Friday, December 7, 2012

Women in Christ

I identify myself as a woman in Christ. If you also put yourself in that category, this is for you:

“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

I know as women, we tend to worry. We tend to over-think things that won’t matter down the road. I do it almost every day! These crazy little things will invade my mind and won’t let me go until I almost go mentally insane. This has always been one of my biggest problems in life, whether it has to do with school work, family, relationships, or whatever else enters my life. 

I can’t stress enough this passage in Philippians. It is such a reassuring text. God is here for us, seeing every little thought pass through our minds. If only we knew how much He loved us! I forget sometimes that I’m allowed to complain. I can just talk to my God about how this next chemistry test is going to be the death of me, so please help my, Lord, to slow down and get a few hours of sleep. God’s peace “surpasses every thought.” What a wonderful truth that we as worrisome women need to hear. 

“Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes; instead, it should consist of the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes.”
I Peter 3:3-4

How beautiful do you think you are? Do you label yourself as beautiful at all? I know that I definitely don’t jump to that conclusion when I think about my attributes. As women, we are living in a world filled with fake beauty. Beauty that is only skin deep, not penetrating into the soul. I’m here to say that if you have Jesus Christ in your heart, if you believe He is the way, the truth, and the life, you are most indeed beautiful. As Christians, we all have beautiful souls. In Romans it even says “How beautiful the feet of those who bring good news!”

It’s true, our beauty shouldn’t depend upon what we wear. But I want to get to the root of it all. Our beauty should also not be dependent upon others. Let’s face it, women usually depend on what people say about our looks. What we feel on the inside relies heavily upon what people in our circles of influence say about us. It makes me so mad, too! Whenever I stray from my God and His Word, I automatically replace it with what others say about me. Sometimes it isn’t even what people say to us; maybe it’s just how people act around us, or if they talk to us at all. I know I’m not alone in this. 

This is definitely true with members of the opposite sex. I’m as much guilty of this as the next girl, believe me. If a guy thinks of you as attractive, you feel a lot better about yourself! You may think, “Well, gosh, I didn’t know someone out there liked any of this!” It’s nice to hear words of affirmation, whether it be about your physical appearance or your personality. It could be just the way you carry yourself that attracts certain guys. Anyways, all I’m saying is this: We can’t depend upon guys to make us feel better about ourselves! Our beauty doesn’t rely on your next crush, your boyfriend, your fiance, your husband. We as women rooted in Christ have placed our hope, our thoughts, our lives in the hands of our Lord. Shouldn’t we also place our beauty in His hands as well?

“An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. Now I [Paul] am saying this is for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but because of what is proper, and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction.”
I Corinthians 7:34-35

I really wanted to put the whole passage of I Corinthians 7:25-40! I challenge you to read that; it’s so good. This is obviously for the single ladies out there, such as myself. In college, I’m seeing a lot of people going off and getting married. It’s ridiculous! I’m just like, “Slow down, y’all! It’s not a race to see who can have the most kids by 25!” Of course I get jealous of these beautiful girls who are getting proposed to during the summer on the beach and getting swept off their feet and all that romantic stuff. I can’t help but wonder when that will happen to me. But then I realize: I am not content in my walk with the Lord because of this.

As Christian women, we need to be “concerned about the things of the Lord,” as Paul says. Anything else is a distraction. Yes, this includes our guy problems. I like when Paul says that his words aren’t to put a restraint on us; it’s for our benefit that he says these encouraging and uplifting statements. Paul never got married. He is the perfect example of staying the course of single life. Expounding upon that, he is also in general a wonderful example of keeping rooted in Christ.

I know that younger single women like myself will sometimes say, “If only I could just find my husband already and marry him. Things would be so much simpler. I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to find him!” What if we changed this statement to, “If only I could just be content with what God has given me in my life.” This mindset would drastically change the way we live our lives as women. 

The only thing we need to depend on is God. For we know from Romans that “all things work together for the good of those who love God; those who are called according to His purpose.” All things. This include the little stuff we worry about. This includes the family problems we have. This includes all the petty boy problems we have. All things. It all works together for our good. Hallelujah, what a beautiful truth.

On my last note, I hope and pray that these words will be of encouragement to any and all women who love the Lord. We need to see our beauty through the eyes of our Creator, not through the eyes of His creation, which is surely passing away. Know that you are greatly loved by the King.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Sea of Mystery

So sorry that I haven't written anything in a while. Life's been quite hectic lately, to put it simply. A lot of people have been asking me lately what my views on Auburn are since I've applied there and such. Well, I don't know. I really just have no idea. Like no idea. I have hunches every now and then on what I should do, but never a pressing, undeniable, adamant, "Yes, I need to stay where I am," or, "I need to move on to Auburn." I'm going to keep praying about it. Thinking about it on my own is just going to make me go insane. I mean, more insane.
For those of you who don't know, the ocean is a mysterious and dangerous place. Let's face it. We might as well go ahead and call it another planet. This body of water is filled with all kinds of weird and alien-like organisms. The surface of the moon has been more traversed than the Earth's ocean floor. In short, we have no idea as humans what's going on down there in "our" seas. Hopefully I can illuminate as much as I can to the public what I already know/what I learn along my way. 
I will attempt to delight you with a few marine organisms you may have never learned about in detail, let alone heard of or seen. You may have heard of a certain organism before, but maybe never actually known about them. Let the education begin!

Humboldt Squid

The very elusive Humboldt squid.
How can I begin to tell you about the Humboldt squid...What an interesting animal to learn about! They usually live in the ocean depths; however, they rise up to the surface of the water at night to feed and do other mysterious things. They are extremely violent and attack not only their prey, which could be each other, but also divers and even boats. Scientists also think they have complex forms of communication via chromatophores in their skin. These chromatophores are known to change colors very quickly. The squid flash from red to white back and forth like a strobe light. There are different sequences, probably filled with messages to one another pertaining to who knows what. Hunting? Their stance with each other, whether it be civil or evil? Mating intentions? It could be many things. In southern California and Mexico the local fishermen call the Humboldt squid the "diablo rojo" or "red devil." Not many scientists and cameramen are courageous or crazy enough to jump into the water with these guys. Think about it, you're in the ocean amidst multitudes of cannibalistic squid darting at 15 mph. Oh, and they're known for attacking humans on the drop of a hat for no reason. I'd consider the Humboldt more frightening than sharks if you ask me.

Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish)

The mola mola sunfish.

