Archive for the ‘squid’ Category

We’re battening down the hatches on the east coast (feel free to read that as stocking up on beer and poptarts), but I’ve got a few links for you.

1. There have been a few dead giant squid encounters recently, here’s a video of one near the Canaray Islands.

2. I confess to not being a huge fan of Florida, but I’d totally go if it meant I could go to the Shell Museum, which, by the way, is having a very cool amateur photography contest. I’d also go to Florida if it meant I could drink butterbeer at the Harry Potter theme park, or swim with some manatees, for what that’s worth.

3. The lake I grew up swimming in is being attacked by clams.

4. Dolphins use conch shells to catch fish! Super cool.

5. Have you seen the dancing snail video cresting its 15 minutes of internet fame? Clearly someone’s just blowing on the tentacles from off camera, but it’s still kind of cute.

6. Lollusk!

funny pictures - Reducing the drag, one inch at a time.

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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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Lots of good stuff came across my desk this week.

1. The Encyclopedia of Life has a podcast and their newest episode is about sea slugs. There’s also a recent one about giant squid.

2. Speaking of, giant squid in Florida! Gotta love local news.

3. A snail thought to be extinct isn’t.

4. Punxsutawney Phil he ain’t, but there’s a quahog that predicts how many days of beach weather Cape Cod will be getting this summer.

5. How mucous trails relate to snail mating habits.

6. Here’s a completely terrifying video of a snail eating a worm.

7. As a chaser, here’s a completely adorable video of a snail eating lettuce.

8. Wouldn’t be Friday link time without a lollusk!
funny pictures

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When I was in Seattle over Memorial Day weekend, I went to Tacoma for an afternoon of beer, wildlife viewing (seals and bald eagles! In an urban park!), and glass. I love Tacoma’s Museum of Glass. The first time I was there, quite a few years ago, there was a glass octopus!


This time, there was an exhibition called Kids Design Glass. The idea is that perfectly simple kind of genius: kids make a drawing on paper and glass artists render that into a sculpture. Between the drawings, titles, and artist statements by the kids, it was absolutely laugh-out-loud funny. Apart from just being funny, it was also incredibly imaginative, exuberant, occasionally touching and sad, and beautiful. If you have a chance to get to the museum before the exhibition closes, I really really recommend it.

There were several repeating motifs in the sculptures: dinosaurs figured in several sculptures, as did pickles (?), and mollusks! One of them is a pickle/mollusk combo. Here’s the sculpture:


Sorry it’s blurry, but this is the Pickle Buck, who lives on an island called Lava Squid and has “squids strapped so it can go.” Here’s the sculpture:


I love the multicolor glass on those squid.

The other one was the Octopussy. Keep your giggles to yourself; this is a family exhbition. Here’s the drawing:

Evil octopus! And the sculpture:


Hm, five tentacles? We’ll chalk that up to imagination!

There’s a flickr set of the making of one of the (non-mollusk related) pieces. Check it out!

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Onto the extant mollusks at the Natural History Museum. The museum with which I am most acquainted, AMNH in New York, has lots of preserved specimens, but not that many invertebrates. They really focus on the mammal dioramas there and the creepy halls of stuffed birds. The NMNH in DC, in addition to doing the taxidermy thing, is not afraid of stuff in jars, including giant squid!Here’s one.

And here’s the other one, laid out horizontally, which really does give a better effect. I was excited to see how many people were constantly crowded around this. It’s also about as gory a thing as you’re likely to see in a museum, frankly. Well, I haven’t been to the Mütter Museum, which is likely a notable exception.
Also a clubhook squid.
There were also plenty of seashells to be seen, as you can see here.
Next up, the fossils! Here’s a teaser:

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Sneak Preview

I just got back from a whirlwind and very mollusk-filled weekend in DC. I have lots to talk about, but I’m flying off to St. Louis today for my spring break vacation on my friend’s farm. I’ll give you a little glimpse into my weekend, though…



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I’m going to San Francisco! Tomorrow, in fact, for the National Science Teachers Association conference. I’ve been furiously browsing the schedule to figure out what sessions will be best for me to go to, but I was delighted to find quite a few sessions that focus on mollusks! There are not one but two sessions about squid dissection, one about the Queen Conch Research Refuge Ranch (which there doesn’t seem to be information about online), and one about seashell taxonomy. Weirdly I also can’t link to the individual sessions, but in any case I’ll report back if I make it to any of these. I’m hoping my proximity to the Pacific Ocean may also facilitate a mollusk encounter of some fashion. And, holy cow, am I going to eat a burrito while I’m there.

During my flights and downtime, I hope I’ll finish these mittens I’ve been knitting. Snaily!

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Friday is for linking

Time for some Friday linkage!

1. First things first, it’s Octopus Week at the Seattle Aquarium! I’ve been to this aquarium, and they had the busiest octopuses I’ve ever seen, so I’m guessing they’re going to have a great week.

