Archive for the ‘nudibranchs’ Category

It’s that time again:

1. Did you see the incredibly gorgeous squid photography in this boingboing post? If not, please click the link immediatamente.

2. I first saw this video on Deep Sea News. Squideo!

3. io9 has a hilarious post about snails who migrate via avian digestive tract. That’s one way to do it, I guess.

4. I was in my local diving emporium yesterday and they had a very lovely marine life video playing while I was waiting for my stuff to arrive on the magical conveyor belt coming out of the wall. One of the featured animals was the hooded nudibranch. Watching the video, I was all, where are the nudibranchs? Are they under those jellies? Turns out they were those jellies.

Hooded Nudibranchs
(photo: Vlad Karpinsky)

5. Why was I at my local diving emporium? Because this weekend I’m headed out of town, to Maui! I will of course report back with all mollusk findings. I don’t know that I’ll get to see any, but Hawaii has very cool land snails, many of which are endemic. They also have invasive snails. I’ll tell you about what I see regardless. Wish me mollusk (and sea turtle) spotting luck!

6. Have I used this lollusk? I lose track. This one’s a classic anyway.

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Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve got some links for you:

1. This is a totally fascinating article about how a species of all-male clams hijacks genes from other species when they parasitize their eggs. Super freaky stuff.

2. Also, invasive nudibranchs! I love nudibranchs, but these ones are bad news, as they prey on the native nudibranchs in the Bay Area. Nudibranch adundance is correlated with warming. These “killer” nudibranchs have been moving northward over the years, acting as an indicator for climate change.

Phidiana hiltoni Pugnacious Aeolid
(photo: marlin harms)

3. In octopus news, some researchers at Hebrew University have shown that an octopus can use a single arm to complete a complex task. I’m wondering how they got the octopus to refrain from using its other arms… I’m also bemused by the fact the article claims octopuses are “flexible as ballet dancers.” Come on, give the octopus some credit! It doesn’t have bones; surely it’s more flexible than a ballet dancer.

4. And, of course, a lollusk:

funny pictures - RELEASE DA KRACKON!
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

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OK, so this trip to DC. It was like mollusk overload! Not really, I can’t overload on mollusks. The two big things on my DC itinerary were the zoo and the Natural History Museum. The forecast called for rain on Saturday and sun on Sunday, so that made that decision pretty easy.

The main goal at the Natural History Museum was to see the crocheted coral reef, which was indeed incredible. There were so many different parts to the exhibit, and they had a zoologist and a crocheter on hand to talk to people.

One friend I was with had the interesting if somewhat philosophical question: Is coral rock? The zoologist said no, but clearly at some point coral becomes rock, right? The Guadalupe Mountains in Texas are primarily a coral reef from the Permian Period, for example, and I’m quite sure people would say that’s rock. At what point does coral achieve rockness?

But back to the crochet and the mollusks. I was delighted to see that mollusks were represented among the crocheted organisms.

Like this octopus! Well, unless it’s a jellyfish. I didn’t actually count the tentacles.

I like to think this curly thing on the floor is a nudibranch. But then again it’s just as likely it’s a marine flatworm like Pseudobiceros hancockanus. Hrm.

OK, this one! This one’s definitely a clam. Phew.

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So I have this rule that I’m not allowed to buy t-shirts, because I can’t wear them to work and I should spend my clothing money on nice work clothes instead. Super boring, right? It’s the reason that the human inside this amazing (and glow in the dark, I might add) t-shirt from the Peabody Museum is my husband and not me. He does wear t-shirts to work, and maybe I slightly coerced him into buying it so I could live vicariously. Whatevs, it glows in the frakkin’ dark!

I recently broke the rule when I saw this shirt on etsy.

Ho-lee cow. Ernst Haeckel nudibranchs on a t-shirt? Sign me up!

I’ve had the shirt for a little while now, and I haven’t actually worn it yet… because I can’t wear t-shirts to work. Sigh. Perhaps this weekend!

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How badly do I want to go to the Sydney Aquarium? Really badly. Sure, it’s one of the few places in the world with dugongs in captivity. Yeah, it’s got platypuses. But you know what else it has? Giant nudibranchs!

