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Reader Review: The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist

Paul B at his recent book release partySpecial thanks to Patrick Sugent for taking the time to write and submit the following review of Paul “Paul B” Baldassano’s The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist: A 60-Year History of Fishkeeping. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!“I first came across The Avant-Garde Marine Aquarist in an online forum which Paul Baldassano frequents. I gave the book a read not really quite sure what to expect. You see, I knew Paul has a great deal of saltwater knowledge as well as a witty style in online forums, but I also know that he is on a very different level than me in terms of saltwater aquarium experience. He’s got a tank that is going on 45 years old, and I have a tank that is going on two years old, slightly less old than my twin children. He’s also a big DIY (Do-It-Yourself) person when it comes to saltwater aquariums, and I once hired a professional electrician to change a lightbulb (a sad but true story). So, I thought there was a lot of room for this to be a book that was really beyond my grasp and understanding and just generally over my head with lots of discussion about history I don’t know about, devices I don’t understand, and saltwater theory I can’t follow. Fortunately, that turned out not to be remotely true.

BB Gun Dreams and Christmas Aquariums

Ralphie checking out his brand new Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas morningBack in the sixth grade, I had my sights set on a BB gun for Christmas. No, it didn’t necessarily have to be the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action, Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle so famously coveted by Ralphie in A Christmas Story. Make and model were of no consequence. Besides, that popular holiday film hadn’t even gone into production yet. I just needed something to keep up with my good friend, Dan Rogers, who was already duly armed with a pump-action Daisy. Dan and I spent many of our waking hours (and more than a few of what were supposed to be sleeping hours) exploring the vast (it seemed back then) ravine behind his house, and there were definitely things lurking in the forbidden recesses of that ravine that needed shooting—like old beer cans and…older beer cans. So any time we weren’t building campfires, fighting each other with makeshift quarterstaffs on fallen logs, or detonating firecrackers, we could be found picking cans off any level horizontal surface with BBs

Get your Fish into the Spirit of All Hallows’ Day…

pineapple_miranda

This lovely Monocentris japonica gets fruity in Carmen Miranda garb (original photo courtesy Lemon TYK)

 …with these adorable and spooktacular costumes! Ok, so I may or may not have resorted to some photoshop for these getups, but we already torture our dogs and cats with ridiculous outfits, why leave out our piscine companions? Here’s what we imagine our tank inhabitants might opt for if they had the means.… More:

CRAZY! Adventures of a Marine Biologist

Crazy-MD-bookcoverI don’t normally read autobiographies, but I’ve made two exceptions…the first was David Attenborough’s “Life on Air” which I found fascinating and the second was “CRAZY! Adventures of a Marine Biologist” by Pat Garratt, Director of the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. The title certainly grabs you, and anyone with an interest in the aquarium industry, marine biology, or fishing will love this book!  There’s a bit of something for all of us fishy people. Pat started as a researcher at the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban and a keen fisherman, and then moved on to become a curator; designing, building and stocking the Two Oceans Aquarium.  He moved up to become the Director for a number of years and is now facing retirement…but he has lots of great stories and memories to bid him farewell (although I don’t think he will be saying goodbye to the fish altogether!)  This is a man who has enjoyed life, at times risked that life, and will continue to love family, friends, and fish. What I love most about this book is that it is all about finding your passion and following your dream no matter what! This book is available online.… More:

Apple Care Extending Coverage with ‘FlipperPhone’ Plan

FlipperPhoneGenerally speaking, dropping an electronic device into a large body of water is more or less giving it an impromptu burial at sea, but if you happen to be around a friendly cetacean, you might just have a better turnout. Dolphins rely heavily on chatting as a means of communication with one another, so is it really all that surprising how this particular one reacted when some poor girl dropped her iPhone into the depths of the Atlantic? He just wanted to make sure she could keep in touch with her pod! And since we’re in an age where everything can be documented, even whilst floating on a secluded platform in the middle of the ocean, there’s video of the selfless act below (it’s adorable, but could have done without the squealing). … More:

Sea Sheep

sea sheepThis is, without a doubt, one of the most adorable sea creatures I have ever seen – and it’s a slug! The tiny creature looks like a cartoon or maybe a Wallace and Gromit character, but it is most certainly real. Costasiella kuroshimae (or ‘Leaf Sheep’ for short) is found in saltwater environments near Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines, and can grow up to 5mm in length. And, like the mammal it gets its name from, it likes its greens. The Leaf Sheep eats algae, and is one of the only animals in the world that is able to photosynthesize. And while it is not very efficient at it, some species can live for months on photosynthesis alone. As it eats, it partially digests the algae, but leaves the chloroplasts intact, incorporating them into its own body, and storing them in its multiple spiky appendages. The cute little slug then uses the chloroplasts to manufacture energy. The process is called kleptoplasty,a term derived from the Greek word Kleptes (κλέπτης), which means “thief”. and can only be found in certain sacoglossan sea slugs…like this little guy.… More:

Football Takes a Hit from The Mantis Shrimp

Researchers from the University of Riverside are studying the internal bone structure of Mantis Shrimp in an effort to reduce the damaging effects of head trauma associated with American Football. Within the dactyl forearms of the Mantis a spiral structure of bone material called chitin is specific, and this formation allows for the buffering of damaging elastic waves such as shear waves, through its forearms. “This is a novel concept,” said David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering. 150617144502_1_540x360Researchers will attempt to apply the architecture of mantis shrimp arms to products such as football helmets and body pads: “It implies that we can make composite materials able to filter certain stress waves that would otherwise damage the material.” “The smasher mantis shrimp will hit many times per day. It is amazing,” said Pablo Zavattieri, an associate professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and a University Faculty Scholar at Purdue University. Read more here!  … More:

Friday Rewind

More robots! Today’s video brings us footage of some more advanced models of the CRM line of robots. Here we can see the robot going through its paces and performing various tasks, from dish washing and snow shoveling to fish netting and pet store clean up. Sadly, not everyone is polite to robots. If you see a robot today, give ’em a hug. More:


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