The mola mola is one of 3 species of sunfish. I've personally never seen such a marine animal quite like it. They are called many different names; the French call them moon fish, the Germans the swimming head, and the Taiwanese even call it the toppled car fish. I like the swimming head name the best! The mola mola is considered the largest bony fish in the world, weighing up to over 2 tons. Its skin feels like sandpaper (like a ray or a shark), but covered in a layer of slimy mucus. The mola mola is actually the most common species of sunfish; its cousins are very rare and seldom seen by humans. Their skin can be completely white, to freckled, to strikingly spotted patterns. These fish become extremely infested with parasites as well. They will invite other smaller fish and even birds to come onto their skin and eat the parasites. Some people have even seen them breaching to shake the pests. Now that'd be a sight to see. Their diet consists of jellyfish, algae, and other small planktonic organisms. Obviously they swim extremely awkwardly. I mean, come on, just look at their appearance! I would definitely call these guys gentle giants. No attacks on humans have ever been recorded. They are more curious than anything, readily approaching divers. I would love to swim with one someday.

Flying Fish

A flying fish, well, flying.

We've all heard of them at least once in our lives. I didn't know that they actually existed until a few years ago; I thought it was all just stories. These fish don't literally fly, however. Sorry to burst your bubble! They glide over the water more than anything. They can get enough height and speed to regularly land on ship decks, though. Just imagine sailing on a yacht in the middle of the ocean and all of the sudden it starts raining fish. Now that's what I call a vacation. Anyway, these fish have diet of mainly plankton and other small organisms. There are about 40 different species of flying fish, and they aren't endangered or anything like that. To "fly," they will build up a lot of speed in the water (over 30 mph) right before they break through the water's surface. Once they break through, they sort of wiggle their tail back and forth to gain speed. The longest recorded "flight time" for a flying fish is just over 1,300 feet. What a distance!

The ocean is full of mystery and wonder. So many gorgeous and fascinating creatures cover this planet and fill its seas; we are so fortunate to have this much knowledge about our world. I believe we will never fully realize the extent of the ocean's diversity in my lifetime, or maybe even ever. 
God's creation, not only in the ocean but in general, is so interesting and telling of His power. It sounds weird, but learning about this earth and its biological contents can be a form of worship. Just sitting back and seeing how many wonderful things He has made really puts life into perspective. I must be a legitimate science nerd if I'm worshiping through it! 
Just think about it. Wouldn't it be something if we came to know the full extent of the living things in the seas of mystery? 

Friday, October 19, 2012

But Him

I just went to an awesome poetry reading, so I'm feeling really artsy. And I usually don't feel that way. Odd. But, still, when these spurts of artsiness consume my brain, I have to get it out of my system. So I will do this. I will do this through a poem. 
I hate poetry, by the way. Just reading and talking about it in a classroom setting. But if I'm just hearing it or reading it leisurely (which almost never happens), I kind of enjoy it. Kind of.
This is my shot at some poetry writing. I wrote it because I love fall. And fall reminds me of different things. It reminds me of different things in life. I overanalyze, I know. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

"But Him"   

Falling down.
Falling dreams.
Falling love, falling hate.
Falling colors, red, yellow, brown.
Those leaves are falling,
My dreams are calling,
To me,
My dreams are screaming, falling.
I try to catch them.
They slip out through my fingers.
I am watching them fall to the ground.
They disintegrate,
They are gone.
I am screaming, dreaming, falling.
Alone I cry out.
I cry, for I am falling.
I am screaming,
I am falling.
Now I am but a dream, falling.
Falling down,
Calling out,
I stop.
My heart falls into my stomach,
My brain turns to mush,
My hands, they start trembling,
I am trembling.
But I am not falling.
A Man, a Light,
Looks into my eyes, my soul.
My soul looks at His soul,
His soul at mine.
I am not falling.
He keeps me in His hands,
His enormous, silky soft hands,
His warm, weird, wonderful hands.
His fingers wrap around my soul
As if it were but a wisp of hot air,
And He catches me.
He catches me.
He caught me.
He bought me.
He loved me.
He loves me.
I am not falling.
His eyes look into my eyes, my soul.
My soul looks at His soul,
His soul at mine.
I am captured.
No, I am enraptured.
My body may be fractured,
But my soul,
My soul is enraptured.
I am not falling.
For I was falling,
wasn't I?
I was falling, calling, screaming,
falling in the darkness,
calling for a witness,
screaming for…
I had seen my dreams falling,
they were falling.
They had fallen.
They fell.
BOOM. They had disintegrated.
My dreams.
MY dreams.
Those leaves,
colors of red, yellow, brown.
They had fallen down.
I had fallen down. 
I was falling into darkness,
I was screaming,
I was calling,
And falling,
But Him.

Monday, October 15, 2012

For Science!