2. In continuing cephalopod news, I’m rather fond of this large knitted squid made from shopping bags. I especially love the photos of it cozying up to a Darwin statue.

3. Moving onto some snail finds, if you’re in Utah, you can hear a talk about the development of powerful pain drugs derived from cone snail venom. Cool stuff! Here’s a cool photo of a textile cone snail, which I like because they’re especially mathy.
Textile Cone
(photo: Richard Ling)

4. Snails, they’re just so useful. I found this BBC news slideshow of snails acting as proverbial canaries in the coal mine for a St. Petersburg waste incinerator kind of hilarious. Why did they pick snails? Well, terrestrial snails have a lung, and they don’t get fussed about all the sensors.

5. Snail’s, they’re also so cute. This week New Scientist had a great story about new evidence that snails sleep. Seriously, that’s just really cute.

You know what else are cute? Lollusks.
funny pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

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Colossal squid exhibition!

If you should find yourself on the North Island of New Zealand, be sure to go to Te Papa, the museum of New Zealand. Right now they have an exhibition devoted to the enigmatic colossal squid! There’s lots of cool stuff on their website about the exhibition, and the build-a-squid applet is especially cute. Here’s a hard-won photo of my own elusive squid!

I’ve had the great fortune to have visited Te Papa a few years ago when I was in New Zealand. Sadly, the squid was not on display then, but I can show you a couple other cool features of the museum.

They have cool art installations. I don’t remember the artist for this one, sadly.
They have a hilarious exhibition devoted to the kākāpō, the world’s largest parrot and the bird that seems to thwart all attempts by humans to save it from extinction–that’s not entirely true, as their population is in fact steadily growing. Anyway, here’s a (dark, sorry!) photo of the sperm collecting helmet folks wore when they noticed the kākāpō was fond of mating with people’s heads as well as the robo-kākāpō they tried to get the real kākāpō to mate with. Failures, the both of them. The most effective thing to collect sperm, they’ve found, is inserting an electrode into the bird’s cloaca, and you can probably suss out the rest of that story.

Many people equate New Zealand with sheep, and indeed I did see a lot of sheep while I was there. At Te Papa you can virtually shear a sheep. I’m guessing it’s not anywhere as hard as the real thing, and it’s still really hard!
Bringing this back to mollusks, New Zealand’s other mollusk of note is the Pāua, which is the name for three abalone species native to New Zealand. Pāua are both good eatin’ and the iridescent insides of the shells are used for all sorts of traditional and contemporary arts and crafts.
Here’s the inside of the shell.
Paua Shell
(photo: JamieLawrie)
And here’s a piece of jewelry I very much covet with a Pāua cabochon.
Paua Shell Cuff Bracelet
(photo and jewelry: NoPunyNerd)

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I recently watched two documentaries (available instantly on Netflix) that got me thinking. One was called A Man Named Pearl, about an extraordinary topiary artist named Pearl Fryar, who lives in Bishopville, SC. The other was a documentary about paper folding/origami called Between the Folds.

A Man Named Pearl was interesting mostly because his topiaries are stunning and he himself is quite the dude. I got a bit annoyed with the movie for the same reason I gave up on the Ken Burns National Parks series despite my intense love for the National Parks system– it was weighed down with unnecessary religiosity. That said, it’s still a movie worth watching, and not just for the topiaries, because it also has some interesting commentary on race and class in the South.

Between the Folds was just fascinating, hands down. I liked how the film profiles people with different approaches to paper folding, from craftspeople to technicians to anarchists. I suppose most artforms can accomodate all those types. What I also hadn’t really ever thought about is how origami is a transformative art– there’s no adding of media (as there is in, say, painting), nor is there subtracting of media (e.g. some kinds of sculpture). That kind of constraint is really intriguing to me. One of my other favorite artforms, glassblowing, is similar in that regard, though not as rigid since adding and subtracting does happen. Thinking back to Pearl’s topiary, he’s got this incredible task of subtracting, transforming (by training branches, etc) and anticipating the addition that happens naturally and ever so gradually.

Fiber arts, my media of choice, also has that quality of transformation. Where paper folding is taking something two dimensional and giving it a third dimension, knitting and related crafts take something essentially one dimensional and transform it into higher dimensions. Cool stuff. It’s no coincidence that I’m a math geek and a knitting/crocheting enthusiast.

So what does this have to do with mollusks? Well, part of why I love mollusks is that people are so inspired by them, including both topiary artists and paper folders. I’m sorely tempted to attempt a wee topiary of my own, like so:

But there are some great topiaries to be seen: check these out!

And origami! Just check out the underside of this octopus!

Octopus (hunting) take 5
(photo: josephwuorigami)

Mollusks lend themselves wonderfully to paper folding, especially shells and snails.

There’s a bonanza of clickage in this post. If you missed the origami squid attacking the old timey ship, I urge you to retrace your steps!

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