This odd animal has one of the fastest bites in the world

From Smithsonian Channel's "Great Blue Wild: Life in the Muck:"

The speed of a hairy frogfish’s bite is the result of a vacuum in its mouth that can suck in its prey in just 1/6000th of a second. It’s so fast that even slow-motion video struggles to capture it.

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Watch big shark circling unwitting swimmer

Yesterday, a guest on the 28th floor at the Tidewater Resort on Panama City Beach caught this video of a big shark circling a lone woman who had no idea the animal was nearby. Eventually people on the beach noticed the shark and yelled to the woman to return to shore. I don't know what kind of shark it was, or whether it was hungry, but I am certain that this video would be more interesting with the soundtrack below. (News Herald)

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Manatee orgy causes traffic jam in Florida

A dozen mating manatees stopped traffic on the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa, Florida. Apparently some drivers reported a whale in distress but it turned out to be the manatees in a "mating ball" or "mating herd." And it happened before, a few years ago, in the same spot! Must be something in the water...

From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission:

Manatees mate in herds consisting of a focal female and multiple males, from a few to over a dozen, attempting to mate with her. Mating herds are most often observed during the warmer months, but can occur year-round. They can last anywhere from a few hours up to a week long. The manatees are often observed splashing or climbing on top of each other in the water.

(The Drive via Daily Grail)

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Plastic bag and other human trash found at the bottom of Earth's deepest ocean trench

During the deepest human sea dive ever, 35,853 feet/10,928 meters down to the bottom of the western Pacific's Mariana Trench in a one-person submarine, underwater adventurer Victor Vescovo found what may be newly discovered species of marine life along with candy wrappers and a plastic bag. This is the third plastic bag that divers have found in the Mariana Trench, considered the deepest natural trench on Earth. From National Geographic:

A study released in October 2018 documented what is still the deepest known piece of plastic—a flimsy shopping bag—found at a depth of 36,000 feet inside the Mariana Trench....

Single-use plastics are virtually everywhere, and they may take hundreds of years or more to break down once in the wild. The Mariana Trench has higher levels of overall pollution in certain regions than some of the most polluted rivers in China, according to a study in February 2017. The study's authors theorized that the chemical pollutants in the trench may have come in part from the breakdown of plastic in the water column.

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Man, 71, successfully floated across the Atlantic in a motorless metal capsule

In December last year, Jean-Jacques Savin, 71, floated away from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa in an orange capsule he'd built. Last week, he landed at the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius. Read the rest

"Cthulhu was real!" say scientists

Well, sort of. Paleontologists have identified a 430 million-year-old fossil of a multi-tentacled sea creature as a new species and dubbed it Sollasina cthulhu after HP Lovecraft's Great Old One. From Yale University:

The new cthulhu, Sollasina, had 45 tentacle-like tube feet, which it used to crawl along the ocean floor and capture food. The creature was small, about the size of a large spider. It was found in the Herefordshire Lagerstätte in the United Kingdom, a site that has proven to be a trove of fossilized ancient sea animals.

“In this paper, we report a new echinoderm — the group that includes sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and sea stars — with soft-tissue preservation,” said Yale paleontologist Derek Briggs, a co-author of the study. “This new species belongs to an extinct group called the ophiocistioids. With the aid of high-resolution physical-optical tomography, we describe the species in 3D, revealing internal elements of the water vascular system that were previously unknown in this group and, indeed, in nearly all fossil echinoderms.”

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Look at this majestic school of hammerhead sharks ready to mate

An astonishing school of hammerhead sharks surprises divers at Darwin's Arch in the Galápagos Islands in this majestic video from the BBC's Mission Galápagos series. In an article at Wanderlust, Mission Galápagos host and animal biologist Liz Bonnin lists this adventure as one of her "most amazing wildlife experiences":

The hammerheads come from all different directions and gather, swim around each other in big circles in a wonderful sort of balletic association. At the very centre of this big mass of hammerheads are the oldest, most mature females. The younger sharks swim around them. When the males come in to mate, they’ve got to weave and wind their way through this mass of hammerheads, so only the strongest, fittest males will get to mate with the females in the centre.

