Posts Tagged ‘sea’

Vampire squid on Occupy Wall Street, biology of Vampyroteuthis infernalis

// December 14th, 2011 // Comments Off on Vampire squid on Occupy Wall Street, biology of Vampyroteuthis infernalis // The Realm of Bizzare

Occupy Wall Street protesters took up arms – eight of them – in their march on Monday. Carrying craftastic models of vampire squid high above their heads, in homage to Matt Taibbi’s description of the bank as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money” in Rolling Stones, 2008.

Harsh words, right? I mean, vampire squids are totally awesome!

The vampire squid inhabits the cold, high-pressure environment of the deep sea. Light is absorbed by the water, making it perpetually twilight. A vampire in twilight, that’s not horrifying, that’s dreamy, amiright? Don’t hit your head if you swoon.

We don’t know much about these little dudes because they dwell in that most mysterious of spots, the deep sea. Vampyroteuthis infernalis means vampire squid from hell, but it’s not even technically a squid. Or an octopus. It’s got an order all of it’s own.

They have a consistency similar to a jellyfish, quite gelatinous. Like many jellyfish, it swims by shooting out a jet of water behind it to propel it forward, but it has a couple of fins for manouvering. It has eight arms and two extra arms which hide in its ‘pockets’ and can extend the length of its body when needed.

This National Geographic vid is pure pirate gold for high quality images of the creature.

They hold the title for the largest eyes relative to their body. An individual about six inches long has an eye an inch across, about the same as a full-grown dog. All the better to see you with, my dear. They also have a receptacle behind their eye for spermatangia, the tough sac of sperm ejaculated from the specialised arms of a lover. Just imagine date night

The most brilliant behaviour is their bioluminescence. These guys glow!

When startled, squid may shoot out ink to confuse predators. That’s not much good when you live in twilight, so instead the vampire squid shoots out glowing balls that dazzle and confuse. Over a thousand discrete bright particles within a matrix of mucous. Picture that, you’re out looking for a snack late at night, feeling pretty hungry, you think you smell something good and suddenly there’s some wacko waving glowsticks and snot in your face!

Another defensive ploy is to go into pineapple pose. Turning their bell-shaped tentacles over them, they completely change their shape (going kind of inside out). They light up some spots on their head which animals may take for eyes, which glow and then shrink as if the animal has swum away. Even if you didn’t buy that the animal was gone, looking at the videos, you wouldn’t want to eat that.

Stephen Fry gave respect to these sweet deep sea entities in this clip from QI. Hat tip to Dr M at Deep Sea News.

Oh… and about that quote Occupy Wall Street are marching for. The vampire squid’s diet seems to consist of molluscs, fish and crustaceans. As far as we know, it’s not a blood sucker, and Tree of Life. describes the funnel as absent. That must make it hard to stick said metaphorical blood funnel into anything, whether it smells like money or not.

Recommended links

In the QI link, they say the bioluminescence explosion is like John Barrowman! You might know Barrowman as the immortal Captain Jack Harkness from Dr Who and Torchwood, but blow me down, that captain can dance!

Still got time for more videos? Here’s David Attenborough talking about the deep ocean.

The majority of this info was from Tree of Life.

Changing Waters Art Exhibition

// February 16th, 2011 // Comments Off on Changing Waters Art Exhibition // Science Art

These amazing sculptures are the creation of Nathalie Miebach, a visual exploration of scientific data collected at the Gulf of Maine.

Here’s a quote from her website: “Changing Waters” looks at the meteorological and oceanic interactions within the Gulf of Maine. Using data from NOAA and GOMOSS buoys within the Gulf of Maine, as well as weather stations along the coast, I am translating data that explores the seasonal variations of marine life by looking at the interactions of atmospheric and marine data…

…Elements of the rich New England fishing history are also included. This large-scale installation consists of a large wall installation (33 feet wide) that plots information through the geographic anchors of a map of the Gulf of Maine, as well as a series of large, hanging structures (10 feet high) that look at more specific biological, chemical or geophysical relationships between marine ecosystems and weather patterns.

