The Head of the FP herself. Source: Wikimedia Commons
We have a fashion emergency.
White after labor day? No.
Horizontal stripes? Not exactly.
Wardrobe malfunction? Definitely No.
Too much skin showing at the Grammys despite CBS’s best efforts to keep those scandalous celebs on the straight and narrow? No…oh wait….Yes…but not the example I was referring to.
I know what you are thinking…”How could it get any worse than this!?”
If you are a devoted Fashion Police (FP) enthusiast like I am, you too are a “fashion expert” (at least for thirty minutes every friday at 9:30|10:30 c) and are most likely well aware of the major fashion faux pas I am speaking of. For those less in the know ….
We just have some blatantly obvious cases of ”Bitch Fish Stole my Look!”
Now I know all those celebrity sea beasties think they can get away with snagging each other’s fashion trends, but here at DSN we keep tabs on all the latest styles making a splash on the blue carpet…and fishes…we know.
So we leave it to the people to decide…..
Who wore it better?
Banded Sea Snake Laticauda colubrina or Harlequin snake eel Myrichthys colubrinus
Calloplesiops altivelis (Fish) or Eel Gymnothorax meleagris
Source: Shuttershock (Darren J. Bradley)/ Shuttershock (Stephan Kerkhofs)
Mimic Octopus Thaumoctopus mimicus or Banded Sole (Zebrias sp.) or Lionfish (Pterois sp.) or Banded Sea-snake (Laticuada sp.)
Source: Norman et al. 2001
What can I say…that last one is a repeat “Fish Stole My Look!” offender, but we give out plus points for creativity and all around badassery.
All jokes aside though, when a celebrity sea beastie steals another fishes’ (or invert’s) fabulous frock under the sea it’s not usually because they think they can rock it better. (Though it would be funny if that’s how evolution worked….)
On the contrary, there are many different reasons for mimicking others. Most usually, it’s because you yourself are completely harmless, but the model critter you are trying to mimic is 1. venomous/poisonous/just doesn’t taste good or 2. is just way better at defending itself then you are. This is known as Batesian mimicry and represents most of the examples shown here, like the poisonous sea snake and the quite harmless and the completely adorable snake eel or the beautifully delicate flatworm and it’s chemically rank sea slug pal.
When two species are equally toxic, take for instance monarch and viceroy butterflies because I couldn’t think of any aquatic examples, this is known as Mullerian mimicry. At first, it seems kind of quirky for as to why two already toxic species would need to steal each others looks. However, evolutionarily, predators learn faster to avoid both species when there is an increased chance they might nom a bad butterfly. Therefore it benefits everyone….except for the predator of course….but that’s what he gets for trying to nom the pretty butterflies.
Mimicry can go both ways though. In examples of aggressive mimicry, such as the cleaner wrasse and the fanged blenny, the blenny takes on the cleaner wrasse’s style purely for purposes of exploitation. Cleaner wrasse, are the well trusted “fish washes” on many different reefs. Bigger fish, such as grouper, trust them to keep their gill grills and chrome fins shinier than the rest of the grouper gansters out there. The blenny’s however, come in looking just like the other employee’s at Mr. Wrasse’s Fish Wash and instead of doing their cleaning duties, they take a bite out the grouper and run. Not cool blenny. Not cool.
As you are now aware, mimicking other celebrity fishes is a common occurrence in the underwater world and probably not as frowned upon as it is in Hollywood. Quite the opposite actually. Stealing your fellow sea beasties’ look might actually save you from an unfortunate end.
However, it does have me begging one final question….
Which one’s the model and which one’s the mimic?
…but I guess we already know the “Toxic” one don’t we…
Moland, E. and J.P. Jones. 2004. Experimental confirmation of aggressive mimicry by a coral reef fish. Oecologia 140:676-683
Norman, M.D., J. Finn, and T. Tregenza. 2001. Dynamic mimicry in an Indo-Malayan octopus. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 268, 1755-1758
Randall, J.E. 2005. Review Article: A Review of Mimicry in Fishes. Zoological Studies 44(3): 299-328
When I was about 15 or 16, I went fishing with my step-brother. We weren’t really catching anything so we decided to drop a hook down to the bottom and try our luck. And then something bit. It was big. Almost much too big for the toothpick poles we were using. After much effort, we pulled up what I then decided was the ugliest fish I had ever seen onto the deck, a Monkfish.
