Cut rock samples from the Rio Grande Rise show Fe-Mn crusts (black and gray) growing on various types of iron-rich substrate rocks (pale to dark brown). Photo credit: Kira Mizell, USGS.

A lost continent, rich in cobalt crusts, could create a challenging precedent for mineral extraction in the high seas.

[This article originally appeared yesterday in the Deep-sea Mining Observer. ~Ed.]

The Rio Grande Rise is an almost completely unstudied, geologically intriguing, ecologically mysterious, potential lost continent in the deep south Atlantic. And it also hosts dense cobalt-rich crusts.

The Rio Grande Rise is a region of deep-ocean seamounts roughly the area of Iceland in the southwestern Atlantic. It lies west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge off the coast of South America and near Brazil’s island territories. As the largest oceanic feature on the South American plate, it straddles two microplates. And yet, like much of the southern Atlantic deep sea, it is relatively under sampled.

Almost nothing is known about the ecology or biodiversity of the Rio Grande Rise.

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Booms that go boom, a deep-sea mining spiral, dying to go green, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: January 7, 2019

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

  • The US Government enters it’s third week of shutdown over Trump’s Border Wall. Democrats in the House passing funding bills identical to the one unanimously passed by the Senate. Despite that, McConnell won’t let those funding bills come to a vote in his Senate. The Republicans own this travesty.
  • ‘Appalling’ toilets and rule-breaking as US shutdown hits national parks.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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I built an open-source robot that steps your steps when the steps you stepped weren’t counted by your step counter: Frequently Asked Questions

The future of fitness tracking is here! reStepper is an open-source, arduino-powered machine to walk your fitness tracker after those unfortunate workouts when your steps didn’t get logged. Did you have the audacity to take you child for a walk in a stroller? Get those steps back! Were you foolish enough to go swimming when you could have walked in aimless circles around the pool? Don’t let the credit drift away! Reckless enough to do something, anything, that might require you to take off your jewelry before working up a sweat? Let the reStepper sweat it all back! Maybe you just don’t want third parties to know where you run, or where your secret morel patch is, or how fast they need to make the people harvesting machines in order to catch Charlton Heston.

The reStepper, an engineering marvel.

Ummm.

It’s funny.

So what is it?

The reStepper is an open-source machine that “walks” a fitness tracker for you.

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All the slime that sticks, we print: 2018 in Hagfish Research

Hagfish. You love them. I love them. Of all the fish in all the seas, none are more magnificent than the hagfish. Across the world, children celebrate the hagfish by making slime from Elmer’s glue, their own mucous, or just, like, something. Seriously, how is is that toddler hands are always coated in some strange, unidentifiable slime?

And never, ever forget:

Your car has just been crushed by hagfish: Frequently Asked Questions.

2018 was a big year in hagfish science. Below are just a few of my favorite studies.

Biogeography

A hagfish in the high Antarctic? Hagfish have previously never been observed in the shallow waters around Antarctic, but a photograph from 1988 was determined this year to be a hagfish feeding on a large pile of clam sperm in shallow water. Neat!

Possible hagfish at 30 m in Salmon Bay in 1988. The white patch is Laternula elliptica sperm.

Incidentally, the reason the photo languished for so long is that it was originally though to be a Nemertean. Because Antarctic Nemertean worms are huge and horrifying.

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Get into the spirit of Adventure: 10 Expeditions to follow in 2019

The Aquarius Project: The First Student-Driven Underwater Meteorite Hunt

Pirates! Robots! Meteors! A team of plucky teenage explorers! If this doesn’t end up as a feature film, I’ll eat my red watch cap.

On Monday, February 6, 2017 a meteorite dropped out of space and dropped right into Lake Michigan. Since then, a team of young explorers sponsored by the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium have been combing the lake for the lost meteorite. Catch up with this epic adventure through their podcast and on OpenExplorer. The search continues into 2019.

Iceland’s Shallow Hydrothermal Vents

Not all hydrothermal vents emerge in the deep sea. Of the coast of Iceland, shallow water vent spew forth their hydrothermal plumes in the shallows, where small underwater robots can easy access. You’d think we’d know more about them than their deep ocean counterparts but we actually know less.

Iceland’s Shallow Hydrothermal Vents hopes to fill in some of our understanding of these weird and wonderful ecosystems.

Search for Slave Shipwrecks

On a hot summer day in the murky waters of the man-made Millbrook Quarry in Northern Virginia, a group of about 25 people outfitted in scuba gear take turns going down to a depth of 30 feet, testing their compass reading skills, flooding their masks and practicing emergency ascents without air. The sight is not so unusual since Millbrook is the main training and certification site for scuba divers in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area and often hosts such groups. What might give folks pause, however, is that upon closer look they may notice that all 25 of the divers are African American. And if they chat with this unexpected bunch, they might also find that a majority are certified and qualified to search for, document and help excavate slave trade shipwrecks.

Search for Slave Shipwrecks

Divers with Purpose and the Slave Wrecks Project will be traveling across Africa and the Caribbean documenting the stories of underwater archaeologists working to preserve the history of the Atlantic slave trade buried at sea.

From Search for Slave Shipwrecks.
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Doodles from the deep sea, a mining company founders, finding lost warships, rogue scientists, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: December 24, 2018

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Illustrations by Jackie Roche.
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The Science of Aquaman: The Complete Anthology

We have written a lot about Aquaman over the last 10 years. With our favorite ocean master is finally getting his big screen debut, we’ve collected everything Aquaman and Southern Fried Science in one place. Enjoy!

It’s the Aquaman Trailer!

First, the brutal takedown that started it all and its follow-ups:

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Orca protection and vanishing Arctic lakes: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, December 20th, 2018

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Spoils (long reads and deep dives):

Please add your own cuttings and spoils in the comments!

If you appreciate my shark research and conservation outreach, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Any amount is appreciated, and supporters get exclusive rewards!

To tweet to whom – a tweeting guide for marine scientists

Logic is a tweeting bird” – Spock, Star Trek

Social media can be a great tool for spreading and disseminating published science. Potentially it can reach a wide audience and for free !

Most platforms allow you to insert links to direct readers to the original paper or publication. If you are working in an area that is relevant to conservation or policy, social media can be a great way of getting papers to the right audience that may need that information (Parsons et al., 2014). Moreover, there is now increasing data that using social media can increase download and citation rates of scientific papers, which in turn is good for the careers of scientists in an academic setting.

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Amazing fish eyes, the real cost of halibut, and protecting local species: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, December 13, 2018

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Spoils (long reads and deep dives):

Please add your own cuttings and spoils in the comments!

If you appreciate my shark research and conservation outreach, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Any amount is appreciated, and supporters get exclusive rewards!