Thursday Afternoon Dredging: January 19th, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingJanuary 19, 20170

Cuttings (short and sweet):

  • Watch this basking shark breach!

Basking shark breaching in Cornwall, UK

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How I talk about science in fiction.

#SciCommJanuary 18, 20170

The science of Aquaman. How deep is Rapture? The ecology of Middle Earth. Here at Southern Fried Science, we love taking a hard-science detour into some of our favorite works of fiction. It’s good practice projecting known phenomena into hypothetical universes and figuring out how the mechanics of those worlds shape and are shaped by the principles of ours. And it’s darn fun, to boot.

But diving into “The Science of…” series comes with some pretty huge pitfalls. Not the least of which is the wet blanket nature of criticizing a work of fiction for scientific inaccuracy. Push too far in one direction and you’re left with a dry dissertation on why an obviously fictional world couldn’t work. It’s like being the kid in the room pointing out that professional wrestling isn’t real. No kidding?

There’s a craft to commenting on the science in fiction. After walking this line for a few years, here the simple set of guidelines I use when constructing a commentary.  (more…)

Monday Morning Salvage: January 16, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageJanuary 16, 20170

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • Some SFS deep history: I got my start in marine science working in a seahorse lab. Seahorses are among my favorite animals.

Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web) (more…)

Thursday Afternoon Dredging: January 12th, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingJanuary 12, 20170

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Drone footage from Basking Shark Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

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Micronations and poop dreams: Strange tales from the Guano Islands Act of 1856

Popular CultureJanuary 11, 20170

I’m just going to lay this out there right now: This story ends with Ernest Hemingway’s brother sitting on a 30-foot raft in the middle of the Caribbean.

But first, let’s talk about Bill Warren.

Bill Warren is an entrepreneur, treasure hunter, Frank Sinatra impersonator, former Christian music host, and about 30 other descriptors. He’s probably a huckster, but he’s our kind of huckster. You’ve almost certainly seen something about him: This Treasure Hunter Says He Has Located Bin Laden’s Body. I could spend the next 2,000 words just writing about Bill Warren, but you’re here for the guano, so just read this exhaustive, entertaining, hilarious article bout him by CJ CiaramellaThe Nearly Astonishing Tale Of Bill Warren, Treasure Seeker.

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How Millard Fillmore reshaped the oceans in a quest for guano.

#OceanOptimism, Conservation, policyJanuary 10, 20170

President Millard Fillmore

The numbers are in, and over the last eight years, President Barack Obama has protected more ocean than any other president in history. His expansion of NOAA and implementation of a National Ocean Policy will impact ocean health and fisheries management for generations. By almost any measure, he has had the biggest impact on the ocean of any modern presidency. Which raises the obvious question: is President Obama the most influential ocean president in history? Not by a long shot. That honor has to go to the president who’s policies have fundamentally shaped and reshaped how we view and control ocean territory, who laid the foundation for almost all the ocean protections we currently enjoy, and who set the precedent for the American Empire. That man is President Millard Fillmore, and he did it all for bird poop.

1850.

Agricultural science is beginning to understand that soil is not just soil, but a collection of nutrients that are slowly drawn from the ground by growing crops. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are crucial ingredients. The Industrial Revolution is pushing agriculture away from passive crop re-nourishment processes and towards intensive, fertilizer-driven farming. Fertilizer producers can’t keep up. At the same time, the American whaling industry had reached its zenith and began to fall. Coastal whales were harder to find and the bold men of Nantucket ventured out across the Pacific in search of the last great whaling grounds.

In these voyages, the whalers found numerous tiny, often uncharted islands in the Pacific. These remote islands were refuges, not just for weary sailors, but for generations of seabirds. From these seabirds rose great mountains of guano, guano rich in the nutrients plants crave. Guano was the solution to the fertilizer crises.

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Monday Morning Salvage: January 9, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageJanuary 9, 20170

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web) (more…)

Small changes and new faces at Southern Fried Science

BloggingJanuary 6, 20170

We’ve got some small changes and new additions to the growing Southern Fried Science family.

Due to their long and consistent commitment to maintaining the blog, Drs. Kersey Sturdivant and Chris Parsons have been promoted to the lofty and prestigious rank of Senior Correspondent. Congratulations!

We’re also thrilled to announce the addition of a new writer, Dr. Solomon David!

Solomon an aquatic ecologist who studies freshwater fish biodiversity and conservation. His current research focuses on ecology and conservation of Great Lakes migratory fishes, “Ancient Sport Fish” (e.g. gars and bowfins), and peripheral populations of species. An avid fan of “primitive fishes” and advocate for native species conservation, Solomon strives to effectively communicate science to both the research community and general public to raise awareness of the value of aquatic ecosystems and freshwater biodiversity.

You can follow Solomon on Twitter @SolomonRDavid and @PrimitiveFishes.

We’re super excited to welcome Solomon to our team and learn more about America’s inland seas!

Thursday Afternoon Dredging: January 5th, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingJanuary 5, 20170

Cuttings (short and sweet):

  • Here’s NOAA Okeanos video of a “ghost shark” from 2013.

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Bonnethead sharks, one of the smallest hammerheads, may actually be more than one species

marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharks2

Bonnethead sharks, one of the smallest members of the hammerhead shark family Sphyrnidae, have a special place in my heart. For many years, the avatar I used for science communication efforts, including posts on this blog, was a picture of me with a bonnethead.

Remember this avatar? That’s a bonnethead (on the left).

These sharks, which can grow up to about 5 feet long, are found throughout North, Central, and South America. However, new research by Fields and friends suggests that they may actually be a species complex, not a true species. “A species complex is a group of distinct species that are incorrectly classified as one species because they look very similar to one another,” explained Dr. Demian Chapman, an Associate Professor of Biology at Florida International University and a co-author on this new study. “A great example is the white spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) that was once thought to be one, globally distributed species, but now has been shown to be a group of very similar-looking species, each of which lives in a particular region.”

(more…)

Staff: Andrew David Thaler (1108), David Shiffman (506), Amy Freitag (235), Guest Writer (75), Kersey Sturdivant (51), Chris Parsons (49), Chuck Bangley (18), Michelle Jewell (17), Administrator (2), David Lang (1), Iris (1), Sarah Keartes (1), Michael Bok (0), Solomon David (0), Lyndell M. Bade (0)
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