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Marine Biology

¨  Why are pink dolphins endangered?  Will they be gone for ever?
¨  How do pink dolphins interact with people?
¨  Is there a biologist who strictly deals with the Amazon River dolphin?
¨  What can people do to stop the use of ghost nets?
¨  How do ghost nets kill animals?
¨  What is the biggest/worst effect of ghost nets?
¨  If ghost net fishing isn't stopped do you think the world will be different in 100 years?
¨  Which ocean is most affected by ghost nets?
¨  What time of year are fish and mammals more likely to get caught in ghost nets?
¨  How would you summarize the impact of ghost nets?
¨  We are doing a science project and I chose 'Ghost Nets' as my topic.
¨  I have a few questions about shrimp that I could not find in my research.

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QUESTION:
Why are pink dolphins endangered?  Will they be gone for ever?

ANSWER from Imagiverse on 18 November 2006:
In his Imagiverse Chat, Richard Murphy said: "In general, the problems with the creatures I study are the same - too many people taking too many resources from nature and releasing too much waste back into the environment."

Richard Murphy's Imagiverse Chat, Interview, and Marine Photo Gallery can answer many of your questions.  Read through the chat and go to the links that are there.  There is a lot of great information for your report!

You can also use a search engine such as Google.Com and find what various different sources have to say about the endangered pink dolphin.  Search for "endangered pink dolphin" and you will find many sites with information on this specific question.

Will they be gone forever?  Once an animal is exinct (all of them have died) they are gone forever.  If numbers get too small, any creature can become endangered and eventually, if not protected, they become extinct.  Humans are the primary cause of the loss of species of animals and plants because of pollution, deforestation and other results of human activity.  I hope your report on pink dolphins inspires you to do your part in protecting the environment.

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QUESTION:
How do pink dolphins interact with people?

ANSWER from Imagiverse on 18 November 2006:
In his Imagiverse Interview, Richard Murphy says: "One of my most memorable adventures was in the Amazon with the pink dolphins that live there.  We discovered one of these dolphins in a small bay and put a net around the bay so we could study it.  After spending a day conducting research on its behavior, breathing rate and other things, our dolphin experts left.  Their research was done from land and I wanted to be with the dolphin in the water, in its world not mine.  The water was only about 10 feet deep and relatively clear for the Amazon, maybe 5 feet visibility.  I put on a heavy weight belt so I could just rest on the bottom as the dolphin was doing.  I entered the water and just lay on the bottom next to the dolphin. It looked at me but seemed totally disinterested.  After a couple of hours of staying close to the dolphin I returned with my underwater camera.  I went down and snapped a picture.  The dolphin acted as though a gun had gone off.  It had been acting very sleepy but the click startled it into being totally awake.  After a few more pictures it got used to me again and appeared relaxed."

For the rest of this story, you can read Dr. Murphy's interview.

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QUESTION:
Is there a specific biologist that strictly deals with the Amazon River dolphin?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 4 May 2006:
Yes there are biologists specializing in the Amazon River dolphin.  We worked with Vera DaSilva years ago when we were in the Amazon.  I'm sure there are even more such specialists.  If you want to investigate this I suggest you go the web and do a Google search for amazon river dolphin.  There are a lot of web sites that pop up and I'm sure you will find some good stuff.  I hope this helps and I wish you well on your research.

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QUESTION:
What can people do to stop the use of ghost nets?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 11 April 2006:
We can help fisher people (fishermen and fisher women) use degradable traps and nets.  Such fishing gear would eventually break down, in contrast to the monofilament (plastic) nets that now last for many many years.

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QUESTION:
How do ghost nets kill animals?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 11 April 2006:
Marine mammals, birds and turtles can swim into them, get caught and drown.  Fish can swim into them and get caught and just die.  Then these animals may serve as bait attracting other fish to come and try to eat them and then get caught and die.

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QUESTION:
What is the biggest/worst effect of ghost nets?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy 11 April 2006:
The biggest effect is these nets catching fish and then having the struggling and dead fish attract more fish.

