Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Oh, just some stuff that happened to cross my desk.

I'm feeling like today has the Wednesday-day-after-election-day-and-nothing-I-voted-for-won blah's.  So, I'm feeling like sharing some marine science bonbons.

You're welcome:

First, a really inspired stop motion short of deep sea life as imagined by PES. These rusty tools wish they could be anglerfish! 

Next, did you know not one but TWO oarfish (Figure 1) washed up on the beach in CA recently?  These crazy guys look like eels, but are actually bony fishes, and typically live in the deep (not unlike that can opener in the last video).  Their appearances on beaches is highly correlated with an increase earthquake anxiety in humans. But remember, people, correlation does not imply causality. People also appear to be blown away by the fact that at least one of the fish was "filled with parasites", by which I mean, carrying a heavy parasite load, which, it turns out, might not be unusual for the species anyway. Humans, it turns out, are also filled with parasites (and mutualists, etc)...

Figure 1. Sweet-a** etching of an oarfish - not a leap to say this is actually a sea serpent and scientists have been lying to us.  Image credit: Wikimedia commons

Oh but speaking of parasites, this is horrifying/entrancing. 

The starfish die-off is getting a lot ("Researchers STUMPED"!!! Zinnnggggg!) of ongoing press, and researchers are moving quickly to get it figured out. Why do we care? Sea stars are the poster-child keystone predator. It's not just that we worry about their pretty faces (which are where, exactly?) turning to goo. Being a keystone predator means they have a huge influence on community structure (who lives in the neighborhood). Often they are called keystone because preferentially eat prey species that are better competitors, facilitating greater local diversity by allowing the prey that stink at competing to coexist with the better competitor (which, remember, is getting eaten by the starfish, and you don't want to experience that first hand).

Figure 2. Ouch. This reminds me of that scary story that was told at camp or whatever, where the girl was driving home from babysitting late at night, and something about a guy with a hook for a hand being on the loose, and she gets home after some chase or near miss and gets out of the car to discover a disembodied hook embedded in the side of her car....yeah. Photo Credit: Vancouver Aquarium

OK, that's all I have the brains for now.  Probably because parasites are eating the rest of my brains.  Oh well.

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