I have found how much I truly enjoy/hate every single hour away from school. The few hours I get at home are essential to my sanity, yet are saturated with thoughts consisting of, "When I get back to school, I need to..." and , "I wish I were back at school just because of..." 
Is that weird? I feel like it is, but it isn't at the same time. This paradoxical situation in my brain can be illustrated through the famous video game of Pong. Maybe I should be put in a mental institution of some sort so I can "get my life together" or at least agree with myself. I've talked to friends in the same scenario, and they've kind of admitted to this; however, I feel like I may be the only one in the extreme version of the mental state. Lord, may you keep me sane just until this semester ends!
I have yet another project in speech I feel obligated to inform you of. I unfortunately have to present a highly technical topic in an academic field and "dumb it down" so that a public audience of a high school education can understand it fully. That, I have learned through these past couple days, is easier said than done. I take this as a challenge to educate the masses of extremely complicated areas in marine biology. This won't be as awful and tortuous if I just think of this as a battle, me on the good side and masses of uneducated people on the other. I scream out as I run into the massacre, "For science!" (I won't, sadly, scream that out right before I present my technical topic in class this Thursday. I know you're disappointed.)
Phytoplankton bloom taken by NASA.
My technical topic is on oceanic iron fertilization. It sounds really interesting and boring at the same time. That's why I picked it! I learned about this through a professor in the chemistry department and became very intrigued by it. Pretty much, this guy named John Martin in the 80s and 90s hypothesized that if iron is added to the oceans, phytoplankton (like algae and diatoms) would grow like crazy and photosynthesize like crazy as well. The process of photosynthesis, if you don't know, takes in carbon dioxide as it produces oxygen. So, think about it. With more phytoplankton that photosynthesize, there would be more oxygen production and carbon dioxide absorption. Then the phytoplankton eventually die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, along with the carbon dioxide. Bam, there's the answer to the carbon dioxide problem for our atmosphere. Right? Is it really that easy of a fix?
Of course it isn't. Please don't tell me you've fallen for it! The ocean is a complicated place, so we can't just go out on a boat and hope to God that when we throw in 1,000 tons of iron, no one will get hurt and everything's as it should be. 
Let's look at this a little closer. Over the years there have been multiple research expeditions that have tested this whole idea. Some have been huge successes, like the pioneer expedition in 1994, and some have been complete busts, like one of the latest endeavors this century. I believe this has happened because the system in the experiments have been the ocean. The ocean is huge. And convoluted. And weird. And mysterious. And wild. Do you get where I'm going? No matter how many calculations and equations, the natural environment of our oceans will do whatever it wants. 
The successful expeditions have seen the following happen: the scientists carefully monitor a certain amount of dissolvable iron with chemicals and GPS systems injected into an area of the ocean once "iron-deficient." They observe an immediate phytoplankton bloom because of the iron, which dissipates after a short amount of time (like a few days). A large portion of carbon dioxide was absorbed in this time frame of the bloom.
The less-than-successful expeditions have seen something like this: the scientists throw in the iron. They watch the phytoplankton bloom as the others before them have seen. Zooplankton and copepods (predators that gorge themselves on phytoplankton) then eat all the phytoplankton from the bloom. Oops. That wasn't in the script. Just goes to show how the food chain and the forces of nature are above anything we do. 
Pseudo-nitschia, a producer of domoic acid.
Also, experts have come to observe another negative aspect in this tested hypothesis. One of the species of phytoplankton in the bloom has been the Pseudo-nitschia. Scary. These guys are known to produce a neurotoxin called domoic acid. This is toxic to other animals as well as humans. If the blooms produce huge amounts of toxic plankton, then maybe we should step back and think about the negative affects. Scientists don't even really know all the consequences of high levels of domoic acid in the ecosystem. Obviously many things will die, but how will that affect humans? Will it affect the overall toxicity of fish? Will we be swimming in a toxic ocean? Will the oceanic food chain become lop-sided? Who knows.
So, what do you think? Should experts be tossing iron into the ocean? What if they do it in the name of science? I told you that the ocean is complicated. The answers relating to situations in the ocean should be complicated as well. 
I really enjoyed learning about this subject. There's more information out there online if you want to look into it. Judge it for yourself. I know you're going to research it yourself for hours! You just can't wait to start learning, right? Nah, I know you better than that.
This subject is much more complicated than I just summarized. There are scholarly papers on iron fertilization that zoom right over my head in one sentence. Hopefully I can simplify this into something more fitting for a public audience. The ideal person I can present this to is my 80-something year old grandmother. Now that right there will be a make it or break it moment that tests how simple I have really made it. Wish me luck on my presentation! For science!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Whaling Down to a Science

Ahh, what a relief to be back home! Relaxation at its finest, people. I can actually go a couple minutes without thinking about my next calculus test or literature paper. Now that's saying something. Of course, all good things must come to an end. This good thing will come to an end in the next 24 hours, sadly. Then back to school for another couple of weeks. Oh, the life of a college student.
Currently I'm in a communications class and I'm working on a small speech due this upcoming week. I get the amazing chance to talk about something I care about! Guess what it is? Whales! And how whales are being negatively affected by humans! Yeah, bleak. It truly is a sad story of decline and ruin in the whale populations. Let me tell you about what I'm going to say! This could be good practice for me, even though I'm not standing in front of all of you and speaking it aloud. Just imagine it. I'm supposed to talk for a maximum of 2 minutes; I don't think my teacher understands the magnitude of fascination I have with this subject. He may have to give me like 20 minutes to talk about it, at least! 
Diver and Humpback whale.
Whales. We all have come to know them as the biggest mammals in the world. This is correct. Actually, the biggest animal in the history of the world is the blue whale, which still roams the planet's seas today. Most people don't know more than that about them, though. Hopefully I can help change that today. 
These amazing animals are extremely intelligent. In fact, the sperm whale is known to have the largest brain in the animal kingdom. They have a beautiful, other-worldly form of communication that can echo through the ocean deep for literally hundreds of miles. People comment that their audible communication sounds lyrical or like that of singing a song. They don't only communicate verbally; they can also communicate through gestures such as tail-slapping or breaching. Socially, their ways of hunting and migrating are incredibly complex. Some species hunt alone, like sperm whales, but many will hunt in groups called pods. It is essential that they communicate with each other to obtain food for themselves. Also, touching on their intelligence, they can learn very quickly. Their "cousins," shall I say, the smaller cetaceans such as dolphins and porpoises, have been known to learn and be easily trained for entertainment purposes for the masses. As humans, we don't have a clue how truly intelligent these marine mammals are.
Throughout history, whales have been hunted. They have been hunted by many different people groups for many different reasons. Some hunted for whale blubber or oil. Others hunted for the bones or just purely the meat itself. They would use these whale parts for oil in lamps, clothing, food, and tools and other crafts. So, why have whales been in decline just recently if they have been hunted for centuries? It all comes down to traditional whaling technique versus commercial.
Killing pilot whales is tradition in the Faroe Islands. (1981)
Traditionally, small groups of people would go out on a small boat and wrangle in a whale to beach itself. Some hunters even learned how to use certain weapons, like handmade harpoons and knives, against the mammals while in the sea to successfully kill them. Obviously through these types of whale slaughter, the populations of whales species didn't drastically decline.
Commercial whaling is a much different and wilder mutation of traditional whaling. Technological advances over the years have pushed the envelope. Pretty much, the act of killing is put down to a science. Quotas are estimated. Ways of killing are perfected. Mass killing by sending out fleets of ships is formulated. Over the recent decades, certain countries have developed their killing methods to perfection, so much so that the whales are on the brink of endangerment and extinction. Ecological damage is much more prevalent with modern-day whaling compared to traditional.
The IWC, or International Whaling Commission, has been in existence since the 1940s. This organization brings countries together to meetings based on the subject of preserving whale populations. In 1986, the IWC made a moratorium (temporary prohibiting of something) on commercial whaling. Here's the catch: if the whale hunting is used for research purposes, then it is permissible. That's the "loop hole" that certain countries took advantage of, specifically Iceland, Norway, and Japan.
Japan is now the big name in whaling. It's been getting huge amounts of press on the subject lately. They still have a government funded operation that sends a fleet of ships down to the Southern Ocean to hunt whales annually. Usually their quota is about 900 to 1,000 whales, just recently including 50 of the endangered humpback whales. They claim this is for scientific research. They are taking blood samples. They are checking their stomach contents. However, they're packing up and shipping off the whale meat to be sold in Japanese markets for profit. How does that make any sense?
Packaged whale meat in Japan.
Anyway, no one should be eating whale meat in the first place. It's toxic. Yeah, it's toxic. Whales and other big marine predators of the ocean, like sharks and tuna, have large amounts of mercury in their bodies. This is because of the smaller creatures they eat that contain mercury as well. The amount of mercury will get larger and larger as the animal is a bigger predator. So, if you eat whale meat, just remember that you're deliberately putting toxic levels of mercury in your body.
Thankfully there are activists and organizations out there that say enough is enough. These intelligent creatures are being murdered and eaten, and for who to benefit? Certainly not them. And certainly not us as consumers because of their meat's toxicity. 
Be sure to check out the Causes tab and learn about the some organizations that combat issues like these. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and GreenPeace are the big ones. Thanks for letting me practice my whole speech on you guys! I have a feeling this will need to be trimmed down a lot for my 2 minute boundary...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Finding No One

