Real Monsters – Viperfish

The deep-sea, by virtue of no light, cold temperatures, and high pressures, leaves an environment ripe for evolving some pretty strange critters. One of my personal favorites, mostly because of the crazy teeth it boasts, is the viperfish.

To me, the viperfish looks like a dessicated version of some sort of alien. In reality, it’s a fast swimmer, moving at 2 body lengths per second, but a small fish at 1-2 feet. They spend their days in the deepest waters (about 9000 feet) but emerge at night, rising from the ocean floor to begin their hunt. Since food is not predictable, they can store large amounts of food from a successful hunt to make use of in leaner times.

Not on the scary note, the fish also has a photophore, or a biolumenescent appendage that it uses to attract prey. It basically travels with bait attached to its forehead. Awesome.

~Bluegrass Blue Crab

sources: The Sea and Sky and Wikipedia


The legend of Atlantis, a once-great civilization that sank into the ocean, has captivated humanity’s imagination for over 2,000 years. The earliest mention of Atlantis came from Plato’s Timaeus in 360 B.C., and the idea has spawned countless campfire stories, books, movies, and even one of my favorite TV shows. Plato’s original description mentions an island nation with a mighty military, and claims that the whole island sank after a failed invasion of Athens. Later interpretations of the story have elaborated, giving ancient Atlanteans technology that puts what we have today to shame. Some legends claim that a few Atlanteans escaped the sinking of their city, dispersed around the world, and founded our world’s known ancient civilizations. This fantastical story has wide-ranging implications for human history… but is any of it true?

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The Ocean Is Infinite

People used to think that the sea’s bounty was infinite. Looking across the vast ocean, it was hard for any single fisherman to believe they could be contributing to the loss of species.

Hugo Grotius, commonly referred to as the founder of natural resources law, described the inexhaustible nature of the ocean:

“The sea is common to all, because it is so limitless that it cannot become a possession of any one, and because it is adapted for the use of all, whether we consider it from the point of view of navigation or of fisheries” (Grotius 1916)

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Ocean of Pseudoscience Shorty – Banker Horses and Spanish Galleons

Banker Horses are a breed of horses found on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. These feral horses grace one of our rotating banners. Legend goes that 16th century Spanish Galleons, heavy with treasure, were wrecked off the coast of North Carolina. The horses escaped from the wreck, settled on the Outer Banks, and thrived for 400 years. But how much of this story is really true and how much is fiction invented for tourists?

The idea that the horses came from treasure galleons can be immediately discounted. Space was at a premium on these boats and was reserved for treasure, not live stock. But there is some truth in this myth. Banker Horses are originally from Spanish stocks and they have been on the Outer Banks since the 16th century.

There are two possible origins for this population. In 1526, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón attempted to colonize North and South Carolina. The colony eventually failed and the surviving colonists fled, leaving their horses behind. Later, in 1585, Sir Richard Grenville brought nearly 100 horses to North Carolina. One of his ships ran aground near the Outer Banks, and to lighten the ship they abandoned some livestock on Ocracoke.

~Southern Fried Scientist

Ocean of Pseudoscience Shorty – Iron Fertilization: The Cure for Global Warming

If the marine productivity is iron limited, then adding iron should increase phytoplankton growth. This growth will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to fuel photosynthesis and on a global scale, has the potential to mitigate global warming by absorbing the extra carbon dioxide emitted by human activities. But is it really that simple?

Purple indicates areas of low productivity where fertiilization could take place. From

After the first description of this hypothesis by John Martin, eight mesoscale experiments were conducted by scientists through the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, described in great detail on their project website. Basically, they concluded that although iron fertilization does encourage plankton growth, the carbon that is sequestered during that growth does not permanently stay sequestered in the ocean, but is released back into the atmosphere through decomposition. Therefore, even if the whole earth were fertilized, the sequestration would not be effective enough to make up for the use of coal-fired power plants.

~Bluegrass Blue Crab

Our favorite sea monsters – The Kraken (#1)

It should come as no surprise that our favorite sea monster is the legendary giant of giants – The Kraken.

Originally of Norwegian and Icelandic legend, the Kraken is described as a giant, tentacled monster that rises from the deep. In the earliest legends, the Kraken resembles an island feeding on schools of fish. Bold fishermen would set their lines above the Kraken, catching the huge schools of fish that surround it. In these earliest stories, the danger to ships was not from the Kraken itself, but from the whirlpool formed when it dives.

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Ocean of Pseudoscience Linkfest, Round 6

It’s the final day for Ocean of Pseudoscience, and our favorite observant nerd has weighed in on Shark Diver’s challenge. On Wednesday, Underwater Thrills broached the question “Do bull sharks have high enough testosterone levels that you can juice off bull shark blood?” We cried bull, but Christie did the leg-work to smash this video-game inspired myth.

The answer may surprise you.

Ya like dags? has joined in with yet another awesome pseudoscience take-down: Ya Like Dags – Flipper is a fraud!

~Southern Fried Scientist