Bone-eating zombie worms, octopus overlords, old wooden ships and new woes for deep-sea mining. It’s the Monday Morning Salvage! January 1, 2018.

Monday Morning SalvageJanuary 1, 20180

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

  • Stop. Breathe. Take a step back. This can all be incredibly overwhelming. Pick the fight that matters most to you and take a few days deciding what success looks like, what strategies will work, and what tactics are available to you. And then hoist your flag and get to work.

  • And when you meet someone fighting a different fight, remember to support them. There are already enough fronts to advance without taking friendly fire from our flanks.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

The frilled giant Pacific octopus. Photo Courtesy D. Scheel

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A year of snot-oozing, carcass-scavenging, slime eels: Hagfish Science in 2017.

biology, deep sea, marine science, Natural Science, ScienceDecember 27, 20170

Hagfish. You love them. I love them. The owner of this sedan has no choice but to love them:

Photo courtesy Oregon State Police.

2017 was a big year for hagfish science.

Big Ideas (the ecologic paradigms that hagfish shifted) 

Heincke’s law is one of those ecologic principles that more often acts as a foil for rejecting the null hypothesis than as a consistent pattern in ecology. It’s most basic summary is: The further from shore and the deeper dwelling a fish is, the bigger it grows. Heincke’s law does not appear to be true for hagfish, whose size appear to have no relation to the depth at which they occur. On the other hand, phylogenetic relationships do seem to play some role in regulating body size in hagfish.

Defense and Behavior (how hagfish do the things that they do)

Hagfish are master escape artists, capable of squeezing in and out of tight spaces barely half the width of their body. This great for getting in an out of rotting whale carcasses on the sea floor, creeping into crevices, and avoiding predators. But how do they accomplish this incredible feat? Hagfish have a flaccid sinus under their skin which allows them to control the distribution of venous blood and alter their body width as they wriggle through narrow passages. Freedman and Fudge identified 9 distinct behaviors which take advantage of this adaptation, including anchoring, forming tight loops to push the body through an opening, and bending the hagfish head 90 degrees to force it through a slit. And there are videos!

The Fudge lab has been busy this year, cranking out some of the most noteworthy work on the incredible behavior of hagfish. In addition to examining hagfish motility, Boggett and friends looked into how those flaccid sinuses aid predator avoidance. The team build wee little guillotines loaded with shark teeth to see how hagfish skin protects the animal from vicious bites. In a year when a truckload of hagfish spectacularly crushed a car, the fact that this research was the biggest breakout sensation in hagfish pop culture says everything you need to know about the compelling results of this study. You can read more about this study at The Verge, Futurity, Popular Science, and plenty of other outlets.

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Southern Fried Science year-in-review, Palau’s Giant, a new challenge for deep-sea mining, Porgs are Puffins, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: December 25, 2017.

Monday Morning SalvageDecember 25, 2017

Happy Holidays from the Southern Fried Science Team!

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • Do-it-yourself science is taking off. A growing movement seeks to make the tools of science available to everyone (including you). I love that The Economist now has a “Punk Science” heading.
  • Palau now requires all tourists to sign an environmental pledge when they enter the country. All flights in now feature this delightful short film.

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17 amazing and important things about sharks and rays that scientists discovered in 2017

#SciComm, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharksDecember 22, 2017

2017 was… yeah. Of all the years I’ve lived through, 2017 was definitely one of them. Anyway, some interesting things happened in the world of shark research. Here, in no particular order, are 17 amazing and important things that scientists discovered about sharks and rays over the last year.


1 Sharks can switch between sexual and asexual reproduction. We’ve known that several shark species can reproduce asexually for over a decade now, but this year, Dudgeon and friends showed an individual shark switching between sexual and asexual reproduction for the first time!

Noteworthy media coverage: CNN, National Geographic, Gizmodo

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Everything about hagfish is the best thing about hagfish, the battle for the deep-sea heats up, parasitic butt snails, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: December 17, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageDecember 18, 2017

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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Narwhal stress and coral disease: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, December 14th, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingDecember 14, 2017

Cuttings (short and sweet): 

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Galeophobia, Shark Teeth, and Non-Expert Awareness Campaigns: Dear Shark Man, Volume 5

Dear Shark ManDecember 13, 2017

Welcome to Volume #5 of Dear Shark Man, an advice column inspired by a ridiculous e-mail I received. You can send your questions to me via twitter (@WhySharksMatter) or e-mail (WhySharksMatter at gmail).


Dear Shark Man,

What’s the history of the shark’s cultural image as a sneaky aggressive predator? Do other cultures see it differently?

Sincerely,
Imaginative in Irvine

Dear imaginative,

Much of the large-scale public fear of sharks we see today can be traced to the movie “Jaws” (read my Gizmodo article about this here). Shark conservation biologists actually use the term “the Jaws effect” in peer reviewed scientific literature. Terror of sharks resulting from that movie is fairly common even among people you wouldn’t expect; for example, both of my parents are outdoorsy and have post-graduate degrees, and yet both reported being afraid to go swimming in pools or lakes the summer after Jaws came out. Personally, I don’t think that modern shark b-movies like “SharkNado” or “Two-Headed Shark Attack” inspire the same level of public misunderstanding because they’re obviously silly, but others disagree.

Media coverage of shark bites also plays a major role. If someone gets bitten by a shark anywhere in the world, it’s headline news everywhere even if the bite isn’t severe enough to require more than a band-aid. In Australia, 38% of reported “shark attacks” didn’t even involve any injury at all. This is part of why I, along with many other shark scientists, have called on the popular press to avoid the inflammatory and inaccurate term “shark attack” in favor of a typology of other terms (shark sighting, shark encounter, shark bite, fatal shark bite).

Other cultures absolutely see sharks differently. Where I now live in western Canada, coastal First Nations have stories about a supernatural being called the Dogfish Woman. In some South Pacific cultures, sharks are seen as spirits of ancestors called aumakua (briefly referenced in Moana, see below), and there are even shark gods like Dakuwaqa.

Maui in the form of a shark, from Moana. You’re welcome.

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Deep-sea mining goes to court, a year in climate reporting, oyster-adorned singers, and more! The Monday Morning Salvage: December 11, 2017.

Monday Morning SalvageDecember 11, 2017

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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#PlanetEarthChat: Watch Planet Earth 2 and tweet along with us!

#SciCommDecember 7, 2017

Join a team of conservation biologists and wildlife experts for a live science communication event!  We are going watch the award-winning BBC documentary series Planet Earth 2 together, tweeting expert commentary and reactions throughout using #PlanetEarthChat. Anyone is free to join in the discussion, and is free to ask questions of our expert team.

We’ll be starting our episodes all at exactly the same time, so anyone who wants to participate can be sure to be synched with us. I’ll make a Storify of all the tweets transcript at the end.

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Pacifist fighting fish and entangled right whales: Thursday Afternoon Dredging, December 4th 2017

Thursday Afternoon Dredging

Cuttings (short and sweet): 

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