Seafaring neanderthals and switchblade fish: A mega Thursday Afternoon Dredging, May 10th, 2018


After two weeks off, we’re back and bigger than ever!

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!

How to support your favorite Southern Fried Science writers in 2018

Southern Fried Science is growing! Thanks to Patreon and a few passive income streams, for the first time in almost a decade, we’re able to begin paying our volunteer writers for their outreach efforts. This year, we’ve established the Southern Fried Science Writers’ Fund to begin paying out compensation for all the incredible work that David, Amy, Chuck, Kersey, Chris, Sarah, Solomon, and Michelle have put in to making this website one of the most read marine science and conservation blog on the internet.

With the exception of a few weird months in 2010, this site has always been 100% free and ad free. But that doesn’t mean it’s free to run. Support from our fans keeps the lights on and the server humming, and now, with the Writers’ Fund, fan support also goes towards getting your favorite ocean writers compensated for their work. There are currently 3 ways to support your favorite Southern Fried Science writers in 2018.

Subscribe to our Patreon Campaign. My Patreon campaign, Andrew Thaler is creating tools for ocean science and conservation, is, by a very wide margin, the primary source of funding for Southern Fried Science. Patreon supporters get exclusive, behind the scenes access, a few surprises, and, of course, the legendary Jaunty Ocean Critter stickers. We now have a subscription tier just for the Southern Fried Science Writers Fund, so if you want to ensure that 100% of you contribution (minus Patreon fees) goes towards supporting our writers, sign up for the $5 per month subscription. There’s also options to cover server costs, support Oceanography for Everyone, or contribute to our general project fund. Even $1 a month makes a huge difference.

Use our Amazon Affiliate Link. Occasionally you might find an Amazon Affiliate link embedded in an article, if, for example, we’re talking about a book or a new tool or presenting a bill of materials for a new project. When you use these links to buy something, we get a small kickback from Amazon. This is the closest thing to an ad that you’ll see on Southern Fried Science. You can also use this Amazon Affiliate Link to go straight to Amazon and we’ll get a tiny percentage of anything you buy from them. So when you’re ready for a 3D printer or a new hagfish textbook or a $36,000 Wyland original oil painting of dancing orcas, consider using our Amazon Affiliate Link. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps us out a ton.

Send a one-time PayPal donation. If Amazon isn’t your jam and you’re not ready to commit to a monthly subscription or you’d just rather send one lump sum, you can send a contribution to me via PayPal. Just make a note that it’s for the Southern Fried Science Writers’ Fund or Southern Fried Science in general.

Unfortunately, because of the way we’ve structured Southern Fried Science, Oceanography for Everyone, and other properties that fall under the same aegis, contributions to Southern Fried Science are not tax deductible. 

The 3 best ocean books for toddlers, as selected by a very ocean-savvy toddler

It’s been almost exactly a year since I selected the 5 best baby books to launch your child’s ocean education. Since then, our expert judge has gotten a bit more discerning and a lot more opinionated. As a family of marine scientists, our massive library of ocean-themed children’s books, some amazing, some not-so-amazing, seems to grow exponentially.

After critical review by two PhDs in Marine Science and Conservation and one very perspicacious toddler, for both scientific accuracy and pure delightfulness, here are our top 3 children’s books to get your toddler thinking about the ocean.

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Check out Fleet: Dereliction, part 3 of my maritime science fiction serial!

FleetCover1-derelictionFleet: Dereliction is now available through the Amazon Kindle store!

“Captain Spat, father of Bosun Salmon, you stand accused of mutiny for allowing the theft of NC-3502-WM by negligence in your duties as both father to your daughter and mentor to your crew! How do you plead?”

The fleet is in chaos. Their best ship has been stolen. With her authority slipping away, the Admiral must seize command, root out the mutineers, and recover her stolen vessel. But, on the other side of the Reach, the trio – Croaker, Snapper, and Salmon – have reached their destination, the mysterious derelict that has been supplying the fleet for months.

The darkest secrets in the fleet will rise to the surface.

Head on over and check it out! It’s only $0.99, what have you got to lose?

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Science in the Fleet: The Promise of Technology as a Panacea for Human Impacts

FleetCover1-REACHToday marks the release of Fleet: Wide Open, part 2 of my serial maritime science fiction adventure. With half the story revealed, we now see the roll technology plays in both the history and the day-to-day operations of the fleet. Specifically, we see three major technological advances that seem as though they would have been major solutions to the environmental problems facing the fleet, yet somehow, the world continues to fall apart.

In our world and the world of the fleet, we often hold up technological innovation as a panacea for global problems. It’s easy to look towards the next big advancement as the solution to our current woes — from alternative energy sources to groundbreaking trash removal devices — but what is often lost in the hype is the human component. Yes, technology is a necessary component of global environmental solutions. You can even look at the arc of human advancement as one long series of bootstrap-hoists — we need to utilize dirty tech to access environmentally sustainable tech (i.e. you can’t develop the ability to produce solar panels without first harnessing the energy locked in fossil fuels). But technology alone is useless without also changing human behavior. This creates a major problem, as technological innovation is often used as a tool to bypass human behavior entirely, the assumption being that it doesn’t matter what the individual does, so long as the tech is in place to mitigate it.

The horse piles of New York

Around the turn of the last century, New York City was in crisis. Horses, the primary means of transportation for people and products within the city have an unfortunate byproduct — feces, lots and lots of feces. At its peak, more than 60,000 horses were depositing upwards of 500 tones of manure every day. The horse crisis itself was the result of a major technological innovation — more efficient fertilizer based on mass produced phosphate. Where once there was a major economic incentive to collect the manure and resell it as fertilizer, now there was also no incentive. And so, the mountains of feces piled up. It got so bad that one editorial expounded that, by the 1930’s piles of horse manure would stand three stories tall and the city would be awash in an unending tide of feces.

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Fleet: Wide Open now available in the Amazon Kindle Store!

“The sea is big. The sea is cruel. She takes more than she gives. That’s how it’s always been.”

Fuel is the lifeblood of the fleet and it is running out. It has been months since the crew of Miss Amy brought home a catch big enough to feed the fleet. With fuel rationed, there is little hope for fresh fish. Gill works frantically to develop a renewable source of bio-diesel. Croaker is the only mariner able to keep Gallant’s engines running. Snapper is the last hope of an aging navigator. While the ships rust around him, Grouper begins the final phase of his destructive plan.

Everything is about to change.

FleetCover1-wide

Fleet is a decidedly salty vision of the near future, where an unknown plague has left land uninhabitable and sea level rise has created vast new oceans to explore. The last survivors of the human race are scattered across new and dangerous seas. The only traces of a previous world are lost among the flotsam.

Check out part 2 of the Fleet adventure — Wide Open — now available in the Amazon Kindle Marketplace.