I find it funny how the movie Finding Nemo is named Finding Nemo. Only because I've taken Latin in high school and learned what "nemo" is in Latin. Nemo means nobody or no one. So, from the get go, the movie Finding Nemo is a tragedy. It's surprising Marlin found the little guy in the end.
Am I the last person on the face of the planet who hasn't seen Finding Nemo 3D? Because that's how I feel! Every other person I've asked to join me in this ceremonial event at the movie theater has told me they've already seen it. Every time. May I ask this question, then: Why not go see it again? I mean, it is the greatest movie in all of eternity, so do your old pal a favor. However, if there is no one to accompany me into the theater, I will go by myself. 
Fish are friends, not food.
Yes, I said it. I would go by myself to watch Finding Nemo 3D. I would submit myself to ridicule from annoying young children sitting in the theater with their apathetic parents. I would be "that girl" who you see walk in alone, watch the film alone, and walk out alone. But, you know what? I would enjoy every single golden moment of my solidarity. Think about it. If you're by yourself watching a movie with a bunch of random people you don't even know or care about, you can be as loud as you want when you laugh or cry or cackle at the movie screen. (I don't know about you, but I perform all 3 of these actions while watching Finding Nemo.) Usually my number one rule for movie-going is never go alone. This case is the only exception. Other than Finding Nemo 3D, I am abiding by that rule.
Thankfully, today I found a friend going to the movie. Phew, that was a close one! I actually thought for a few days this week I would be laughing obnoxiously aloud at the screen alone; now I'm going to be laughing obnoxiously aloud at the screen with a couple people sitting beside me. Huge difference. It will now be socially acceptable, I think. So, the moral of the story: if you have a desperate friend going to see Finding Nemo 3D by themselves, save them from ridicule and humiliation and just tag along. It will save millions of lives. The more you know.
(Transition to another subject) Earlier this week I had been thinking more about my next move in my college career. If you haven't heard, I've sent my application to Auburn University. War Eagle! I'm not 100% sold on transferring to Auburn, though. I'm still praying about it and seeing where God leads me. Still, I need to be able to know what my next move is, whichever road I take. If I don't go to Auburn I'll stay at my present university and major in biology. Either way, I have fantastic news! Like, this news is groundbreaking. Positively joyous. Heavenly. Wondermous. Hallelujah-worthy. Never-endingly amazazing. I'm making up new words. Anyways, I don't have to take a second organic chemistry class!! Whooo! (This is the appropriate time to ensue a celebratory dance or shout, depending upon your preference.)
I can't stress how much weight that sentence right there has lifted off of me. If you've never had the burden of taking organic chemistry ever, you are one lucky duck. If I stay where I am, I won't take any more chemistry. If I leave for Auburn, I only take an overview of biochemistry. Now what I have to really worry about is the physics I have to take. Ugh. Physics. College problems. My life is so tough, isn't it? That reminds me, I need to find a friend who is decent in the field of physics. By that I mean I need to find a person I will befriend probably only because they are decent at physics and I am not. I won't call it full out "using" someone. Maybe we can rename this "getting to know" someone (getting to know their brain, more likely). Yeah, that sounds less parasitic. Let's end on that note.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Big Bad Bugs

You may think I am in love with all wildlife on earth just because I consider myself one who enjoys biology. That I love all things nature. All the weird and ugly animals of this world are my best friends or something. Boy, are you wrong! I do enjoy nature. However, I do have a limit. My limit's label: BUGS. If you put me in a cage surrounded by sharks in the water, my heart would be racing, but I would overall be fine. Like I would be enjoying myself. But if you dare to put a spider or cockroach in front of my face, doesn't matter how small, I will freak to the point of complete embarrassment. 
Example. Today I was sitting in the 3rd row of my organic chemistry class. I was focused on trying to understand whatever my professor was saying (which is impossible) and all of the sudden I saw a humongous spider crawling 6-odd inches away from my feet. Needless to say I freaked to the point of complete embarrassment, as I usually do. (Whenever I tell someone a bug is big, they don't believe me because any bug to me is big. Big in scariness. I think my brain tells my eyes to multiply the size of the bug 2 or 3 times. Maybe it's a health condition. Or a mental illness.) 
A Brown Recluse Spider.
It crawled right to me, like it knew. Yeah, it knew. It knew I was the one to go for. They probably talk about me in their bug meetings or conventions or whatever they do. They probably have me on like a "list to kill" or something. At the end of their meetings they all say, "...and remember: if you see her, you know what to do." 
So it started to come to me, closing the gap between it and my feet. I started to see black spots. All at once I felt a heaviness in my stomach, my lungs collapsing, and this intense heat in my throat.
I booked it outta there! I was gone. My neighbor, the poor guy who doesn't know me very well at all, almost got sacked. There was no way I would try to kill the spider by putting myself nearer to it. Nuh-uh. No siree. Thankfully someone squished and killed it with their tennis shoe. Lord, thank you for the brave soul who took one for the team! It would've taken me hours to kill that. Goodness, I wish I had taken a picture so you see how huge this thing was! The girl who killed it looked over to me and said in the most quiet and tranquil way, "Glad we killed him. I'm pretty sure that was a brown recluse." Then she turned back around like everything went back to normal as I sat there in horror, still shaking to the point where I couldn't even write legibly. The rest of class time consisted of me looking at my feet every 30 seconds, searching for the spider's army of friends surely coming after me soon. Was it a brown recluse? We'll never know. Unless we obtain a sample from the bottom of that nice girl's shoe...
As you can tell, I don't like spiders. Bugs in general are just my ultimate fear, but spiders...they are the big kahuna. The big enchilada. The top banana, shall we say. You will never catch me dead with a spider in my presence willingly. Of course, they're everywhere, so I don't have much choice. I heard some time ago that in life there will always be a spider in a certain small circumference of your person. Like a few feet or something horrifying like that. Now there's a scary story to tell your kids at night. They won't sleep for weeks.
Why, God, not multitudes of bunnies?? Look at their cuteness!
It's just too bad that the biggest group of animals in this world is the bug population. Why, God, can't it be birds? Or bunnies? Or platypuses? Platypi? Who cares. Just not bugs! Okay, I can deal with multitudes of butterflies or lightning bugs. But not the beetles or the roaches. I cringe just typing it out! If you like bugs, you must be so mad at me right now. Sorry for the huge slap in the face of bugs, but I can't stand them.
They are definitely necessary for our world. Sadly, this is true. If it weren't for certain types of insects that eat decomposing material, we would have a bunch of (you guessed it) decomposing material stinking up the world. If not for certain insects that eat other even worse insects, we would have a world filled with overbearing populations of dangerous bugs, even more than we have now. I can't imagine. Ughh...I guess we should thank them for their services. I'll thank them. But not as much as I thanked tennis shoe girl for the defeat of my arch nemesis.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Einstein and the Blowfish

