What’s making waves this week?

Hello all and welcome to the inauguration of Sea Snacks, my blog about marine biology and the science of the seas! I’m starting with what will, unless I forget, become a regular feature: a weekly news roundup. I’ll be covering whatever’s oceanic, scientific and new each week with this fixture. First comes a story about […]

The Thames: Back from the Dead?

Dead fish after an overflow event. Image: Thames Anglers Conservancy. There once was a time when the Thames was teeming with life. Otters, eels, and even salmon were abundant. But time has not been kind to the river, and it has been subjected to the worst consequences of human development. The use and abuse of […]

A Sense of Magnetism

The Summer 2012 issue of I, Science took a look at perception, discussing senses and their limitations. However, one sense that was not touched upon was that of magnetism, called ‘magnetoception’. The way magnets attract and repel things, or even levitate them (most notably frogs), gives magnetism the aura of the artificial, or the quality […]

Fish Go GaGa For Ginger Gene

  There may be plenty of fish in the sea but the medaka knows what it likes. A single gene mutation that causes the Japanese Killifish to be born a drab grey colour has proved to be a turn-off to members of the opposite sex. By over-expressing the ‘ginger gene’ in the medaka ‘super attractive’ bright […]

Science Behind the Photo #19

  There can be few species on Earth about which more myths exist than piranhas. Piranhas have an aggressive image as flesh-eaters, able to dilacerate a human body in seconds. While piranhas do occasionally attack humans, this is only usually when water levels are low and there has never been an official recorded death due […]

Science Behind the Photo #18

    Coral reefs around the world are rapidly being degraded by a number of human activities including over-fishing, coastal development, and the introduction of sewage fertiliser and sediment. Climate change is also a major cause of coral reef destruction. Coral reefs are often described as “the rainforests of the sea”, as they are home […]

Science Behind the Photo #15

Some shocking statistics about the world’s rivers: Every day, 2 million tons of human waste are disposed of in water courses. (Source: World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)) In developing countries, 70 percent of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters where they pollute the usable water supply. (Source: WWAP) Projected increases in fertilizer use for […]

My, what big teeth you have!

Paddling in the Congo River System is not for the fainthearted.  This is the Goliath Tigerfish (Hydrocynus goliath). Living in freshwater rivers and lakes it is an aggressive predator. Its body is streamlined and muscular with broad tail fins. It’s a combination needed for speed. Its skin is stripy, possibly for camouflage and its colouring […]

Did Oarfish Predict the Japanese Earthquake?

There’s been a rumour flying around the internet that a mysterious fish from the deep predicted the Japanese earthquake. The fish is called Regalecus russelii or the Streamer fish. It is a member of the Oarfish family and lives 1,000m beneath the sea and is rarely seen on the surface unless sick or dying. They […]

Deep Sea Expedition

Forget space.  There are still parts of our Earth that have yet to be explored. In the depths of our oceans are animals that are not only new to science but that no human has ever seen before. Scientists know relatively little about the inhabitants of the deep sea. Most animals that have evolved to […]

Hiding behind nature

Hide and seek goes on just about everywhere. It’s a simple case of looking hard enough. Camouflage allows organisms of all shapes and sizes to remain unnoticed by their predators or prey. Obvious examples include a tiger’s stripes or a leopard’s spots, but let’s take a closer look at some more unusual cases of visual […]

How to Hypnotise a Great White Shark

The Great White Shark or Carcharodon carcharias if you want the Latin, otherwise known as Jaws. This infamous predator can grow to up to six metres in length, has three thousand razor-sharp teeth, a top speed of 40kmph and can detect a single drop of blood in 100 litres of water. A true apex predator, […]

Plight of the Penguins

I realise that our blogs have been somewhat penguin-heavy this week and I can assure you that this was in no way planned (at least not on my behalf). I had originally intended this blog to be about the 25th anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. However, faced with the prospect of being branded […]

Copycats

Apart from a few eccentric Germans, being eaten is probably the last thing any of us would ever like to have happen to us. The same is true throughout the rest of the animal kingdom, of course, with millions of adaptations evolving to help prevent such an occurrence happening. Many of these adaptations are pretty […]