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

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!

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What can the funniest shark memes on the internetz teach us about ocean science and conservation?

In recent years, some of my favorite ocean predators have started to show up in memes. As part of our tradition of using internet humor to educate our readers, I’ve selected the funniest shark memes on the internetz, and I’ve tried to explain what’s going on in the photos used for those memes. I’m happy to discuss these science and conservation issues in the comments if you have any questions, but my selection of what constitutes that funniest shark memes  is obviously correct and beyond dispute.

12) Ferocious planktivore is ferocious

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Original image source: Flickr user Yohancha.
What’s going on? This shows a basking shark, the second largest shark in the world, with its mouth open wide. While this gaping maw may appear to be menacing, like whale sharks, the basking shark is a strict planktivore.

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Were 18 foot long thresher sharks responsible for closing a New York beach?

Earlier this week, several New York state beaches were closed due to shark sightings. Fox News’ Rick Leventhal, speaking as part of Bill Hemmer’s “America’s Newsroom” show, reported on this story, claiming that “some onlookers ID’ed them as thresher sharks, they’re estimated to be about  18 feet long”. A half-eaten seal also washed up on shore nearby.


To his credit, Mr. Leventhal  attempted to play down fears about these animals, saying that “Let’s not forget that sharks live in the ocean…as long as there’s food, they’re likely to keep hanging around”. However, I was immediately skeptical of the claim that a group of 18 foot long thresher sharks were swimming slowly just a few yards offshore. A cursory review of the known biology and ecology of thresher sharks will explain my skepticism.

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State of the Field: Satellite tagging sharks

Modern shark researchers have access to a variety of high-tech tools. Acoustic tags with noises specific to each individual shark signal a receiver (or network of receivers) every time the shark passes nearby. Some tags have three-dimensional accelerometers, allowing researchers to study the small scale movement patterns and behaviors of sharks. Others, which are placed in the stomach, measure pH before, during, and after digestion. The most advanced technology on the market, however, is undoubtedly the satellite tag.

Image from SurfThereNow.com

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Shark News Roundup: the ecology of fear, curious whale sharks, and saving the manta rays

The shark blog-o-sphere has been busy lately. Here are some of the headlines from the world of shark science and conservation.

Chuck from Ya Like Dags has a fantastic post explaining the ecology of fear and how it relates to sharks. As it turns out, predators can have a major impact on an ecosystem just by being there- prey change their behavior in ecologically significant ways because they want to avoid being eaten. If you’re looking for scientific reasons why sharks are important to the ocean or if you’re just looking for a cool ecology story, check it out!

Al Dove of the Georgia Aquarium explains that whale sharks are curious animals that will  sometimes swim over to check out humans. I’ve found that most sharks tend to avoid people, but he has a pretty convincing video.

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