Archive for ‘fun with fins’

March 29, 2012

Something About Cats and Tuna ..

I couldn’t resist the title.  This is a clip of dolphins Shiloh and Thunder having quite the interactive session with Arthur the cat at Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, Florida.  The clip is pretty old – back from 1997 – but it sure does make me raise an eyebrow or two.  What about you?  Harmless and enchanting clip?  Or possibly encouragement to otherwise-well-meaning Floridians to go out and interact with wild dolphins?  (Particularly since its not too obvious until you see the bridge – the whistle – that these are trained animals.)

March 28, 2012

Make Way for the Crabs!

The horseshoe crabs are back into spawning season and FWCC is asking, once again, for sharp eyed naturalists to keep an eye out for mating pairs and satellite males.  New and full moons, along with the high tide, tend to be the best days to view the animals as they emerge onto the beach to dig, lay, and fertilize their delicate eggs.  The upcoming full moon on April 6th will likely be a day for high activity, particularly with the warm welcoming weather we’ve been experiencing in Florida lately.

You can report sightings online or even email findings to  Pay particular attention to details like:

  • Number of crabs, whether paired or satellite males near a paired couple
  • How big the animals are (4″ or less is a juvenile)
  • Date, Time, Location, Habitat type, and Weather Conditions (including moon phase) where you observed them

I’m hoping to catch some crabs in action this weekend near my usual stomping grounds on the Indian River Lagoon.  As ever, I’ll be out on trash pickup duty, and hope to have some photos for curious readers to see exactly how the debris situation has improved (or worsened) since I was last out in the fall.

August 16, 2011

Drool… (An Afternoon of Etsy Gazing)

If you think Etsy has nothing available to we marine nerds, think again!  I found numerous beautiful examples of marine themed art and oddities worthy of a place in any ocean-lover’s home.

Locket @ Chloesvintagejewelry


Vinyl Wall Art Herd of Seahores @ Twistmo



Tropical Fish Print on Vintage Dictionary Page @ Kiintage

Hint: Christmas is coming!

August 16, 2011

Name This Fish!

How are your skills at deep water fish identification? Know what this guy is? Researchers at the Caribbean Marine Biology Institute sent the photos, previously submitted by locals, out asking for assistance in identification. The photos are not very clear unfortunately, as I’m sure non-science-geeks were the ones who took them. You get a great impression of some elongated white “fangs” near the front of the jaws in the shot above though!

The animal was pulled up from 100m in Curacao, Netherland Antilles, and the depth may indicate why there is a pink blob of something hanging near its jaws. It may have forcefully decompressed upon rising on the lines.  Unless that’s supposed to be there.. hmm.  IDeas?

August 14, 2011

Lightning McQueen to Win!

The Tour de Turtles is back in force this year and Sea Turtle Conservancy’s 17 satellite-tagged competitors are out churning through surf and making some bubble tracks!  The official race starts tomorrow!

But this year it’s not solely about who wins or loses.  Each of the competing turtles has a cause they’re swimming for as well as corporate and nonprofit sponsorship!  My favorite – Lightning McQueen – has Disney backing her!  And her cause?  Light pollution and its effects on natal nesting beaches for future turtle generations.

The website is fantastic, fast, and regularly updated, so be sure to check in, find a favorite racer, and follow along.  You can of course “like” Sea Turtle Conservancy on Facebook and get regular updates through social media as well.  Enjoy!  And GO LIGHTNING MCQUEEN!

August 10, 2011

Mimic Me This

Of all the octopi in the world, these are my faovrite. Still wishing we could get them to mimic candycanes on some underwater film for Christmas-time fun.

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August 10, 2011

Juneau Gets His Kicks

What a minute, I know that whale!  I used to run back and forth across his underwater panels while Juneau was still at SeaWorld Orlando.  What a sweetheart.  Never thought to bring my trumpet in to play him a tune.

And yes, the sillier you think you are being, the more entertaining you are to a marine mammal.  In the field we call this “environmental enrichment”, when we literally play to break up a zoo animals’ day.

As highly acoustic animals, it makes sense that a beluga would respond to this quirky display.  Never mind the dancing and enormous sombreros.

