marine biology

SONG: "Jump, Jump, Jump."

SONG: “Jump, Jump, Jump”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “Fish and Adaptation: Mangrove Fish Jumps into Air in Warming Water”, Nature World News, 21 Oct 2015, as used in the post “Global warming might make the fish jump.”

ABSTRACT: First, let me say that this was done on time, even early. It started as a jokey thing I was singing to my son while he was watching me play guitar on the couch, and I decided what the hell. They call it “playing” music for a reason. (I guess if I spoke …

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SONG: All Praise Black Ice

SONG: “All Praise Black Ice”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on “New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto”,, 8 Oct 2015, as used in the post “There’s water ice on another planet. Not Mars. Pluto.”


Laryngitis followed by a business trip and here I am, a couple weeks late. I hope the brass section makes up for that.

(Yes, there’s brass in there, somewhere. I really need help mastering these things, but one does what one can in between everything e…

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Science Art: Taf. V: Feuer-Salamander by Bruno Dürigen.


Fire salamanders.

They don’t look so hot.


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Science Art: Chemical Laboratory room. Experimental Research labs, Burroughs Wellcome and Co. Tuckahoe, New York

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Welcome to Wellcome.

They’ve got all kinds of wonderful things in their image gallery, including this marvelous experimenter in an even more marvelous experimental lab.

In 1935, this was where the future was made.

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Science Art: Idolo de ignota localidad, Idolo de Arica, Idolo de ignota localidad.

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Three idols, from the Anales del Museo Nacional de Chile, published between 1892 and 1910.

I found them in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which is usually full of biological specimens.

These three, however, are a little different… even if no one knows where two of them came from. Arica is a port city near two valleys that divide the Atacama Desert in north Chile.

He (or more likely she, even though as described in the text, “no hai tetas” and “la barba es d…

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Shark-tracking drones over Australian beaches.

25 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Australia’s ABC News has us watching the skies to see shark-tracking flying robots (and drum lines to catch-and-release sharks): Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair has announced a trial of the high-tech drum lines, which use GPS buoys to alert monitoring staff when sharks have been hooked, so they can be tagged and released in a different area. The first field test of shark-tracking drones will begin today at Coffs Harbour. … Mr Blair said the high-tech drum lines were more humane than the traditional lines that have been used in Queensland and Western Australia. “They’re like a baited hook that has technology connected to it so when the bait is taken, a message is sent to our vessels and they’ll attend those lines immediately,” Mr Blair said. … Ballina MP Tamara Smith said while her party was philosophically opposed to traditional drum lines, she was encouraged by the success of trials of the smart drum […]

SONG: “Jump, Jump, Jump.”

23 November 2015 // 0 Comments

SONG: “Jump, Jump, Jump”. [Download] ARTIST: grant. SOURCE: Based on “Fish and Adaptation: Mangrove Fish Jumps into Air in Warming Water”, Nature World News, 21 Oct 2015, as used in the post “Global warming might make the fish jump.” ABSTRACT: First, let me say that this was done on time, even early. It started as a jokey thing I was singing to my son while he was watching me play guitar on the couch, and I decided what the hell. They call it “playing” music for a reason. (I guess if I spoke Spanish, this could have taken a weird turn – but the only “touching” that took place was me touching a guitar.) Second, I should mention that I really kinda think the global warming angle of the original post is probably a little bit overstated. What’s really interesting about this is that it’s a fish doing something to adjust its body to warmer […]

Global warming might make the fish jump.

9 November 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature World News reports on a little mangrove-estuary dwelling fish that adapts to warmer waters by jumping into the air to cool down: In humid heat in tropical mangroves, tiny rivulus fish actually jump out of the water in order to cool off, says a new study from the University of Guelph. The researchers said that the fish, Kryptolebias marmoratus, lowered their body temperatures by chilling themselves in the air. Also, later, when they were more accustomed to the heat after having experienced higher temperatures for a week, they coped better with warm water, according to a release. Before that happens, though, jumping is important to the fish in leaving behind rising temperatures for a bit, said Pat Wright, lead author on the study and integrative biology professor at University of Guelph, in the release. “If the fish are prevented from jumping out of the water, they would die. … In warming water, fish hurled […]

Cuba & U.S. team up to save sharks.

