The intelligence of octopuses is increasingly recognized, but nature is more creative than us glorified chimps ever realize on first blush. You see, octopuses are just full of neurons, but their nervous structure raises all kinds of uncanny questions--What is "intelligence" for an octopus? What is it like to be an octopus?--because most of them are in its arms. [more inside]
Raimondi had recently found himself undergoing an unexpected and not entirely desirable career shift: He had been thrust into the role of sea star detective. Though he is a marine biologist who divides his time between analyzing data and conducting research trips along the Pacific Coast, Raimondi is not entirely ill suited to the part. There is a private-investigator quality to his round, inquiring face, active eyes, and urgent, impatient voice.
The Nautilus and her Corps of Exploration are mapping and exploring ocean features from the Gulf Coast up to British Columbia. Yesterday, they found a whale. You can watch live to see what they find next!
Leafy, verdant Elysia chlorotica (the Eastern Emerald Elysia) is a sea slug with a secret: they photosynthesize. These marauding mollusks slurp up chloroplasts from their favorite algal snack, Vaucheria litorea, incorporating them into their own digestive cells and putting them to work soaking up sunshine (and, incidentally, acquiring a healthy green glow). But how? [more inside]
Scientists find translucent fish in a wedge of water hidden under 740 meters of ice, 850 kilometers from sunlight
"They can be as big as great white sharks, but that's about as far as the comparison goes. Their maximum speed is a lethargic 1.7 miles per hour, many are almost blind, and they are happy to eat rotting carcasses. They may be common throughout the ocean, but you've probably never heard of them. Meet the Greenland shark." Here's video of an encounter with one.
Robot vs. Shark (not a made for SyFy movie)
"For many a female octopus, laying eggs marks the beginning of the end (pdf, 1.11MB). She needs to cover them and defend them against would-be predators. She needs to gently waft currents over them so they get a constant supply of fresh, oxygenated water. And she does this continuously, never leaving and never eating. (via)."
Last year, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy launched the Gills Club, a STEM project to jump start girls' interest in sharks and science. It's going swimmingly. For those who can't make it to club activities, Ocearch's Shark Tracker offers an opportunity to follow the travels of tagged sharks (previously). Gills Club blog.
Lovatt reasoned that if she could live with a dolphin around the clock, nurturing its interest in making human-like sounds, like a mother teaching a child to speak, they'd have more success. - stories from the NASA- funded project to teach Dolphins to talk using LSD (among other methods. )
The NOAA's Okenaos Explorer is surveying the ocean floor off the East Coast of the United States. Livestream 1. Livestream 2. Livestream 3.
"I fear my story of a bullied nerd is not unique. This is the reason why I felt compelled to contribute my personal I Am Science. In the vein of an initiative I very much admire, It Gets Better, I hope this post lends itself to a struggling youth grappling with their own nerdom." Marine biologist Dr.Craig McClain, Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and Chief Editor of Deep Sea News, opens up about growing up as an isolated science nerd in rural America.
Researchers sneak up on sleeping sperm whales (.mpg video, hosted by Current Biology.) Matt Kaplan, writing in Nature, summarizes a 2008 article in Current Biology: "An accidental encounter with a pod of sleeping sperm whales has opened researchers’ eyes to some unknown sleep behaviours of these giant sea creatures . . . A team led by Luke Rendell at the University of St Andrew’s, UK, were monitoring calls and behaviour in sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) off the northern Chile coast when they accidentally drifted into the middle of a pod of whales hanging vertically in the water, their noses poking out of the surface. At least two of the whales were facing the boat, but not a single animal responded." [more inside]
In 2010 from the deck of a cruise ship along the coast of Brazil, amateur photographer and retired geologist Bob Hulse snapped some high-resolution photographs of something unusual leaping from the sea: what appears to be dozens of squid propelling themselves through the air and at incredible speeds. Quite possibly the first time the impressive display had ever been caught on film. Researchers had suspected for sometime that squid can sometimes leave the water's surface. A 2004 study by University of Miami researchers collect six such sightings, but because the paper included no photographs or video clips its evidence was largely anecdotal. Documented instances of flying squid remained frustratingly rare. [more inside]
Ocean Voyager shark cam: As a tie-in with the upcoming Shark Week, Georgia Aquarium has set up a live webcam of the world's largest shark tank through August 7.
