More scuba diving means sicker coral reefs

The gorgeous coral reefs around Koh Tao, Thailand draw thousands of tourists every year. But frequent scuba diving appears to be increasing the rate of coral disease, threatening to spoil the natural resource that locals depend on for their livelihood.

Compared to fishing, tourism may seem like a relatively sustainable way to boost the local economy. On the island of Koh Tao, small fisheries have declined in favor of playing host to more than 300,000 divers per year. The number of visitors rose by roughly five times from 1992 to 2003, and about 50 dive operators now work on the island.”

Learn more from Conservation Magazine.

Scientists Develop Squid-Inspired Camouflage

Researchers have developed systems that can automatically sense and blend into their surroundings by mimicking the methods of cephalopods such as octopus, squid and cuttlefish.

And the “optoelectronic camouflage” works stupendously just as long as it’s situated directly in front of a zebra.

So far, the scientists have only built a one-inch square prototype that works in black, white and shades in between, sort of like your grandfather’s TV. But the systems can be scaled up and made to work across the color spectrum, according to a statement from Cunjiang Yu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston and lead author of the paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Learn more from re/code

Giant Alligator Literally Broke The Scale When Biologists Weighed It

The previous record for the largest alligator ever legally hunted in Alabama was, until this week, held by 14-foot, 2-inch, 838-pound specimen caught in 2011. But now that honor goes to an even larger critter.

The monster brought in by the Stokes and Jenkins families was easily measured at 15 feet long. But the first attempt at weighing it “completely destroyed the winch assembly used to easily hoist most average gators,” according to Thanks to the assistance of a park backhoe, state biologists announced the new record at 1011.5 pounds.”

Find out more at io9.

Fighting (Tasty) Invasive Fish With Forks And Knives

Blue catfish is another alien invader. In its native Mississippi River basin, the blue catfish is a healthy part of the ecosystem. But it was planted in Northeastern waters as a sport fish, and now it’s become a ferocious predator.

Blue catfish can live for as long as 20 years and grow to be as big as 100 pounds. So now, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has started promoting this fish as good eating, too. It’s not a bottom feeder like other catfish, so it has a clean flavor, excellent for fish and chips.”

Learn more from NPR.

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