Hello again crew. You've now had some time to look over the text resources we distributed on the first day:
Of course, we also have the depth and breadth of all resources found via the Internet. And really, many of these are far more engaging and current that the basic Marine Biology textbook. Not to mention the fact that we can try (and are usually successful) to track down any experts you might with to bring their knowledge and experience to bear on our experience this year. I'm pretty good at networking my way into valuable situations with smart people. This is certainly a skill I wish to help you develop throughout the course of our year together.
In the space below, take some time to respond to the following:
And finally, realize that one of the great things about Ning is that in the "reply" field below, you may respond not only by text, but you can also respond in almost any sort of multimedia way you can think of. In other words, you can provide links, images, embed video clips, etc. Please feel free to take advantage of that to the level you know how at this point. And also, one of the other strengths is the ability to respond not only to the original person posting, but also directly to any of your other classmates by using the reply link found on each comment.
I'm looking forward to seeing what you are thinking...
Of the four textbooks, the two on reef identification seem the most interesting to me at this point. Each page is lined with pictures (typically colorful) and diagrams. The book is becoming easier to follow the more I get used to the layout, and I can make sense of how they present information. The species are presented in a logical order, and the book makes it easy to find any fish or creature that you are looking for. Also, the fact that they present pictures of the fish and creatures in their various forms helps to give a better idea of the creature as a whole.
Three topics that I wish to delve into more deeply are how fish/creatures change sex, their reactions to humans, and what they eat(particularly if they eat each other). I don't understand how something could change sex, the whole process is highly captivating to me. Do they have the choice to change whenever they want, or does the situation have to call for it? The reef identification books describe each creatures response to humans, and it varies greatly between the different species. Some are shy, cautious, unafraid, unconcerned, friendly, and wary. There are many other responses, I just named a few. Also, while I was flipping through the creature book I came upon a type of jellyfish that eats other jellyfish (pg. 79). It is called the two-tentacle hydromedusa, and it eats other jellyfishes. This made me wonder if it is typical for fish to eat others of its kind.
The two topics that I found either pressing or interesting were overfishing and the various uses of algae. Overfishing is causing many species of fish to become endangered, and in some circumstances extinct. Also, industrial fishers are ruining natural ecosystems. The website http://marinebio.org/Oceans/Conservation/ really helped me, particularly the first video shown. The guy on the video talked about three main issues in marine biology: overfishing, pollution, and climate change, but the one that interested me the most was overfishing. The other marine biology issue that I found interesting was the possible uses for algae. Certain types of algae have, through adaption, come up with a way to turn excess sunlight that they come into contact with into heat, keeping them from getting "sunburnt". Some scientists believe that this phenomenon can be used in sunscreen for humans, and others believe that this can be used to create biofuels. The websites that helped me to learn about this topic are http://www.buzzle.com/articles/current-events-in-marine-biology.html and http://www.biotechnologie.de/BIO/Navigation/EN/root,did=104968.html....
I agree completely about the fact that those ID books are easier to use once you get into the flow of the layout. There is a ton of information in each page of those books. I'm pretty impressed that they were able to incorporate all of that into such a small space and have it still make sense. Alas, this is why is takes some getting accustomed to.
You know, over the past 13 years of this program, we have never really immersed ourselves into the topic of sex changes in reef fish. It really is quite a fascinating thing. The more you know about animals, the less you seem to intuitively believe that a change in something so foundational could be possible for a vertebrate. And really, as much as I do know about how this works in several species of reef fish, I too believe there is room for us to dig deeper here. A simple look back at the date of this article in the NY Times shows us that this is something that scientists haven't been all that familiar with for very long. I like it.
On the flipside, overfishing is a topic we have drilled deep into for several years. And yet, to me, this issue is so crucial for the survival and well-being of all of the creatures on the planet (humans certainly included) that we just have to dig back into this one. This one issue (and the slightly wider: management of oceanic resources in general) remains such a foundational issue today that we cannot ignore it and still feel like we have a handle on "marine biology" in general. Also, isn't it interesting how the three issues you presented (overfishing, pollution, and climate change) are all issues that directly derive in part from folks hundreds of miles from the sea? Each and every one of us can have an effect on those three... even if we've never stood on the shore of an ocean.
I too have always been interested in not only algae in general, but in the unique compounds they manufacture throughout their lives. In regard to sunscreens, I actually know someone who published research on the isolation and study of naturally-occurring sunscreen compounds in reef building corals. She was the director at the field station for just over a year back in the early 2000s. I have some copies of her stuff, but I'm betting we could get in touch with her again. Smart cookie.
Thanks for such a thoughtful response... that's exactly what I was looking for. The more you guys help drive, the more you'll like where we end up next May.
In fact, I hadn't seen the TED video by ecologist Jeremy Jackson you linked to:
There are so many themes presented in this short talk that we will want to explore in depth. Good stuff. Nice find.