June 30, 2011

Cyclops Bull Shark? Bull-oney!

I really needed a laugh today and boy did one of my pals deliver via email this morning:

We cover a lot of hybrid fishes here on Reef Builders but the one eyed bull shark recently discovered in the Sea of Cortez really takes the cake. The cyclops shark was an unborn pup that was removed from a large female bull shark,Carcharhinus leucas, captured off of Mexico in the Sea of Cortez. Even though the photo of the cyclops shark is totally real and confirmed by scientists who have seen the shark pup, there’s a natural tendency to dismiss the photo as an excellent photoshopping job. But it isn’t.

Unfortunately the cyclops shark fetus was already dead by the time it was removed from its large female bull shark mother. Although the cyclops shark may have been at a disadvantage in the wild, bull sharks are pretty aggressive and they have a keenly developed sense of smell and electromagnetic field which is their primary mode of hunting. Had the cyclops shark survived it would have been the ultimate public aquarium attraction, but until another one is caught we’ll just have to contend with the occasional albino shark.

Hahahahaha!  Look at that eye!

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June 26, 2011

Dolphins Aren't the Only Spinning Ocean Predators

How fun is this?! New Smyrna Beach is a lightning rod for shark activity.  It’s well known locally and internationally by the dubious distinction as the “shark bite capital of the world”!  This fact hardly deters all the surfers here in the Sunshine State.  Many I know have a deep reverence for these animals and see their presence in the water as good luck in some ways.

However, that’s typically when they’re sighting smaller blacktip sharks.  Who knew we would ever see video of a spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna) beautifully executing the feeding strategy that earned him his moniker in video!  All new meaning to hang ten if you ask me.

June 17, 2011

Sailing Dilemmas in the BVI

Things my family is doing without me, probably! Photo: S. Lardizabal

My parents, sister, and brother in law are.. as I type.. bathing in glorious Virgin Island sun and bright blue saltwater as I sit here laboring away Stateside in the name of work.  Talk about unfair!  Dad and Mom are experienced sailors and chartered a sailboat for a two-week self-guided tour of the Islands’ offerings.  Two weeks in a boat!  Alone!

It was all very romantic until my Mom realized she would need to cook, clean, and perhaps do a load of laundry in a bucket on a self-sufficient vacation.  This didn’t phase her; it was purchasing the proper cooking and cleaning supplies that sent her for a bit of a loop.

Now I say “proper” because if you’re on a boat in the Caribbean you need to remember that there isn’t a whole lot of processing of the wastewater coming off your vessel.  A lot of it is indirectly rinsed into the nearby ocean, including any soaps, oils, or other residues carried along for the ride.  When you’re moored up to a permanent anchor over a coral reef, this potential effluent is all the more troubling, particularly when you have a marine science nerd in the family who rants about perchlorate, dioxins, SLS, parabens, formaldehyde donators, and so on.  (And to be fair, my Mom studied marine bio at UMiami and Dad is a Merchant Marine Academy grad.  They’re both highly aware and motivated to conserve all things salty.)

Luckily, there’s been a bit of a revolution with “clean” and “green” products lately.  I was able to help them navigate enough of the available choices between a few supermarkets and mass retailers to come up with some suitable more-reef-friendly alternatives including castile based soaps (like Dr. Bronners), hand soaps with plant-based-bacteria-inhibitors (like CleanWell), and a few other things.

Ah, but I can hear you.. what about back on land? Yep, it’s still important and being mindful of downstream effects is one of the reasons I’ve been slowly converting our household cleaning products, laundry products, cosmetics, and personal care products over the last few years.

If you’re likewise interested in learning what to avoid and what’s a good choice, mosey over to Environmental Working Group.  I know, I keep bringing them up, but EWG is the source on a lot of this info.  And when you’re ready to graduate to choosing organic foods (because pesticides and fertilizers rinse down the fields to the watershed too!) they’re also a great source for that.  Heck, you can even just check to see what sort of weebeasties are floating around in your tap water already while you’re at it!

Finally, if you’re a regular at the marina, Ocean Conservancy has a guide on their website with tips for mindful and conservation-minded boater.