Tail of a whale, snapped in 2 seas, reveals surprising wanderlust. "By scouring a photo-sharing website for tourists’ pictures of whales, a citizen scientist from Maine has helped to document a female humpback’s record-breaking 6,000-mile journey from Brazil to Madagascar. The remarkable voyage of whale number 1363 from one breeding ground to another is a scientific discovery for the social-networking age — a study made possible both by vacation photos posted on Flickr and an exhaustive library of photos of whales’ tails that scientists have built since the 1970s." [Via]
A Mind in the Water: The dolphin as our beast of burden. "The shocking double life of the dolphin, featuring neuropsychologists, hippies, spies, and extraterrestrials."
I am a giant squid. I swam up from the briny ocean depths. I have a computer, with a specially-modified tentacle-friendly interface. I have a fast internet connection. I seek to learn about humans and about the world. I have read much on the internet. Yet still, I have many unanswered questions. And you must have questions of me. We have much to learn from one another. To this end, I have developed the assortment of quizzes, games and activities you find before you. They form part of my ongoing campaign to facilitate improved human-squid relations. Try them out, you will most certainly learn something about squid.
Scientists have captured a 19.5-foot, 103-pound giant squid off the coast of Louisiana, only the second known giant squid caught in the Gulf of Mexico since 1954. Previously & previously.
When whales die: Yesterday, a 20-30 foot whale washed up a shore in New Jersey. Officials are going to deal with it by cutting it up into small parts and burying it. In previous incidents, officials tried to explode it into bits that were meant to fall in the ocean and get eaten by seagulls, but that didn't work out [YT] so well, especially for nearby spectators. Even if you want to let it decompose naturally, you have to be careful for spontaneous explosions due to gassy buildup. Especially when transporting it in busy city streets. Oops. When whales die in the ocean, on the other hand, their bodies eventually fall to the sea floor and can start mini ecosystems, where female pink glowstick-like sea worms that harbor the male pink glowstick sea worms inside their bodies live, eat whale bones, and propagate. (Previously on Metafilter: Taiwan explosion)
"To pedal the 3700 kilometres of open water from Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa to Barbados in the Caribbean should take around 50 days..." Engineer and machinist Ted Ciamillo has built a human powered mini-submarine, designed around a larger version of his Lunocet carbon-fibre "tail" for divers, for an Atlantic Ocean crossing.... The "SubHuman project".
Scientists at the Auckland Museum will be performing a necropsy of a great white Shark between 11am and 1pm New Zealand time on Thursday. Though they will be examining the contents of its gut, they will also, among other things, look at its sex organs (female) and jaw. The necropsy will be viewable on the web from 2pm NZ time (when's that?). [more inside]
Hundreds of New Reef Creatures Found in Australia. Hundreds of new marine creatures have been discovered in three Australian reefs by CReefs, a census of coral reefs which is part of the Census of Marine Life, a ten-year initiative to assess global ocean diversity.
Dolphin intelligence is under fire, but are these arguments over brain size relevant in the face of overwhelming behavioral evidence? Dolphins have been known to display almost all of the qualities which we would consider uniquely human, qualities that we would consider a mark of ‘higher’ intelligence. They are tool users, they are highly creative (perhaps even artistic), they enjoy recreational and social activities, from surfing (either on waves or around the prow of boats) to sex, and they have proven time and time again that they are self-aware. They’ve also formed symbiotic relationships with fisherman, and recent reports suggest that dolphins even have names for each other. But perhaps Douglas Adams said it best in the Hitchhiker’s Guide: “Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much... the wheel, New York, wars, and so on, whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely the dolphins believed themselves to be more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons.”
The Starving Ocean : A large collection of articles by Debbie MacKenzie on the death of the ocean. The idea is that removing most of the fish from the sea might be sort of bad for the marine ecosystem as a whole. Her writing style is a bit kooky, but she has been right on some points (ie. the Grey Seal thing). Oh, and fishing is also responsible for the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Creatures from Waaay Down Under. Things you won't find in your average bathtub. Things that did not appear in the Little Mermaid. And believe it or not, the web design is pretty good, and it's a public institution. Strange indeed. [via slashdot]
Bizarre new species of deep sea squid - Yes, you may have read about it earlier, but this link is a photo of one of the strangest new species to be discovered in a long time. Seventeen feet of weirdness 10,000 feet below the surface. It's cool that we can still find new alien life forms without yet venturing into space.