Wait, what? I don’t know how this whole project had escaped my attention. The Future Is Wild is a whole big speculative biology project that includes classroom curriculum, a forthcoming feature movie, and this augmented reality exhibition at the Sydney Aquarium. I’m so curious about this. As someone who has spent much of her career dealing with informal education–in my case, in museums and video games–there’s an interesting line to skirt between being fun and delivering meaningful content, and I would love to see how this plays with that tension. I obviously don’t think those two things, fun and content, are mutually exclusive; I get kicks out of a good wikipedia fugue for pete’s sake. It is about getting an audience who is not preternaturally inclined towards this stuff to give it a try with the hopes of lots of outcomes. For biology related things, I think an important outcome is instilling a conservation ethic. For all sciences, it can be about fostering curiosity in general, or exposing young people to something they could make a career out of, etc. The multitudes of goals and angles of attack are why I tend to enjoy informal education more than the classroom stuff.

Also, what exactly does the augmented reality thing mean? Is it like I hold my iPhone up to a real life nudibranch and I get the blorpy version on the screen? So curious.

Also, this is a serious nod to the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, is it not? Megasquid!

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A few great things going on this week. Some in the world of science, some in art.

1. In art, there are some great upcoming opportunities to see large artfully rendered mollusks. An octopus you can walk inside of at SFMoMA, and some large purple snails on a Causeway in Miami Beach.

2. I don’t know if this counts as art or not. Also, I’m admitting my shameful secret that I watch America’s Next Top Model (my best defense is that I watch it socially as a part of a longstanding weekly ritual involving takeout, TV, and beer). This week the models had to be underwater goddesses or some such, and a few of the photos in fact featured what I believe may be actual octopus tentacles.

3. Onto science. And something actually pretty gross. Swimmers in Alameda, CA (the island perhaps best known these days for being featured in many a Mythbusters episode as the site of their hijinks) are itchy, and it’s because of parasitic flatworms coming from an invasive species of snails. I’ve never swum in the San Francisco Bay, and this may just keep me from doing it.

4. In the battle of invasive species, the Asian carp threatening to invade the Great Lakes may be unsuccessful because the invasive quagga mussels already there. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Am I the only one who reads “Asian carp” and thinks koi? What a pretty invasion this would be. I kid, I kid.

Koi Pond
(photo: Brian)

That, in turn, makes me think of the pond near my house. In the summer there are often kids there feeding the turtles– this pond is so full of turtles. When I was walking by one day I heard a kid say something about wanting to feed the goldfish. My heart sank a little as I thought of this poor kid who hadn’t learned the difference between a goldfish and a turtle. I looked in the pond and sure enough, there’s a big ol goldfish (maybe koi, didn’t get a good look) among the turtles. Faith in education: restored! I didn’t see any this summer, which makes me doubt they can last a winter in that pond, which is artificial and gets mostly drained in the winter.

5. Good news in science as well. Ten new species of snails discovered in Australia. Biodiversity!

6. This last one is both art and science. An interview with Dr. Pat Krug about a new species of nudibranch, and also a song about the solar powered nudibranch. Thanks to the folks at Deep Sea News for bringing this one to my attention.

To round out the week, a couple of photos from my most visited patch of nature, the Harlem Meer. It’s not mollusks, but it’s what I have for nature at the time being, and it is really fun to walk by this place twice a day and see what’s changing and what’s not.

I saw my favorite duck family today. There’s this feral domestic duck and what I assume are his/her offspring. They keep to themselves and don’t mingle much with all the other ducks.

Then there was this flower that’s been blooming for the past few days. It looked very curious to me, so I walked over to check it out.

Flower indeed. We’ve got a regular Andy Goldsworthy on our hands.

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Weekly link roundup time!

1. What are you doing this weekend? Watching Sharktopus I hope!

I was going to embed the trailer, but in fact it looks so godawful I thought better of it. I’ll hold out for Bearsharktopus.

2. Purdue researchers working on what makes oysters stick together. It seems that oysters are producing a “glue” that’s 90% calcium carbonate and 10% protein, as opposed to the byssal threads other mollusks use that are predominantly protein.

3. I’m fairly obsessed with this new species of nudibranch that makes little egg doilies. It’s like the nudibranch version of me! I have been known to make a doily or two in my day.

4. I don’t know if you’ve been following the saga of the Inland Octopus mural, but residents of Walla Walla, WA are taking action to make sure the mural stays. I hope it does. Look how cute!

Inland Octopus Mural
(photo: Josh Westbrook)

5. Also, if you want your baby to be the coolest hippie baby ever, Inland Octopus sells hands down the coolest tie dye clothing I have ever ever seen. Done by Leslie at Cosmic Farmhouse.

6. This is an exciting weekend for me. My roommate from my San Francisco years is in town, and we are basically going to eat our way across town. Our first stop, and probably most auspicious, is wd-50, a restaurant specializing in molecular gastronomy. There are also a fair number of mollusks on the menu. I don’t eat animals in general and cephalopods in particular, but they sure do cook up pretty.

