Daily Cephalopod Dose

Thoughts

My favorite animals on the planet are members of the molluscan class, Cephalopoda. This class includes these magnificent creatures:
octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus.

Why would I love such weird, scary, freaky, alien-like animals?

Just watch the video below and and you’ll see they are fascinating, highly intelligent, and beautiful animals.

AWESOME Recent Science Stories!

Science, Thoughts
(c) mccort.org

(c) mccort.org

Sometimes – you just get a week of amazing science discoveries! Let’s chit chat about some of those amazing instances, shall we??

SQUID EATS A BOMB

1) A squid was caught off the coast of China with a BOMB found inside of it. Yes, a bomb. The 18-inch live bomb was found inside a 3-foot squid being sliced open at a Chinese fish market in Jiaoling county. Perhaps the bomb resembled a small fish or prawn, but who knows how long the squid swam around for with live ammo in its tummy!? Local police suspect that the bomb was dropped by a fighter jet…it was rusty so it’s hard to tell exactly how long it has been floating (in the ocean/in the stomach of the squid) for. This is not the first instance of a bomb being found inside a marine animal – in 2007, the remains of a 19th century timer bomb was found inside a bowhead whale.

ACTIVE MICROBIAL COMMUNITY FOUND IN THE DEEPEST PART OF THE OCEAN

2) Imagine living in a place with 1,000 times the pressure placed upon your entire body at normal sea level..no thank you! But, researchers have discovered that microbes, found at the Mariana’s Trench, thrive on the falling detritus (dead animal remains) that fall to the depths of the ocean floor even under the intense pressure! The microbes are an important component of the carbon cycle in the ocean – keeping the process going by digesting organic matter and thus releasing CO2.

GIANT SQUID FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE ARE A SINGLE SPECIES

3) Giant squid bodies have been found spanning the globe, and it’s been confirmed that the DNA from 43 squid found around the world, in all actuality vary surprising little. The lack of genetic diversity is quite astounding knowing that Giant Squid span across all oceans with a relatively large population size. Some researchers think that this could because squid mitochondria may have evolved unusually slowly, or they could have recently expanded from a small to large population size.

FISH BRAIN ACTIVITY CAPTURED ON FILM

4) Researchers have visualized and recorded the activity of almost every individual neuron in the larval zebrafish brain in REAL TIME! This is an amazing feat! “It allows a much better view of the dynamics through the brain during different behaviors and during learning paradigms,” states Joseph Fetch, a neurobiologist  from Cornell University. The researchers were able to capture more than 80% of the 100,000 neurons in the brain of the larval zebrafish, snapping high-res pics every 30 milliseconds.

10 Best Ocean Stories from 2012

Science, Thoughts

Thank you Smithsonian.com for compiling this list of the 10 best ocean stories from 2012! It really was a fantastic year for ocean exploration and discoveries. And can you guess what they dubbed 2012 the ‘year of’ ?? THE YEAR OF THE SQUID! Oh that just tickles my tentacles with happiness 🙂

I’ve written a couple posts about these topics last year – which I listed under each prevalent story below.

 Also, this marks my 200th post! Thank you everyone who has jumped on board this blogging journey with me. It’s been definitely quite the ride 🙂 
Credit: National Geographic

Credit: National Geographic

2012: The Year of the Squid

My 2012 Posts: Squid Ink Is Prehistorical Perfect

Get Ready For…Squids in Space!

Electrifying Squid Skin

Male on Male Squid Sexy Time? Something Sounds Fishy Here

Woman’s Tongue Injected with Sperm From Her Dinner Dish

I’ve got my EYE on you

From the giant squid’s giant eyes (the better to see predatory sperm whales, my dear), to the vampire squid’s eerie diet of remains and feces, the strange adaptations and behavior of these cephalopods amazed us all year. Scientists found a deep-sea squid that dismembers its own glowing arm to distract predators and make a daring escape. But fascinating findings weren’t relegated to the deep: at the surface, some squids will rocket themselves above the waves to fly long distances at top speeds.

