Nereus, never to rise.

deep sea, marine science, Natural Science, ScienceMay 10, 2014

Reports are coming in from the Kermadec Expedition that Nereus, the world’s first Hybrid AUV/ROV and deepest diving robot, has perished. The full-ocean capable robot, who dove to the bottom of Challenger Deep several year before James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenger, was lost on a 10,000 meter dive in the Kermadec Trench. Researchers and crew members were hopeful that the fail safes built into the robot would return it to the surface, but, when the small spheres that provided her buoyancy broke through the waves, it was clear that Nereus had been irrecoverably damaged, never to rise again.

Nereus joins ABE and Kaikō on the sea floor, permanently entombed in Davy Jones’ locker. There are now only two vehicles left in the world that can dive to the very bottom of the deepest ocean.

I sing the praise of my robot underlings, the workhorses of deep sea exploration.

The penultimate installment of the incredible biodiversity of Aquaman’s variant cover

Aquaman, deep sea, marine science, Natural Science, Popular Culture, ScienceMay 9, 2014

aquapurged5We are approaching the home stretch, with the second to last installment of our tour through this amazing Aquaman cover. Have you been following along? How many have you guessed so far?

If you haven’t been following along, you can catch up with the previous installments, below:

13. Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti)


Pygmy Seahorse. Photo by Jens Petersen.

seahorseI started my career in marine science working with seahorses, so these goofy, thoroughly un-fish-like fish, hold a special place in my heart. All seahorses are pretty weird, but pygmy seahorses might be the weirdest. These tiny animals, barely 2 centimeters long, live exclusively on gorgonian corals, their lump profile allows them to blend perfectly into the backdrop. Their bulbous protrusions will assume the color of their host coral.


A style guide for journalists who want to write about something covered on Southern Fried Science

BloggingMay 8, 2014

Thank you for your interest in one of our articles. Please feel free to contact any of our authors for further information but do keep in mind that we are all science writers. If your publication is looking for a more than a brief (less than 300 word) interview, please consider contracting one of us to write the piece.

For press queries, please contact southernfriedscientist at gmail with the subject line PRESS QUERY.

A few key points of style.

1. The name of the website is Southern Fried Science. The URL is with no capitals. Our writers are either correspondents, senior correspondents, or editor-in-chief. You can find out who is what on our author page. If unsure, please refer to them as either authors or scientists.


The incredible biodiversity of Aquaman’s variant cover: Part four of a six part trilogy.

Aquaman, deep sea, marine science, Natural Science, Popular Culture, Science

aquapurged4Welcome to day four of our delightful tour through the weird, wonderful creatures on Michael Allred’s incredible Aquaman cover. It’s all fish today!

Since we’re at the halfway point, now seems like a good time to reflect on why this cover matters so much. I’ve been a fan of Aquaman for a long time, and for all the amazing visuals in the latest iteration of our Atlantean hero, the deep sea remains noticeably underrepresented. Comic books mirror life and it is rare to see deep-sea creatures feature in art, let alone popular art. To have so many deep-sea organisms featured prominently on a piece of genre-crossing pop art is a rare and welcome opportunity to share my love for fangtooths, vampire squid, vent worms, monkfish, fringeheads, and isopods with a new and diverse audience.

Downward with the bestiary of barotollerant glory!


The incredible biodiversity of Aquaman’s variant cover: Halfway Home

Aquaman, biology, deep sea, marine science, Natural Science, Popular Culture, ScienceMay 7, 2014

aquapurged3It’s day three of our epic journey through the wonderful deep-sea creatures featured on this variant cover for Aquaman #31. Have you taken a shot at naming all 18 species, yet? We identified species 1, 2, and 3 on Monday and 4, 5, and 6 on Tuesday.

Today we continue with 7, 8, and 9, one of which is is a major fishery. (more…)

24 species of sharks that have killed fewer people than Jack Bauer on 24

UncategorizedMay 6, 2014

Promotional photo for "24: Live Another Day" from the 24 Facebook page,

Promotional photo for “24: Live Another Day” from

After four long years of being cancelled, Fox finally brought back ’24′ this week! Star Kiefer Sutherland plays Jack Bauer, a counter-terrorism agent and general badass. Jack has had to kill in the line of duty many times. In fact, as of this past Monday’s premiere of “24: Live Another Day,” Jack Bauer has killed 273 people. How does this record stack up to a cause of death that so many people fear, death by shark bite?

Here are 24 species of shark that have killed fewer people than Jack Bauer has killed on ’24,’ according to the International Shark Attack File.  All fatalities reference the time period 1580-2013, and encompass the whole world. Only fatalities where the shark species has been identified are included here


Announcing a F1000 research collection on shark biology and conservation

Blogging, fisheries, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharks

An announcement from Cesar Berrios-Otero, Outreach Director at Faculty of 1000:

f1000-researchShark Week is fast approaching and with it the potential for misinformation (re Megalodon special 2013) as well as an excellent opportunity for public education and outreach. Furthermore, with 25% of all sharks and their relatives in danger of extinction due to over fishing, at F1000Research (a new open science journal launched in 2013) we believe this is the ideal opportunity to raise awareness of elasmobranch biology and conservation efforts. In order to support these efforts we are planning the release of an article collection to coincide with this event. We are encouraging authors to contribute their work in order to highlight the importance of these indispensable apex predators.


