The name Vampyroteuthis infernalis means "Vampire squid from hell". And vampire squid are freaky looking creatures — red with cloudy eyes that can appear blue or blood red, depending on how the light hits them. But appearances can be deceiving. Turns out, the squid from hell has eating habits more in line with those of Bunnicula. The squids' entire diet is made of "marine snow" — floaty little bits of algae, poop, and bacteria.
Seahorses have prehensile tails, which they use to cling to seagrass like little underwater monkeys. That's just one of the tricks that help make up for the fact that seahorses are some of the slowest swimmers in the animal kingdom. Their eating strategy is based on stealth, not speed.
Five years ago this month, my pal, BB contributor, and IFTF colleague Ariel Waldman created Spacehack, a directory of projects through which anyone can participate in space exploration. It was a very influential endeavor, igniting many people's interest and excitement in space research and how we can all get involved even here on terra firm. Today, Ariel has launched Seahack, a similar site to spur participation in sea exploration! From DIY underwater robots to crowdsourced analysis of deep-sea videos to a project aimed at decoding the language of whales, Seahack is a great way to get your feet wet (sorry) in ocean science even if you're a landlubber like me. Congratulations, Ariel!
My friend, former NPR colleague, and longtime journalism mentor Alex Chadwick has an incredible new radio documenting hitting the public radio airwaves this week. We're sharing it here on Boing Boing before it hits the radio-waves. I asked Alex to tell us a little about 'Rising Seas.' He explains:
The Rising Seas project grew out of an encounter at an MIT energy seminar almost a year ago. I met an Americanized Brit, Dr. Len Berry, from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He's been speaking forcefully and clearly about the threat that rising seas present. At the end of his talk, I asked if Miami is a viable city. He smiled and answered, 'well, it is right now'.Read the rest
And then I asked about the end of the century. He smiled again, but said nothing.
Here we have the common Internet blobfish, recently voted World's Ugliest Animal.
But wait! At Smithsonian, Colin Schultz has made a very good case for why the blobfish doesn't deserve its unattractive reputation. This isn't about beauty being subjective (although some might find the above picture more cute than ugly). Instead, it's about atmospheric pressure, and what happens to a fish removed from its natural, deep-sea, high-pressure habitat.
Here is what the blobfish really looks like, before somebody took him to the surface and snapped an embarrassing photo: Read the rest
National Geographic posted an exploded view of the Deepsea Challenger, the submersible designed by James Cameron and Ron Allum. This was the sub that Cameron piloted last year to the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in Earth's oceans at nearly 36,000 feet. Also seen above is the "pilot's sphere," custom-tailored for Cameron's 6'2" height.
I'm totally fascinated by this photo that the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program posted to their Facebook page. It shows little branches of staghorn coral growing on a "tree" made of PVC pipes. Harvested from wild coral colonies when they're only 5 cm long, these samples will double in size every two months while attached to the tree. Once they've put on enough heft, they're transplanted to new homes on damaged coral reefs, where they grow into the surrounding environment and help to restore ecosystems that could otherwise be lost. I'd heard about coral restoration before, but had never seen pictures of the process. At the RJD website, you can see a series of photos that take you through it step-by-step. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it looks a lot like underwater gardening — similar to grafting fruit trees. Read the rest
Researchers from the University of Delaware snapped this fantastic photo of a dogfish swallowed by a sand tiger shark. The scientists were in the Delaware Bay seeking tagged sharks to better understand their behavior.
"This unlucky smooth dogfish couldn't resist the menhaden used as bait and, unfortunately, fell victim to one of the top predators in the bay," according to a posting by the University's Ocean Exploration, Remote Sensing, Biogeography (ORB) Lab. "The dogfish was about 3 feet (1 meter) long and completely swallowed by the sand tiger shark." Read the rest
Psst, hey kid. You wanna see some clips from the dissection of one of the largest mako sharks ever caught? Sure you do.
This NOAA video has amazing footage of the shark's stomach — so big it fills a tall Rubbermaid tub — and the even more amazing footage of scientists lifting an almost completely intact sea lion head out said shark's stomach.
What's the benefit? Studying the stuff in a shark's stomach helps us understand how different species are interrelated — which helps scientists figure out how to better manage the conservation of whole ecosystems. Essentially, write the good folks at Smithsonian.com, this is an example of scientists making valuable use out of a not-exactly-ideal situation. The shark was legally caught and killed by fishermen filming a scene for a reality TV show.