If I was holding that monkfish, I would definitely have a similar expression of disgust. (image via NOAA)
Also known as the goosefish, a monkfish is a species of anglerfish. Expert lurker with a giant mouth and tiny lure. These fish are generally bottom dwellers that snap up any unsuspecting prey that get within reach of their ridiculously large gaping jaws. The one we snagged managed to swallow the hook and then bite my step-brother on the thumb when he tried to retrieve it. While apparently good eatin’, in the end we decided to throw the monster back into the deep.
But you know what else these hideous fish swallow besides my fish hook? This insanely precious seabird, the Dovekie (AKA Little Auk).
Little Auks just hanging out, being adorbs
Bird remains had been previously found in Monkfish stomachs, but it was a little bit of a mystery as to why a surface floating bird would eaten by a bottom dwelling fish. The answer is the ocean equivalent of a Craigslist Missed Connection being connected. Recent tagging studies of monkfish have indicated that Monkfish sometimes swim vertically to the surface, especially during their spring and fall migrations. It is here, near the surface, where the territories of the monkfish and dovekies collide. Dovekies dive for food, often as deep as 100 ft, well into the range of the monkfish’s vertical migrations. And if you are a hungry monkfish swimming about, a chance meeting with a diving dovekie is a great way to score an easy snack. Watch a monkfish demonstrates its snacking prowess and you will understand why these teeny birds are so defenseless against these massive mandibles.
While I may paint the monkfish as some nefarious devourer of tiny sea birds, they are not alone in their avian appetites. Searching the NOAA NEFSC food-habits database, researchers also found that “spiny dogfish, Atlantic herring, pollock, Atlantic cod, red hake, and fourspot flounder” also eat birds have had birds or feathers found in their stomachs. But then again, it’s just not that common. So next time you have a fish on your plate for dinner, just remember you could be eating poultry too!
The dovekies that were removed from the stomachs of the monkfish were barely decomposed. This suggests that the birds were just recently eaten, so recent that there wasn’t even time for proper digestion.
Monkfish also eat rocks, sand and other plastic pieces. If those were my other snacking options, I would probably eat dovekies too.
Previous to this study, no one had ever reported monkfish eating dovekies. But they reported them eating loons, grebes, cormorants, wigeons, scaups, scoters, merganser, Herring Gull, alcids, and Manx shearwaters. Even crazier, monkfish have been observed swallowing live Herring Gulls whole. Apparently, no seabird is safe from the monkfish.
Of course this paper had to include glamour shots of the captured monkfish posing with their barely digested avian prey. Enjoy.
Captured goosefish with their barely digested prey removed from their stomach!
Have you ever laid in your bed at night, dreaming what your favorite entertainment personalities would look like re-imagined as narwhals? Well wonder no more my friends. Artist Hayley Casset has done all the hard work for you at her awesome Etsy shop.
David Aldridge is a phytoplankton-loving marine biology PhD student at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK. Also the founder and editor of Words in mOcean, a website dedicated to publishing blog posts and features on marine science. We’ve asked David to guest post for us here at DSN. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: not everything in the following article is based on the truth…
Police in San Diego, California caught a missing South Carolina woman on Tuesday after she tried to steal a 120-foot research ship while its sleeping scientific occupants were still on board (story here). The media is reporting that the woman involved was “suffering from mental distress and was looking to get back to South Carolina”. No other details have been released as of yet, but Deep Sea News can exclusively reveal that the woman was an untenured professor, at South Carolina Institute for Oceanography, in the midst of a mental breakdown (a necessary step in the tenure process).
The woman involved, Dr Natalie NoTenure, in an interview with Deep Sea News, revealed the following: “Money has been tight in my lab for a while now, and things have only gotten worse recently, what with the budget sequester and all. This just seemed like the only option.” Asked what she was going to do with the ship if her plan had been successful, Dr NoTenure revealed that she was “going to use it for a personal data-collection bonanza, which would have led to an awesome Nature paper.” She went on: “The plan was that once the sleeping scientists had woken, I was going to convince them to help me collect my samples by offering them named authorship status on the paper.” When asked if she thought other scientists would have been willing to break the law for this, she gave the following reply: “Oh sure! Nature papers are like crack to scientists. There is little they won’t do, when the opportunity to be on one is wafted in front of their noses.”
If only she hadn’t been caught by police, her crazy plan may have just worked. Unfortunately, she didn’t have anything to bribe the officer who caught her as her time in academia had left her financially crippled: “I hadn’t planned on getting caught and I had nothing to use as a bribe. I tried offering him named authorship on a Nature paper, but he just laughed at me!”