James Cameron Did It! He Made It To the Bottom of the Ocean. (Credit: Mark Thiessen, National Geographic)

James Cameron Did It! He Made It To the Bottom of the Ocean. (Credit: Mark Thiessen, National Geographic)

James Cameron Explores the Deep Sea

My 2012 Posts: Filmmaker James Cameron Completes Journey to the Bottom of the OCEAN!

Filmmaker James Cameron has never shied away from marine movie plots (See: Titanic, The Abyss), but this year he showed he was truly fearless, becoming the first person to hit the deepest point on the seafloor (35,804 feet) in a solo submarine. While he only managed to bring up a single mud sample from the deepest region, he found thriving biodiversity in the other deep-sea areas his expedition explored, including giant versions of organisms found in shallow water.

Small Fish Make a Big Impact

Forage fish—small, schooling fish that are gulped down by predators—should be left in the ocean for larger fish, marine mammals and birds to eat, according to an April report from the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force. These tiny fish, including anchovies, menhaden, herring and sardines, make up 37% of the world’s catch, but only 10% are consumed by people, with the rest processed into food for farmed fish and livestock. With the evidence mounting that forage fish are worth more as wild fish food, state governments and regional fishery management councils are making moves to protect them from overfishing.

Kamilo Beach, Hawaii...not so appealing huh?

Kamilo Beach, Hawaii…not so appealing huh?

Marine Debris and Plastic Get Around

My 2012 Posts: Too Much Plastic For One Planet To Handle

The Truth About Bottled Water

Japan Tsunami Debris (Millions of Tons): Steadily Moving Towards California

In June, a dock encrusted with barnacles, sea stars, crabs and other sea life washed ashore on the coast of Oregon. It had floated across the Pacific from a Japanese port more than 5,000 miles away—a small piece of the estimated 1.5 million tons of marine debris set afloat by the 2011 Tohoku tsunami. But that’s not the only trash in the sea. Researchers found ten times as much plastic in the “pristine” Antarctic oceans than they expected. Some species are even learning to adapt to the ubiquitous ocean plastic.

Live to Explore.

Live to Explore.

Taking Measure of Coral Reef Health

My 2012 Post: Ocean Acidification, A Harsh Reality

Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, so large it can be seen from space, is not doing well. An October study found that since 1986, half of the living coral has died because of warming water, predation and storm damage. And it’s not just Australia: the December Healthy Reefs report gave most Mesoamerican reefs a “poor” rating. It’s hard to escape that gloom, but there were glimmers of hope. Some coral species proved able to adapt to warmer water, and changing circulation caused by the warming ocean may create refuges for coral reef habitat.

IF SHARKS COULD TALK..THEY'D BE SAYING THANK YOU!

IF SHARKS COULD TALK..THEY’D BE SAYING THANK YOU!

Shark Finning Slowing Down?

My 2012 Posts: New “Awesome” Hammerhead Shark Discovered

The fishing practice of shark finning—slicing off a shark’s fins before tossing it back in the ocean to slowly sink and suffocate—began its own slow death in 2012. A steady stream of U.S. states have banned the sale of shark finsning; the European Union will now require fisherman to land sharks with their fins on; four shark sanctuaries were created in American Samoathe Cook IslandsKosrae and French Polynesia; and, in July, China announced that official banquets would be prohibited from serving shark fin soup (although the ban may take up to three years to go into effect).

Arctic Sea Ice Hits All-Time Low

On September 16, sea ice extent reached a record low in the Arctic, stretching 3.41 million square kilometers—that’s 49% lower than the 1979-2000 average minimum of 6.7 million square kilometers. What’s more, its melt rate is increasing: 2012 had the largest summer ice loss by more than one million square kilometers. This change is expected to affect ecosystems—from polar bears to phytoplankton—and accelerate warming in the area, eventually melting Greenland’s ice sheet and raising sea level dramatically.

Hurricane Sandy Elevates Awareness of Sea-Level Rise

This year certainly opened our eyes to the severity of climate change and sea-level rise. The east coast of the U.S., where scientists project sea-level will rise three to four times faster than the global average, got a glimpse of its effects when Hurricane Sandy caused $65 billion in damage, took at least 253 lives, and flooded Manhattan’s subways in October. The disaster inspired The EconomistBloomberg Businessweek and other major news sources to take a closer look at climate change and what it means for us all.