22 October 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature points out one pleasant side effect of the growing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba – we’re doing better than ever at protecting endangered species like sharks< .a>: Roughly half of the 100 species of shark resident in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico have been seen in Cuban waters, including some — such as the whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus) and longfin mako (Isurus paucus) — that have experienced sharp declines elsewhere. The Cuban government has consulted with environmentalists and academics from the United States and other countries in developing the plan. “Cuba is a kind of biodiversity epicentre for sharks,” says Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, who is one of those working with the Cuban scientists. “The science is not at a level yet to do rigorous stock estimates, but we are moving in that direction with this […]

Science Art: Aequorea Forbesiana by Philip Henry Gosse.

13 September 2015 // 0 Comments

Click to embiggen This is a jellyfish drawn by Philip Henry Gosse, a naturalist and Creationist (!) who gave us the word “aquarium” as a place to see marine creatures. Before Gosse, an aquarium was a place to water cattle. He built the very first public one as the “Fish House” of the London Zoo in 1853. A few years later, he published a book trying to prove that fossils couldn’t disprove Genesis because of course the act of creation would make things appear to be older than they are. It was called Omphalos: an Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot because part of his argument was that Adam would have been created with a navel, even though no umbilical cord, no womb, no mother. This illustration isn’t from that book, though. It’s from A naturalist’s rambles on the Devonshire coast. I found this picture, and learned about Gosse, on the Scientific Illustration tumblr.

Science Art: Doree, Zeus, Faber by Edward Donovan

16 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning. I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.): John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil eye’ if danger approaches. Its large eyes at the front of the head provide it with binocular vision and depth perception, which are important for predators. The John Dory’s eye spot on the side of its body also confuses prey, which are scooped up in its big mouth.

The key to octopuses’ uncanny intelligence is in their genes.

13 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature reports that the octopus has, for an invertebrate, a really large genome – including a long sequence of genes that regulates intelligence in “higher” animals: “It’s the first sequenced genome from something like an alien,” jokes neurobiologist Clifton Ragsdale of the University of Chicago in Illinois, who co-led the genetic analysis of the California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides). … Researchers want to understand how the cephalopods, a class of free-floating molluscs, produced a creature that is clever enough to navigate highly complex mazes and open jars filled with tasty crabs. Surprisingly, the octopus genome turned out to be almost as large as a human’s and to contain a greater number of protein-coding genes — some 33,000, compared with fewer than 25,000 in Homo sapiens. … One of the most remarkable gene groups is the protocadherins, which regulate the development of neurons and the short-range interactions between them. The octopus has 168 of these genes […]

SONG: “Kavachi”

24 July 2015 // 0 Comments

SONG: “Kavachi”. [Download] ARTIST: grant. SOURCE:Based on “Deep-Sea Cameras Reveal a ‘Sharkcano’”, National Geographic Explorers’ Journal, 9 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Live Sharks Discovered Inside A Live Volcano.” ABSTRACT: There’s nothing I didn’t like about the process of writing this. If I was influenced by anyone in the making of this song, I guess it was The Residents, although the basic structure of it was unabashedly ripped off… myself. For about, oh, 15 years or so, I’ve had this vision of Devo doing a cover of a particular Doors song. It’s never going to happen. So I just stole that cover and rewrote it to have words about a sharkcano. Sharks. In a volcano. Filled with acid. Nearly everything you hear here is synthetic, except the main drum beat, which is me beatboxing into a pair of headphones, and the solo, which is a pair of sound […]

Live sharks discovered inside a live volcano.

10 July 2015 // 0 Comments

National Geographic reveals an ecosystem my 10-year-old son might have dreamed up. It’s all lava, acid and sharks. Inside the cauldron of Kavachi is a “sharkcano”: “Absolutely, we were scared,” says [Brennan] Phillips, a National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program grantee. “But one of the ways you can tell that Kavachi is erupting is that you can actually hear it—both on the surface and underwater. Anywhere within 10 miles even, you can hear it rumbling in your ears and in your body.” No one heard rumbling, so they prepared to go right to the rim of the crater. … Even without such theatrics it’s a dangerous place though. “Divers who have gotten close to the outer edge of the volcano have had to back away because of how hot it is or because they were getting mild skin burns from the acid water.” So the team strategically deployed their instruments—including disposable robots, underwater cameras, and National […]

That Deepwater Horizon spill… it’s still killing dolphins.