It's official. I've started the process of applying to another school: Auburn University. Well, it's been official in my mind for quite awhile that I'm going to apply there. I guess I can say it's "officially official." You may be asking me why I'm doing this. Do I hate where I'm attending now? What's so bad about where I am that is pushing me to the point of applying to move multiple hours away? Let me assure you, oh, dear reader, I am not doing this out of malice towards the university I am attending presently.
I don't know how many times I'm going to say this, but, let me say it again, I'm currently a chemistry major whose future goal is marine biology. I've realized since my declaration of major that I'm here on this earth to study marine biology. Not chemistry. Not physics. Not whatever else you can put under my nose. Marine biology. And, let me tell you, the chemistry department is not the place to be for someone like me. Now I know this!
It's nothing personal toward chemists. Or the study of chemistry for that matter. I like the way the great scientist Albert Einstein puts it:
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb up a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Why try to say it when Einstein says it so poetically? I may be "good" at chemistry in some aspects (like in the classroom, usually), but when it comes to research and hands-on approaches to the science, I've learned that it is definitely not my cup of tea. Now that I have come to realize this, I can move on from it and try out some other things. I will repeat this cycle either until I get tired of it or until I find that one aspect of science that I know I'm made for. Who knows, it could be research, conservational work, tourism, education, etc. Maybe it could be a mix! That's for God to know and me to find out!
The pufferfish pre- and post-puff.
Let's get to the good part of the blog: the biology. Today's topic of conversation is the famous pufferfish, or blowfish as some may call it. This little fish is so cute when it isn't mad and territorial to the point where it puffs out its spikes at you in defense. All they do is just suck in a bunch of water, and voila, you have an angry-looking pufferfish telling you to get away or else. By the way, the terms "pre- and post-puff" in the caption I completely made up off the top of my head. They aren't scientific whatsoever. Far from it. But you get what I'm saying!
Pufferfish have a toxin that is usually lethal to fish. (Some marine animals aren't affected by the pufferfish toxin, such as tiger sharks and sea snakes. They're the lucky ones.) According to National Geographic, the toxin made in the pufferfish, called tetrodotoxin, is over 1,000 times more lethal to humans than cyanide. One pufferfish holds enough toxin to kill 30 humans. So that means, kids, don't touch these cute little things!...Or you will surely die. When I say surely I definitely mean surely. Why? Because there is no known antidote for the pufferfish's tetrodotoxin. Not every single species of pufferfish makes this toxin, so you have a small chance of living if you dare to test your luck.
Unlike a lot of the marine creatures I talk about, the pufferfish population is considered quite stable. Some species are vulnerable because of overfishing, loss of habitat, and pollution, but what animal these days isn't negatively affected by any of these 3 things? Not many, if any. 
Pufferfish language saying, "Get away!"
I have never seen one of these guys in their natural habitat, but I have seen them in tanks. Like in a few aquariums and at university marine labs. When I first saw them, they were much smaller than what I thought they would be. Maybe it's just me. Probably. And I don't know if the ones that I've seen were the smaller of the species. Anywho, the biggest they can get is about 3 feet, which is huge for a pufferfish.
This may seem obvious and I probably don't even need to mention this: it is not the best swimmer. Duh! If you were a big puff ball half of your life then you might not be able to swim too well either. Even still, they are capable of defending themselves extremely well. Yes, the pufferfish has its downfalls, but it can also kill 30 humans without breaking a sweat. (Okay, some can. Not all poisonous...) I respect them for that. So whenever I see one in the wild, I will observe from a safe distance!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Everyone Likes Turtles!

I'm back in my college town again, waiting for school to start and be over at the same time. I don't know what my feelings are on this semester. I don't want to go to school and get all that oh-so-familiar stress built up. Still, I'm excited about what's in store. A new school year yields new people, places, and things. Especially new experiences. Of course, new experiences can't always be positive, but it's life. I just got to roll with the punches.
If you've read on one of my earlier blogs, you may remember my vivid description of my trip to St. Maarten, specifically the sea turtle experience. If you haven't done this, I will save you the time and recap: Went to St. Maarten. Snorkeled in a marine wildlife refuge. Saw 2 turtles. Screamed underwater. One swam away. Left one sea turtle. Swam with it. Life almost complete. Now all I need is to swim with a whale. And a shark. And a whale shark. Bam. Story over. I'm a pretty dang good story teller, aren't I?
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle.
Now that you're caught up with that experience in my life, we can now move on. Sea turtles. Gotta love 'em. They're cute as babies, and even when they're adults. They are herbivores, so you don't see them mercilessly slaughtering a seal with razor sharp teeth like a shark. That's a plus. And they swim so gracefully. It's like they're in slow motion. Or in a dream. And, come on, they're turtles. Everyone likes turtles. If you don't like turtles, you've got a problem. I'm not talking about the marine turtles' crazy cousins, the snapping turtle. Now they are ugly and mean. But the Loggerheads, the Hawksbills, the Greens...they're like the popular kids of Turtle High School.
On a more serious note, sea turtles have some cool attributes. First off, if you had read more into my post I mentioned earlier about my St. Maarten trip, you may have read that these creatures are air-breathers. They aren't like their fishy friends who have gills and such. 
If you've never ever watched the Crocodile Hunter or Jeff Corwin in your life, then you may not have seen the specials they would air every now and then showing the annual mass hatching of young little turtles. There are a handful of special beaches in the world that will house hundreds of pregnant females once a year while they "do their thing" and lay their eggs (usually 3-8 eggs) in a self-dug hole in the sand. After a couple months, the eggs will hatch little baby turtles!
The race to the shore!
Their main instinct is to go to water. It's better for them to hatch at night since the cover of darkness saves many turtle lives. If they end up hatching in the daylight, they just gotta run for it. More like topple and flail, but you get the main idea. Many birds and lizards wait for this time of year to come around since the scrumptious little bite-size turtles will be so prevalent on the beach. Many baby turtles die, sadly. Sorry for the sob story, but as Disney says, it's the circle of life. But usually a good number of hatchlings will make it to the shoreline. Even then, however, they still have a lot ahead of them. Swimming against the current of the ocean when you're not even an hour old is kind of insane, but they're just wired to survive and do whatever it takes to get to water.
Once they get past the predators from when they were eggs, the predators from when they hatched, and the strong ocean current, they still have to find food. And I haven't even mentioned that they're pretty much alone out there in the big blue. Their parents don't wait up on them, you can be sure of that. They're on their own from day 1. More like second 1. Turtles are pretty darn tough once you think about it, and I don't just mean their tough shell.
I really have this awesome dream of going to the Galapagos Islands. If you've never heard of this island, I feel for you. It's kind of noted as the famous spot correlated with Charles Darwin, the esteemed and controversial scientist who made the theory of evolution a common worldwide topic of scientific conversation. 
Adult Galapagos Tortoise vs. Adult Human.
Anyways, the reason why I want to go there is this: the Galapagos tortoises. (FYI: tortoise is to land as turtle is to water.) Man, those things are huge. Huge, I tell you. Like if a tortoise was a T-rex, it would be the Galapagos tortoise. Many biologists and other scientists claim that the tortoises, along with other flora and fauna on the island, have evolved separately from their ancestors (because of the isolation). The animals and plants somehow got there by sea or air a long time ago and started evolving to enhance their adaptability to their specific surroundings. I'm getting on a very broad subject here, but that's the widely accepted reason why they look so different.
Turtles, and I guess now tortoises, are some awesome reptiles. They look ancient because they are ancient. And they move like they're ancient. I guess one word to describe any turtles would be ancient. That would be my best word. And of course they're cool! Because everyone likes turtles!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Life As I Know It