We are only just beginning to understand the purpose of this mass congregation, so the more scientists dive down there, the more they’re understanding its importance. It’s a very special place, and a very important behaviour, that needs to be protected. The Galapagos is one of the last jewels of this blue planet of ours. It really needs extra protection of ours oceans to make sure that that doesn’t disappear for ever. It was extraordinary.

(via The Kid Should See This) Read the rest

Diver swims with 20-foot great white shark

Watch marine biologist Ocean Ramsey (yes, Ocean is her first name!) swim with a 20-foot great white shark off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. First spotted off Guadalupe in 2014, this animal, nicknamed "Deep Blue," is thought to be the largest great white in the world. They're definitely going to need a bigger boat.

“We never would have imagined we would be fortunate enough to be graced with the presence of this massive, big, beautiful, female white shark," says Ramsey, who at the time was observing tiger sharks with her One Ocean Research team. “It fills my heart with joy and takes my breath away.”

(NBC News)

View this post on Instagram

Beyond magic! Please #helpsavesharks !!!! Incredible swimming with “Deep Blue” one of the largest great white s for hour! Just using our @oneoceandiving boat as a scratching post, so mellow and beautiful. Help ban the purposeful killing of sharks and rays with @oneoceanconservation this year & in your local/international community ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ AHHHHHHMAZING!!!! #Beyondwords still out to sea/going back in 😍😍😍😍😍😍 vid shot by @oneoceandiving Shark specialist & my amazing #seaster @mermaid_kayleigh out with @juansharks @forrest.in.focus @camgrantphotography @oneoceanresearch

A post shared by Ocean Ramsey #OceanRamsey (@oceanramsey) on Jan 15, 2019 at 5:54pm PST

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Wealthy adventurer just became the first person to touch the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean

Last week, private equity investor and adventurer Victor Vescovo became the first person to touch the deepest spot in the Atlantic Ocean, 27,480 feet down to the floor of the Puerto Rico Trench, in his custom $35 million Triton submersible, named the Limiting Factor. From Smithsonian:

Vescovo has previously trekked to both the North and South Poles and climbed the highest mountain on each continent, including Mount Everest, a combo known as the “Explorer’s Grand Slam.” But that club is—relatively speaking—a little crowded, with more than 60 people having completed the feat. That’s one reason Vescovo decided to take to the water. The Puerto Rico Trench dive is the first leg of his latest challenge: to reach the lowest spot in each of the world's five oceans. He’s dubbed the feat, inaccessible to anyone without millions of dollars of resources, the “Five Deeps Expedition...."

Through one lens, the trip can be seen as a vanity project for a rich explorer. However, as Ann Vanreusel, head of the research group Marine Biology of Ghent University, tells Erik Stokstad at Science, whatever the motive behind the expedition, it has true scientific value. “[T]here is not any funding agency that would be willing to spend so much money to visit all those areas,” she says.

Indeed, Five Deeps is poised to produce some of the most accurate maps ever of the ocean’s deepest spots and unseen habitats and creatures, aided by the fact that Alan Jamieson, a marine ecologist at Newcastle University and one of the world’s leading experts on the ocean’s depths, is the science leader of the expedition.

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Trump OKs seismic tests in Atlantic that can harm thousands of dolphins & whales

Trump's about to make a bunch of whales, turtles, and dolphins go deaf.

The Trump administration is about to take a preliminary step toward oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic shore, by approving requests from energy companies to conduct “deafening seismic tests that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Read the rest

Livestream killer whale songs and other ocean sounds

Orcasound is a citizen science project (and app) enabling you to listen to livestreams of audio from underwater microphones off Washington’s San Juan Island. Read the rest

Hiding secret messages in whale song

Most military underwater surveillance systems filter out whale calls along with other ambient ocean noise. This inspired researchers from China's Tianjin University to create a form of "bio-inspired steganography" in which recordings of whale songs can be edited to contain secret messages and then electronically transmitted underwater. From Newsweek:

In research published in IEEE Communication Magazine, the team said there are two ways to hide signals in whale pulses—changing the signal to include encrypted information or making the signal weaker.