1. Of the four resources that were given, the book "Reef Creature Identification" stood out to me and bought my attention from the very start. This book stood out to me before the others because the odd and creepy creatures are what have always brought my attention to the marine world, and what could be hiding deep down in the ocean that has remain unkown. The book itself stands out to me because of the wild and amazing variations of color within the creatures, and how different each one could be, even though they could look almost exactly the same. As an example on page 79 as well, the Club Hydromedusa and the Jelly Hydromedusa have the same general shape and have the glow affect to their domes.
2. The three topics I would like to learn deeper into are camoflauge-able animals, how animals create colonies of their own, and the symbiotic relationships take place within species of animals. Obviously the creatures can change whenever they need too, but what I want to learn is how the chemicals within their bodies can change an animals entire outside makeup within a matter of a few seconds - it just totally blows my mind. When it comes to certain species of fish creating a colony, is it the fishes own choice to move colonies if it wishes, or do they stick to the same group their entire lives? Also to the relationships between species of animals, if the relationship is only good for one species, but there are good and bad parts from the relationship for the other species, will they just drop the relationship going on right there, or will it continue?
3. While searching the web for Marine Biology wildlife issues, i came across this website - http://marinebio.org/. It has updates on pressing issues, and also some crazy topics of what are happening in the seas today.
-One topic I picked from it is the issue of saving Hammerhead sharks and Oceanic Whitetip sharks (the exact link is here). The issue is the sharks are being hunted for their fins, and the population is decreasing at an alarming rate. They are collected for their fins for the Asian delecacy Shark-fin soup. Due to maturing later, and producing only a few offspring over a long lifetime, they are at an even greater risk for overexploitation, and slow to recover from overfishing.
- Another topic I chose is more of an interesting one -(http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/05/110503-giant-squid-...). This article talks about how experts have proof that sonar blasts from ships out at sea can harm squids. There had been earlier troubles with this idea, and now that Giant Squids were showing up on the coasts of Spain, the evidence may seem to be true. The waves destroy cephalopods statocyst tissue and dissorients them - some raising closer to the surface and the temperature difference kills them.
Ahhhhh... finally. It's been a while since someone really wanted to dig into that text. Have you taken the Zoology course at Central? If so, you wou;d certainly appreciate lining of the subtropical coral reef creatures with each of those types of animals studied in your class. Oftentimes, zoology on the mainland is taught with a really terrestrial focus. Which, as you might know, is a pretty skewed thing in its own right considering the planet is 3/4 covered by salty seas. If you haven't taken zoology, then this might be a good toe in the water toward doing just that. Although we will study this as well in this course, there is no substitute for a really immersed study of the animal kingdom from a deeply evolutionary perspective.
Your element number two above is somewhat tied in with Lauren's interested in the peculiarities of sex-changing fish. There is some overlap there with what you speak of here as the "why one fish might choose to move from one area or group to the next." The interrelationships between organisms, especially with regard to symbiosis, will always be a course topic. That is a foundational topic in any course that hopes to increase understanding of ecology, and even more so in a tropical marine ecology course.
Your interest in the effects of undersea sonar might be especially piqued by the knowledge that Andros Island is actually home to a naval warfare testing site. Here, deep water hydraphones are used to listen for other ships, weapons, etc. We can sometimes even see this work happening via helicopters of submarine traffic in the otherwise quiet waters off Andros. There is a rather intense debate as to whether sonar of this sort can cause harm to oceanic creatures- particularly cetaceans. This might be an interesting area to explore.
While I haven't received the textbooks again because your wife scheduled Science Investigation at the same time, I can say that the most fun one to read is 'The Enchanted Braid' by Osha Gray Davidson, where it is written from the perspective of a person whose background is not rooted in Science, but in Journalism. This lends itself to the story where it reads like a very fantastical historical account of the Coral Reefs, but also deeply rooted in fact. This book is a fun read and prepares you for what you see in the Andros.
While not in the textbooks one thing I want to learn this year is taking better pictures, I understand what my camera is capable of, but I want to make the most of it for this year, and not run out of batteries on the middle of the trip again. The pictures I took were serviceable but didn't have near the 'Wow' factor that the subjects have in real life. One group of fish I wanted to learn more about are the Batfish, they seem to be a living fossil of when the first marine organisms walked onto land, instantly making them in my top 5 fish species.
This video popped up on a site I frequent and I thought that out of the groups of 'Jellies' that the Urochordates (known as Tunicates) and Ctenophores (Comb Jellies) are the most interesting, for having a more advanced neurological structure during larval stages and the 8 rows of bio-luminescent strips respectively, in your wife's Zoology class we covered the basics of Ctenophores, but not Urochordates if memory serves.
One of the things I found when looking for information was this BBC Article over the rapidly declining ecology of all of the world's oceans, and illustrating how dire the predicaments facing ocean life right now really are, going so far as to say that within two decades we'll see the last of all remaining kelp forests and coral reefs if nothing is done immediately to combat CO2 emissions, pollution, and overfishing. These kinds of reports make me very concerned about the future of the human race and the future health of our home planet.