28 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature has the grisly details about the 1,300 dolphin deaths that can be traced to that one incident: The spike in dolphin deaths began shortly before the spill in April 2010, and scientists have struggled to understand whether the two events are related. A study published on 20 May in PLoS ONE finds that many of the dead animals had lung and adrenal-gland lesions that are consistent with exposure to petroleum compounds. That led the study’s authors to conclude that the Deepwater Horizon spill probably drove the mass deaths. … In the latest study, researchers analysed lung and adrenal-gland tissue samples from 46 dolphins that were found dead in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — areas that experienced significantly elevated levels of petroleum compounds. The team compared these animals with a reference group of 106 dolphins that stranded before the mass deaths began, or outside of the area where these strandings took place. The dolphins that […]

The moonfish is warm-blooded.

18 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily throws our sense of things slightly out of whack with news that there’s a fish out there that’s entirely warm-blooded: New research by NOAA Fisheries has revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish that circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths. The silvery fish, roughly the size of a large automobile tire, is known from oceans around the world and dwells hundreds of feet beneath the surface in chilly, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water. Fish that typically inhabit such cold depths tend to be slow and sluggish, conserving energy by ambushing prey instead of chasing it. But the opah’s constant flapping of its fins heats its body, speeding its metabolism, movement and reaction times, scientists report in the journal Science. That warm-blooded […]

Lionfish have reached Brazil.

29 April 2015 // 0 Comments

Nature reports on a strikingly beautiful – and utterly destructive – invasive critter that’s swept across warm waters from Ft. Lauderdale to Venezuela: Lionfish have overwhelmed ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean over the past three decades, eating or out-competing native species in what has been called the worst marine invasion ever. Now the fish seem to have extended their range to South America. Researchers reported the first confirmed lionfish in Brazilian waters on 22 April in PLoS ONE. The piscine pioneer was spotted by a group of recreational divers on 10 May 2014 in a reef off Cabo Frio, a municipality of Rio de Janeiro in southeastern Brazil. The divers returned to the site the next day with hand spears, and captured the fish so that scientists could study it. When the researchers analysed the fish’s DNA, they found that it matched the genetic signature of the Caribbean lionfish population, and […]

Vampire squid stranger, even, than previously thought.

20 April 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily goes deeper into the singular (and kinda sexy) oddness of the vampire squid: At ocean depths from 500 to 3,000 meters, they don’t swim so much as float, and they get by with little oxygen while consuming a low-calorie diet of zooplankton and detritus. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 20 have found that vampire squid differ from all other living coleoid cephalopods in their reproductive strategy as well. … “Their slow mode of life seems insufficient to support one big reproductive event, unlike other coleoid cephalopods,” says Henk-Jan Hoving, who is working for the Cluster of Excellence “Future Ocean” at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany. “Perhaps it is therefore that vampire squid return to a gonadal resting phase after spawning, and presumably start accumulating energy for a new reproductive cycle.” In other words, they make a little whoopee, then take a […]

SONG: The Waves Around the Women

24 March 2015 // 0 Comments

SONG: “The Waves Around the Women.” [Download] ARTIST: grant. SOURCE: Based on “Scientists have discovered nature’s newest strongest material“, Washington Post, 18 February 2015,as used in the post “Stronger than spider silk”. ABSTRACT: Two things happened that went into this. First, Allison said, “Can we have one about limpet teeth?” I don’t know just how far her tongue was in her cheek about that, but who cares? Limpet teeth are great! They’re as strong as growing things get! The other thing that happened was I threw my hat into the ring for a Game of Bands thing as a lyricist for what was supposed to be an Asian song. I decided to write a lyric for that in the form of an old Chinese poem called a gushi… a set number of syllables per line (seven), five lines per verse, and each verse subtly changing the semantics of a couple of lines… so that things […]

Stronger than spider silk

20 February 2015 // 2 Comments

Washington Post reveals the natural substance that beats spider silk for toughness, and diamonds for hardness – and it’s limpet teeth: In a study set to come out this month in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, British researchers announced that the teeth of shelled, aquatic creatures called limpets are the strongest biological material on Earth, overtaking the previous record-holder, spider silk. The teeth, which are so small they must be examined with a microscope, are composed of very thin, tightly-packed fibers containing a hard mineral called goethite. Limpets use them to scrape food off of rocks, but lead author Asa Barber said humans can adapt the technology to build better planes, boats and dental fillings. … He found that the material had a strength of 5 gigapascals, about five times the strength of most spider silks. “People are always trying to find the next strongest thing, but spider silk has been the winner […]

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