The former is problematic because it would stand out from other naturally occurring signals, Jiang told SCMP. However, the second method holds promise. Researchers could build a coding system around the whale sounds. They could then edit whale sounds so they are indistinguishable from other whale calls. When they are received by the coding system, they can be deciphered. The main drawback for this approach is that it would be difficult to send a message over a long distance.

"Bio-Inspired Steganography for Secure Underwater Acoustic Communications" (IEEE Communications)

Image: "A mother sperm whale and her calf off the coast of Mauritius" by Gabriel Barathieu Read the rest

Dolphins forced to simplify calls due to human noise pollution in the oceans

As a result of noisy ship engines and the racket of ocean mining, bottlenose dolphins have slowly reducing the complexity and changing the frequency of their calls. According to new research from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and published in the journal Biology Letters, "the noise-induced simplification of dolphin whistles may reduce the information content in these acoustic signals and decrease effective communication, parent–offspring proximity or group cohesion." From YaleEnvironment360:

“It’s kind of like trying to answer a question in a noisy bar and after repeated attempts to be heard, you just give the shortest answer possible,” Bailey said. “Dolphins simplified their calls to counter the masking effects of vessel noise.”

Dolphins are highly social animals and use their calls to stay together as a group, talk as they feed, and call out their names when they meet new members of their species. Each animal has a distinctive whistle, which typically uses complex sound patterns with variations in pitch and frequency.

photo: US Navy Read the rest

Breathtaking photos of sea monsters emerging from the waves

Rachael Talibart's breathtaking "Sirens" photo series pareidolically reveals the fantastic mythical beasts hidden in the ocean waves. From Tailbart's gallery page at the Sony World Photography Awards in which she was shortlisted:

‘Sirens’ is an ongoing portfolio of storm waves captured on the UK’s south coast. A childhood afloat and a love of maritime mythology have come together in these portraits of monstrous waves named after mythological creatures. These images are from 2017 and were captured at Newhaven, in East Sussex, but the photographs are intended to transcend time and place. Thus, in naming them, I have shamelessly plundered myths and legends from all cultures and eras. On the days I make these photographs, the sea is beautiful but also terrifying. I feel utterly insignificant, yet completely enriched by these encounters with wildness, and that is what I have tried to communicate in the photographs.

Above, "Loki." Below, "Poseidon Rising" and "Nanook."

See more: Rachael Talibart "Sirens"

(via PetaPixel)

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Mermaid or beluga whale?

According to the excellent wunderkammer of Twitter accounts, We Like To Learn, "Throughout history, sailors have mistaken Beluga Wales for mermaids because of their human-like knees."

(As our helpful commenters point out, those aren't literally "knees" in the image but rather love handles that help the whales steer as they swim. More here.)

(via Daily Grail) Read the rest

Getting to work on time: FINAL BOSS FIGHT

The way this man casually hops on to a moving freighter in Hailuoto, Finland as it tears through ice and sub-zero waters should make anyone who sees this video feel a whole lot better about their morning commute. Read the rest

Watch a dolphin knock a stand-up paddleboarder right off his board

Andrew Hill was stand-up paddleboarding off Gracetown, Western Australia when a pod of dolphins interrupted his fun.

“Eight or nine of them decided to catch that wave and surf straight at me, which has happened lots of times in the past to me and generally they just take off to one side left or right,” Hill told PerthNow. “It's good to see dolphins. Surfers like seeing dolphins, but obviously I'd prefer them to stay a little bit further away than they did yesterday.”

I'm sure they'd prefer the same of Mr. Hill.

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