Have you ever had the experience of seeing yourself about to walk down a path you kind of know isn't right (or right for you, at least)? And something saves you from that at the very last minute? Well, that has happened to me today. Actually it's kind of been throughout these past couple months. 

You may not believe in a God, but if you do, then you might understand where I'm coming from when I talk about this. You guys may have read in earlier posts that I've done chemistry research at my university even though my area of interest is marine biology. Far cry, yes. I've been fully aware of this. Lately I've just been thinking and praying about my future a lot. I know God knows my heart more than even I have. Whatever His will is for my life, I would follow. I've tried to follow this hard road my whole Christian life. Key word is tried, folks. I've definitely made mistakes. Even so, God loves me and will mercifully keep me in His plan. 

Life as I know it has been full of happiness and sadness, ups and downs, right turns and wrong turns. Life as I know it is extremely sheltered; I realize this day after day. Life as I know it is really a waste of everything. It sounds bleak and dark. Like I'm just running in circles with all my might, going nowhere in the process. 
Life as God knows it, though, is full of grace and mercy, love and compassion, judgment and redemption. Life as God knows is His creation and under His control. Life as God knows it is unfathomable. Man, it never will fully sink in to my thick skin that life with God is the life fully lived. No awesome career or 6-digit salary can fully satisfy. 

There's one thing that keeps me, personally, from obtaining this powerful fully lived life through Him. Trust. Trust turns life around. If I could just let go of trying to figure out every little thing every waking minute of my life, God could do such a work in me and my circles of influence. I've talked to other Christians about this and I'm not the only one. Trusting in someone you can't see and sometimes not even feel is demanding. But, goodness, is it wonderful once it happens. I'm free, but a servant of Christ. I'm loved as a child of God, but still a sinner in this dark world. 

Obviously you can tell that I've decided to take a break today from writing about marine life! Hopefully you guys aren't mad. Not like it matters. For the record, God is the reason why I have this passion for marine life in the first place. I shouldn't even label this passion as my own. It's all Him. He has given it to me as a gift in this life to praise Him. What a cool way to look at it. I truly have nothing without God's presence. 
Okay, that was my God rant. Feels good to put it out there. By the way, if you have any questions about this kind of stuff, I'm not an expert, but I can at least listen! I'm not all about the ocean and its inhabitants. I do have a personality separate from that, believe it or not. And I'm a girl, so obviously I have many facets of my personality! Have a great day, and thanks for reading!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fintastic Facts

If you've been watching Shark Week, which I expect you have, then you can agree when I say this is one of the best years so far! I have loved each and every special, even the ones I didn't expect to care for as much. Commenting on Shark Week like it's Monday night football sounds so extremely geeky, but I don't give a hoot. It's just too much fun!
Since it is Shark Week, I'd like to elaborate on some cool shark stuff! There are a lot of facts that would have astounded many people just a few years ago. Let's name a few...
The aptly named Black Tip Reef Shark.
Sharks maintain the marine ecosystem. You might have heard this quite a few times over the years once Shark Week comes around. When scientists and conservationists say this, they are alluding to the food chain phenomenon. Sharks are obviously the big bad predators of the deep. They have a diet of smaller fish and organisms which, if not kept down in populations, can and will overpower the seas. Then their prey will become scarce, maybe even to the brink of extinction. Some of these prey items are autotrophs (organisms that make their own food, mainly from photosynthesis, such as algae). These guys take carbon dioxide in and eventually convert this to oxygen, along with food for themselves. Without these marine autotrophs, carbon dioxide levels will go up and oxygen levels will go down. This is obviously bad.
Anyways, the shortened version is that things will get out of whack. If shark populations are jacked up, the oceans are jacked up. If the oceans are jacked up, we're jacked up. And we don't want to be jacked up. Because that means we die. I know, way to be positive, Claire.

Some shark species can't breathe unless they're constantly moving. Certain species, such as the frightening great white, must always have water passing through their gills to have oxygen flow. That means if you're a great white shark, you will be moving for the rest of your sharky life. No exceptions. Unless you want to suffocate. 
If a shark gets caught in a net (which is actually highly likely), most of the time it will die from suffocation. After much struggling to get out of the net, it will become extremely tangled and trapped. It's quite sad. So far these facts aren't too positive! Sorry, y'all.

A nose full of ampullae of Lorenzini.
Sharks have a sixth sense. It's like a story off the movie screen. A top predator of the ocean has an incredible ability of electroreception. If you get close enough to the head of a shark you can see these pores in their nose. They're called the ampullae of Lorenzini. These jelly-filled pores can sense electric fields in the water. Even if the water is murky, they can sense movements of prey. Science is even showing that these sensory organs can give the sharks an awareness of where they are on the earth magnetically. So they may be using their ampullae while migrating great distances. 