Counting Ocean Animals from Space

Scientists took advantage of satellite technology this year to learn more about ocean wildlife. The first satellite-driven census of an animal population discovered that there are twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica as previously thought, including seven new colonies of the large flightless birds. A second study tracked the travels of sea turtles by satellite, which could help researchers get a better idea of where they might interact with fisheries and accidentally end up caught in a net.

The Ocean Gets a Grade

The first tool to comprehensively assess ocean health was announced in August 2012—and the ocean as a whole received a score of 60 out of a possible 100. This tool, the Ocean Health Index, is novel in that it considered ten ways the ocean supports people, including economies, biodiversity, and recreation. The U.S. scored a 63, ranking 26th globally, while the uninhabited Jarvis Island took home an 86, the top grade of the 171 rated countries.

Electrifying Squid Skin.

Science, Thoughts

Cephalopods (squid, octopus, cuttlefish) can change the color of their skin by contracting/relaxing muscles controlling pigment granules in their chromatophore organ. Chromataphores can be classified into subclasses based on colors- specifically for this blog post we will talk about iridophores (reflective/iridescent) ones.

A recent study found that electrical stimulation of the nerves in the skin of squid change the reflectance/color of the iridophores ranging across the color spectrum. But did you know- SQUID ARE COLORBLIND?! So why do they display so many beautiful colors?

It’s a question scientists ponder all the time- how do squid and octopus see a color in black and white which is actually red and brown- and their skin turns the perfect color that we see? It’s magic I guess (or an awesome evolutionary feat).

The iridophores are made up of complex stacked plates that cause the interference with the reflectance of light. To learn more about iridophores in the skin of squid, scientists took advantage of a dead longfin inshore squid’s skin. The scientists traced the nerves of the skin and stimulated them electrically- see what they saw- CLICK THE LINK BELOW:

SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN

YOU ELECTRIFY SQUID SKIN!

The scientists found they could instigate progressive changes in skin color from reddish (which is the color when the chromatophores are at-rest) all the way across the color spectrum to blue. Iridophores were found to change much more slowly than the quick changes seen in most other chromatophores.

Yet again, the cephalopod family adds something new to the list of why I love them. Here’s another cool video I found on YouTube pertaining to chromatophores in squid skin- ENJOY!

Woman’s Tongue Injected with Sperm From Her Dinner Dish..

Science, Thoughts

Reason number 13434562.4 why I don’t eat squid or octopus, and be it any animal that is still alive on my dinner plate….

While a woman was dining in Korea, she took a bite of the partially cooked squid upon her plate. Apparently, the squid had other plans than being consumed.

And lo and behold, the cephalopod still alive with their natural animal instincts to fulfill their biological mission in life (TO REPRODUCE!) injected the woman’s tongue with his sperm packets.

The woman reportedly experienced a “pricking and foreign-body sensation” while chewing the squid and spat it out back onto her plate. Can you imagine?! UGH. She eventually went to the hospital because she became enthralled with severe pain and claimed that several “small, squirming” creepy crawlies were in her mouth.

The doctor found 12 small white spindle-shaped, bug-like sperm packets injected into the woman’s tongue and cheek. I found a good photograph online showing what squid sperm packets look like up close..feast your eyes!

Moral of the story, if you DO eat raw squid (shame on you..sorry it’s the Marine Scientist and cephalopod lover in me) then you should remove their internal organs, or boil them long enough to kill its sperm bags. Or let them be free and reproduce naturally with their own species 🙂

ON a totally different note, my friend Rachel who writes the blog LoveFitLife asked me to be a guest blogger! I have never guest blogged for another blogger before, so of course I was super excited and definitely all in!


Please check it out my guest blog post here :

Do It, Review It: Chanel Hason on Run.Yoga.Give.

Squid Ink is Prehistorically Perfect.

Photography, Science, Thoughts

Credit: National Geographic

HOORAY- A story on SQUID! One of my favorite marine creatures. (Please no chit chat about how delicious you think calamari is…)

A recent study concluded that squid ink samples from a 160-million-year-old giant squid is EXACTLY the same as the ink found in squid today. WOW. With no evolution to be concluded from this evidence for the components of squid ink… I guess that means their ink has been doing the trick the right way for millions of years. Good job cephalopods!

