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Shark Carrying Truck Crashes on Florida Highway


A truly bizarre traffic accident occurred on Wednesday afternoon, when a truck carrying several Sandbar Sharks crashed on I-95 in Volusia County, Florida.  The trailer crashed after a tire became separated from the vehicle near Oak Hill said Florida Highway Patrol officials.  The semi crossed over  the median and stopped at a tree line. MORE

Tracking the 2015/2016 El Niño Event: One of the Largest?

In the boreal (Northern Hemisphere) Spring of 2014, warm waters began to appear at the surface of the equatorial East Pacific. This appearance caused much stir and speculation about the potential development of something we have not seen in nearly two decades now: a strong El Niño event. A brief refresher: The El Niño – Southern Oscillation is the largest form of year-to-year climate variability on the planet, affecting sea surface (and coral reef) temperatures, as well as weather patterns, on a global scale. They can wreak havoc on socioeconomic establishments ranging from architecture to agriculture in addition to pummeling natural systems, causing widespread bleaching and potential mortality for coral reefs. However, as summer came and summer went, conditions in the Pacific remained neutral and benign. In September of last year, I published This blog post detailing what an event was, why it matters, and why it may have fizzled out. The global climate system and coral reefs worldwide will not likely dodge a bullet this year… 

Current sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, or departures relative to the average for this time of year, as of today, June 11th. Notice the extreme warming in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific.

Current sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies, or departures relative to the average for this time of year, as of today, June 11th. Notice the extreme warming in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific.

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Stony Coral Origins: Their Evolution and Diversification (Part 3)

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Credit: NERC CHESSO project

 Relicanthus daphnaea: Incerti ordinis A recent study of sea anemone genetics revealed a surprising finding—a species formerly included amongst the “swimming anemones” was in fact a completely different order of hexacoral. This large colorful species is known only from hydrothermal vents in the ocean depths. Calling this species “large” is a bit of an understatement, as the body can reach up to a meter across, with tentacles up to two meter long. This is in fact the largest polyp known to science! Its former placement amongst the “swimming anemones” is indicative of a high degree of morphological convergence, particularly amongst the nematocysts. But the incongruities in body size, habitat and genetics strongly indicate this species occupies its own  MORE

Will Fish Bit be a controller revolution?

fishbit-2-750x690I recently purchased the Canary. For those unfamiliar with the device, it’s a sleek little tower that functions as a home security system. The Canary has a 1080 p, wide angle camera that keeps an eye on wherever it’s placed, it uses a motion detector to alert you of arrivals and has an air quality sensor along with temperature and humidity. The best part, the device takes literally minutes to install. I aimed it at the front door, so if I have a fish or coral arrive, I will be alerted the minute the Canary spots movement on my porch. The market is suddenly becoming flooded with simple tech. These are devices that cram a lot of unique functions into one small, often stylish piece of equipment. The days of underground wires, individual motion sensors, multiple routers and hardwired devices seem to be long gone. While home automation offers a diverse market, making high-tech simple products affordable, it appears like Fish Bit hopes to strike that same balance, right in our reef tanks.  MORE

Rarely Imported Anthias Brought in by CMA

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Basslet enthusiasts and temperate marine aquarists everywhere may rejoice: This week a small handful of healthy, vibrant specimens of the splendid (or swallowtail) seaperch Anthias anthias arrived in Oregon and is being carefully conditioned by specialty retailers Coldwater Marine Aquatics (CMA). Judging from personal accounts and photographs, these little beauties are making a surprisingly fine recovery, considering the great distances thus far traveled. The individuals in this shipment apparently originated from “very deep” waters near the Azores Islands of Portugal. Anthias anthias is distributed across the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. A rocky cave-dweller, it is believed to be most active at night. It inhabits deeper waters in the southernmost parts of its range. While there is some debate about its favored water temperature, 55-60 degrees F appears to be acceptable. It is somewhat less of an open-water feeder than its planktivorous brethren, preying mainly on slightly larger crustaceans and fishes nearer the seafloor. Overall, its predominantly pinkish and orangish coloration is rather similar to other, brightly hued, tropical anthiinae, and often sports brilliant blue rings around the eyes. However, it can most readily be distinguished by the large, showy, paddle-shaped pectoral fins of the males. Some of these recently imported individuals, coming in at about 5 inches, are already developing fairly impressive pectorals (the species is said to reach over 10 inches in the wild). According to the diver, “these MORE

Stony Coral Origins: Their Evolution and Diversification (Part 2)

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Medusa & polyp stages of cnidarians. Credit: Luc Viatour & Peter J. Bryant

 True Jellies & Corals: Phylum Cnidaria
And, finally, we have gotten to the group we are interested in. Within this large and diverse phylum we have many familiar forms: soft corals, stony corals, anemones, box jellies, the “true” jellies, Hydra, hydroids, sea pens, sea whips, sea pansies. Making sense of all this diversity can be a challenge, and before we delve into it, we need to better understand what defines a cnidarian. The name is derived from the Greek cnidos, meaning “stinging nettle”—an apt name for a group associated with its often painful stings. The manner with which it stings is unique in the animal kingdom. Within certain modified neural cells are specialized organelles (nematocysts) under osmotic pressure, capable of deploying a venomous barb when contacted. This feature alone is enough to identify any cnidarian, but also worth mentioning is their radial symmetry and gelatinous matrix (in place of a legitimate middle tissue layer). These last two features are shared with the comb jellies, but this is perhaps best understood as the retention of an ancestral jelly-like condition. To reiterate, these two groups of “jellies” are only distantly related.  MORE

Elos PhosphateHR Water Test Kit

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After reviewing the test kits for dKh, Magnesium, Calcium and Nitrates , today I present to you one of the most important aquarium tests – phosphate. Or, more accurately, the Elos PhosphateHR water test kit.MORE

Stony Coral Origins: Their Evolution and Diversification (Part 1)

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Credit: H. McDonald & Science

 The evolutionary history of corals is a fascinating subject, recounting one of the oldest lineages of multicellular animal life. This story is full of mistaken identities, uncertain affinities, and exciting, new discoveries. It’s also a tale of extinctions and near-extinctions, and of adaptations and diversifications through the ever changing history of our planet. To begin our journey through coral evolution, let’s go all the way back to the origins of multicellular animals to gain a better perspective of the place of stony corals in the history of life on earth. MORE


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