It is not clear if Dr NoTenure had thought her bold move all the way through. Even if she had been successful, she must have realised that her job at the South Carolina Institute for Oceanography would have been in jeopardy upon her return. When we put this to Professor Larry Ocean, the Dean of the institute, he had the following to say on the matter: “Sure, it was a risky strategy that Dr NoTenure chose to pursue. We don’t encourage our staff to break the law and we intend to fire her with immediate effect. We hope she is prosecuted using the full force of the law. It is a shame she got caught though as it was a nice idea. At the end of the day we are in the results business here and if her plan had been successful in securing a high impact paper for us, we would have been delighted. It may have even led to her being granted tenure here.”
If there are any other untenured, underfunded oceanographers out there who want to save money, publish high impact papers, and kick ass on a budget (without breaking the law), check out the Deep Sea News guide for doing oceanographic research with almost no funding.
Animals that are both man and woman at the same time often have strange ways. In a crazy soft animal that lives in water, one will cut off its man parts after each love act. After one day it can do the fun dance again with a new man part. To have enough man part to do it three times, the man part is pressed and rolled up inside. Man parts that can be thrown away are only known from these soft animals that live in water.
Figure 1. The fun dance and man bits (love gun) in a soft animal from water. (a,b) Two soft animals putting their love guns into each others woman hot spots. (c,d) cut off man bits after the fun dance; the end of the man bit is really filled out. A group of man matter for half baby making (sp) on pointed parts of man part (d). (e) cover of man bit has many pointed parts! (f) man parts for half baby making are caught in pointed parts.
Although it is often thought that sexual selection is weaker in simultaneous hermaphrodites than in gonochorists, some simultaneous hermaphrodites exhibit bizarre mating behaviour. In the simultaneously hermaphroditic nudibranch Chromodoris reticulata, we found a peculiar mating behaviour, wherein the nudibranch autotomized its penis after each copulation and was able to copulate again within 24 h. To have sufficient length to be replenished for three copulations, the penis is compressed and spiralled internally. No other animal is known to repeatedly copulate using such ‘dis- posable penes’. Entangled sperm masses were observed on the outer surface of the autotomized penis, which is equipped with many backward-pointed spines. There is a possibility that the nudibranch removes sperm already stored in a mating partner’s sperm storage organ(s).
Figure 1. Mating and morphology of the penis in Chromodoris reticulata. (a,b) Two individuals reciprocally insert their penis into the partner’s vagina. (c,d) Auto- tomized penes after copulation; the tip of the penis is swollen. A mass of sperm (sp) is attached to the thorny penis in (d ). (e) Surface of the penis is equipped with innumerable backward-pointed spines. (f) Sperm are entangled in the spines. Autotomized penis stained with haematoxylin after being air-dried on a glass slide. Arrows show the direction of penis insertion.
Ayami Sekizawa, Satoko Seki, Masakazu Tokuzato, Sakiko Shiga, and Yasuhiro Nakashima
Disposable penis and its replenishment in a simultaneous hermaphrodite
Biol. Lett. April 23, 2013 9 2 20121150; doi:10.1098/rsbl.2012.1150 1744-957X
FLIP is towed to its operating area in the horizontal position and through ballast changes is “flipped” to the vertical position to become a stable spar buoy with a draft of 300 feet. Photo from MPL.
FLIP, the Floating Instrument Platform, is towed to an area in a horizontal position and through changing the ballast flipped into a vertical position. In the flip postion, most of its 355 foot length resides underwater providing a stable observational even in the roughest seas. The Marine Physical Laboratory (MPL) at Scripps operates FLIP but it is owned by the US Navy. FLIP set to sea in 1962.
At Reddit, o’ god how I love Reddit, the photo above was posted which then started what can only happen on the internet…free time and mad, mad Photoshop skillz. Below are my favorites so far.
One of the recent papers out of my group describes an unprecedented aggregation of whale sharks in Yucatan Mexico. Prompted in large part by a Twitter exchange with @Sharksneedlove, I have decided that “aggregation”, while utilitarian and certainly descriptive, is about as interesting as being stuck in traffic with the radio knob broken off on the NPR pledge drive (“good times…. good times…”) Apparently a “shiver” is the collective noun for sharks but that doesn’t seem too helpful either. To that end, you and I are going to come up with a better collective noun for whale sharks. I can’t work out how to make a poll here, so I have a list of candidates and I ask you to cast your vote in the comments. If you’ve got a better suggestion, lets hear that too. Whatever the consensus result, I pledge here to roll it out and try to get it adopted at the 3rd International Whale Shark Conference in October. C’mon, it’s a rare chance for the Deep Sea News community to make linguistic history!