The ink sacs of 2 giant squid fossils found in England 2 years ago was compared to today’s squid ink components. Melanin, a substance that gives hair, skin, and certain other things color, is the primary ingredient of squid ink- explaining why their ink is so dark in color.

John Simon, a chemistry teacher and executive vice president and provost at the University of Virginia stated,

“Though the other organic components of the squid we studied are long gone, we’ve discovered through a variety of research methods that the melanin has remained in a condition that could be studied in exquisite detail.”

It’s pretty amazing that those ink sacs remained intact for millions of years. Phenomenal actually! This is such a fantastic scientific discovery. It’s very rare that animals don’t evolve in one way or another over millions and millions of years- guess their escape ink system was right on the dot when they were created. From the Jurassic age until now…high five to squids for doing something right!

Male on Male Squid Sexy Time? Something Sounds Fishy Here..

Thoughts

If you have tentacles, watch out, male deep-sea squid will pounce on you!

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) has recorded 2 decades worth of deep-sea squid mating footage. And what they’ve come to acknowledge is that male squid don’t have an issue with mating with both female and male partners. Bisexual squids? Not necessarily..

This same-sex sex isn’t the first we’ve seen in squid- but it’s the first time that it has been as common as male-female sex. Out of 108 squid caught on camera- 39 of them have been identified as male or female- with 19 females and 20 males. Of these 19- 10 females and 9 males showed evidence of mating. The scientists determined that the male squid were trying to mate equally with both sexes.

The way squid mate is quite interesting and unique. The details are still unclear to researchers- but from observations, the male squid ejaculates a packet of sperm- turns it inside out within a membrane then it gets embedded into the skin of the mate. So hopefully if the male is successful- the sperm will stick and the female and choose when and where she wants to fertilize her eggs. (Must be nice.. haha)

Credit: MBARI

Credit: MBARI

As you can see in these photos- There are some white specs just above the female squid’s eye on her mantle. Those are male squid sperm packets.

The second photo is a close up of the sperm packets on the female squid’s mantle- thank you MBARI for the awesome photos!

So are you still wondering if male squid are gay? Well that’s not really the case… since deep-sea squid don’t come into contact with one another too often- their drive to reproduce is enhanced when the come into contact with any other squid (male or female).  It’s better to mate with whoever they come in contact with- than loosing any opportunity to reproduce. The squid live by themselves..so it’s lonely out there in the big blue. All they want to do is ensure the survival of their species…who can blame them?

Get Ready For..Squids in Space!

Thoughts

I would have never guessed that a squid would go up in space before at least myself! Well…here is the lucky squid that get to travel up up and beyond:

SPACE SQUID!

If the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour happens next week, on-board will not only be human cargo, but baby squid as well! No, these astronauts will not be eating calamari, these squid will be alive and provide a better understanding of bacteria in space (for the sake of us humans).

Bacteria has been studied in space before- but only the bad kind. Salmonella was sent up in 2006 on the space shuttle, and when it returned the bacteria was almost 3 times as likely to kill mice than normal.  E.coli is another example of a bad bacteria which also changes its behavior due to exposure to anti-gravity.

The squid of choice to make this epic journey is the bobtail squid Euptymna scolopes. This Pacific species was chosen particularly because it carries a type of bacteria called Vibrio fischeri in its body.  The bacteria houses itself inside their light organs once the baby squid hatch. The bobtail squid use this light to shine downward so prey/predators don’t see a shadow cast of the outline of the squid from below.

Bobtail Squid

Bobtail Squid- First Cephalopod To Go Into Space

This type of relationship is a great example of mutualism-where BOTH organisms benefit in a relationship. Humans also have mutualistic relationships with bacteria- in our stomach and immune system.

