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Shiny things collected by an easily distracted marine biologist. Here you may find fish and other marine critters, land and aerial critters, fannish things, especially of a science fishin' -y, Sherlock-y or cartoonish nature, art and fanart by other people (and very rarely by myself), tea oddities, occasionally my offspring, neurodiversity, cats, and other oddments. Enjoy!
The ask is open, and while I may bite, my teeth are pretty dull.
I am a biologist. That means I find creepy crawlies fascinating. There will be occasional spiders, bugs, and other invertebrates. I do try to tag liberally for those who screen - but if there's anything I need to add, just ask.
Btw, if you'd like to leave a real comment instead of liking or reblogging, Disqus comments are enabled; just click the date, and scroll to the bottom.
(via How to control invasives? Put a fork in them! :: NOAA Fisheries)
Northern snakeheads - Do you think a fish as invasive and ugly as the northern snakehead could be yummy to eat? There’s a grassroots movement to create a market demand to control the spread of this species.
Um, I thought I’d read that’s kind of how they got to the US in the first place. To eat. You’d think it would be a fine way to get rid of them, but once people start liking something, they tend to want to keep it around, and markets want a steady supply.
We have a similar problem with Chinese mitten crabs in the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento Delta area - not only invasive but they damage the flood-control dykes in the Sacramento River Delta by burrowing. They’re also a delicacy in their home range, but I believe they got here through larvae in ship ballast water. I think you’re allowed to take them recreationally (no limit), but not commercially, thus no incentive to create a fishery with a monetary value.
Hag stones, also known as Holey Stones or Witch Stones are stones that have a naturally occurring hole and are usually found near oceans and other bodies of water. They are said to be powerful protection talismans, and when worn or carried they protect the bearer from curses, hexes, negative spirits, and harm. They have also been used to prevent nightmares, being strung on a bedpost or placed underneath pillows. It is also believed that if you peer through the hole of the stone that you can see the Fae Folk and otherworldly entities. If one broke, it is thought to have used its power to protect a life.
i want one of these so fucking bad. spiderwick chronicles, and coraline both had these sort of things in them. i swear to god i would wander through the woods looking through one of these for days if given the chance.
Not that I’m averse to the stories about these items, but if you wandered through the woods to find one of these you probably wouldn’t have very much luck - as the first poster said they’re usually found near oceans. That’s because the holes are made by a family of rock-boring clams; Pholoadidae, the piddocks. They rotate the rough teeth on the anterior end of their shells to drill themselves into mud, clay and softer rocks - slate (as above), sandstone, and they’ve been known to drill into cement and other mollusc shells. Their burrows are often used by other critters after they’re gone, and of course when weathering, surf and erosion have done their work, you wind up with the above.
Of course, bivalves have been around for a very long time, so if your forest was growing on a former seabed or ocean shore, you might find trace fossil remnants of these (trace fossil being something the animal left behind, not the animal itself).
(Images of piddocks and the holes they drill)
Scientists in Australia tagged a healthy 9-foot great white shark as part of program to track these animals. Four months later they found the tracking device washed up on a beach. Something—something really big—had eaten this apex predator. But what creature could dine on such ferocious prey?
Scientists: A mysterious animal ate an entire 9-foot great white shark
My first thought was how did they they know it was eaten? Because tags often are shed, especially if not attached properly; however, there’s a link at the bottom to the mystery, solved.
(And damn my scatological sense of humor, one of the last comments on the second article tickled me.)
Hint: a 9’ great white is really not all that great.
Whoa! Had Disney elected to make Finding Nemo scientifically accurate, Marlin would have turned into a female and mated with Nemo. Freaky. I’m glad they didn’t.
Welcome to the wonderful world of protandric hermaphroditism!! It’s surprisingly common among fish, who probably think that we land-lubbing air-breathers are pretty weird for being so set in our gender ways. Being able to change sexes is a great survival adaptation for Nemo’s kind, a way to make sure that there are always enough breeding partners to go around, and that everyone has an spread their genes.
The size difference between male and female clownfish or anemone fish is also an example of something called sexual dimorphism, which is seen in all kinds of species (including us). There’s many kinds of sexual dimorphism in nature, and all kinds of reasons for it, but bigger clownfish females may be able to produce more eggs, while smaller males may be able to migrate more easily between anemones to find a mate. Any know of other theories?
