By Kelly Murray, CNN
What would it take to change sexes? In humans, it involves complicated surgeries and rigorous hormonal therapies, not to mention hefty social and psychological ramifications. But in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, tiny orange-and-blue fish are naturally transitioning from female to male, and male to female, all the time.
Bluebanded goby fish, about 2 to 2.5 inches long, are able to change their sex when it suits their position in social hierarchies.
I can see them hovering in my Brooklyn yard: tiny balls of yellow light that flicker on and off in the dusk like lighters at a rock concert.
Fireflies are quite a common sight, although for how long we don't know. There have been widespread reports that firefly numbers are dwindling. The reports are all anecdotal, but they were enough of a concern for entomologists and biologists to hold a symposium in Thailand in 2008 entitled, "Diversity and Conservation of Fireflies." If fireflies are under threat, it's a terrible state of affairs.
Fireflies belong to a very exclusive group of land creatures that exhibit a phenomenon known as bioluminescence.
Scientists in the Arctic have discovered the largest ever under-ice bloom of phytoplankton, likening the discovery to "finding the Amazon rainforest in the middle of the Mojave Desert."
Researchers were amazed to discover a colossal 100 kilometer (62 miles) stretch of phytoplankton blooming under Arctic ice, north of Alaska, in July last year.
It had previously been assumed that sea ice blocked the sunlight necessary for the growth of marine plants. But four times more phytoplankton was found under the ice than in ice-free waters nearby.
Forget the bug-eyed green aliens with advanced technology. Life on other planets may exist in forms too tiny to see, if mysterious tiny organisms like those found under our oceans live elsewhere.
Scientists have discovered bacteria living in 86 million-year-old red clay under the ocean floor, cut off from sunlight and all other life, that may be subsisting on the minimum bit of energy required to sustain life. They use up oxygen extremely slowly, and are still recycling material that fell from the ocean's surface millions of years ago.
"If you wanted to look for life for another planet, I think this is a really good bet," said Hans Røy, biologist at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark. Røy is the lead author of a new study about the bacteria that appears in the journal Science.
Oscar-winning director James Cameron resurfaced Monday after plunging to the deepest known point in the world's oceans in his one-man submersible.
His history-making solo venture to Challenger Deep, part of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean, left him feeling "complete isolation from all of humanity," he said.
"I felt like I literally in the space of one day have gone to another planet and come back."
At more than 10,900 meters (about 35,800 feet), the Mariana Trench is deeper than Mount Everest is tall. It has had only two previous human visitors: U.S. Navy Lt. Don Walsh and the late Swiss explorer Jacques Piccard, who descended to that spot in 1960.
Editor's Note: Philippe Cousteau, a special correspondent for CNN, continues the legacy of his ocean-exploring family - including his late grandfather Jacques Cousteau - through his work with EarthEcho International. The non-profit organization, which he co-founded with his sister and mother, empowers youth to become involved with environmental causes.
By Philippe Cousteau, Special to CNN
“Space…the final frontier.” Not only has this classic phrase dazzled the many millions of fans of the Star Trek franchise, some could argue it has defined a big part of the American ideal for the last 50 years. The 1960s were dominated by the race to the moon and Americans were rightfully proud to be the first nation to make it there.
However, another incredible feat happened in 1960 that is largely forgotten today. For the first time in history, on January 23, 1960, two men, Lt. Don Walsh and Jacques Picard, descended to the deepest part of the ocean, the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench located in the western Pacific Ocean. While this feat made international news, the race to the depths of this planet was quickly overshadowed by the race to the moon - and no one has ever gone that deep since.
And for the last 50 years, we have largely continued to look up. But that trend may be changing.
From CNN's Jason Carroll
Oscar-winning director James Cameron, known for breaking box office records, is now aiming for underwater dominance. The filmmaker, who's known for his blockbuster hits such as "Titanic" and “Avatar,” is taking the dive of his life into the deepest waters in the world.
He’s hoping to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the world's oceans, later this month. The site is part of the Mariana Trench near Guam in the western Pacific.