Sharks have high-tech teeth. Yes, I know it sounds insane. Scientists have found behaviors that point to sharks' teeth actually "tasting" objects. For example, once a shark bites an unwanted object, like a buoy or a boat propeller, they will usually "spit it out" and look for their real prey (fish, seals, squid, etc.). They don't swallow or chew it around for a bit; they sink their teeth into it and then let it go. 
Also, their teeth are extremely sharp. Duh. They're sharks. Shark teeth have been compared to steak knives and razors. Even shark tooth fossils buried in the ground for millions of years are considered dangerously sharp to the touch. 
Rows of teeth in a bull shark.
A shark's teeth are made like clockwork in their mouth. The action is compared to a conveyor belt. Once a tooth is lost because of a brawl with a whale or a hunt of a seal, it's replaced by one right below it. Throughout their life, sharks must go through hundreds of teeth. And each one of them can cut through most anything with a couple head shakes. A shark's main weapon is definitely their teeth, no doubt about it. I know I wouldn't want to get face to mouth with one of those guys with no protection!
Some sharks, however, don't have this conveyor belt system of steak-knife-sharp teeth. Basking sharks and whale sharks are considered filter feeders, so they'll gulp in large amounts of water containing small organisms and "filter out" the yummy goodness. 

They're not all bad. Not all sharks are large, ferocious creatures that resemble Jaws. Actually, out of the hundreds of species of sharks in the world, only a handful of them have been reported to attack humans. There has been so much drama associated with sharks in the history of mankind, but we only know of the "big bad" great whites or the "big bad" bulls. What about the docile whale shark? What about the slow-moving Greenland shark? What about the nurse shark, considered the "catfish of the sharks?" Let me tell ya, folks, they're not all bad. And once we see that, we'll want to conserve them so we can learn more about them and save our oceans in the meantime.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Best Week of the Year

Wow, what a few days it's been. I've experienced a break in. A break in. It was the scariest event in my life. Okay, it wasn't my apartment that was broken into, but the one next door! Just as frightening, take my word for it. 
Three A.M. Thursday morning. All of the sudden a loud banging on my door accompanied with a booming voice shouting, "Sheriff's Department!" over and over. I finally came to my senses and opened the door to find a flashlight in my face. The policeman at my door informed me there had been a break in the apartment adjacent to me. I looked over to see the front doorway without a door. It had been completely kicked in by the burglar. I was in complete shock. 
The owner wasn't there, thank goodness, so no one was hurt. I ended up waiting outside for an hour or so with my newly-found neighbors while watching the police investigate in each apartment. They adventured into the attic (of which I had no previous knowledge of) to see any signs of the mystery man. No luck. The policemen left without a burglar. I was sad because I wanted to see the man responsible. Well, that's probably been the most eventful my life has gotten lately. 
On a more positive and less traumatizing note, this upcoming week will be by far the best week of the year! Why? It's Shark Week! The 25th anniversary of shark week! I seriously can't wait for tonight's new specials airing on the Discovery channel. I feel obligated to give you guys a heads up for what'll be on this week, so here's your master list. (This is according to Central Time, by the way.)

Ah! Watch out!


7 - 8 Ultimate Air Jaws Reloaded : Chris Fallows and Jeff observe breaching great white sharks in South Africa.
8  - 9 Air Jaws Apocalypse : Chris Fallows takes photos of great whites.
9 - 10 Shark Week's Impossible Shot : Cameramen attempt to get good shots of great white sharks off the coast of South Africa.


7 - 8 Air Jaws Apocalypse Reloaded : A camera crew tracks the huge great white shark named Colossus.
8 - 9 Sharkzilla : The Mythbusters team helps create a mechanical version of the prehistoric ancestor of great white sharks, the Megaladon.
9 - 10 Mythbusters Jawsome Shark : The Mythbusters team tests 25 shark myths.


7 - 8 Jaws Comes Home Reloaded : Greg Skomal tracks 5 great whites in the waters where the famous movie "Jaws" was filmed.
8 - 9 How Jaws Changed the World : The science behind how the movie "Jaws" impacted humanity's vision of sharks. 
9 - 10 Adrift: 47 Days with Sharks : The story of American soldiers who survived shark-infested waters.


7 - 8 Rogue Sharks Reloaded : Past shark attacks are investigated to see if sharks deliberately attack humans.
8 - 9 Shark Fight : Stories from shark attack victims.


7 - 8 Great White Invasion Reloaded : Researchers investigate the sightings of great whites near California, South Africa, and Australia.
8 - 9 Great White Highway : Great whites are tracked off the Californian coast.
9 - 10 Shark Week's 25 Best Bites : A countdown showing highlights of Shark Week.

Now you know! The one I am looking forward to watching the most is the special on Tuesday, How Jaws Changed the World. I'm really excited about that because not a lot of people nowadays think of sharks without thinking of Jaws. Another I want to see is Sharkzilla. Megaladon was a great white, but like 10 times bigger. It'll be interesting to see a mechanical one (probably made life-size).  
I wish this picture was real!
Last year I decided to start making pictures of me with sharks to celebrate Shark Week. (The picture I made last year is above.) This year I edited and pasted a picture of myself snorkeling in Mexico to a picture of a whale shark in the sea. Looks so real, right? I know it doesn't, but it just goes to show how desperately geeky I am. I thought y'all would like to see it! 
If you want to see more of Shark Week, be sure to visit the Discovery channel's Shark Week website! There's a bunch of fintastic videos and merchandise. Plus, facts, news stories, and conservation knowledge galore.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mermaids: The Body Found