Destin, judging by your kids’ reactions, I’m not the only one who would enjoy watching the scientifically accurate Finding Nemo.
As opposed to California sheephead (Semicossyphous pulcher), which are protogynous hermaphrodites, like many in the wrasse family. They’re all born females, which are slender and uniformly pink to red. If the local large male disappears, the largest and most dominant female will begin a rather dramatic transformation into a male, developing a black head and tail, heavy jaws, and a characteristic forehead bump - while retaining the species white lower jaw, red middle, and large, dog-like teeth. Sometimes you can see individuals that are in the midst of the change, heads and tails graying but bodies still slender.
It’s an invertebrate, here in California, that’s a protandrous hermaphrodite. Spot prawns (Pandalus platyceros), a handsome deep water shrimp with four white dots on its abdomen, stripey cephalothoraxes and an extremely long pointy rostrum, are all males when small, while larger ones above a certain size have morphed into females. In the spot prawn’s case, sexual dimorphism is only in size.
Coincidentally, both of these species are popular with restaurants that specialize in keeping aquariums of live animals just prior to being cooked and served - partially because they’re fairly hardy and stand up to transport. Female sheephead are prized in certain Asian restaurants because they look similar to a fish on the other side of the Pacific, considered auspicious because of their red coloring.
Super rare Footage of the World’s Fastest Whale
by Jason G. Goldman
One lucky research assistant caught a rare show in the Straits of Gibraltar last week, as a fin whale was spotted breaching the water three times in a row, right in front of her. While fin whales do sometimes breach, it’s rarely seen and even more rarely caught on camera.
The videographer, Séréna, is a summer research assistant with CIRCE, a Spain-based cetacean conservation, research, and education organization.
Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) are the second largest creatures on our planet, just after blue whales. When you consider that the average fin whale needs to hurl its 80+ tons and 89+ feet out of the water and into the air, the spectacle becomes even more amazing. As one of the fastest whales in the world, the fin can reach cruising speeds of 23 mph with short bursts up to 29 mph. (The Sei whale may beat it for short sprints up t0 40mph, but not for cruising speed.) Their impressive speed has given Fin whales the nickname “greyhounds of the deep.”
(go see video at io9)
[source: The Dodo; CIRCE]
Deb, you were wondering if the photo of the orca jumping completely out of the water was real? How about something weighing 80 tons?!
Hermit Crab vacancy chain done in pen (and done with the speed of the wind!). A rush job for my old thesis advisor who is publishing an article about vacancy chains. It’s cool stuff!
Hermit crab vacancy chains - a video of this behavior doesn’t look nearly as organized, but of course, the art is but one freeze frame meant to get the concept across.
Deep Sea Predation
Okeanos Explorer EX1402L3: Gulf of Mexico 2014 Expedition
April 28, 2014: Sea Urchin
A rare instance of deep-sea predation captured on camera—a sea urchin munches on a Plumarella octocoral. This may be the first time sea urchin predation on coral was captured so close-up using high-definition cameras thanks to the incredible image capabilities of the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle.
Video courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.
…and the fry were just asking me the other day if any sea stars ate coral. And aside from crown-of-thorns eating large corals I couldn’t think of any others. Well, not a star, but it is another echinoderm.
(via Earth Science Applications Travelogue: Maury Estes | NASA)
"You might be wondering what in the world NASA has to do with marine fisheries. The trip is part of ongoing NASA applied science research focused on possible effects of climate change on Atlantic bluefin tuna and other highly migratory fish species in the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding waters. The goal is reliable ecological forecasts that give decision-makers access to science-based tools for understanding changes in living systems."
18 Awesome Facts About Giant Isopods
The individual isopods they talk about here at at the Aquarium of the Pacific. I tried taking some photos of them a couple of weeks ago.
(Although I think they wanted the word penes; they spelled it how it’s pronounced.)
There’s also a link to an entire album of songs about giant isopods!
Artistic microscope slides produced in the Victorian era (1840~1900) by arranging hundreds of tiny diatoms into intricate patterns. This was often accomplished by using a single hair to move the diatoms in a special chamber that prevented disturbance to the slide. The fabrication of these amazing objects must have required incredible patience, attention to detail, and a steady hand.
(Source: victorianmicroscopeslides.com, via madgeneticist)
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