Cuttlefish, cashew, rootbeer, watercress

Tomatillo-pine gazpacho, soybean falafel, octopus confit

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There’s been so many awesome things on the internet this week that I want to share. Linkstravaganza!

First, the other participants in International Rock Flipping Day! It was a great crowd to be in; so many excellent sightings.

Lynda at mainlymongoose
Kordite in the Flickr group
Bill Murphy at Fertanish Chatter
Rebecca In The Woods
Dave Bonta, on Via Negativa. Here and here and on Flickr.
Paul, The Obligate Scientist
Wanderin’ Weeta. Here and on Flickr. Plus one to be posted soon.
Kate St. John on Outside My Window
Ontario Wanderer on Flickr
JayLeigh in Pacific Northwest Nature for Families
Fred Schueler: a Google document, copied here.
Rikaja in Slovakia
Bev Wigney at Journey to the Centre
Hugh, at Rock, Paper, Lizard

Well done, everyone. Thanks for finding the slugs I couldn’t! And a special thanks to Susannah at Wanderin’ Weeta for coordinating the event this year. I will practice over the course of the next year in hopes of great results next time around.

In case you don’t follow the websites with conventionally cute animals, it was Snail Week at Daily Squee! I’m diggin’ the invert love! Check out this ADORABLE baby snail.

Other great things:
1. A fantastic post over at the Spandrel Shop about the sea slugs that feed on algae and then incorporate the plastids into their bodies to become photosynthetic themselves. So cool.

2. Enormous octopus cake made the internet rounds this week. I saw it first on Make.

3. Another fascinating post, this time at Not Exactly Rocket Science, about parasitic worms that take over snail bodies and “drive” them around. Turns out there’s actually a class structure in these worms.

4. You got squid in my broccoli! You got broccoli in my squid! Two great tastes that taste great together.

5. Mollusk sex advice column over at Deep Sea News. Just too delightful.

6. Another snail video from Daily Squee.

7. Also, some of the craziest weather in NYC this week. Tornado! I don’t know if this photo from grapesofrad is ‘shopped or not, but it’s great nonetheless.

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Sea Lemon?

Nope. Harlem Meer orange.

This amused me to no end when I saw it floating in the Meer the other day while I was checking out the cypress knees along the shore. It immediately reminded me of one of the more common nudibranchs to spot along the coast in the Bay Area, known as the sea lemon. I’ve met this mollusk at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve but never photographed it, so thank goodness for flickr. Here it is in all its citrusy glory.

7b. Sea Lemon
(photo: kqedquest)

I walk around the Harlem Meer every day as a part of my commute. It’s a lovely part of Central Park and great habitat for lots of plants and animals.

As Above So Below
(photo: Dave Bledsoe)

I get to walk by two of my all time favorite tree species (bald cypress and gingko), and I get to check out what lots of different birds are up to, including the odd heron and cormorant. There are turtles in abundance, it’s been a great year for butterflies, occasionally I see someone reel in a little fish, and get this: there are mollusks! Two different aquatic snails, to be specific.

I don’t know what either species is, alas. I checked in at the Discovery Center to see if they had any information, but they are very fish and tree-centric there. Also, I haven’t seen either of them alive. Their empty shells bob along the edges of the Meer all summer. Someone is clearly really into eating them–could it be the turtles? the ducks? It’s a bit cruel that in my efforts to spot mollusks in my own city, all I’m presented with are their remains, but at least I know they’re around.

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All the news that’s fit to print, indeed! In addition to a fantastic Q&A with Terry Gosliner from the Cal Academy, there’s a fantastic slide show!

Sometimes I think cephalopods get all the news coverage, but what a great week for nudibranchs. My favorite part of the Q&A was about how old nudibranchs are since they don’t fossilize well. Turns out they’re estimated at 180 million years old (take that, dinosaurs!) based on dating their shelled relatives. Reading a little bit about the fossil record for mollusks, I learned some awesome stuff. Mollusks participated in the Cambrian Explosion, which means that there are probably lots of undiscovered mollusk forms. I wish someone would do some digging into that and write a book like Wonderful Life, But For Mollusks (If you haven’t read Wonderful Life, it’s a great book by Stephen Jay Gould on the diversity of arthropod body plans as discovered in the Burgess Shale).

Also, I learned that ammonites, the nautilus-like cephalopods, went extinct in the K-T event along with the dinosaurs.

“Lookit my fancy shells! Too bad all of my dinosaur friends are dead…”

And, because no post about nudibranchs is complete without a picture of one, check out this beauty!

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