The Changing Waters Exhibition is open from January 15th till September 25th 2011 at the Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA, USA.

Hat tip from SaCrit

The case of the baffling block

// January 24th, 2011 // Comments Off on The case of the baffling block // Just for Fun

ABC correspondent Karen Barlow snapped this picture while on board the Aurora Australis in what must be the best ever journalism assignment in the history of ever.

This block of wood is positioned prominently atop an iceberg like an actor in center stage spotlight. It’s 66 degrees south, and just north of the Commonwealth Bay.

Clearly this attention seeking and motivational-poster-inspiring little log is hinting at a scientific conspiracy of some sort. Was it placed just so by aliens? Do seals like to eat from wooden place mats? Is it all that remains of a wooden legged, largely gelatinous creature who has since been sea salted and dissolved?

Possible, but I would like to propose an explanation for the mysterious block of wood.

On her Breaking the Ice blog, Karen calls the block baffling. She writes that they are very near the South Pole, and that the compass she brought on the ship has stopped working.

To quote Karen, “The south magnetic pole was positioned on the Antarctic continent 100 years ago. It has since wandered out to sea due to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field.”

Wandered out to sea? Not unlike the block of wood!

Is it possible that this seemingly innocent flotsam is, in actual fact, the true source of South in all the world? Has Karen accidentally discovered the very source of down, half originator of the equator?

Well, if ’tis the case, leave’t well alone Karen. With the International standard Kilo currently suffering an embarrassing loss of weight, now’s not time to start geographical mayhem.

Rare footage of the giant jellyfish

// November 12th, 2010 // Comments Off on Rare footage of the giant jellyfish // The Realm of Bizzare

A giant jellyfish, Stygiomedusa gigantea, has been filmed in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s tentacles are 10 meters long and the bell is over half a meter wide. Check out the video below of this denizen of the deep.

Hat tip to Deep Sea News.

Gold nanoparticles make plants glow in the dark

// November 8th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // How Things Work, Recent Research, The Realm of Bizzare

Image by Yellowcloud

Imagine if instead of having sensor lights to illuminate a garden path, you could line it with light-emitting plants. You could stroll along bio-luminescent flower beds, dancing in dappled moonlight and delighting in eerily lit peace, free from the shackles of electricity.

It could be possible with sea urchin shaped gold nanoparticles. Seriously, every time I turn on my computer the world gets more random. Sea urchins, I ask you. In any event, they’re called nano-sea-urchins.

Taiwanese researchers made a solution of gold nano-sea-urchins and dipped into it an aquatic plant, Bacopa caroliniana or blue waterhyssop. The nanoparticles moved into the plant over a day or so, and stayed there for about a month.

When exposed to UV light, the nanoparticles produced blue-violet light which encouraged the chlorophyll inside the plant to make red light. The result? An awesome glowing plant, just add UV.

It’s exciting stuff, there are a lot of excellent uses for light emitting things that work inside plants or animals. If the particles could be attached to a drug we could track exactly where the drug goes over the course of a treatment. You could attach it to proteins and find out where they are located inside a plant. Or you could just have a sweet glow in the dark plant in your house or garden.

Of course, you still need to have that UV source. But what’s wrong with having black light in your house or garden? Just think of the possibilities… You could drink tonic water every day, that stuff glows blue in black light because of the quinine.

Also, if you’ve ever wondered if black light can cause sunburn (as I recently have) here’s the low down. Black light is made of UV light which is close in wavelength to visible light, so it’s quite low energy. This counts as UVA, not UVB which causes most sunburns. Large amounts of UVA (such as those found in tanning beds) can cause skin cancer or premature aging, but the small amount contained in black lights is unlikely to do much damage.

ResearchBlogging.orgSu, Y., Tu, S., Tseng, S., Chang, Y., Chang, S., & Zhang, W. (2010). Influence of surface plasmon resonance on the emission intermittency of photoluminescence from gold nano-sea-urchins Nanoscale DOI: 10.1039/C0NR00330A

Hat tip to New Scientist






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