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Reef Kids

turtle craft 1My children are fascinated with sea turtles. Those enormous reptiles that drift peacefully for thousands of miles on the ocean currents, observing the world with gentle eyes, have captured their hearts. If your kids feel the same way, they might enjoy making themselves a pet turtle to play with in the bathtub or pool, or to take for walks in the rain puddles!  You just need a 2-liter bottle, string, a sturdy needle, and something for the body – craft foam like this would work, or substitute something similar that you already have.  MORE

The Evolution and Biogeography of Stonogobiops – Part 3

stono 21 Yasha Goby (Stonogobiops yasha) 

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A darkly pigmented male impressing a female. Credit: Sabine Penisson

 First, a brief etyomology interlude, as the origins of the name “Yasha” is an interesting story. The first specimens to be discovered were found in Japan, where they were given the local name “Yashahaze”. “Haze” is a common name for gobies in Japanese, and “Yasha” is a type of female devil-like creature of Buddhist mythology, which is depicted as having a pair of enlarged canines. And so the prominent vomerine teeth of S. yasha are alluded to in its whimsical name. The species has many other common names. One is a bastardized misspelling (Yashia Goby) which certain marine wholesalers insist upon. Others include more prosaic sobriquets, like the White-ray Goby or, confusingly, the Clown Goby MORE

Aquarium morality 2.0

definition-of-moralityI have gotten an incredible amount of feedback on my follow up to Richard Ross and Nathan Hill’s conversation about the aquarium hobby and morality. What shocked me, is that many advanced aquarists agreed with me 100%, and felt that both the hobby and industry have a lot of work to do, when it comes to morality and our tanks. I also got feedback from those outside of the hobby or industry, whom feel that removing animals from their habitat constitutes environmental abuse, and that individual animals suffering along the chain of custody on up to our aquariums is unacceptable. Those on the outside looking in, seem to think a zero tolerance policy regarding wild caught livestock needs implemented. It’s encouraging to know that aquarists, and those who simply appreciate the planet, are thinking about these issues.  MORE

Synthetic Coral to Clean the Ocean

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Photo credit: Paul Nicklen

 Coral, with its porous nature and curled structure, is extremely efficient at absorbing toxic heavy metals; deadly poisons. The mercury that is polluting our oceans is contributing to massive coral die-offs, and is building up in the food chain, eventually resulting in toxic fish. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 1.5 and 17 in every thousand children living in selected subsistence fishing populations showed cognitive impacts caused by the consumption of fish containing mercury. Coral’s remarkable ability to absorb heavy metals inspired researchers at Anhui Jianzhu University in China to create nano-sized, coral-like structures that use aluminum oxide to absorb mercury out of the water. The team, led by Dr. Xianbiao Wang, published their procedures and findings this week in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. They outlined their process for creating this unique structure, which they found to be about two and a half times more effective at absorbing mercury than traditionally structured nanoparticles –  49.15 mg/g vs.19.56 mg/g. MORE

Tattoo Tuesday

tattoo tuesday 7-28Early in the 20th century, New London, Ct was a thriving port city, with a raucous nightlife fueled bu sailors and alcohol. In fact, my band practiced in an old speakeasy with a beautifully tiled indoor pool, dating from the from the prohibition era. It is said that the town wanted to discourage unruly Navy seamen from invading downtown New London (In Eugene O’Neil’s iconic works, it is known as “uptown”, as the city’s more well-to-do upper class lived 1 mile south of the city center). To achieve this, the town’s council enacted many new ordinances, including outlawing tattoo shops in the city of New London.  Just a few years ago, that ordinance was lifted, and there has been a sort of tattoo parlor renaissance in my old hometown. tattoo tuesday 7-28bOver the years, I have been a particular fan of the work of Elisha Schauer. I saw her art at friends’ houses, at local art shows, and online. These days, she is a tattoo artist at New London Ink, and I really dig the skin art that she has been sharing. The tentacles of all things fishy and reefy runs deep in popular culture. I’m proud to be a part of such a creative, thriving tattoo culture that can bring people into closer contact with our beautiful (and sometimes funny) ocean  world.

The Evolution and Biogeography of Stonogobiops – Part 2

stono 9b Yellownose Shrimpgoby (S. xanthorhinica) 

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A dark specimen camouflaged on dark substrate. Credit: Yuji Izumi

 A common goby throughout the Western Pacific, this is one of the most frequently encountered species offered in the aquarium trade. It can be found in water as shallow as three meters, and its range likely includes all of the West Pacific, though it is apparently unknown from Sumatra, Java and much of Borneo. There is a wide gap to the east of its range separating it from its closest relative, the Marquesan endemic S. medon. 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

Father Killed By Shark While Diving With Daughter

I went back and forth on whether I was going to write about this post. I am sure many of you have heard about it by now. However, it is a very difficult post to write and shockingly tragic. On Saturday, a 20 year old woman was diving for scallops with her father, off the coast of Tasmania, an island state off the coast of Australia. The father and daughter were diving in the Maria and Lachlan Islands, areas which are reported to be very popular with amateur divers for scallop diving and very ‘unusual’ location to spot sharks, especially large sharks. MORE is the world's leading destination for sustainable coral reef farming and the aquarium hobby. We offer a free open forum and reef related news and data to better educate aquarists and further our goals of sustainable reef management.