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.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Flipper: Faster Than Lightning

Yet another Monday has come around, sadly. Folks, I think I'm allergic. Because I can pretty much pick whenever I want to come in to work, I decided to sleep in a little bit this morning...Okay, maybe I slept in a few hours. Whatever. I like this job just because of the schedule! And don't call me lazy! This research job is harder than it sounds. It's my last week here doing this so I'm relishing it while it's here in my life. By sleeping in.
The Spinner Dolphin.
So, dolphins. Dolphins are some of the most intelligent of all marine creatures. Do you believe me? If not, you might once you read the rest of this blog. 
I got the opportunity to have an up close encounter with a bottlenose dolphin when I was 12 in a Florida marine center. Man, was that thing so much bigger than I had expected! Even if you see a dolphin in real life, you can't thoroughly grasp how big it is until you're in the water right next to it. I don't remember the name of this dolphin, but I remember it was a male. He flipped and dove and jumped and splashed. He even kissed and hugged me in his own little dolphin way! I was in heaven, as you could imagine. 
I also got to hold onto his dorsal fin while he swam in the pool. The trainer had told us how to hold his fin. She pretty much said hold on tight. I did, thinking this would be the smoothest ride ever. No. No, it wasn't. It was more of this huge, muscular cetacean kicking me with his huge, muscular tail. It was still cool, don't get me wrong, but I was expecting bruising on my legs later on that evening. More than anything I learned how powerful they are that day. 
There are over 40 species of dolphins, 5 of them as freshwater river species. They are marine mammals, like whales. Also called cetaceans, which is a fancy word for the order that contains whales, dolphins, and porpoises. I personally learned they are nothing but muscle! 
They're highly social animals that swim in pods up to 100 strong. Most people know that their main form of communication is echolocation. Y'all have all probably heard a dolphin make that high-pitched noise before; well, that's echolocation! A dolphin will make those sounds and be able to sense what is around them. If they're ever in really murky or dark water, they will use their echolocation to find prey. 
We make sounds with our vocal chords. However, dolphins don't have those. They make these sounds from this nasal passage in their head, the sound waves bounce off of objects, and the reverberations come back to the dolphin. 


I totally stole this thing from SeaWorld's website. I just couldn't resist! It's not plagiarism because I told you I stole it. Boom.
The most well known dolphin of all time, Flipper, caused a huge flow of public adoration for dolphins. Everyone wants to see these guys. People go to dolphin shows and pay loads of money to swim with them in pools (like I did) every year. Because of this crazy demand to see the real life Flipper who is adored by millions, aquariums and marine parks will go everywhere to find that star dolphin. They take the intelligent animal from its habitat and stick it in a little pool to do flips for children the rest of its life. 
The Bottlenose Dolphin.
Yes, it sounds harsh, doesn't it? I hadn't thought of it like that until maybe a few years ago when I saw this documentary "The Cove." Everyone needs to see this movie! You will learn so much! I won't go into extreme detail since the movie puts it so beautifully put together. Plus, the reality of a dolphin's life isn't all fun and games. There are humans that hunt and kill these intelligent creatures actively.
Visit my Causes tab and there is a link to the Save Japan Dolphins website. This organization has all the information that "The Cove" outlines. It's really interesting, believe me. 
When dolphins are kept in a tank, they become ridiculously stressed and develop ulcers. They are given pills to calm them down, but the animals are still in that little tank for the rest of their life. They're used to open ocean! Catching fish in huge pods! Going anywhere and everywhere whenever they want! But they're stuck. Stuck in a little glass box. 
If I had known about this stuff when I was 12, swimming with the dolphin, I probably wouldn't have done it altogether. Paying good money to that marine center further funds something wrong. Unfortunately most of the public has no idea this is going on. Knowledge is power!
In Australia, I fed wild dolphins on the beach. Now that right there was by far so much better. They are literal wild dolphins. Being intelligent, they just learned that coming into a specific part of the beach will initialize a grand feeding frenzy of yummy fish. Then they leave afterward and go on with their lives until the next night. If you ever want to fully appreciate a dolphin, do it in its own habitat. When it isn't in a cage or enclosure. Then, and only then, will you fully see their amazing intelligence.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Wow, I am just a busy bee! I've been in and out of the lab for the past two days quite a lot. I guess it's a positive thing. Working more than 1-2 hours a day was getting pretty old, I have to say. But now everything is picking up and I'm pretty sure it's just going to get worse and worse. Well, I enjoyed it while I could!
Let's talk about something that I can get happy about. What about jellyfish? Yeah, let's do that. Anyone who has seen them knows they aren't the cutest marine organism ever, but they have a cute name, right? Not a cute reputation, however. They are known for their awful sting! Thankfully I can say I've never been stung by a jellyfish. Yes, I am very lucky. I had quite a close encounter, but not a sting.
Moon Jellyfish.
I was in the waters of St. Maarten snorkeling, minding my own business. Usually when you snorkel, you're looking downward to the ocean floor admiring the reefs and such. Thank goodness I looked up at one point and saw a small-ish jellyfish the size of a ping pong ball floating just inches from my face! Scary, much? My reflexes turned and twisted me past the highly feared creature with ease.
Some jellyfish are more venomous than others. Some don't even sting. Like the moon jellies. They can sting, but it can't penetrate our skin. That's good news, right? The moon jellyfish are pretty popular in aquariums and zoos. If you go to an aquarium to see jellyfish, you're bound to see these guys. 
What happens when a jellyfish stings you? How does it all work? How can you treat jellyfish stings? Can you die from a jellyfish sting? I know you'll be asking these questions, since I'm a mindreader. Don't worry, your questions will hopefully be answered!
1) How does a jellyfish sting work? Great question. It's all a really cool process if you ask me! On a jelly's tentacles, there are multitudes of cnidoblasts which contain nematocysts. These nematocysts are triggered when an object (or a human) comes across them. Like a bullet bursting out of a gun, stinging thread comes out of the nematocyst into your skin. This then releases all the toxins into your body, which is the part when you start feeling that awful burning sensation and regretting ever jumping into the ocean for a quick swim. Now you know.
2) The next thing you want to know once you get stung: How do you treat a sting? There are a few rumored ways to treat stings. Some more appealing than others. The least appealing, I would say in my opinion, would be urine. It may be the easiest way to treat a sting, but definitely not the most attractive option. Sometimes urine won't help because there might not be any acid in it, so it's a hit and miss. Some say hot water, like over 100 degrees, can help. The standard and most popular treatment of stings is distilled vinegar. So keep that in mind if (or when) you get stung!
3) After trying to treat your sting, you might be sitting there in pain and wondering if you could die from this. Well, I'd now like to tell you about the most venomous jellyfish (and most venomous animal) in the world: the box jellyfish. 
The box jellyfish has killed over 5,000 people, on record, since 1954. Its sting is extremely venomous. Extremely. And when I say extremely, I mean extremely. So if you're stung by a box jellyfish, get to the hospital. ASAP. 
You may say, "Oh, I'll just be on the lookout for them next time I'm in the ocean. I'll be fine...right?" Hate to burst your bubble, but the box jellies are virtually transparent. And some species are extremely small. Some can get really big, like up to 10 feet long. These guys are found in the South Pacific, so I'm good. I don't know about you guys in northern Australia, though...

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