Rolling in the deep.
PerhapsMost definitely the coolest photo I will ever have with a whale shark. Taken by photographer and all round hero, Steve De Neef (www.stevedeneef.com).
This shot was taken whilst we were out on survey here in Southern Leyte last week. This individual is actually LSR-24 – the 24th shark our LAMAVE team has identified here in Sogod Bay. It’s a juvenile male and if you look closely at the photograph you’ll see it has a big scar across the back of it’s head- probably from a fishing line.
The photo shows me photographing the shark for identification. By taking photographs of the unique spot pattern on the left side of the shark – just behind the gills and above the pectoral fin - we can identify individual sharks – it’s effectively a cheap way of tagging whale sharks and it’s through this process that we are assessing the whale shark population in this area of the Philippines. One thing we are trying to find out is whether the sharks are hanging around or just passing through? This individual, LSR-24 has now been here for over a month, having first been identified by our LAMAVE team at the end of February this year. Whilst I took the photograph, he continued to feed slowly, the two of us, chilling just below 10 meters from the surface…
Followers, meet my friend Sally. She works for the Large Marine Vertebrates Project at the research base in Southern Leyte, Philippines. Follow her for first hand shark adventures!
Marine Environmental Protection students research project in the Cayman Islands.
Ever wondered what it’s like to go away on a marine research project? My mate Joe documented his time in the Cayman Islands doing reef surveys and general joviality.
Coral reef surveys are intensive and you need to know your stuff, from coral species to fish families, but spending so much time down there, you never know what you’re going to see!
Female Hawksbill turtles are monogamous.
Because “New insight into Hawksbill Turtles’ mating patterns” or “Hawksbill turtles’ monogamous sex life revealed” sounded creepy and overfamiliar.
Dr David S Richardson and Karl Phillips from the University of East Anglia looked at turtle nests on Cousine Island in the Seychelles, an eco-tourism holiday destination favoured by the rich and famous.
Working with the islands’ conservation staff they used a non-harmful procedure to collect DNA from the hard skin of the flipper, or around the shell.
The researchers looked at 43 mothers and 1600 young to reconstruct a genetic model of each nestling’s father, without having to catch the males out at sea. ‘It’s important to do this so that we can understand their mating system and see how much genetic variation there is within the population’ says Richardson.
This is the first comprehensive study into Hawksbill Turtle mating patterns and the findings may help conservationists refocus efforts to where they’re needed.
The scientists were surprised then to find all of the eggs from an individual female are normally fathered by the same male. This means the mothers mate only once and then store the sperm for the entire mating season, fertilising all their eggs with it.
Monogamy in the animal kingdom is the exception rather than the rule. Many females are forced to mate multiple times by aggressive males, or prefer to mate multiply to ensure they have the best quality sperm.
‘If they mate with one male and then met another one that was in some way better, bigger or stronger, they might re-mate and have a mix of eggs fertilised by both,’ Richardson explains. ‘However, it seems female Hawksbills would rather mate just once, far away from their nesting site, then store the sperm, perhaps to avoid unwanted male attention.’
Now the scientists know that not only are there lots of males fathering the nestlings, but there are many male turtles scattered far across the Indian Ocean. Conservationists can use this information to widen their efforts, from the beaches where the females lay their nests to the entire Indian Ocean area, in order to protect males too.
To get you prepped for the large unleashing of Discovery Channel’s Looking for the Giant Squid this Sunday below is all the required reading.
The giant squid has been captured on video in its natural habitat for the first time ever. This long-sought after footage — considered by many to be the Holy Grail of natural history filmmaking — will be revealed by Discovery Channel and NHK in January 2013…This massive predator has always been shrouded in secrecy, and every attempt to capture a live giant squid on camera in its natural habitat has failed. Until now. Mankind finally confronts the greatest mystery of the deep as the first-ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat is revealed in Discovery Channel’s Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real, which premieres on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 10/9c as the season finale of Curiosity. NHK will air their special on the first-ever footage of the giant squid in early January 2013.
Also read over my post to understand this video in the context of other recent encounters with giant squid.
Here’s my post (Giant Squid=Awesomesauce) that will give you everything you want to know about giant squids.
Arikia Millikin provides some background on this amazing event (and of course I would shamelessly plug it as I’m mentioned relatively early on). Best quote is Steve O’Shea stating “we all have to be a little bit crazy to do this”
Every wonder why of all the ocean’s creatures we picked the giant squid to grace our banner and brand the DSN media empire? In this post, I detail out why giant squids should be a emblem for marine conservation. “What is the emblematic species of the ocean that will serve to energize and unite us?”
Brian Switek provides some perspective on the balance between the actual giant squid and the images invoked when culturally reference them
about using bioluminescence to attract a giant squid.
Some Budding Yeast I Used to Grow
A Gotye parody by UC Berkeley’s Nathaniel Krefman that is not only 100X less annoying than the actiual song, but could teach you some real biological vocabulary and lessons about how tiny organisms like yeast are used for genetic studies that even apply to humans.
Of course, the people who give money to scientists don’t always agree with that last part, which is what inspired this song in the first place.
Brilliant. Makes me miss lab work!
“When I grow up, I want to be a marine biologist”… every parent’s nightmare! But that is what my whole class was saying after we came back from a marine biology fieldtrip, but unlike the others, I never deviated from the plan. Five years after graduating from a Masters in Applied Marine…
Honoured to be a featured Ranger on Project Noah’s blog.
For all of those that want to find out more about the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project (TSRCP) in the Philippines have a little look at this video, by Steve De Neef which tells you more about what the project does and how you can get involved. (Also keep your eyes open for Medel Silvosa (the Field Operations Manager) who also featured in my little video way back when in July ;-) love it Medel!)
Medel, you conservation machine! Artista ka!
Since my mask, snorkel and fins got stolen last week I’ve had to find
upgrades replacements. I have accidentally ended up as a walking swimming Cressi advert! But ain’t no whale shark gonna out-swim me with these babies on!
The third episode from Feeding Giants: The Tuki Chronicles - a set of films following the development of the whale shark feeding in Oslob. This episode is about the researchers and features Anna Lucey, the previous project researcher, Alessandro Ponzo, the president of LA.MA.VE (and Phuslaus) and yours truly (cringe)…have a goosey gander…oh and no laughing!! x
I’m sorry Sal, I totally laughed at you. Only because you’re so dramatic about it :)
In all seriousness though, it is a drama. The reason why the LAMAVE project is here is because of the drastic consequences feeding could have on this threatened species. Check out some of the reasons why in this video.
It’s even more drama because other towns are >< this close to starting feeding. Moalboal is near the end of the process of putting an ordinance in place. If the whole of the south of Cebu starts feeding, the effects will be so much wider spread.
“Tuki” is the local word for Whale Shark. FYI.
Photomegatron Maps Coral Reefs
Traditionally, marine scientists would gather data on corals by photographing and measuring a one square meter area or quadrat. That method gives consistent data on a coral area over time, but it’s also a very small area … so scientists are trying out new methods like this one. It’s affectionately called the PHOTOMEGATRON. It’s two Nikon SLR’s, mounted in a protective frame with lasers.
A researchers swims it over the reef as the cameras record coral cover. The images are assembled later to create a comprehensive map that includes larger coral formations that would be missed in the quadrat system.