We are looking for passionate shark biologists who would like to publish articles in the following areas:

  • Policy, regulations and laws regarding shark conservation.
  • Migration, feeding, ecology and behavior of sharks.
  • Profiles of shark fisheries and future needs.



The incredible biodiversity of Aquaman’s variant cover: Episode 2

Aquaman, deep sea, marine science, Natural Science, Popular Culture, Science

Welcome back to another exciting installment of the incredible biodiversity of this incredible Aquaman cover. Today we’re investigating species 4 through 6, where we’ll meet one of my favorite mid-water fish.


fangtooth4. Fangtooth (Anoplogaster cornuta)

With the largest tooth-length-to-body ratio of any fish, the fangtooth has earned its menacing name. Unfortunately, this intimidating creature barely reaches 18 centimeters in length, hardly the massive, Batman-swallowing maw illustrated to the right. Fangtooths are among the deepest swimming fish. They can be found as far as 5000 meters down, though they are more common in the midwater (200-2000 meters). (more…)

The incredible biodiversity of Aquaman’s variant cover

Aquaman, deep sea, marine science, Natural Science, Popular Culture, Science, sharksMay 5, 2014

Aquaman #31 variant cover. Art by Mike Allred.

Aquaman #31 variant cover. Art by Mike Allred.

Aquaman. Wow. Artist Mike Allred has seriously outdone himself with this incredible variant cover to Aquaman #31, featuring a 75th anniversary tribute to Batman as well as an incredible pastel array of deep-sea creatures. What truly amazing about this cover is that each one of these animals is a real living denizen of the deep right here, on Earth Prime. Sure, the scale might be a little off, and it’s unlikely that a scale worm could swallow a Bat-thyscaph, but the salient details are uncanny. Join me on a tour of the 18 wonderful animals featured on this sure-to-be epic installment of Aquaman’s ocean-spanning adventures. Today we’re looking at the first three, including one of my all time favorite marine organisms. (more…)

Florida fisherman catches an 18 foot goblin shark, the second ever caught in the Gulf of Mexico

Blogging, deep sea, fisheries, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharksMay 2, 2014

Last week, commercial fisherman Carl Moore was fishing for royal red shrimp off the coast of Key West Florida.  When he pulled up a net from more than 2,000 feet, Moore had caught something other than just shrimp. In his net was an unusual looking enormous fish—a goblin shark more than 18 feet long. As Moore reported to the NOAA scientist he reported his catch to, “it was uglier than a mother-in-law.”

Photo by Carl Moore, courtesy NOAA

Photo by Carl Moore, courtesy NOAA

This rare species of shark has only been seen in the Gulf of Mexico once before, in 2002. Though goblin sharks have been occasionally caught in the Atlantic and Indian ocean and a large group was caught in Taiwan following an undersea earthquake, most specimens have been found in the deep water canyons surrounding Japan. They are occasionally caught as bycatch in deep sea fisheries, as happened with Carl Moore. Unlike many species of shark, “they don’t have any commercial value, other than their jaws,” says Charlott Stenberg, a marine biologist and science writer. “But, I have a Japanese friend who ate some of it and thought the tongue was delicious”

Photo by Carl Moore, courtesy NOAA

Photo by Carl Moore, courtesy NOAA

Goblin sharks can be easily identified by their bizarre jaw, which protrudes a great deal while eating (video). The jaw of the goblin shark gives them their Japanese common name: Tenguzame, which references a mythical half human and half bird creature called Tengu. Their long, flat snout, relatively small head, and pink coloration are also distinctive. “ I love them because they’re pink, they’re mysterious, and they live deep among other cool creatures,” Stenberg says. I know many people think that they are ugly, but that just makes me love them more.”

The bottom view of a goblin shark's head and mouth, photo by Charlott Steinberg.

The bottom view of a goblin shark’s head and mouth, photo by Charlott Stenberg.

“NOAA biologists encourage people to call and report these rare sightings and catches, as the information they can collect allows them to know more about a species,” according to the official statement about this goblin shark by the National Marine Fisheries Service, After taking the photographs shown above, Carl Moore quickly released the goblin shark, which swam away.  This story spread without all of the correct information, initially resulting in several colleagues and I believing that Moore still had the shark and that it was possible to get samples for research projects. I am glad that this rare shark was released alive and reported to the proper authorities, and I will be writing a follow-up post soon explaining what to do if you catch a rare fish that does not survive. Such a specimen could benefit numerous ongoing research projects and help scientists to better understand a little-known animal.

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