The sea urchin that won’t die

In the freezing, inhospitable water off Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago, a wounded sea urchin the size of a walnut staggers across the seafloor. Its precious gonads and half its shell are missing, yet it clings to life for more than 43 hours. Lucky for scientists, they caught the nearly dead urchin on camera, allowing them to witness, for the first time in the wild, sea urchins’ stunning capacity for survival… Read the full story over at Hakai.

Update: This story was selected as a top pick in the Best Shortform Science Writing!

Image credit: Max Wisshak

Plastic-free seals

Whales, seabirds, turtles, crabs, and worms—all kinds of marine animals are afflicted with plastic pollution. But seals living in the eastern Canadian Arctic seem to have so far escaped this modern plight. When scientists examined the stomach contents of the Arctic’s ringed, bearded, and harbor seals, they found krill, fish, kelp, roundworms, and even rocks. But not plastic…

Read the story at Hakai.

Image credit:  Madelaine Bourdages

Fish eggs hatch after being pooped

Found in temporary desert pools and mangrove swamps, some species of killifish can go without water for weeks at a time. And their eggs are no different: no water, no problem! Now, scientists have found that the eggs of two killifish species are so hardy, they can withstand being digested by birds, too. The finding may be the first firm evidence supporting an idea that has long held sway in scientific circles—that birds disperse fish.

Read my full story about killifish eggs over at Hakai.

Image of a developing killifish embryo. Credit: Vinícius Weber

Little auks slurp like fish

The little auk is a small seabird that would fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. At only about 150 grams, this featherweight bird eats 20% of its body weight in prey each day. And this takes some underwater hunting skills. Diving up to depths of 27 meters, the bird spots and slurps its prey, much as fishes do. Read more about the world’s only slurping seabird here in my first piece for Hakai magazine.

Photo credit: Manfred Enstipp