Thursday, July 15, 2010

"The Oceans Glory--and Horror" a TED Talk by Global Explorer Brian Skerry

As a lifelong ocean explorer, Brian Skerry has a unique perspective to share about the issues surrounding ocean conservation and the state of our oceans today. This year he was invited to give a TED talk to an audience of scientists and thinkers during a trip to the Galapagos Islands. TED is a non-profit organization that holds conferences designed to promote the spread of ideas. The talk includes some amazing slides of the photographs Brian has made all over the world.

Elsewhere on the Aquarium blogs, you can see Brian's photos and read reports from recent expeditions to Antarctica, the Sea of Cortez and the Phoenix Islands.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lionfish encounters: From Mata and Laura

This morning, we all woke up to Leah screaming "TIME TO WAKE UP!" into every single cabin. Still groggy and tired from yesterday's dives, we stumbled up on deck and ate a small breakfast before our early 8:00 am dive. We took a fish survey of the current dive site, Whale Point Drop-Off. As we were all getting out of the water, a rumor began going around that Andy, our professor, had been kissed by a lionfish while trying to catch it. After going down to the salon to eat a second (much longer) breakfast, I could see Andy's hand soaking in a bowl of boiling hot water. His hand was nearly the size of a baseball glove, but he said that he rated the pain as a 2 out of 10. Despite his mild injury, Andy still went back into the water for a second dive of the day - only an hour later! Guess it looked worse than it was.

The second dive of the day took place at Angel Town where there were huge coral heads and deep crevasses. There was a large variety of fish in this dive location, such as midnight parrotfish, spadefish, lionfish, tiger grouper and many more.

After this dive, we had a fantastic lunch cooked by Charlie, our incredible cook. Then Leland and I (Laura) began to dissect the lionfish that we had caught that morning. We were looking at the gut contents of the fish because they are an invasive species here in the Bahamas, and we were curious to see what they ate. (Lionfish are a growing problem in to the Bahamas! Click through for more information about this invasive swimmer on this previous blog post from an earlier Aquarium trip to the Bahamas.)

Andy opened up one of the lionfish to find that the fish was a female and that its ovaries were extremely healthy and much larger than he would have expected for a fish its size. So, we looked at it under a microscope later.

Most students had a maximum of 3 dives today, but some had up to 6!! Today was so busy -- if you were not in the water working on a research project, then you were probably on deck finishing up the research projects or talking with the crew.

Later at night, around 8:00, everyone went for a second night dive. It was amazing to see the night time fluorescence using Randi's lights! People saw octopus and all sorts of other great night creatures. The dive ended with everyone being surrounded by jellyfish (sea wasps) that stung some of us. After that, we went down to the salon to hang out, talk, and drink some hot chocolate before going to bed. A sweet end to a sweet day. :-)