Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lame Apologetic Post

Sorry about the sudden drop in activity.  It's term paper season here in North Carolina and all the writing I've been doing lately has been going towards those.  There are a lot of things I want to write about here and hopefully will get a chance to post in the next week or so.  Thanks for your patience, and stay tuned.  There will be more dogfish goodness on here as soon as I dig myself out from under the end of the semester.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Man vs. Squid - Your Salmon Need You!

And fishermen thought spiny dogfish were bad... From mbari.org.

Humboldt squid (Docidicus gigas) are undoubtedly badass animals.  Growing up to 6 feet long, capable of living in virtually oxygen-free water, and occasionally cooperating to drag divers to their doom, this species doesn't even need any hyperbole to star in its own SyFy Original.  I'd even consider these velociraptors of the sea more impressive than the giant and colossal squids, despite the fact that they're "merely" the third largest squid species.  Why?  Unlike the other cephalopod heavyweights, Humboldts occur in huge numbers, and they're spreading.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ew, Just Ew

As a budding marine scientist, I've had to see fish dismember themselves in fishing gear, dissect things that look like they crawled out of the Star Wars cantina, dispose of rapidly-thawing specimens dated from 2003 (while the wind was blowing the smell and pieces of the fish themselves back in my face), and of course for my thesis I'm actively encouraging spiny dogfish to puke into bags.  And in no way is my experience as a wanna-be marine biologist really all that unique; in fact plenty of my fellow grad students do far grosser things on a daily basis.  In marine science, you eventually start taking your strong stomach for granted.

However, sometimes something comes along that finally manages to genuinely shock you.  Something so bizarre that it becomes simultaneously hilarious and disturbing, and you find yourself forcing everyone around to pay attention to it, just so you can convince yourself that you're not crazy.  Here's the catch; a lot of the time it involves dolphins.

(Warning, the rest of this post will be made up of a juvenile rant about an act that is apparently legal in Florida.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rhode Island Flooding

The Warwick Mall in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Photo from the Providence Journal.

I've been really remiss on posting about this before, but the state of Rhode Island was nearly sunk by heavy rainfall this week.  The rain has finally stopped and the floodwaters are starting to recede, but Lil' Rhody will have a long way to go to recover.  However, the water rose high enough to cover several sewage treatment plants, which could spell disaster for the both the beach season and the state's fisheries, two of the main economic drivers in a state that was second only to Michigan in being hit the hardest by the economic downturn.  Shellfishing has been shut down north of Black and Sakonnet Points; for those unfamiliar with Rhode Island geography that shuts out pretty much the entire Narragansett Bay.  Rhode Islanders can probably look forward to serious water quality problems for years to come. 

To say that Rhode Island has figured prominently in my life would be a massive understatement.  I learned to love the ocean by playing in its tide pools as a kid, went to URI as an undergrad, and even worked for the Rhode Island DEM for a time.  Numerous pictures of the damage are floating around on the internet, most of places that I used to either frequent or drive by on an almost-daily basis.  So far I haven't been able to find anywhere to donate to help out, so if anyone finds something along those lines let me know so I can post it here. 

Route 95 near T.F. Green airport.  From the Providence Journal.