Jamie Foster is the person who is charge of this experiment, hailing from the University of Florida in Gainesville. The experiment will go as follows:

  • Newly hatched squid who have not yet been exposed to the bacteria- will swim around in tubes of seawater while launching into space
  • 14 hours after the launch- an astronaut will release the bacteria into the tubes and allow 28 hours for the bacteria to colonize inside the squids light organs
  • Then, sadly (for research purposes) the squid will be killed and fixed solid-and brought back to a lab on planet Earth for examination
Foster’s preliminary research which mocked micro-gravity appeared to show problems the uptake of bacteria by the squid. Which could ultimately mean that mutualistic bacteria in humans in space could be affected. 
So I will be patiently waiting to find out the results of this study..and hopefully some amazing pictures of baby squid in front of a window with Earth in the background 🙂

People these days..Does anyone care for the ocean + animals anymore?

Science, Thoughts

I’ve got a couple new stories that I would like to share with you tonight.  There are some disappointing stories, then I’ll leave you with a happy video 🙂

1) Squid, Cuttlefish, and Octopus Negatively Effected by Ocean Noise Pollution

Research published on April 11, 2011- concluded that that short exposures to low-intensity, low-frequency sound can have a detrimental effects on the balance systems of squid, cuttlefish, and octopus.

Noise pollution: consists of sounds resulting from human activities. Such as, oil-drilling, shipping, commercial fishing, and sonar. All of these activities emit low-frequency sounds, which have been traced to affect not only whales and dolphins, but now cephalopods.

Strandings of giant squid in 2001 and 2003 off the coast of Spain rose concern for some researchers. The strandings coincided with nearby ocean seismic surveys- where air guns were used to send low-frequency bursts of sound to obtain an image of the ocean floor (mostly for the purpose of finding oil).

All the stranded squid had one common feature- which was damage to their statocysts. These organs are balloonlike sacs lined with sensitive hair cells which is used to maintain the animal’s balance/position in the water. Holes were found in all the stranded squid’s statocysts, raising the possibility that low-intensity sound can cause this type of damage. More research is already in the process pertaining to why this ocean noise can have this large of an effect on these creatures. I’ll keep you updated. Here is a picture of a damaged statocysts inside one of the research squid found off of Spain.

Overall- I feel we as a human race need to step back from our actions and truly take into consideration our effects on the planet. So much I feel is hidden from the general public- that so many of us are unaware of what is REALLY happening out there. Keep yourself educated. Thank you for reading my blog- that’s one way of getting ocean/nature related news.

Credit: Laboratori d'Aplicacions Bioacústiques, Universitat Politènica de Catalunya

2) China: Selling Live Animals as Key Rings

It was really difficult to read this news article today without wanting to throw something.  Chinese sidewalk vendors have recently put onto the market live animals sealed in plastic bags which you can attach to your keys. SERIOUSLY?!

If you don’t believe me: here is a photo. Just so you know- this is LEGAL in the country of China.

The bags come with either a tiny Brazil turtle, or 2 small kingfish. The animals are trapped inside a plastic pouch with no air holes, food, or space! I just can’t understand how this is considered legal..baffles me. The salesmen claim that the colored water the animals are in contain “nutrients” which can sustain them for several months. Somehow, I call bluff on this statement. It’s not right for these animals to be trapped in a small space, with a very small amount of air, and dangling around all day on someone’s keyring.

3) A Feline makes some Flipper’ed Friends!

Ok and now time for some cute animal friends. Enjoy!


I’ve got my EYE on you.

Thoughts

I am fascinated by squid, octopus, cuttlefish, and nautilus. For those more marine biologically inclined: Cephalopods!

I was reading my Twitter feed (follow me: ChanBam55)- which mainly consists of all marine or science related groups/people- and I came across this awesome photo. This is a Giant Squid Eye ball!

To be honest, I can totally see my office one day with jars of formaldehyde with little squid and octopus in them. They are just amazing creatures!! I aspire to one day have my very own octopus in a tank at my house. I know their lifespan is only around 2-3 years- but I’d make those years count! I’ll feed it the best shrimp and fish an 8-legged cephalopod could ask for 🙂

Giant squids have the largest eye out of all the invertebrates-scratch that-the largest eye on earth! It ranges around 10inches in diameter- about the same size as your very own dinner plate that you’ll eat off of tonight!

Still- little is known about these fantastic creatures. We have still to observe their behaviors and patterns in the wild. They are still a big mystery- that hopefully will become uncovered in my lifetime (or even by myself!). Who knows what else is in the great depths of the deep sea..we might discover some very unusual creatures soon enough!