water so that they do not end up competing for space in the future. Pretty smart!
Check out National Geographic’s page for information on gyres and more: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/ocean-gyre/?ar_a=1
Upwelling is a process that involves cold, nutrient rich water being brought up to the surface. At the equator, upwelling is a regular occurrence due to the combination of the Earth’s rotation and the wind mostly blowing from East to West. This constantly pushes air along the equator and results in water being pushed away from the equator and towards both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. As the surface water is forced outwards from the equator, water from below rises up to take its place. This water is typically cold and full of nutrients.
Upwelling can also occur along coastlines. When wind blows south along the California coast, the friction along the surface of the water combined with the rotation of the Earth cause the surface water to be pushed out away from land. Again, deeper water comes to the surface bringing with it nutrients and cooler water temperatures. In some places, upwelling can even affect the weather. In places such as San Francisco, the cool water temperatures brought by upwelling can cause air temperatures to drop and result in even more dense fog.
The combination of the rotation of the Earth and the friction between the various layers of water, result in overall transportation of water by 90 degrees in a different direction than the wind. In the northern hemisphere, water is moved 90 degrees to the right and in the southern hemisphere the same affect results in water moving to the left. This process is called the Ekman transport.
For more information on the Ekman transport visit: http://oceanmotion.org/html/background/ocean-in-motion.htm
The Garibaldi, or Hypsypops rubicundus, is the official California state marine fish and is protected in Californian coastal waters. They are found in shallow water up to 100 ft in depth usually in rock reefs and rocky sea bottoms. This species of damselfish inhabits the waters of the Pacific Ocean from Monterey Bay, California to Baja, California along rocky coastal reefs and among kelp forests. They are especially common to the more southern Channel Islands.
Extremely visible by their bright orange coloration, adult fish may reach up to 15 inches in length. Juvenile garibaldi fish are yellow-orange with iridescent blue spots and which signify to adults in the area that they are not a threat. As they grow, the blue spots disappear until they are solid orange. These fish are not considered mature until five or six years old and are about eight inches long. They feed on various sponges, algae, and invertebrates including tubeworms, nudibranchs, and bryozoans.
Adult male garibaldi carefully construct circular nest sites about one foot in diameter in shallow reef habitats weeding out all organisms except for red algae. The more well-prepared and maintained the nests are, the more likely a female will choose that nest to deposit her eggs for fertilization by the hosting male. As soon as a female has laid her eggs, the male chases her away before she has the chance to munch on any other eggs in his nest. Once the eggs are fertilized, the male continues to guard the nest often warning divers of their close proximity with a loud thumping noises.
If you want to join these amazing underwater creatures then you will want to check out Catalina Sea Camp scuba diving program. Catalina Sea Camp offers beginners to master diver courses. Check back at the beginning of the year for a full list of all Catalina Sea Camp course descriptions.
Have you never been scuba diving before? If you have always wanted to give it a test then our Try Dive scuba class is for you! Some of our instructors only want to teach this Try Dive class because it is all about having fun while trying a new, mind-blowing experience. The instructors love seeing first time divers with faces lighting up with pure enjoyment. I still remember my first time breathing underwater and I want to share that experience with anyone willing to give something new a try. A course like this is hands-down the best part of being an instructor at Catalina Sea Camp. This class is an ideal choice for our younger campers (12 to 14 years old) as it tends to make campers feel more comfortable for future certification courses. The course is not a certification but an equivalent to a “resort course”. The campers will experience a total of 6 water sessions: 2 skin dives and 4 scuba dives with a maximum depth of 25 feet.
We hope you are ready to give something new and amazing a try at Catalina Sea Camp. Register for camp before December 31st, 2014 and you will save up to $255. Click this link to sign up now: www.catalinaseacamp.org/manage-account/