So you guys are going to be so surprised at this. I slept in. Again. Until 11. I know, shame on me! I just couldn't go to sleep last night for some weird reason. Whenever that happens I try to watch a movie to put me to sleep. My usual movie I've used this summer has been Tangled. (Yes, it's a cartoon Disney movie. And, yes, it puts me to sleep. It takes me to my happy place!) 
Well, I didn't have that with me in my apartment, so I resorted to Finding Nemo. It's only my favorite movie of all time, but it wasn't doing its Disney magic for me and putting me to sleep! So I found a Target gift card in my wallet and bought a skirt online at 1 in the morning. What a deal I got! I expect it in the next 5-7 business days. It's sad that the highlight of yesterday was online shopping in the middle of the night with a gift card...
I don't know if you watch Animal Planet, but I sure do. Can't get enough of it. Earlier this summer the network advertised this special 2-hour documentary called "Mermaids: The Body Found." That right there caught my attention. Mermaids! Yeah, they're a mythical creature that occurs in stories of old from fishermen and old sea captains. Surely this "species" wouldn't actually exist. I was quite skeptical, and still am even after watching the special.
This is an actual clip from the documentary. Some of this stuff, like the spears made out of bones found in fish over decades and decades, is unexplainable. Maybe a small fishing tribe could have made the spears and tried to kill the fish. Or people are just plain making it up to make a ruckus. Who knows. 
What I liked about the show on Animal Planet was that they had interviews of scientists who had apparently seen this firsthand. I enjoyed that the most. Everything else was weird. They put in clips of completely made up scenarios of how mermaids may have come into existence through evolution and other stuff. First, it looked extremely fake. Second, I can't bring myself to believe in evolution. Third, when they put those clips in the show, it made the special seem like it was all a hoax. Like they were saying, "Look at this stuff we made up that looks really stupid and probably never happened, and then watch this real footage of credible scientists being interviewed. It all points to the mermaids' existence!" I say, take out that stupid filler footage you made up and let the science people talk more! That's who everyone's going to listen to. But I'm not Animal Planet, so that whole rant was for nothing. Darn.
Some of the evidence of mermaids existing was the body that they apparently found in a great white shark in South Africa. It was eaten and chewed up, of course, but they still did an autopsy and such. The main body parts they claimed to have possession of were examined. They had a huge part of the tail, so they looked at that closely. They determined that it couldn't be a myriad of things like a whale, a dolphin, a dugong, etc. Conclusion: they knew it was a mermaid. 
They couldn't finish their research on the subject because one day the South African government came in and took all of it. Nothing remained. They took the files and everything. So pretty much no evidence to support their claims of mermaids. 
The scientists still believe that mermaids are out there. They know the government is hiding it. I don't know if I believe it all, but it was really interesting to watch. Just all the evidence they had before the important people came and took it all. So what about you? Be sure to find out when the special comes on again on Animal Planet. Do you believe?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Not-So-Fab Five

Confession time. Woke up later than yesterday. Yeah, I did it. I thought, "What the heck. I might as well! No schedule set in stone = extra sleep time for this girl." And, let me tell you, it was awesome. I should do this more often! I even had extra time to think about the next few blogs for y'all. So in the end everyone wins!
What did I think up this time, you ask? Well, be prepared. I have decided to do my own version of a fab five countdown, but with a twist. This countdown will be the top five ugliest (in my opinion) marine creatures in existence. And while I'm at it, I'll throw in some cool facts. It'll be relatively hard for me since I automatically react to marine animals as cute, but I'll try really hard to find the ugliest. This is going to be so much fun! Get ready...

#5: The Frilled Shark

The frilled shark has to be in the top five! Just look at its eel-like appearance. To me it's more scary or frightening than "ugly." It's called the frilled shark because it can flare its gills out to make this intimidating look. Usually this guy lives in the depths of the deep ocean, contrary to the picture above. Actually, this shark was thought to have been extinct. In fact, people call the frilled shark prehistoric. In '07 a fisherman saw this creature and it was transferred to a Japanese marine park soon after. 
This just goes to show that we don't know too much about our oceans! Or know as much as we think we do at least. 

#4: The Goblin Shark

Okay, I know so far the first two ugliest have been sharks. Don't think I consider sharks ugly, though. It's not my fault. Some shark species are extremely odd-looking in appearance. And by odd-looking I'm trying not to say ugly. 
Getting back on track, the goblin shark! Ugly, isn't it? We're just getting started...This shark isn't like the rest of its cousins. Most sharks are muscular and fast-moving. The goblin is more flabby and slow. It lives in the deep ocean like the frilled shark. Fact: the deep ocean is less explored than the surface of the moon, so who knows what all really goes on down there. 
How does it hunt, you ask? Because of the way its body is made, it can stay still in the water unlike most other sharks. (Other sharks would suffocate if they stopped swimming because they need to actively pass water through their gills to breathe.) The goblin shark literally hangs motionless until something unknowingly swims across it. Then, SNAP! Lights out.

#3: The Fangtooth

Ooh, the name itself strikes a shudder in your spine and causes children to cry for their mothers! Where do you think it lives? In the deep sea! Spoiler alert: all of the not-so-fab five are deep sea creatures. I didn't actually mean for that to happen, but let's face it, there are just some ugly fish in the ocean's depths.
This toothy creature lives so far down in the ocean, it's ridiculous. They live 6,500-16,500 feet down! Woah! That pressure would completely crush us like we were a grape if we ventured down there. Astounding, isn't it? They're only about 6 inches big. However, with those fangs, they have the largest teeth relative to body size of any fish. All they have to do for hunting is to suck in their prey and impale them with their fangs. If I had those teeth, hunting would be pretty easy. Chewing would be hard, though...

#2: The Hairy Angler

Another deep sea animal! What a surprise. They're called hairy anglers because, well, they look hairy. With those long hair-like projections coming off of their body, they have extremely heightened senses of their surroundings.
A male angler fish.
Side note. Sorry, I have to. You'll thank me later. Anglers themselves, not just hairy anglers, have the most peculiar way of reproduction. When I first heard this, I was mind-blown for a few days. The anglers you and I see are all females. The males are much smaller. Like almost microscopic. They don't even look similar to the females. Their sole purpose in life is to find a female. When they do, they bite into the female's skin and eventually fuse themselves to the female until the male just looks like a growth on its companion. The male completely degenerates except for it reproductive organs. I know, it's fantastic. Whenever the female wants to reproduce, she can. She now controls the male completely. And she can also have multiple males on her as well (up to 6). 
Sorry for the side note. Anyways, the hairy angler. Hunting would be an interesting event to watch. Their lure that develops from its spine protrudes from its skin and "lures in" prey with bioluminescence and movement. Then it sucks in the prey and has a nice 5-star dinner. No matter what the size of the prey (even bigger than the predator), the angler's highly-extendable stomach can find room.

 #1: The Blob Fish

Da da da dahhh! The ugliest fish I have ever seen! And probably the ugliest fish you have ever seen. And yet another deep sea creature. It should be an alien. If you think about it, though, all deep ocean creatures are somewhat aliens. Actually, the blob fish looks more like an ugly man...
This "fish" looks like a blob, is called a blob, and also acts like a blob. Whatever it can get its mouth on, it'll eat. It exerts almost no energy whatsoever to find a certain prey. It'll just sit there eating what floats by its face. 
Even though it isn't being eaten by humans, it's now considered in danger of going extinct. That's why it looks so glum! Fishermen for lobsters and crabs (which live at the same depths as the blob) have brought the blob fish up with their catches. Over-fishing is causing scientists to worry about the population levels. What a sad life for a sad fish!

I hope you liked the countdown! It was fun for me! And maybe you can look up some other ugly fish. You can trust me when I say there are many.

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