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QUESTION:
If ghost net fishing isn't stopped do you think the world will be different in 100 years?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 11 April 2006:
This would be another one of many insults to the sea and fish populations would continue to decline.  I don't think it would be the death of the seas but it would certainly reduce the health of the seas and mean fewer fish for us and other species.

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QUESTION:
Which ocean is most affected by ghost nets?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 11 April 2006:
I think the Pacific Ocean is the biggest target because it is the biggest ocean.  It is complicated because there are so many islands in the Indonesia region which is the Indo - Pacific area and there is such fishing pressure that this region may be the most affected by these nets.

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QUESTION:
What time of year are fish and mammals more likely to get caught in ghost nets?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 11 April 2006:
It is year round because these nets remain for many years and there are local fish that get caught all the time.  Migrating fish get caught when they pass by and there is no one particular time for migrating fish in many places; different species migrate at different times.

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QUESTION:
How would you summarize the impact of ghost nets?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy, PhD on 11 April 2006:
I think that ghost nets is a very good example of how a good technology, nets to make catching fish easier, can have unforeseen side effects.  We must always think about the side effects of something new and carefully watch to see unpredicted consequences and be ready to modify these technologies accordingly.  Other good examples are DDT which is great at killing bugs but it also kills birds and fish.  Chemicals used to make air conditioners work were found to deplete the ozone and upset the atmosphere.  Our use of oil and gas for energy is changing climate and killing coral reefs through hot water that makes coral sick.  There are solutions to all of these problems and it will be up to your generation to think up even better ways to catch fish, control bugs, cool our buildings and get energy... all in ways that do not harm us or the environment.

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QUESTION:
I am in the sixth grade in Sacramento, CA.  We are doing a science project and I chose 'Ghost Nets' as my topic.  As a part of my assignment I needed to interview an expert in the subject matter, and I was hoping that you might answer some questions for me.  Thank you so much in advance.

ANSWER from Richard Murphy, PhD on 11 April 2006:
It is good to hear from you and I am pleased that you have chosen such an important subject.  In fact, our new PBS TV series, Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Adventures, has just addressed this subject.  Make sure to view our show tomorrow night on PBS as you will see a massive pile of lost fishing nets on a very remote island.  You can learn more about our expedition on Ocean Futures web site - www.oceanfutures.org on the Voyage to Kure section. I would be happy to answer your questions on this topic.

If you like the ocean please visit our education web site, Ambassadors of the Environment - www.aote.org, and check out the slide show for Catalina and Hawaii.  You will see some cool pictures of neat critters and see kids on these programs doing some fun activities.  I wish you well and congratulate you on your learning more about the environment.
Sincerely,
Richard

Richard Murphy, Ph.D.
Director, Science and Education
Ocean Futures Society
www.oceanfutures.org

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QUESTION:
I have been researching "shrimp" for the past few weeks utilizing the web sites.  I have a few questions that need answering and hope that you can answer them for me.  I know that your time is valuable and therefore have put them into a yes or a no answer.  I appreciate your time very much.
Q1) Do all shrimp have an exo-skeleton?
Q2) Is their exo-skeleton waterproof, not allowing water to circulate within the exo-skeleton area?
Q3) Do shrimp have a gland that produces a mucus like substance that covers their body in much the same way as fish with scales do?

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 14 March 2006:
We are pleased that you are learning about the sea and the many creatures that live in it.  You have posed some good questions and I'll do my best to answer them.  Here goes .....
Q1) According to every publication and textbook I've read all shrimp have an exoskeleton as do all members of the phylum arthropoda.
Q2) The exoskeleton is made of chitin and is not totally waterproof but differs depending on the species.  Land crabs must have a pretty waterproof shell to avoid losing water but species that are totally aquatic are probably not as waterproof.
Q3) Good question and I don't know for sure.  I looked in my books and couldn't find anything that suggests they do.  I do know that when I've held a crab or lobster underwater they did not feel slippery so I kind of think they don't have such mucus glands.

Keep researching and asking good questions. I wish you well in school.
Sincerely,
Richard

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Last Updated:
27 June 2006
 

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