OK, here’s my 5 best ideas:
A stippleof whale sharks
A spatter of whale sharks
A maculationof whale sharks
A gulpof whale sharks
A polka of whale sharks
Other (insert in comments)
EDIT – Based on early votes here, on Twitter and on Facebook, “a gulp” seems to be the early leader. I really like “a constellation” though. Keep ‘em coming!
EDIT 2 – What a terrific response. Between the comments, several social media streams and the folks at iO9, here’s the compiled list of suggestions as of 9pm, with the vote counts (over 1) after:
An academy (a school of fish, so an academy of whale sharks…) (2)
An armada (2)
A brigade (2)
A constellation (3)
A fleet (6)
A flotilla (2)
A gulp (4)
A holy shit (cos thats what you say when you see one) (2)
A hootenany (2)
An indecision (are they whales, or are they sharks?)
A kingdom (2)
A maculation (2)
A murder (3)
An orca (just to reinforce the confusion)
A polka (5)
A spatter (2)
A stipple (2)
A waggle (2)
A wallop (2)
Thus the leading contenders (at 4/9/13 1401hrs) are:
A fleet (6)
A polka (10)
A gulp (4)
A murder (3)
A constellation (16)
A brigade (2)
A flotilla (2)
A galaxy (2)
A holy shit (cos that’s what you say when you see one) (2)
A hootenany (2)
A kingdom (2)
A maculation (2)
A spatter (2)
A stipple (2)
A wallop (2)
An academy (a school of fish, so an academy of whale sharks…) (4)
An armada (2)
A waggle (3)
A posse (2)
Unfortunately I am forced to summarily disqualify “a murder” since that’s already used for crows, “a fleet” because that’s also used for several birds, and “a gulp” which is used for cormorants. That means that “a polka” and “a constellation” are leading, and then a whole bunch more. You can continue to vote in the comments or make more suggestions. This is great, you guys are so creative!
EDIT 3 (4/9/13 1656hrs) – In the absence of additional votes and with a clear leader, I declare the contest over. The winner is
“A CONSTELLATION OF WHALE SHARKS”
Thanks to everyone who contributed for all of the awesome suggestions and to everyone who voted here, on Facebook, on Twitter and other sites. Your input is much appreciated. As I first said, I’ll plan to roll it out at the 3rd International Whale Shark Conference in October if not in print before then.
Some people might think I am crazy for waking up at 4:45 AM on a Sunday morning to tour a plane, but you would too if you got a chance to tour NASA’s supercool P-3B’s Airborne Laboratory. And I mean that literally with the bad pun intended. As part of Operation IceBridge, this plane is loaded with an almost obscene number of instruments and a mess of scientists to measure and map ice over the Arctic and Antarctic. For 6-weeks this spring, the P-3B will fly over sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets in the Arctic to figure out how much these different types of ice are changing. The data collected will be literally bridging the gap in ice data between the retirement of the ICESat satellite in 2010 and the launching of ICESat-2 in 2016.
You might be wondering why an oceanographer is so excited about an aerial ice mapper? Because about 12% of the world’s oceans are covered in the stuff! Sea ice affects currents, climate, charismatic mega fauna, tiny sea beasties and even internal waves! So now let me count the reasons why the NASA P-3B is the da bomb.
NASA P-3B before dawn.
1) The instruments that make the science happen.
Did I mention there is TON of science equipment on this plane? Well there is. And all of it is amazing.
LIDAR AND RADAR: This is a plane with frickin’ lasers and radars on its belly! LIDAR lasers measure the height of snow on the surface, while the longer wavelength RADAR penetrates beneath the snow to measure the ice and terrain underneath. By combining the two measurements, a band of snow and ice thickness is mapped along the flight path, revealing all itty bitty bumps as small as 4 cm high!
LIDAR imaging Glaciers in Antarctica? Yes please! (image via NASA)
THE MEGA-CAMERA: Technically, it’s called a Digital Mapping System. But really it’s a giant camera that takes gazillions of 20 MegaPixel images while the plane is flying low. All the images are stitched together via computers to make amazing panoramas. Even more awesome the images overlap each other which means they combined to get 3-dimensional stereographic ice maps. Whoa.
Sticking together images to make an awesome sea ice mosaic! (image via NASA)
FANCY GPS: You can’t make an awesome map if you don’t know where you are dude. Also, if you are lost, pinnipeds are terrible at giving directions.
GRAVIMETER: I admit it. This instrument wasn’t actually on the plane when I got on. Nonetheless, I love it just for its data. By detecting tiny changes in gravity scientists can determine what lies beneath the ice. This could be seawater under the edge of a glacier or even more seaworthy, bathymetry under ice! And we oceanographers heart every opportunity for MOAR BATHYMETRY!
Ice scientists preparing to Ice science.