And then there are things like this video introduction to a new style of Trawl net that calm my nerves a little to remind me that there are people working diligently to come to compromises when it comes to the world's population needing huge quantities of fish, and keeping marine ecosystems healthy into future generations. Though I wish more politicians would take keeping our Earth livable seriously, even in the presidential candidates for 2012 we have people who would shut down the Environmental Protection Agency in the name of economic growth, which is scary, considering the Agency is one of the few things preventing the large scale pollution of things like PCBs into the nation's rivers and coastal areas that was seen in the mid twentieth century. Though in a tangential addition, a Hudson river fish has evolved immunity to the toxic effects of li...
Found this while browsing yahoo the other day... Mostly it repeats things I was already aware of, but I thought it was interesting to see it on such a mainstream site like Yahoo. I haven't really seen much on the topic on yahoo. Hopefully this will begin to wake more people up to the issues.
Good news: I found out the other day that according to some recent Manatee counts at one of the National Preserves where I have been volunteering, the populations in the area have been increasing for the past couple of years. Many organizations just locally, in the Naples/ Fort Myers area, have been working extremely hard to protect Manatees and all other forms of life. It is definitely exciting to see positive results!
I just hated posting something gloomy without something positive! :)
I only have the set of identification texts, I plan on purchasing the "The Enchanted Braid" and diving into that once my summer classes end. I use the identification texts all the time down here, they are definitely handy!!
I would love to learn more about the bioluminescence that appears in the ocean. From several different people I have hear something about parrotfish and their activities at night... and I would love to learn more about what the heck goes on.
Of all print resources the ones that seem to interest me more are the identification ones (reef creature & reef fish.) Theres just ALOT of things you can learn instead of just telling how everything's different (image wise) and you get to learn about where they live, behavior, ect. I probably like the reef fish book more, maybe just because i've used that one the most, but fish in general just fascinate me.
Of course of the three things that i wish to learn more is how to identify fish, but to go more in depth, i'd also like to learn what they feed on, their lifespan, where they live ----just many things to do with how they make a living. I know if you have a fishbowl in your house you would feed a fish with fish food bought from a store, but what about ocean fish? What do they feed on? or do some even eat? Fish can die pretty quick especially little store bought goldfish, but it interest me to find out how long ocean fish live. I'd also like to know what fish can live the longest and least longest. So do fish have little homes they go into? or do some just swim all day and thats what they do with their lives? That brings me to another question; Can fish sleep? Some of these questions might sound stupid, but i guess thats why i'm here to learn :) haha
http://marinebio.org/oceans/marine-biology.asp#1 - This website is pretty cool, it talks about why study marine biology and how its studied. Pretty much learn what marine biology is all about. http://www.amnh.org/ology/marinebiology - This website maybe seems like more of a kid's site but its cool too. It has quizzes and games, along with telling you some information about marine biology
The Reef Fish identification book and The Enchanted Braid looked the most interesting to me. Now that I've gotten a chance to look over The Reef Fish book it's gotten easier to read. At first I was having a lot of trouble figuring out where the species of fish I was looking for were, but i've colored coded my book now and looking up the fish have become effortless. The Enchanted Braid looks interesting, I haven't gotten a chance to read it, but the way Miles described it sounds like I would enjoy it.
Throughout the year, I hope to gain a better knowledge on sea turtles. I know that we will probably specifically study fish, but sea turtles have always fascinated me. (In the youtube clip, it shows tons of green sea turtles and I would kill to be that close to a sea turtle. I hope, in college, to continue to study sea turtles.) Also, this year I would like to understand how fish change sexes. I don't get how a fish can be born one way and change to another sex. Another interesting fact I would like to know is how long a normal fishs lifespan is. Never really thought about that til I read Cassandras. It would be interesting to find out their lifespan or where they live.
Biologists are able to determine the sources of toxins in water by using clams as pollutant traps. -http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2009/0110-clam_cleanup.htm
Remember frozen iguanas falling from trees during Florida's 2010 record-breaking cold snap? -http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110826192043.htm
Out of all the print resources we have received, I feel that the one print resource that appeals to me up front the most is the Marine Biology textbook. While looking through it, it came into my mind that his textbook provides more in-depth information about marine life, and focuses on more than just the outside marine life, and goes in depth on how their bodies function, and it focuses more on the ocean itself. As I was taking a look through the Marine Biology textbook, I noticed that there was quite a bit of information on sharks and other cartilaginous fishes. This part of the text appealed to me, because of the obvious, I love sharks.
One type of organism I would like to go more in depth about this year are bilaterally symmetrical worms. I don’t know much about worms in the ocean, and they seem like fascinating creatures. From pictures I’ve seen, the Turbellarian Flatworm (Pseudobiceros gratus) is a beautiful creature. More than anything, I’d like to learn about how the bodies of ocean worms function. Although I know much about sharks and other cartilaginous fishes, I want to go more in depth on them. I find cartilaginous fishes fascinating creatures since their “bones” (cartilage) are not like bones of other animals or humans. I wonder, what health problems can come about from having cartilage instead of bones? I also want to learn more about the topic of echolocation. It’s a fascinating thing that I don’t know a whole lot about. I want to know how it works, and how essential it is to the animals who use it.
One issue I researched was Coral Reef conservation.
Another issue I found was the overfishing of sharks.