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Survival Of The Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle

turtleWhile this story isn’t about a sea turtle, the plight of the survival of the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle must be told. There is only one known female Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle left in the world. The female was placed in a tank with a male, one of the only three males left of the species, at a zoo in China. Scientists were hopeful the two would naturally procreate. Although she became pregnant, the eggs were nonviable. The scientists really went all for saving the species, as the 100 year old male turtle proved difficult to arouse. The scientists attempted stimulating the 100 year old male hand, vibrator and where finally successful using a vibrator, to obtain the semen. The semen was successfully artificially inseminated in the female, and eggs began to form. It is too early to tell if the species will be saved through this attempt. Scientists are hopeful this attempt will produce children, as the female will soon be removed to her home zoo this fall. MORE

Gyotaku: An Awesome Form of Traditional Japanese Fish Art

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Seldom does a modern fisherman land a prize catch without capturing the moment forever, digitally, with a quick selfie. But without this key piece of technology—the camera—by what method did mid-19th century Japanese anglers preserve proof of their trophy catch for posterity? They practiced a traditional style of “fish printing” known as gyotaku (Japanese 魚拓). Accordingly, most fishing boats from this period were stocked with the essential art supplies: rice paper, brushes and sumi-e ink. Over the decades, gyotaku has evolved from a rather crude means of measuring up a catch into a bona fide form of artistic expression; while it is no longer practiced in Japan by fishermen, it is appreciated woldwide as a fine art. A form of specialized art termed nature printing or “rubbing,” subjects include anything from fishes to seashells to leaves. Fish require some preparation to ensure that they do not leak seawater or body fluids during the printing process. In its simplest form, the relief surface of the subject is coated with ink. Colorful pigments may additionally be used. A sheet of paper is rubbed over the inked surface of the fish carcass, capturing as many fine details of the scales, fin rays, etc. as possible. Sometimes this first dark copy would be used as a work copy, being used to print many lighter copies which were then often elaborated upon by hand. In the West, it is typical to start with the direct method, and then finish the piece off with the brush application of colored inks. MORE

Friday Rewind – Micro Propagation Revisited

Today I’d like to share with you an update on my baby micro-propagated coral.  I first posted about these two and a half months ago, and I’m impressed with how much they’ve grown since then. 

From 2 Polyps to 14 Polyps,  in 10 weeks.

From 2 Polyps to 14 Polyps, in 10 weeks.

 The two-polyp Astroturf Goniopora I posted about 10 weeks ago has seen a 700% increase in number of polyps, and is now triple its original overall size. It began as a tiny bit of skeleton tissue left over from fragging. Micro-propagation can be challenging, since the smaller a coral is, the more fragile and vunerable; even (normally) beneficial coralline algae can attack and smother a tiny coral, one big bite from a hungry tang or emerald crab could mean disaster. I honestly did not expect all of the coral I featured to survive, since mortality can be quite high, but I’m happy to report that they have not only survived but thrived! You can refer back to my original posting if you’d like to compare sizes.  MORE

Deepwater Cameras Reveal New Species, Seascapes

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To this day, a mere 15% of the ocean bottom has been mapped. Recently, a team of researchers from the United States-supported National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has obtained a wealth of astonishingly clear video footage while mapping the ocean floor off of the Puerto Rican coast. Using a remotely-operated vehicle in water depths as great as 7,000 meters, NOAA scientists were able to capture images of many animals formerly not known to exist. The Puerto Rico Trench includes the deepest regions of the Atlantic Ocean. Water depths here are nearly as deep as those in the Pacific, extending as far as 8,400 meters. MORE

Encrusting Corals Can Create Art

skeleton-coralWe spend a lot of time talking about the intersection of reefs and the art world, and this photo is a great example of something near and dear to any reef aquarist, encrusting corals.  As many people know, encrusting corals typically have very fast horizontal growth rates and demonstrate very interesting patterns and formations when left to grow on flat objects like tiles and discs.  But what happens when you give the coral a head start by growing it onto an actual 3D object?  This skeleton encrusted with Meteor Shower Cyphastrea is a great example of how to take your typical underwater decoration and make it into something entirely new.  Having gone through the process a few times with Moai statues, it is only for people who have great patience, but the rewards are striking in their appearance.  If you decide to try your hand at this process, make sure you give the object plenty of room, having another coral sting your piece mid-growth can set you back an entire year.  Also be sure to pick a coral that has a high growth rate or you will be waiting forever.  Lastly, definitely pick a coral that does not typically plate out when it grows as this will create a shadow and prevent your piece from being completely encrusted.  Have you ever done this yourself?  Drop us a note in the comments and tell us how you did it!

Genio Save Box – the new way to transport fish and corals

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There is a new way to transport fish and corals –  the revolutionary Genio System Save Box. We fell in love with the box at first sight, and we immediately got in touch with the Austrian-German company Genio System, who was happy to send us one to review.  MORE

Scrawled Filefish Video, Odd Shaped Reef Fish


Hi boys and girls, I have a short but fun clip for you all today of a beautiful 16 inch scrawled filefish that I found out on the reef a few hours ago. You may have to watch this on Youtube as it’s so small.  Check out the sharp spine on top of it’s head, this can be raised or lowered depending on how worried he or she is and as you can see he or she is a bit concerned. This ultra cool fish like so many others can change colors in the blink of eye, it’s truly one of the top coolest fish in the Caribbean sea. Have a great day.. MORE

Submarine Eruption Leads to Formation of New Red Sea Islands

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Finding the right time, place and circumstances to observe the formation of a new island is pretty difficult. For one, it just doesn’t happen very often. It may occur in an inaccessible area. And, conditions in the water may quite dangerous. We recently reported on research of a newly formed island off of the coast of Japan. Now, researchers and videographers have been granted yet another such opportunity with volcanic events taking place beneath the Red Sea. A pair of six-mile-long and half-mile-wide troughs in the Earth’s crust have been spewing magma–creating new land–for weeks after a powerful submarine eruption. The result is a fresh land mass in the Zubair archipelago near Yemen. Scientists from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology of Saudi Arabia used satellite and video data to monitor the volcanic activity. The new islands have been given the names Sholan Island and Jadid Island. However, they won’t last very long–at least on a geological scale of time. Even the relatively mild wave action of the Red Sea is capable of causing considerable erosion. Judging from the rates observed in this area, both islands are expected to be leveled within a few hundred years. To view video and satellite imagery of the two islands published in Nature Communications please visit: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150526/ncomms8104/full/ncomms8104.html.

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