2.) It is built like a tank!
This prop plane, which is almost 50 years old, is a beast. And that is a good thing. Turbulence doesn’t knock it around as much as smaller planes, making it a relatively stable platform perfect for airborne ice mapping while flying only 1500 feet above the ground.
Can anyone find the eject button?
3) Carefully planned spontaneity.
Before this plane gets anywhere near ice, the science team already has dozens of possible flight plans picked out. But which path the P-3 actually takes is actually determined that morning. Why? Because to get good ice data the weather has to cooperate. And so each morning forecasts are checked, routes are studied and the optimal path for awesome data is decided. Even flight plans can be changed by the weather. The day before the plane got here, it decided to spend an extra day in Greenland to take advantage of great weather there, and the bad weather in Fairbanks. NASA, you are seriously flying by the seat of your ice cold pants.
After I got off, the P-3 flew north and out over the Beaufort Sea. Cheers to makings some awesome ice measurements!
4) NASA JUMPSUITS.
WANT. SO. BADLY.
Green for winter, because NASA doesn’t wear their Khaki jumpsuits after Labor Day.
Thanks to the entire NASA Operation IceBridge team of scientists, flight crew and backup personnel for letting us tour the plane, being chipper at 6:00 am and answering all of our questions.
Something to think about: the recent Gibbons et al. (2013) PNAS paper found that *one* site in the English Channel showed a 31.7-66.2% overlap in microbial communities when compared to any one of 356 datasets collected as part of the International Census of Marine Microbes (ICoMM). That’s a ridiculous overlap! As the paper title suggests, this gives us “Evidence for a persistent microbial seed bank throughout the global ocean.”
Microbe species don’t fuck around. They’re everywhere. You just have to sequence lots of DNA to find them all.
Except…some deep sea species were *only* found in the Deep Sea…
For example, the marine cold seep biome contributed OTUs [Operational Taxonomic Units, a.k.a putative "species" defined solely from DNA] from the Halanaerobiaceae family. This family includes anaerobic, halophylic species, which have been found to be highly abundant in hypersaline brine pools such as those associated with cold seeps (19); this comparison suggests that a number of Halanaerobiaceae OTUs in the cold seep biome were not detected in the L4 [English Channel] site.
…the marine hydrothermal vent samples contributed members of the Campylobacterales not detected in the L4-DeepSeq [English Channel] sample. Campylobacterales is an order within the e-proteobacteria that includes both free-living and host-associated chemolithotrophs, such as those associated with tube-worms surrounding hydrothermal vents (22).
This study was only looking at bacteria and archaea – no DNA from multicelled microbes – and I’m not sure how intensively the deep sea ICoMM samples were sequenced. But I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Deep Sea is an untapped Candy Cane forest of genomes. So much endemic DNA for us to frolic and play with!
We won’t find these genomes roving around at the surface – marine biologists need to focus more on genomic technologies to sequence the deep.
Growing up in Arkansas, in the epicenter of Tornado Alley, a sound has coded on my psyche. When I hear this sound my breathing accelerates, adrenaline levels rise, and a tightness emerges in my gut. The sound of the sacred tornado siren (above), a cultural icon in the South and Midwest, will elicit a physiological response in men, women, and children alike. “Grab tha child’n Ethel! A tornader be right here on us.” In response to ship noise, crabs respond much the same way.
You kids turn down that damn noise
Noises from humans like road and ship traffic, coastal development, sonar, pile driving, rowdy and drunk spring breakers have greatly altered the oceanic soundscape. These foreign noises can stress an animal as it prepares for action like fighting, hiding, or fleeing. After playing recorded ship sounds, the oxygen consumption of shore crabs (Carcinus maenAs) were greater than those experience just ambient noise. In other words the ship noise made the crabs a little more crabby. In some cases respiration was two times greater and on average was 67% higher. And fatter, ahem larger crabs, demonstrated a greater response than smaller crabs. Because larger crabs and animals in general respire more, larger crabs can also consume proportionally greater oxygen when stressed. Crabs repeatedly exposed to ship noise over two weeks eventually demonstrated less and less of stress response. One is that they simply no energy left to respond (I can only get excited once scenario) or simply acclimated to the sound when no threat presented itself (The boy who cried wolf scenario).
No word on what Enya or Barry White songs do to crabs. Although I can attest that when my next door dormmates in college played Led Zeppelin IV on repeat it did elicit a response from me.
Wale MA, Simpson SD, Radford AN. 2013 Size-dependent physiological responses of shore crabs to single and repeated playback of ship noise. Biol Lett 9: 20121194. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2012.1194