The Beacon

Like That Time Han Solo was Frozen in Carbonite

I never really thought of it before, but what does happen to all the prehistoric droppings left behind by Arctic animals of yore? Apparently it was out of sight out of mind for the last couple millennia, as mammoth pies were frozen in suspended animation, that is, until global warming kicked in and started melting all the permafrost.

Now that dirty secret is making its way back to the surface faster than scientists can say weapons of mass destruction -- and rightly so, according to this article. Scientists fear that once the organic matter is exposed to air it will begin to emit carbon dioxide, and worse, methane gas, both of which could potentially accelerate global warming to a rate that cannot be stopped.

The stretch of permafrost holding so-called mammoth-era "soil" covers an area about the size of France and Germany combined. That’s a lot of dung!

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A Whale of a Tale

Found this photo on the LA Times website. A blue whale washed ashore on a beach just north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, the cause of its death yet to be determined. Talk about a hulk. Reports say the whale was 78 feet long and over 100,000 pounds.

That's a whopper, right?

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Ahoy Me Hearties - Talk Like a Pirate Day is Afoot

Ahoy, greetin's,

Batten down the hatches! Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! Shiver me timbers, Talk Like a Pirate Day is today. Aye today, gar. Ye best be on the ready if ye know what's good for you, lest ye be fixin' t' hang from the yardarm by a necktie instead. Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

If ye think ye bra'e enough, blood-thirsty enough, black-hearty enough, well bucko, har be a list o' phrases t' be sure your pirate speak is shipshape. Use `em far and wide, but use `em wisely. The cap'n keelhauls bilge-suckin' scallywags - ye may find yourself pickin' barnacles from ye starboard knacker for a fortnight, savvy?

Ahoy! - Hello!

A merry yarn - A good story

Booty - Treasure

Shiver me timbers - I'm scared, my legs be shaking.

Shocked to the very boney - That's surprising.

Three sheets to the wind - Very drunk.

Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! - Pull up anchor, let's go sailing.

Yarr. - I agree.

Yarr! - I see your point, and mightily agree.

Yarr? - What did you say?

Whether ye be an old salt or a landlubbin' lass with a gust' for guff, pay note: Today is a day t' make merry and honor the briny deep. So come aboard, ye scur'y dogs, and brin' ye old bottle o' rum. It's by the board for the rest o' ye rapscallions and off t' Da'y Jones' Locker with ye. Gar.

Dead men tell no tales,

Second Mate Nikki "Parrot Got Me Eye" Smythe

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For Your Occular Pleasure

Straight up: How cool is this?

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Keep Fishin'

A group of Florida-based treasure hunters are touting the find of a 2,400-year-old jar off Albania's Adriatic coast, a relic likely used at some point to store wine or oil even before the birth of Greek philosopher Plato.

OK, so treasure hunters found a really old jar. Fantastic. And if they play their cards right, the find may help to establish "legal and structural infrastructure" to shield shipwrecks along the European country's 220-mile long coastline from looters. That's great.

Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't authorities be focusing their efforts on protecting our oceans -- not just the shipwrecks -- from looters? I mean, I'm all for safeguarding particles of past, but look at the dire, and current, condition of our oceans.

Bottom trawls dredge up and destroy fragile coral beds that house thousands of sea creatures. Driftnets and longlines mistakenly capture thousands more sharks, sea turtles and dolphins, among others. Global warming is melting icy habitats faster than anyone would have ever imagined, and it's messing with the ocean ecosystem all around.

The shipwrecks aren't going anywhere anytime soon, you know? Can't make that same assertion for the sea.

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Everybody Must Throw Stones

Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, or so the saying goes, but no one ever said anything about skimming stones. ...

If you happen to be in Scotland anytime soon, this list of the top stone skimming beaches may do you some good, that is, if you happen to be in the area and you happen to enjoy skipping rocks across the water.

That's not to say there aren't adequate stone skimming beaches the world over. As a well versed stone thrower, I can vouch for that. If you do throw stones into the water, though, or hit golf balls into the water -- basically whatever your ocean pleasure -- be sure you don't accidentally strike an unlucky whale or sea turtle.

Sure it's less likely for a sea creature to be struck by a stone as compared to, let's say a large boat, but with all the obstacles in the water already, there's no sense making it harder than it already is for these seafaring mammals and reptiles.

Throw your stones accordingly. ...

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Science Fiction or Simply Science?

California scientists once baffled by the eating habits of the moray eel have discovered the snake-like ray-finned fish, which hides out among crevices in coral reefs, eats its food just like the Alien xenomorph in the science fiction franchise.

Researchers made the discovery filming the eels during feeding time. Moray eels, which belong to the same group of fish as tuna and salmon, possess a vicious set of pharyngeal jaws that lunge forward to grab prey once the first set of jaws has clinched onto it.

They say in space no one can hear you scream. I suppose the same holds true underwater along coral reefs, where many creatures don't have ears like humans and androids do.

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This Blog Entry Sucks

It took scientists about four years to decide
on a name for a new genus of electric rays
found of the East Coast of South Africa:
Electrolux addisoni.

The name sucks harder than a Hoover on high. No kidding. Here's what scientists had to say about the naming decision:

"The name alludes to the well-developed electrogenic properties of this ray (collectors and photographers have experienced the shocking personality of this bold, active and brightly patterned electric ray first-hand), the discovery of which sheds light (Latin, lux) on the rich and poorly-known fish diversity of the Western Indian Ocean.

And the vigorous sucking action displayed on the videotape of the feeding ray that was taken by Stephania and Peer Lamberti may rival a well-known electrical device used to suck the detritus from carpets, furniture, and other dust-gathering surfaces in modern homes..."

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Why'd the Penguin Cross the Road?

Finally a reason for penguins to leave the pad again.

A zoo in Great Britain recently constructed the world's first zebra crossing for penguins. The scaled down black and white crossing is lined with miniature red safety signs that have an image of a couple happy-footed penguins crossing the road (penguins can't read, of course).

In no time at all the crossing, a twice daily feeding ritual, has become the social event to see and be seen at -- all the penguins don their sharpest tuxedos for the soiree.

Now if only someone could create a crossing for sharks and sea turtles and dolphins and all those marine creatures that are under attack from careless commercial fishing fleets, we might be onto something. ...

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Even Castles Made of Sand Melt into the Sea Eventually

More news from my homeland, California: Orange County-based sand castle building team Archisand took top honors for the sixth time in eight years at the 27th annual U.S. Open Sand Castle Competition last weekend.

It took the squad about five hours to chisel a roller coaster featuring an octopus and a penguin careening through a school of fish on a coral reef. Previous creations include a poker party, a Hogwarts castle and a couple platoons of Tiki heads (pictured); that last one was erected on the shores of one of my fav O.C. beaches, Corona del Mar.

So while we already know sea turtles depend on beach space to lay eggs, here is yet another example of why saving our oceans and beaches is important for humans as well. Anyone else sensing a pattern here?

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